If you’ve seen any Chiefs games this season, it’s clear they have a long way to go before they are efficient on offense. Just how bad have they been? Bob Gretz compared Kansas City’s offensive possessions to the rest of the league.
They have scored on only 23 percent of their possessions, that’s 28th in the league better than only Oakland, St. Louis, Cleveland and Tampa Bay. Those five teams are a combined 11-54. The teams that have scored most often compared to their possessions are New Orleans, San Diego, Minnesota, Indianapolis and New England. The combined record of those teams is 55-10.
Haley and his offensive staff continue to tinker with the scheme in hopes of finding more point production. In the last few games, there has been a significant increase in shifting by the Chiefs offense and less motion. The development of Charles has led to more quick hitting running plays called between the tackles. That long TD run was courtesy of an old-fashioned trap play, as RG Wade Smith pulled and took DT Kyle Williams out of the play and opening a huge hole for Charles.
They are using more personal groups. At any time, there can be one, two, three backs on the field, or one, two, three or four wide receivers and one, two or three tight ends. So far, there’s only been one quarterback per play, but heaven knows that may change as well. They returned a bit of the so-called Wildcat to the offense last week, when Charles took a direct snap on a running play.
And on third downs, the Chiefs have gone to the no huddle. Last week, they caught Buffalo trying to change out personnel and the Bills had to take a timeout. The idea is to keep the defense from changing personnel.
What Haley is trying to do is have the Chiefs offense move at a faster pace, in and out of the huddle quicker, so there’s more time at the line of scrimmage for shifting and changing the play if necessary. If LT Branden Albert can limit the false start penalties, it would help matters tremendously.
Some of what the Chiefs do each week on offense is generated by the opponent. Some is Haley and staff continuing to figure out what they can and cannot do with the talent on hand.
I loved Al Saunders’ offense, so I am always in favor of as much shifting as possible. Once the Chiefs can find the right mix between Charles and their receivers holding onto the ball, this offense can get going I really believe that. It’s just so hard to get into any rhythm when you only have one viable running back and lead the league in drops.
Speaking of drops, the only team with more than the Chiefs (39) is the Browns (36). Odds are there will be plenty of passes hitting the ground Sunday at Arrowhead.
In last week’s six-point loss to Buffalo, Chris Chambers dropped a pass inside the Bills’ 5 late in the fourth quarter. In the previous week’s game against Denver, Lance Long dropped a pass in the end zone.
“I count drops and always have, and have been a pretty critical judge in that area,” said Chiefs coach Todd Haley, a former wide-receivers coach. “I do feel like if a receiver gets his hands on it, he should come up with it. That’s what they get paid for. We’ve had way too many.”
The phenomenon might be easier to explain if the Chiefs and Browns had one receiver dropping most of the passes, but it’s been an across-the-board situation for both teams. Bobby Wade has nine drops for the Chiefs, followed by Dwayne Bowe and Mark Bradley with seven.
Wide receivers Mohamed Massaquoi and Chansi Stuckey lead the Browns with seven apiece.
“We’ve actually made some strides since the early part of the season in that area,” Cleveland coach Eric Mangini said. “You try a lot of different things. It’s frustrating from a coaching perspective, and it’s frustrating from a player’s perspective.”
The Browns at least have the excuse that Massaquoi, a rookie, and Stuckey are young players. For the Chiefs, Wade, Bowe and Bradley are veterans.
“Anytime you see dropped passes, you just naturally think of the receivers,” Wade said. “There are a lot of things that go into that statistic.
“But the numbers are the numbers. A lot of it has to do with guys pressing and trying to make big plays. Guys are trying to make the great play instead of the play that comes to them. We’ve just got to rededicate ourselves to focusing on the football and making the difficult catches and getting all the ones that we should get.”
With all of the dropped throws, it’s no coincidence that the two quarterbacks, Cleveland’s Brady Quinn and the Chiefs’ Matt Cassel, have low completion percentages. Quinn is at 52.7 percent, Cassel 54.6 percent.
The league average is about 61 percent.
“You try not to think about it,” Quinn said. “As a quarterback, you just try to throw them a better ball if you can.”
Drops alone are not enough to explain Cassel’s poor season, but if you don’t think they have been a big factor than you just aren’t paying attention. His play has been very polarizing among Chiefs fans, but as Josh Looney talked about recently we were having this same discussion about Trent Green. It seemed everyone and their brother wanted to run Green out of town and we saw how things worked out for him post-“TrINT”.
The most dangerous player on the field for the Browns every week is jack-of-most trades Josh Cribbs. When he takes on the Chiefs Sunday he’ll be trying to prove to Cleveland that he’s worth a new contract sooner rather than later..
“My timetable is before the season ends,” Cribbs told Sirius NFL Radio. “I’m convinced [it will get done]. Definitely. Within the next three weeks definitely. I would definitely appreciate a deal before the end of this football season. It would show a lot of loyalty on their behalf.
“You know, I’ve been here from the beginning and steadfast with this football team and I feel like I’ve not caused a disturbance to where I’d let this off-the-field issue come on the field. And it hasn’t affected the players in any way. I feel like I’ve held up my end pretty good and, like I said, I’m just going to keep playing football and let that speak for itself. That’s my leverage.”
The Browns’ incentive for getting the deal done before the final game Jan. 3 is that the signing bonus would be tacked onto this year’s base salary and would count against the 2009 cap. The Browns are believed to have plenty of cap space available. A roster-type bonus paid in March would go on the 2010 cap.
Under most circumstances I hate when players every complain about their contract, but especially when they do it during the season. But with all of the cap space the Chiefs have, it seems like it would make sense for Scott Pioli to lock up some players they know fit like Brandon Flowers and Tamba Hali. Unfortunately the Chiefs run into the same problem as the Browns, there aren’t exactly a ton of players worthy of locking long term. For Cleveland, Cribbs is one of those guys and if he’s happy to stay in town you get that deal done tomorrow.