We're going to take a deeper look into the Kansas City Chiefs' offense in their victory over the Green Bay Packers last weekend in Kansas City. It's no surprise to anyone that watched the game and looked at the final box score that things were going well for the Chiefs on offense, particularly from the quarterback position and Kyle Orton. But we're going to look a little deeper at a few of those stats and also some situations that benefited the Chiefs offense from a play-calling standpoint.
The Chiefs ran 73 plays on offense against the Packers and of those plays, 46 of them were ran in Green Bay's territory. That's good for a 63% average. For comparison, you could say that one of the Chiefs best games earlier in the season from an offensive standpoint was against the one-win Indianapolis Colts. In that game the Chiefs ran 32 of 77 plays in Indy territory, good for 41%. Matt Cassel went 21-29 for 257 yards and four touchdowns in that game against the Colts, and Jackie Battle ran for 119 yards while the Chiefs averaged 5.1 yards per carry as a team. These numbers might give you an idea of how dominant the Chiefs really were against the Packers throughout the entire game. Neither team had a turnover in either of those games either.
The Chiefs ran 25 plays against the Packers that went for at least seven yards. Seven of those were on run plays and 18 were on pass plays. Thirteen of these plays were in the first half and twelve in the second half. Obviously the Chiefs found success moving the ball in chunks in both the first half and second half, and Orton found success with chunks of yardage in the passing game as he completed passes of 10+ yards to eight different receivers in this game.
There's the old saying that quarterbacks make their money on third down. Orton was 6-8 for 46 yards against the Packers on third down. Nothing spectacular but nothing to scoff at either. He was 7-10 for 63 yards from the shotgun and found a lot of success in 2nd and long situations as well. Orton was 7-7 for 69 yards on 2nd down and at least 7 yards to go, and six of those seven plays saw the Chiefs run the ball on 1st down.
You'll hear people talk about Orton's ability to disguise play-action passes and that this is a strength of his. Well here is the proof in the numbers. There was a stretch of 1st down plays that started on the Chiefs second drive that they ran the ball 10/11 times on first down. They gained 35 yards on these runs on first down. The 12th first down play was the 39-yard pass play to Leonard Pope, and it was set up by the Chiefs committing to the run on first down. Orton made a great read to hit an open Pope across the middle and just a couple of first downs later, Orton hits Steve Breaston for a 16-yard gain on another 1st and 10.
The Chiefs had these big pass plays because the Packers were sitting on the run. When you run the ball 10/11 times in a row on first down (and average 3.5 yards per carry doing it) the defense has to respect the run and therefore it opens up the play-action pass. So while Orton did his part in making the plays, the play-calls put these guys in a position to be successful.
While it's hard to determine whether or not this was just the perfect storm of Kyle Orton and this offense coming together at the right time to make a statement against the then-undefeated Packers, or whether this is truly a sign of things to come. But in any case it's a good thing that we have a couple of weeks left in the season to see if the production put forward against one of the best teams in the NFL is an exception to the rule, or the writing on the wall for a possible quarterback change for the Chiefs heading into 2012.