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Kansas City Chiefs' 3rd down problems

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Inside the numbers on the Kansas City Chiefs' performance on third down situations in 2012.

Jason Miller

I went back and charted the 3rd down numbers for the Chiefs offense and defense so far this season. The numbers were pretty surprising when compared early in the season to just the last five games.

In five of the first eight games of the season the Chiefs had a better percentage of converting 3rd downs than their opponents. They actually had the same percentage as the New Orleans Saints (38%) in that game. So it was just twice in the first eight games that the opponent had a better conversion percentage, the games against Buffalo and Tampa Bay.

The Chiefs first game of the season against the Atlanta Falcons the Chiefs converted 11/16 (68%) while the Falcons converted on just 5/10 (50%) on 3rd down.

Those numbers hold true in both games against the San Diego Chargers this season with the Chiefs holding a better percentage of conversion, and also the games against the Baltimore Ravens and Oakland Raiders.

In the first eight games of the season the Chiefs converted 50/113 (44%) plays on 3rd down. In the last five games the Chiefs have converted just 13/63 (20%). For the last five games (since Steelers game) the Chiefs opponents have had a better third down conversion percentage than the Chiefs.

It's interesting to look at these numbers because there's no real correlation between conversion percentage and wins, or even the final score. We were actually getting blown out early in the season when we had better conversion numbers as four of the Chiefs losses by at least 10 points this season have come in games where the Chiefs had a better 3rd down conversion percentage.

Since Romeo Crennel fired himself as defensive coordinator on November 5th, which was right before the Pittsburgh Steelers game, the Chiefs have gotten worse on defense and offense on third down. He was supposedly going to 'spend more time with the offense' by promoting Gary Gibbs to defensive coordinator.

Before Crennel's 'self-firing' the Chiefs defense had 31/88 plays converted on 3rd down (35%), and afterwards the defense has had 28/69 3rd downs converted (41%).

These are pretty small sample sizes and it's not really fair to make too much of a conclusion based on these numbers. But the offense and defense have each gotten worse over the past five games according to these numbers and that's not a good sign for either side of the ball.

It's also worth noting that there haven't been any games that Brady Quinn has started where the Chiefs had a better conversion rate on 3rd down than their opponents.

These numbers do show the Chiefs could use an upgrade at quarterback. In case you didn't know.