The Kansas City Chiefs dropped a tough one against the Denver Broncos on Sunday in Kansas City by a score of 17-10. I went ahead and charted the Chiefs personnel packages each play and the results from those plays in a hope to find some useful information. Over the next few days that information will materialize in some stories here on SB Nation Kansas City. I didn't include the last four minutes of the game when the Chiefs went into desperation mode and the Broncos started playing the clock, instead of the Chiefs. I wanted to see what things were working and what things weren't when the teams were playing straight-up. One thing that clearly wasn't working for the Chiefs was the shotgun.
It would be easy to say that with all the pressure around Cassel all day that switching to the shotgun would be a better plan to give him more time to make a play. But that wasn't the case on Sunday. Cassel finished 1-13 out of the shotgun (not including the last four minutes). Cassel scrambled twice when facing pressure out of the shotgun that led to his two carries for 18 yards. The Denver Broncos had four sacks on the day, two of those came when Cassel was in the shotgun.
Of the 53 plays that I charted on Sunday, 31 of the plays had the Chiefs running a single back, single tight-end set. Also called 11-personnel. (1 running back, 1 tight end). More often than not in this game the Chiefs two tight-ends that were rotating in the game, Leonard Pope and Jake O' Connell, were playing off the line of scrimmage. 17 plays had the Chiefs in a 21-personnel (two running backs, 1 tight-end) and five plays had the Chiefs in a 12-personnel, where Pope and O'Connell were on the field at the same time. So for those who like percentages out there. 58% of the plays were in the 11-personnel, 32% in the 21-personnel and 10% in the 12-personnel.
The Chiefs did some very interesting things with their personnel packages in an attempt to get the matchups they were looking for in certain situations. There were eight different plays that had rookie wide receiver Jonathan Baldwin motioning into the backfield and set up as a fullback would. Six of those plays were passes and Cassel went 3-6 in those plays, including Dexter McCluster's big 3rd down catch that led to the Chiefs only touchdown.
The two running plays netted the Chiefs 16 yards and were both draws, most likely in an attempt to have Baldwin only need to shuffle his guy upfield rather than having him drive-block a front-seven defender. More interestingly when the Chiefs had Jake O' Connell doing this same motion into the backfield as Baldwin, they had Le'Ron McClain lined up as a wideout. McClain was split out as a wideout on Jackie Battle's 34 yard run to start the Chiefs' second half, and he threw a key block in helping that play develop.
Another interesting way to look at the personnel packages is to see the difference in the second half as compared to the first half. The Chiefs players and coaches get time during the half to talk about the weaknesses and areas they think they could find an advantage. One of those areas for the Chiefs had to be passing out of the 11-personnel. In the first half the Chiefs threw nine passes and had eight runs out of this personnel grouping. In the second half the Chiefs threw the ball 11 times and ran it just three out of the 11-personnel.
The total for the game was 11 runs and 20 passes out of the 11-personnel. That's definitely enough information for a defensive coordinator to consider a tendancy. And remember, I didn't chart the last four minutes because I didn't want to skew these kinds of numbers. The Chiefs came out firing in the one-back set in the second half because they obviously felt as if they had an advantage in this area.
In the Chiefs first three possessions after halftime they threw in the 11-personnel six times, including three in the opening touchdown drive. Cassel was 4-6 on those plays and the two incompletions were on the players execution, not the play-call. The Dexter McCluster wheel route that Cassel threw just a couple of feet too far in front of a fully-stretched out McCluster was one of them, as well as one of the Dwayne Bowe drops. The McCluster wheel route is something that all Chiefs fans have been waiting for this year as they try to find a way to get McCluster down the field and not just catching passes in the flat. It was a perfect play at the perfect time and Cassel just missed it.
There will be more information on the Chiefs personnel packages and tendencies later in the week.
Follow me on twitter @bkissel7