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Playbook Confidential: Chargers @ Chiefs

We noted last week that the Kansas City defense had statistically equivalent and pedestrian run and pass defense, and that Norv Turn would be able to pick his poison on Monday Night.  The Chargers continued a three week march towards arena football style pure passing.  After 60/40 running against the Broncos and 60/40 passing against the Jets, Norv called two passes for every run this week at a 67/33 split.  1st down remains a consistent coin flip for run/pass week in and week out, while 3rd down continues to be an exclusive passing down.  2nd down is the place where week-to-week offensive game plans have moved the run/pass needle, and this week 2nd down was for throwing the ball out of "11" and "12" personnel.  It's a good thing we have the Rivers fumble to direct our fan rage at, because out of 76 plays, there were only two goal line possessions and 8 red zone snaps for us to get fussy about playcalling over.  As usual the log is available to draw your own defeatist conclusions from.

Down Run Pass Total
1st 17 18 35
2nd 6 18 24
3rd 2 14 16
Total 25 51 76
Red Zone 3 4 7




The offense had thirteen possessions, and I can only really count four of them as truly successful at moving the football (drives 5, 8,10, and 11).  The other nine drives either went nowhere( drives 1, 4, 7,9, 13), or resulted in a turnover (2, 3, 6, 12).

Drive Run Pass Total Yards Result
1 1 2 3 -1 Punt
2 0 1 1 0 Interception
3 4 5 9 53 Interception
4 2 4 6 21 Punt
5 1 5 6 46 Field Goal
6 1 3 4 38 Fumble
7 1 4 5 32 Missed FG
8 3 6 9 67 Field Goal
9 1 2 3 4 Field Goal
10 2 4 6 54 Field Goal
11 2 9 11 80 Touchdown
12 6 4 10 32 Fumble
13 1 2 3 -2 Punt


The game plan called for running Ryan Mathews into the ground, and run him into the ground they did.  Up until the point that Mathews left the game, the snap count was 53 for Mathews and only 7 for Curtis Brinkley.  In the end, Brinkley wound up with almost 30% of the halfback snaps, and took precedence over the far more experienced Jacob Hester.  The outlook for next week looks similar, with the change of Mathews out and Mike Tolbert in as lead back.

Halfback Snaps Running Plays Passing Plays Run %
Mathews 53 13 40 25%
Brinkley 22 11 10 50%
Hester (as HB)
1 0 1 0%


This week the left outside runs went off, even without Dielman in the game.  I'm guessing this has to do with Tamba Hali caring only about sack stats and over pusuing on run plays to his side.  I really wonder what insider insight Norv Turner has that causes him to continue to shy away from highly successful outside run mis-matches week to week.  Is it simply because they run so little to the outside, that outside runs (this week to the left only) are so good?  One obvious trend to keep your eyes on in the future is that all "22" and "23" runs went up the middle.  Go ahead and impress that Packer friend that you watch the game with this week by calling a run up the middle every time you see Hester with a sea of tight ends in the huddle.  Put money on it if it's first down!  Get out the valuables if it's the red zone or goal line!

Rushes Average
Left 4 9.8
Middle 16 3.3
Right 4 1.5


This next table is where I get to do that thing I do every week; run off into a weird tangent finding beautiful patterns where there probably are none.  I wanted to look at the running game out of various personnel groups.  Runs out of "11" show the best YPC to Distance to Go ratio, meaning they get the most yards with the most yards needed.  Using this ratio (that I totally just made up) removes the excuse that jumbo formations "22" and "23" usually are used in short yardage situations and don't have as big of a YPC.  Runs out of "13" and "21" were especially lame, but the sample size is pretty small.  The point I'm trying to get at is that the offense needs more shotgun and "11" runs.

Personnel # Runs YPC Avg to go ratio
11 4 7.5 10.5 0.71
12 11 4.4 9.3 0.47
13 1 2 15 0.13
21 2 -0.5 10 -0.05
22 6 3.3 8.2 0.40
23 1 2 2 1.00


The rest of the personnel picture reads like it does week in and week out.  The only remotely interesting feature this week was the use of "13" twice.  Yawn.  "12" took all of "21"'s playing time this week.  I wonder if "21" showed up late for a meeting or something.  Keep in mind that "12" is basically "11" with Gates in the slot a lot of the time.  If we get into the last third of the season and this kind of boring predictable personnel use continues, I might have to go hat shopping with John Gennaro.

Personnel Run Pass Total
11 4 17 21
12 11 28 39
13 1 1 2
21 2 2 4
22 5 3 8
23 1 0 1

Personnel 11 12 13 21 22 23
1st 3 22 1 2 6 1
2nd 6 13 1 2 2 0
3rd 12 3 0 0 1 0


Next week:

The Packers show a huge disparity between their raw yardage stats and DVOA, probably because their offense is so good, they spend a lot of time protecting leads.  Their rush and pass DVOAs are ranked similarly, so look for Norv to continue to try to resuscitate the Rivers mojo, doubly so if only Tolbert and Brinkley are available to run the ball.  I think Norv should just deactivate all running backs this week. What the heck.

Packers Defense Yards per Game Rank DVOA Rank
Passing 289 31 14.70% 20
Rushing 102 10 -2.50% 19

All VOA, DVOA, YAR and DYAR statistical values are developed, calculated and reported by Football Outsiders. Their explanation can be found here.

Random Cumulative Season Stats of the week:

  • On Rivers' 9 interceptions: four were on 1st down and four were on 3rd down, leaving only one 2nd down pick this season.  This pretty much fits the excited (first down) and pressing (third down) analysis.
  • Check out Passing results by down.  I'd really like to see Norv turn his playcalling schedule upside down and to be more aggressive with the passing game on 1st down and sneakier with 3rd down runs.
Down Completion % YPA Average Completion Yards
1st 63% 8.3 13.0
2nd 59% 6.6 11.0
3rd 57% 7.2 14.4