Now that I have your attention, I will clarify my title a bit: after 3 weeks of play, the Kansas City Chiefs are ranked number one in penalties. That’s number one in total penalties, penalty yards, net penalties, net yards, and total flags. This is not where we want to be ranked and, if we don’t get it fixed, it will bite us at some point and cost us a game.
Here’s The Situation
As of the end of week 3, we are averaging 11 penalties for about 100 yards per game. Think about that for a second. Stack those back to back and you have a touchdown for the other team. But really, it is bigger than that since they don’t all come on one series. Each of those could represent a missed first down, a punt instead of a FG, a missed FG, a first down for the other team, a FG instead of a punt for the other team, or a made FG for the other team. If you took 2 per series, that would be 5 series per game that give us a negative outcome. Possibly. Since we have apparently overcome all 33 and 301 yards so far.
What’ going on with the team? I seem to recall being one of the better disciplined teams in the league in the past. We didn’t lose our cool and put ourselves in a position to fail that often. Well, let’s take a look at the last several years.
I went back to 2012 to see how we actually did during the last half decade. I also extrapolated the 2017 full year based on the rate of the first 3 games. I wasn’t far off the mark. We were at the 2/3rds or less mark in number of penalties and yardage every year. We also had a net favorability in 3 of the prior 5 years. The other thing that stands out to me is that our net average yards per game has been between -3.4 to 10.6 yards per game. Or, basically, not impact up to a bonus first down. Compare that to giving up half a field per game this year.
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Here’s The Cause
What is so different this year, as compared to the past? The opposition average doesn’t seem very out of line. I don’t think the rules have changes enough to cause this, since we should see a corresponding change on the opposition. We have had a pretty stable coaching staff for most of those years. What could it be? Is it the players?
Before I get into the why, let’s take a look at the who and what. Here is a listing of the flags thrown against our misunderstood players.
I highlighted a couple of the big things in red blocks and font. You can also see that most of the penalties are coming on defense, some of which makes sense with teams challenging the non-Peters defensive backs. I will say that I thought we had more plays where we getting called after plays and false starting/offsides. It would appear from the data that we are really just getting beat too often. I would chalk the Holdings, DPIs, and Illegal Use of Hands to getting beat on a play and trying to “catch up”. Considering the alternative, probably not a bad idea, but we shouldn’t be there in the first place.
To pick on Eric Fisher for a minute, I remember hearing in the Charger game how Fisher really had his hands full with a player of Melvin Ingram’s caliber. My first thought was, Ingram should have his hands full dealing with Fisher. Fisher was a number one pick in the entire draft. Ingram was “only” an 18th pick.
Just trying to make the point that we have good players, so they shouldn’t be playing catch up this much. However, of the 37 total flags thrown, 11 of them went to Phillip Gaines and Terrence Mitchell. This makes some sense as they are taking more targets with Marcus Peters on the other side. Another 5 went to Bryan Witzmann, the new guy on the line at left guard. Those 3 players get us near half of the flags thrown.
After those 3 players, I can see how some of the other players will draw some occasionally. The ones I seem to remember the most and are the worst offenses are the 3 that went to Travis Kelce and Marcus Peters, 2 tauntings and an unsportsmanlike conduct. Those are losing your cool, letting the fire get out of control, and maybe even being a bit selfish.
That being said, those are two of our players that play with fire and determination, big time competitors. They need to gain the maturity of an Eric Berry or Justin Houston. I don’t think anyone would question their fire or determination, yet they keep it under control.
That’s a Wrap
While I don’t like the number of penalties, I can see why we are getting them. Best part is many of them can be addressed by revising the defensive scheme a bit to help out Mitchell and Gaines more. I really can’t say I want the guys like Kelce and Peters to tone it down, I think they need that attitude in the game. I would like them to channel it differently though.
All that being said, we are 3-0. Until next week, there’s The Rub!
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