Analysis Necessary Roughness

Necessary Roughness: Do the Chiefs really have an issue in the red zone or were the last two weeks an anomaly?

For the past two weeks, the Kansas City Chiefs had to settle for field goals more times than they would have wanted. Does Andy Reid and Eric Bienemy have a problem on their hands or were those games just a fluke?

Down 10-9 to begin the third quarter on Sunday, the Kansas City Chiefs were hoping to finally get their offense going and begin pulling away from the 4-7 Broncos. However, after marching all the way down to the nine-yard line, quarterback Patrick Mahomes took a sack on third and goal and the Chiefs had to settle for another field goal. This was their third consecutive field goal in the game and their fourth trip to the red zone without a touchdown. In fact, they have failed to score a touchdown in the red zone during the past two games.

So, the presumption is that there are some serious issues with the Chiefs’ red zone efficiency. However, if we look at their red zone performance throughout the season, the Chiefs actually do pretty well. In week three’s convincing victory over the Baltimore Ravens, the Chiefs scored a touchdown all three times they were inside the red zone. They were even able to hit a wide-open Eric Fisher for a two-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Kansas City was 80 percent effective in the red zone during their week five loss to the Raiders at home. They got in the endzone four of the five times they were in the red zone and the only one that they had to settle for a field goal on was after a four-yard touchdown to Clyde Edwards-Helaire was called back for a questionable offensive pass interference call. Per teamrankings.com, after the Raiders game the Chiefs moved up to seventh in red zone touchdown percentage.

In fact, the Chiefs remained in the top ten for red zone touchdown percentage until after the Buccaneers game. In that game, the Chiefs’ offensive style shifted as they were protecting a three-score lead after halftime. It’s not an excuse for poor execution but obviously, protecting the lead is more important.

Scoring points, in general, is more important, and even though the Chiefs have shown some issues in the red zone lately, they are still one of the most potent offenses in the league. They rank second in the league in points per game with 30.8 but they have only had 119 offensive drives. Only two teams have had less.

Out of those 119 drives, they have been in the red zone 47 times. The Chiefs have 72 drives that have not ended up in the red zone, but they have scored 17 touchdowns on those drives. That means 24 percent of the drives that do not end up in the red zone for Kansas City still end up in a touchdown. That is by far the best in the league and the next closest to that mark is 18 percent by Baltimore and Green Bay.

So, while the Kansas City Chiefs’ red zone statistics are not the best right now, they still score a ton of points. In fact, last Sunday’s 22-16 win over the Broncos broke a 25-game streak of scoring 23 or more points. They missed it by one. They still got the win and that is really all that matters. We can look at numbers and percentages all we want, but the fact remains that the Kansas City Chiefs are 11-1 and are tied for the best record in the NFL. If they continue this success throughout the playoffs and into the Super Bowl, no one will care how good they were in the red zone.

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