KANSAS CITY, Mo. — So now it’s officially official: The Kansas City Chiefs are really good at being … um, average.
Hey, hey, hey. Not our words, boys and girls. We’ll explain.
The stat warlocks over at ProFootballFocus.com — or PFF, as their friends call them — released their breakdown of the Kansas City Chiefs’ 2014 depth chart earlier this week. And because it’s PFF, there are all kinds of really interesting/cool/subjective breakdowns, based on the scouting/analytical site’s grading system. Specifically — and this is the most interesting/cool/subjective part of all — PFF has broken down the Chiefs’ two-deep into what percentage of players fall into the following groups, relative to their NFL peers: Elite, High Quality, Good Starter, Average Starter, Below Average Starter, Poor Starter, Not Enough Information, or Rookie.
Now, as to which players fall into which category, the site says this:
Elite is as advertised. Broadly it’s the best 50 players in the NFL but that doesn’t mean (it’s) two or three from each position group across the board. There may be none or there may be seven or eight. That’s just the nature of it; some periods are good for one position, some others. Additionally, remember that our "Top 101 Players" series is based solely on their performance in 2013. These charts, as described above, take more than just last season into account.
That said, here was breakdown of the Chiefs’ starters, as determined by PFF scout Gordon McGuinness:
Good players or better: 35.7 percent
Average players: 32.1 percent
Below average players or worse: 28.5 percent.
Oh, to see John Dorsey’s face.
The site is admittedly prejudiced to its own eyes, its own interpretations, its own film and its own system. And there are some classifications that immediately raise eyebrows and test incredulity. Quarterback Alex Smith was a Pro Bowler last winter, and at least very good (23 touchdown passes, seven picks), by any objective measure; here, he was categorized as "Average" at his position by PFF — something Mrs. Smith and Smith’s agent, Tom Condon, might want to have a word with the stat boys about, given the reported sensitivity of Big No. 11’s contract talks.
On the flip side, PFF crushed slot cornerback (and the depth chart projects him as such) Brandon Flowers last fall (-5.9 rating, the worst of any Chiefs defensive starter), but classified him as "Good" for this week’s depth chart. It also considers kicker Ryan Succop as "Poor" and punter Dustin Colquitt as "Average," so maybe it’s best to take these ratings with more than a few grains of salt. If not the whole shaker.
And, to be fair, PFF admits its flaws, that it rates position players on this depth chart almost strictly on standard offensive or defensive sets, not for their work on special teams — something that hurts the often unheralded contributions of strong role players such as, say, safety Husain Abdullah or wideout Junior Hemingway, both of whom figure to have larger roles this fall.
So where does that put the Chiefs’ starters in context, relative to the rest of the "good" teams in the AFC?
Well, y’all might want to sit down.
That includes you, Andy Reid. You, too, Dorse. Especially you.
PFF has graded the rosters of every 2013-14 playoff team from the AFC except San Diego (these things are being released alphabetically, so the Jets, Raiders, Steelers, Chargers and Titans aren’t out to the public yet), and here’s where the Chiefs fall in terms of their playoff peers from last fall:
PERCENTAGE OF GOOD PLAYERS OR BETTER, AFC POSTSEASON TEAMS (NOT INCLUDING SAN DIEGO)
PERCENTAGE OF AVERAGE PLAYERS, AFC POSTSEASON TEAMS (NOT INCLUDING SAN DIEGO)
1. CHIEFS — 32.1 percent
2. Cincinnati — 31.0 percent
3. Indianapolis — 28.6 percent
4. Denver — 25.0 percent
5. New England — 21.4 percent
PERCENTAGE OF BELOW-AVERAGE PLAYERS OR WORSE, AFC POSTSEASON TEAMS (NOT INCLUDING SAN DIEGO)
1. CHIEFS — 28.5 percent
2 (tie). New England, Indianapolis — 21.4 percent
4. Cincinnati — 20.6 percent
5. Denver — 3.6 percent
OK, Dorse. DORSE! Put the scimitar down.
So there it is. Take it for what it’s worth, and spin it how you like. Overachievers? Flawed roster? The big picture probably, truthfully, isn’t that unexpected, given that the Chiefs lost at least four PFF favorites in left tackle Branden Albert (+10.0 grade last fall), guard Geoff Schwartz (+18.6), guard Jon Asamoah (+7.9) and defensive end Tyson Jackson (+14.6).
Although: Dustin Colquitt, "Average?"
Come on, sarge.
And keep this in mind, too: According to PFF, most Chiefs players — 13 of them — fell into one of two categories. The first was "Average." The second? "Not Enough Information."
Which is interesting, too.
In other words, much of the The Andy Gang remains an enigma, an unknown, a pendulum that could swing either way. And those unknowns could damn well determine whether Reid’s behind the wheel of a carriage or a pumpkin when the clock finally strikes midnight.