Ridiculous Rushes and Improbable Completions

So, Week 1 is in the books. A thoroughly professional performance by the offence as they put up 31 unanswered points on the way to a game that wasn’t as close as the final score made it seem.

Let’s take a look through the NextGen Stats to have a look at the good and the not so good of Thursday night’s season opener.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire

The star of the show on offence. 138 yards on 25 carries is a good stat line, but how he achieved it was even more impressive.

The most impressive thing about Edwards-Helaire’s debut for me is that he had success in every direction.

Off tackle to either side? 51 yards. In between the tackles? 87 yards. Run left? Success. Run right? Success. He made things happen no matter the direction and who he was running behind.

Looking at the NextGen stats “Remarkable Rushes” he was even more impressive. They calculate how many yards a run is expected to gain when the handoff is made depending on the positions of the players around him. 5 of the top 6 rushes of the night belonged to him. He made yards out of nothing on a regular basis. This, I’m sure, was helped by the Texans having to respect the KC passing game. He only faced 8 defenders in the box on 36% of his carries. I like his chances of making things happen with lighter boxes to wade through. He also had 106 yards after contact. Rarely was it the first defender to take him down. He finished runs well and frequently fell forwards, a remarkably undervalued trait.

Overall he had a genuinely impressive debut, he is going to be a stud in this offence.

Patrick Mahomes

24 of 32 for 211 yards with 3 touchdowns and no picks. Good for a passer rating of 123.3. Relatively subdued stats by his standards but he didn’t need to do anything fancy, he just took what the defence gave him.

Looking at the NextGen stats, the striking one is the % of aggressive throws. Only 6% of throws were made to a receiver where he had 1 yard or less of seperation. He didn’t try to throw it in to tight windows much, because he didn’t need to. His average throw was 3 yards short of the sticks too, get it to the playmakers and let them do their thing.

Taking a closer look at “Improbable Completions”, most of Mahomes throws were high completion probability. The touchdown to Hill was the only one where he had a 50/50 chance to complete it. Apart from that he played the percentages and took what he was given. A very mature and composed performance.

Demarcus Robinson

Finally, to the one flaw in the performance. The score line could have been even more of a blowout if Robinson had taken advantage of the opportunities offered to him.

The average separation at the catch. Robinson averaged an insane 7 yards separation and he still only came up with 3 catches on 6 targets. He dropped 2 very catchable touchdowns. That’s not good enough. He was involved in 48% of the snaps, which Mecole Hardman only featured in 29%. Expect that to change if he can’t catch at better than 50% rate.

Overall, this performance served as a warning to the rest of the league. If you want to beat the Chiefs you’re going to have to score early and often. If you chose to protect against the pass then Edwards-Helaire is going to gash you. If you commit to stopping him then Mahomes, Hill, Kelce and Watkins will mince you.

Good luck NFL.

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