One of my favorite stats to follow at Football Outsiders is their rundown of ootballoutsiders.com/stats/teamdef" target="_blank">team defense versus different types of receivers (scroll down a bit to see it). FO figures out a team's DVOA against #1 wide receivers, #2 wide receivers, other wide receivers, tight ends, and running backs. While it's a bit early to declare this a definitive study for the season, the stats for the Kansas City Chiefs defense raised my eyebrows a bit.
After two weeks (small sample size alert), the Chiefs are ranked 8th against #1 WRs (thank you Brandon Flowers), 27th against #2 WRs, 11th against other WRs, 19th against RBs, and 29th against TEs. Given the 49ers tight end prowess, I'd like to think that caught your attention at least a little bit. The 49ers roll out Vernon Davis and Delanie Walker in a variety of roles that creates numerous mismatches. Their combinations of size and speed allow the 49ers to mix things up with both of them and find a good deal of success.
Thus far the Chiefs have faced the Chargers and the Browns. In the Chiefs game with San Diego, Antonio Gates had 5 receptions for 76 yards and 1 touchdown. In the Chiefs game with Cleveland, Ben Watson had 4 receptions for 62 yards. Gates is obviously a great tight end, while Watson is not exactly a slouch himself. And both found a good deal of success against the Chiefs defense.
This past Monday, the 49ers didn't target Vernon Davis until early in the second quarter and didn't complete a pass to him until late in the second quarter. It seems to me that the numbers would dictate finding Davis early and often tomorrow. Michael Crabtree could very well find himself having another quiet night if Flowers is draped on him. I'd imagine Davis and Josh Morgan will get a good number of passes thrown their way. And if DVOA is an accurate assessment at this early juncture of the season, Davis and Morgan could find a lot of success tomorrow.
Thoughts on those matchups, particularly that of Vernon Davis? And of course, will Delanie Walker get a chance to make some big plays out of the two tight end sets?
After Frank Gore, Vernon Davis may be the biggest focal point for the Chiefs. Tight ends have had some success against the Chiefs through two games.
In game one, Eric Berry was facing Antonio Gates so not exactly the easiest matchup in your first NFL game. In the first half, Gates showed why he was an All-Pro and took care of business against Berry and the Chiefs. By the second half, the Chiefs had to put a significant amount of attention on Gates to slow him down. Speaking of Football Outsiders,they had a good explanation of a Chiefs fourth and goal play to end this game and what they did Gates -- basically three people were on him.
In game two, Berry made a couple of mistakes. The first was taking a bad angle on a pass over the middle Ben Watson. He was able to make the catch and Berry came at him at the wrong angle and couldn't make the tackle allowing him to rumble down the field for 44 yards. Another play, Berry got fooled on a play-action and left Josh Cribbs in a one-on-one with Brandon Carr....65-yard touchdown.
So, yeah, the 49ers will have their shots with Berry. We're very happy with Berry but cognizant of the rookie mistakes that will come along with it.
After Gates, I imagine Davis won't go unnoticed. Look for the Chiefs to do some things defensively to focus on Davis and make your wideouts beat them.