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3rd and Long - Another Scary Performance by our D

We had our worst 3rd down D performance since the horrible 08 Broncos D. We allowed KC to convert 7 or 9 on 3rd and long. We lost the time of possession by 13 minutes, and we still won.

Doug Pensinger

Remember, if you will, the first game of the season in 2012. We were playing a Steelers team coming off of a good season (12-4). In that game, our defense allowed Big hasBen to convert on 7 of 9 3rd and longs and 11 of 19 3rd downs overall. Keep that in mind while you look at how atrocious our 3rd down D was on Sunday.

The official gamebook shows that the Chiefs were able to convert 11 of 16 3rd downs, but doesn’t include the three 3rd downs that they converted via defensive penalty. So they were actually 14 of 19 on 3rd down (74%). That’s the worst 3rd down performance for our defense in the Del Rio era, but wait, it gets worse. We got the Chiefs in 3rd and long 11 times, twice we had penalties to make it 3rd and medium, but in the remaining 9 times we allowed them to convert 7. That is the exact result that Big Ben has put on our D in the opening game on 2012 – converting 7 of 9 3rd and longs. Here are all 11 situations from Sunday with the two defensive penalties included:

3rd and 8 at KC 32

(9:54) (Shotgun) A.Smith pass short middle to J.Charles to KC 40 for 8 yards (T.Ward). Penalty on DEN-V.Miller, Defensive Offside, declined.

3rd and 19 at DEN 42

(6:22) (Shotgun) A.Smith up the middle to DEN 38 for 4 yards. PENALTY on KC, Illegal Forward Pass, 5 yards, enforced at DEN 38.

3rd and 9 at DEN 32

(2:19) (Shotgun) A.Smith pass incomplete deep right to D.Bowe (A.Talib). PENALTY on DEN-D.Ware, Defensive Offside, 5 yards, enforced at DEN 32 - No Play.

3rd and 9 at KC 48

(14:26) (Shotgun) PENALTY on DEN, Defensive 12 On-field, 5 yards, enforced at KC 48 - No Play.

3rd and 18 at KC 12

(13:51) (Shotgun) A.Smith pass deep right to T.Kelce ran ob at KC 32 for 20 yards.

3rd and 11 at KC 42

(11:45) (Shotgun) A.Smith pass short middle to D.Bowe to DEN 44 for 14 yards (B.Roby).

3rd and 13 at DEN 47

(9:34) (Shotgun) A.Smith pass incomplete deep left to D.Bowe. PENALTY on DEN-M.Jackson, Roughing the Passer, 15 yards, enforced at DEN 47 - No Play.

3rd and 8 at DEN 8

(6:12) A.Smith pass incomplete short left to D.Harris. PENALTY on DEN-C.Harris, Illegal Contact, 4 yards, enforced at DEN 8 - No Play.

3rd and 19 at DEN 19

(5:11) (Shotgun) A.Smith pass incomplete short right to D.Avery.

3rd and 13 at DEN 28

(7:52) (Shotgun) A.Smith pass short middle to T.Kelce pushed ob at DEN 4 for 24 yards (B.Roby).

3rd and 9 at KC 45

(2:09) (Shotgun) A.Smith pass deep right to T.Kelce to DEN 35 for 20 yards (T.Ward).

To pour some salt into the gaping wound that is our defense, only one of these stops was a "forced stop." The other could have been a conversion if Alex Smith had thrown the ball before he crossed the LOS. Looking at it another way, we forced KC into 3rd and Long 11 times and we committed defensive penalties on 5 of those 11 plays (2 offsides, 12 men, illegal contact and roughing).

To put this performance (or lack thereof) in perspective, we should note that in 2012 we allowed only 25 total conversion on 3rd and long (with almost 25% of those coming in the opener against Pitt). In 2013 we only allowed 30 total conversions on 3rd and long. We finished 2012 allowing 26.3% conversion on 3rd and long. We finished 2013 allowing 24.8% on 3rd and long. Currently we are allowing 53.3% conversion on 3rd and long (8/15), only because we held IND to 1 of 6 in week 1.

One of the reasons why we got KC in a bunch of 3rd and long situations is that our run D on 1st down was quite good. We allowed 55 yards on 15 carries (3.7 ypc) with 1 TFL and 1 stop for no gain. Most of that yardage came on two runs – the 10 yard scramble one KC’s first offensive play and the 19 yard Davis run in the second quarter. The other 13 first down runs netted 26 yards (2.0 ypc). The huge caveat here is that KC played almost the whole game without Jamaal Charles, who currently has the second best ypc average in NFL history (he’s first if you only count guys that played since the merger). Kniles Davis

So now we need to answer why we allowed 7 of 9 3rd and longs to be converted to a wounded Chiefs team (without their best play-maker in Charles). The pressure that we were able to get on Alex Smith was sporadic and generally ineffective because of his ability to move in the pocket and scramble if necessary. ESPN currently shows that while we had two sacks, we did not register any QB hits on Smith (hitting him right after he has thrown the ball). Smith’s 26/42 for 255 stat line is more a result of his receivers dropping balls than of our defenses ability to put pressure on him. He was better than that on Sunday. Frankly, he played well enough to beat us.

The Time of Possession (ToP) difference in this game was very similar to the ToP difference last year’s loss to SD. The Chiefs (who ran 75 plays to our 46) controlled the clock – holding the ball for 36:14, largely based on two 3 and outs by our offense and a 10 minute drive by the Chiefs. I don’t know what to do to fix the D, but this extreme bend-don’t-break D has left us on the brink of disaster twice in two games. Yes the Orange Crush was great at stopping teams in the red zone while giving up lots of yardage through air similar to this D so far. However, our D needs to get better at getting our offense the ball back or we are going to be looking at a very disappointing season. I'm not going to bother to compare this D to the OC defense this week; right now, they don't deserve that and it would be disrespectful to the OC. Hopefully the D will start to warrant that comparison in the next few weeks.