Analytics Recap: Kansas City Chiefs at Los Angeles Chargers
The Kansas City Chiefs survived a scare on Sunday in their Week 2 game against the Los Angeles Chargers, led by rookie quarterback Justin Herbert in his pro debut. Herbert performed admirably, but a couple of rookie mistakes and with a couple of poor playcalling decisions were enough to give the Chiefs a 2-0 start to the season.
Here are the advanced numbers, such as expected points added (EPA), success rate, and completion percentage over expectation (CPOE) for the game on Ben Baldwin's stats website, rbsdm.com. The Chiefs' passing game was a big part of the victory, getting 356 total yards and 8.9 EPA on dropbacks (scrambles included) compared to 71 yards and -0.7 EPA on designed runs. That gap would only have widened if not for the four drops they had, along with the numerous penalties that took away big plays.
The top five players of the game for EPA (offense-only) were Patrick Mahomes (8.9), Austin Ekeler (7.0), Justin Herbert (6.5), Mecole Hardman (3.9) and Travis Kelce (3.6).
Another interesting aspect of the game was that Darwin Thompson, the Chiefs' 2019 sixth-round pick, played a more efficient game than Clyde Edwards-Helaire, their 2020 first-round pick. Thompson had 2.3 EPA, 5.3 yards per carry and a 50% success rate on his runs compared to Edwards-Helaire's -2.7 EPA, 3.8 yards per carry and a 20% success rate on his runs. Obviously, Edwards-Helaire is more talented and had a great Week 1, but this is a feather in the cap for Thompson and hopefully leads to more playing time for him.
For some league-wide metrics, the Chiefs are off to a slower start to the season, with the 10th-ranked offense and the 21st-ranked defense for EPA per play, but a more positive note is that they have jumped from 15th to seventh in early-down passing rate after having the fifth-highest early-down passing rate of Week 2 (around 62-63%). While it isn't the incredible 67% they had last season when they broke the single-season record for early-down passing rate, it is a step in the right direction after their 49% early-down passing rate in Week 1.