Can Andy Reid Help the Chiefs Offense?
The last time Andy Reid wasn’t coaching the Eagles, you could see The Big Lebowski in theaters. Tomogachis were a thing, and Google was just being founded.
I’d be willing to bet there are a few of you reading this right now who don’t even know what life is like with an Andy Reid-less Philadelphia Eagles team. I’d also be willing to bet some of you have never seen this video of him, which is incredible and highly recommended.
The Walrus is in Kansas City now, and last year’s 2-14 Chiefs are looking to rebound. In terms of fantasy production, can the Eagles ex-coach make a big difference throughout the Chiefs once-dreadful offense? As always, let’s let the numbers talk.
Playmaker Production in Philly
Reid coached the Eagles from 1999 through 2012, giving us tons of data to look at. Instead of peeking all the way back to the Saved By the Bell: The New Class days though, I’ll take a look at the last seven years Reid had in Philly. It should give us a good idea of how his offenses have performed in a newer NFL.
Since 2006, Reid has had four passers who have thrown the ball 200 or more times in a single season: Donovan McNabb, Michael Vick, Kevin Kolb and Nick Foles. The highest passing net expected points total from any of these quarterbacks in any of those seasons was 70.84. Donovan McNabb accomplished that feat in 2008.
To put this number another way, McNabb added 70.84 more points to the Eagles output than an average quarterback would have over the course of the ‘08 season. Is that a significant number? Well, McNabb ranked 10th in the league in passing efficiency that season, and if he would’ve scored that in 2012, he would’ve been less effective through the air than 2012’s Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger. So no. The number isn’t all that noteworthy.
I took a look at the Eagles adjusted passing net expected points per play (Adj PNEP/P) as well under Reid, and the story was the same. Of course we could’ve vaguely concluded that by his shoddy team quarterback numbers, but the Adj PNEP/P statistic takes opponent strength into consideration, and will show us how many points are being added on a per play basis through the air.
From 2006 through 2012, Andy Reid’s offense ranked in the top 10 in terms of effectiveness just once (and they were 9th that year, 2006). Last season the team was ranked 27th in passing effectiveness per play, and in a typical year, you’d find the passing offense to be very middle-of-the-road.
One thing to keep in mind with Reid’s teams is their tendency to throw the ball. Though his squads haven’t been efficient through the air, they typically rank in the top half of NFL teams in terms of pass to rush ratio, mostly because of the short passes in his West Coast Offense.
Running Back Production
Over the same time span, three different running backs have rushed the ball 100 or more times in a season for the Eagles: Brian Westbrook, LeSean McCoy and Bryce Brown. There’s been eight total instances (only once were there multiple 100-plus attempt rushers), and overall, the efficiency is solid.
Bryce Brown and LeSean McCoy each suffered negative rush efficiency scores last season, but much of that had to do with the fact that the team ranked fourth to last in terms of rushing net expected points per play. Their offensive line played a part in this, as only Arizona, Oakland and Pittsburgh were worse running the ball.
Outside of 2012 though, the Eagles have run the ball surprisingly well under Reid. Since 2006, they’ve ranked in the top three in rushing NEP/attempt four times, including two top ranks. We can certainly say some of this is due to the running abilities of Michael Vick and Donovan McNabb, but I think it also shows how well the running game opens up with the short passes in Reid’s West Coast Offense. Brian Westbrook and LeSean McCoy have proven to be studs in that offense, after all.
Wide Receiver Production
You could argue that Andy Reid hasn’t had a legitimate number one target in his offense since Terrell Owens. Apologies for not including the 2004 and 2005 seasons in this analysis, but I assure you I’ll get to the popcorn-eating Owens.
All in all, the Eagles wideouts have performed as you’d expect from a West Coast Offense. They’re productive, but not Calvin Johnson-like productive. The best season came from Kevin Curtis (bet you haven’t heard that name in a while) in 2007, as his receiving net expected points totaled 96.49. If Curtis had scored that well in 2012 – a time of more passing in the NFL – he would’ve still ranked around the top-15 wide receivers.
But again, Reid hasn’t had a stud in the receiving game for quite some time. No pass catcher has caught 80 or more balls under Reid since 2006, which is surprising considering the offense’s propensity to toss the pigskin.
What This Means for the Chiefs
Alex Smith fits the theoretical mold for Andy Reid’s offense, but I’m not sure we should get overly excited about him. It’s easy for us to have a Recency Bias and think Smith is going to turn the Chiefs passing game around, but consider this: 2011 and 2012 were the only two seasons of Alex Smith’s seven-year career where he had a positive impact – in terms of passing net expected points – towards his team’s output. And considering he may see an uptick in pass attempts, as shown by Andy Reid’s past usage with his quarterbacks, that could spell trouble for the signal-caller.
In terms of fantasy, Smith shouldn’t be considered anything but a waiver wire option in standard leagues. I suspect he’ll be started some weeks if the matchup is good, but don’t expect a big turnaround from him. He’s yet to prove he can consistently be a high-volume guy.
Running Back Potential
Although Reid’s offenses have never been great passing the football, the typical high pass to run proportion allows for a highly effective running game. Advantage Jamaal Charles.
Want a reason to be excited for Jamaal Charles? Over the last seven years, there have been six occasions where an Andy Reid-coached running back ran the ball 200 or more times. In all six occurrences, that running back – either Brian Westbrook or LeSean McCoy - caught at least 48 passes. And we’ve seen a 77-, 78- and 90-reception year, too.
Not only could Charles be in for a big year through the air in Kansas City, but he’s been a runner who’s been able to do a lot with a little. Considering the offense will more than likely open up the running game, Charles has a legitimate shot to be a league leader in average yards per carry this season. He’s not just advantageous to look at in the first round of PPR leagues. He’s worthwhile in all leagues.
Wide Receiver Potential
Here’s where things get tricky. On one hand, we haven’t really seen a crazy-good year from an Eagles wide receiver in some time. On the other hand, there haven’t been many crazy-good Eagles receivers.
Remember when I said I’d get to T.O.? That’s now. When Owens was a full-time Eagle (2004), he ranked 12th in receiving net expected points (among receivers with 50 or more targets), finishing with 77 catches on 127 targets. Keep in mind; Owens played just 14 games that season, totaling 1,200 yards and 14 touchdowns. Can Chiefs stud wideout Dwayne Bowe hit those numbers?
Potentially, but don’t bank on it. Bowe’s not as talented as T.O. was in his prime, as Owens outscores him pretty heavily in receiving efficiency. And you could certainly feel less confident about it because of his quarterback playing under new coaching.
numberFire has Bowe projected for about 72 catches, 1,038 yards and five to six scores. Given Reid’s history of wide receiver play, this looks to be on the higher end, which makes sense given Bowe’s talent. He’s a sound WR2 in most leagues, but I wouldn’t feel confident having him as a full-blown WR1 on my squad in 2013.