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Coaching Matters: 2021 Kansas City Chiefs Coaching Staff Preview

After every NFL season, NFL teams take the time to evaluate not only the players but also the coaching staff and front office as well. While many teams choose to retain the same head coach, offensive coordinator, and defensive coordinator, a few other teams opt to go in a new direction with their coaching staff.

One team that managed to maintain their core coaching staff this offseason was the Kansas City Chiefs, with head coach Andy Reid, offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, and defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo all returning for the 2021-22 season.

This article will look at the potential impact this coaching staff will have on the players and try to pinpoint the Chiefs players' fantasy values in it.

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The Baseline

To get a better understanding of the value the Chiefs coaches help bring to this team, we can look at the NFL league averages in each of the past two years in a variety of statistical categories and then compare them to the averages achieved by the Chiefs' coaches. Here are 'The Baseline' NFL league averages over the past couple of years:

QB Impact

Year Team Pass Att. Team Pass Yds. Team Pass TDs QB Carries QB Rush Yds. QB Rush TDs
2019 League Average
34.87 251.78 1.56 3.56 15.04 0.16
2020 League Average 35.19 254.88 1.70 4.19 18.43 0.25

RB Impact

Year RB Carries RB Rush Yds. RB Rush TDs RB Rec. RB Targets RB Rec. Yds. RB Rec. TDs
2019 League Average
21.77 92.96 0.68 5.10 6.64 40 0.19
2020 League Average
21.68 95.13 0.75 4.71 6.14 34.94 0.18

WR Impact

Year WR Rec. WR Targets WR Rec. Yds. WR Rec. TDs
2019 League Average
12.05 19.59 158.39 0.95
2020 League Average
13.24 20.21 166.67 1.04

TE Impact

Year TE Rec. TE Targets TE Rec. Yds. TE Rec. TDs
2019 League Average
4.70 6.88 50.99 0.38
2020 League Average
4.76 7.03 51.29 0.45

Defense Impact

Year Points Allowed Pass Yds Given Up Run Yds Given Up Plays Against Yds/Play
Turnovers Forced
22.8 235 112.9 63.5 5.5 1.4
24.8 240.2 118.9 64.3 5.6 1.3

 

2021 Offense

2021 Head Coach: Andy Reid

The Kansas City Chiefs hired Andy Reid to be the team's head coach back in 2013 after he spent 14 seasons as the head coach with the Philadelphia Eagles (1999-2012). He's been one of the best coaches in the NFL over the past two decades, compiling a 221-130-1 record during his head coaching career. Given Andy Reid's offensive background, let's dive into some offensive statistics from Reid's time in a head coaching role in order to get a better understanding of how Reid has historically utilized his players.

QB Impact

Year Games Team Pass Att. Team Pass Yds. Team Pass TDs QB Carries QB Rush Yds. QB Rush TDs
2019 Chiefs 16 36 293.13 1.88 3 13.56 0.13
2020 Chiefs 16 39.38 312.81 2.5 4.31 19.13 0.19
Reid's Career Averages (OC/HC) 352 34.58 247.36 1.60 4.43 22.59 0.64

RB Impact

Year Games RB Carries RB Rush Yds. RB Rush TDs RB Rec. RB Targets RB Rec. Yds.
RB Rec. TDs
2019 Chiefs 16 19.19 80.19 0.81 5.44 6.69 39.13 0.25
2020 Chiefs 16 19.75 83.5 0.5 4.75 6.94 36.5 0.19
Reid's Career Averages (OC/HC) 352 19.97 87.43 0.64 4.94 6.74 42.64 0.28

WR Impact

Year Games WR Rec. WR Targets WR Rec. Yds. WR Rec. TDs
2019 Chiefs 16 11.31 18.31 168.5 1.31
2020 Chiefs 16 14.06 20.69 181.5 1.56
Reid's Career Averages (OC/HC) 352 10.65 18.52 144.45 0.88

TE Impact

Year Games TE Rec. TE Targets TE Rec. Yds. TE Rec. TDs
2019 Chiefs 16 6.75 9.69 84.13 0.31
2020 Chiefs 16 7.38 10.31 94.69 0.69
Reid's Career Averages (OC/HC) 352 4.75 7.37 55.22 0.40

 

2021 Offensive Coordinator: Eric Bieniemy

Eric Bieniemy got promoted to the Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator job in 2018 after serving as the team's running backs coach from 2013-2017. While he's never been the team's offensive play-caller, let's take a look at some statistics from Eric Bieniemy's time in the Chiefs offensive coordinator role.

QB Impact

Year Games Team Pass Att. Team Pass Yds. Team Pass TDs QB Carries QB Rush Yds. QB Rush TDs
2019 Chiefs 16 36 293.13 1.88 3 13.56 0.13
2020 Chiefs 16 39.38 312.81 2.5 4.31 19.13 0.19
Bieniemy's Career Averages (OC/HC) 48 37.27 308.77 2.5 3.71 16.63 0.15

RB Impact

Year Games RB Carries RB Rush Yds. RB Rush TDs RB Rec. RB Targets RB Rec. Yds.
RB Rec. TDs
2019 Chiefs 16 19.19 80.19 0.81 5.44 6.69 39.13 0.25
2020 Chiefs 16 19.75 83.5 0.5 4.75 6.94 36.5 0.19
Bieniemy's Career Averages (OC/HC) 48 19.17 83.08 0.71 4.94 6.38 42.42 0.38

WR Impact

Year Games WR Rec. WR Targets WR Rec. Yds. WR Rec. TDs
2019 Chiefs 16 11.31 18.31 168.5 1.31
2020 Chiefs 16 14.06 20.69 181.5 1.56
Bieniemy's Career Averages (OC/HC) 48 12.38 19.08 173 1.48

TE Impact

Year Games TE Rec. TE Targets TE Rec. Yds. TE Rec. TDs
2019 Chiefs 16 6.75 9.69 84.13 0.31
2020 Chiefs 16 7.38 10.31 94.69 0.69
Bieniemy's Career Averages (OC/HC) 48 7.10 10.31 90.85 0.60

 

Andy Reid and Eric Bieniemy Takeaways & Expectations

Since Andy Reid has been the primary play-caller for the Chiefs and Eric Bieniemy has only worked under Reid as an offensive coordinator, we will talk primarily about the offense Reid has liked to run over the course of his career in this section. Over the course of Andy Reid's 352 game career, his offenses have averaged 34.58 passing attempts per game - which is fairly mediocre. But the good news is that since 2018 when Patrick Mahomes took over the starting quarterback job and Eric Bieniemy became the team's offensive coordinator, the team has averaged 37.27 passing attempts per game. This passing usage in recent years is above the league average and means that Mahomes will get plenty of opportunities to put up big passing numbers.

It's also important to pay attention to the amount of rushing work a quarterback receives since it can give your quarterback a higher ceiling in fantasy leagues. Over the course of his career as a head coach, Reid's quarterback room has averaged 4.43 carries per game.

Based on the QB carries graph above, Andy Reid has seen an above-average number of rushing attempts from his quarterbacks in nearly every season he's been a head coach. This rushing usage is very encouraging to see and means that Mahomes should at the very least have decent rushing production in 2021. Based on all this information, Mahomes should be one of the first quarterbacks (if not the first quarterback) off the board in your fantasy draft.

Examining Andy Reid's running back rooms over the course of his career, he's been a bit of a mixed bag in his running back utilization. Over the course of the 352 games that Reid has been a head coach, his running back room has averaged 0.64 rushing touchdowns per game - which is pretty mediocre. In addition, his running backs have gotten just 19.97 carries per game over this time which is worse than the average play-caller.

If old trends hold true then Andy Reid's running back room will get a below-average number of carries. But in terms of the distribution of carries, is Reid feeding one back on the ground or rolling with a running back by committee approach?

Looking at the chart above, it's clear that Andy Reid loves to primarily utilize one running back on the ground. This is great news from a fantasy perspective and helps to explain how Reid's offenses have been able to produce RB1 caliber backs in the past like Brian Westbrook, LeSean McCoy, Kareem Hunt, or Jamaal Charles despite him giving his running back room as a whole fewer carries than the average play-caller. Reid will likely give the bulk of the team's running back carries to Clyde Edwards-Helaire once again in 2021, which raises Edwards-Helaire's floor in fantasy football leagues.

The final aspect we should look at concerning Andy Reid's running backs is how much he has traditionally utilized them as pass-catchers. Over the course of his career, Reid's running back room has averaged 6.74 targets per game - which is in the average to slightly above league-average range.

Overall, the combination of Reid providing a below-average number of carries and a mediocre number of targets means that it takes a significant percentage of the workload going to one running back in order for one of his running backs to finish as an RB1. The good news is that Reid does prefer to utilize a bell-cow approach to the position, which will give Clyde Edwards-Helaire a low-end RB1 ceiling and an RB2 fantasy floor. Based on all this information, Clyde Edwards-Helaire should be valued as a high-end RB2 going into your fantasy drafts for the 2021 season.

Jumping to the wide receiver position, in Andy Reid's 352 game career as an offensive play-caller he has provided his wide receiver room with 18.52 targets per game.

Looking at the chart above, the 2020 Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver room received the fourth-most targets per game of Andy Reid's 22 season career as a play-caller. If old trends hold true there might be a slight dip in targets for this group in 2021. Tyreek Hill should still be a strong WR1 based on his hyper-efficiency and chemistry with quarterback Patrick Mahomes, but outside of him, the Chiefs may struggle to produce a wide receiver that is anything more than a FLEX play in your fantasy league.

Finally, Reid's historical usage of tight ends is pretty good. In his 22 year career as an NFL head coach, Reid's tight end room has averaged 7.37 targets per game.

In recent years, the number of tight end room targets has been significantly higher than Reid's career 7.37 targets per game average as well - hovering around ten targets per game over the last four seasons. This kind of usage makes star tight end Travis Kelce the safest investment at the tight end position heading into the 2021 NFL season since he's got the quarterback, the talent, and the targets, and he should once again finish as a top-three scorer at the position as long as he stays healthy.

Fantasy Relevant Players: Patrick Mahomes, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Darrel Williams, Darwin Thompson, Tyreek Hill, Demarcus Robinson, Byron Pringle, Mecole Hardman, Cornell Powell, Noah GrayTravis Kelce, and Ricky Seals-Jones

 

2021 Defense

2021 Defensive Coordinator: Steve Spagnuolo

Steve Spagnuolo has spent 11 years in an NFL head coach or defensive coordinator role and been the Kansas City Chiefs defensive coordinator since 2019. Prior to becoming the Chiefs defensive coordinator, he spent time as the New York Giants defensive coordinator (2007-2008, 2015-2017), the St. Louis Rams head coach (2009-2011), and the New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator (2012). Let's dive into the defensive statistics his teams have compiled over the course of his career as a defensive coordinator.

Year Games Points Allowed Pass Yds Given Up Run Yds Given Up Plays Against Yds/Play Turnovers Forced
2019 Chiefs 16 19.25 221.44 128.19 65.19 5.36 1.44
2020 Chiefs 16 22.63 236.19 122.13 63.88 5.61 1.38
Spagnuolo's Career Averages (DC/HC) 176 23.03 238.30 120.44 64.51 5.56 1.44

The Chiefs defense has been pretty good with Steve Spagnuolo directing it. They have been above-average in points allowed and passing yards given up per game, as well as average in turnovers forced and yards given up per play. The big concern of Spagnuolo's defense is that it has been generally weak against the run - giving up over 120 rushing yards per game. Based on this information, the Kansas City Chiefs D/ST will likely be a slightly above-average defense that you feel comfortable with - outside of matchups against teams with strong running games.

 

Other Notable Assistants

Special Teams Coordinator: Dave Toub - Dave Toub has been the Kansas City Chiefs special teams coordinator since 2013. He's been coaching since 1986 and was also the special teams coordinator for the Chicago Bears from 2004 to 2012.

QB Coach: Mike Kafka - Mike Kafka has been the Chiefs quarterbacks coach since 2018 and is also the team's passing coordinator. He played quarterback in the NFL for the Philadelphia Eagles (2010-2011) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2014).

RB Coach: Greg Lewis - Greg Lewis has been coaching for the Chiefs since 2017, but in 2021 he will be switching from the team's wide receivers coach to being their running backs coach. Besides the Chiefs, at the NFL level, Lewis has been an offensive assistant for the New Orleans Saints (2015) and a wide receivers coach for the Philadelphia Eagles (2016). Lewis was also a wide receiver in the NFL for the Philadelphia Eagles (2003-2008) and Minnesota Vikings (2009-2010).

WR Coach: Joe Bleymaier - Joe Bleymaier will be spending his first year as the Chiefs wide receivers coach in 2021 after previously serving as an assistant quarterbacks coach with the team from 2018 to 2020.

TE Coach: Tom Melvin - Tom Melvin has been working on Andy Reid's coaching staff since Reid first became a head coach back in 1999 with the Philadelphia Eagles. He's been the Chiefs tight ends coach since 2013 and prior to that was the Philadelphia Eagles tight ends coach from 2002 to 2012.

OL Coach: Andy Heck - Andy Heck has been the Chiefs offensive line coach since 2013. Prior to being the Chiefs offensive line coach, he was with the Jacksonville Jaguars as an assistant offensive line coach (2004-2005) and the offensive line coach (2006-2012).

DL Coach: Brendan Daly - Brendan Daly has been the Chiefs defensive line coach since 2019. In the NFL, he's previously been a defensive line coach for the St. Louis Rams (2009-2011), Minnesota Vikings (2012-2013), and New England Patriots (2015-2018).

LB Coach: Matt House - Matt House has been Kansas City Chiefs linebackers coach since 2019. He previously spent time coaching in a variety of roles at the college level.

OLB Coach: Ken Flajole - Ken Flajole is new to the Chiefs coaching staff in 2021. He's previously worked with linebackers at the NFL level for the Seattle Seahawks (2000), Carolina Panthers (2003-2008), Cleveland Browns (2013-2015), and Philadelphia Eagles (2016-2020). He's been coaching football since 1979 and was the St. Louis Rams defensive coordinator from 2009 to 2011.

Cornerbacks/DB Coach: Sam Madison - Sam Madison has been the Chiefs cornerbacks coach since 2019. The four-time Pro Bowler also played cornerback at the NFL level for the Miami Dolphins (1997-2005) and New York Giants (2006-2008).

Defensive Backs Coach: Dave Merritt - Dave Merritt has been the Kansas City Chiefs defensive backs coach since 2019. He has worked in a variety of defensive coaching roles at the NFL level for the New York Jets (2001-2003), New York Giants (2004-2017), and Arizona Cardinals (2018).

 

Enjoy this series? Be sure to check out all of the other 'Coaching Matters' team previews: Houston TexansJacksonville JaguarsIndianapolis ColtsTennessee TitansCleveland BrownsBaltimore RavensPittsburgh SteelersCincinnati Bengals, Las Vegas Raiders, and Los Angeles Chargers

 

Follow Eli Grabanski on Twitter: @3li_handles



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