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There's The YAC

Posted Oct 12, 2011

After non-existent start Chiefs finding success in yards after catch and yards after contact numbers

Related: Where’s The YAC?

The wide receivers coach in Todd Haley came out two weeks ago and, needless to say, what it saw was sickening.

Chiefs receivers might as well have taken a knee after catching the football. They certainly weren’t going anywhere after the catch.

After three games, Leonard Pope was the only player to have broken a single tackle following a reception. The big-bodied tight end, known more for his skills as a blocker, also led the team in yards after catch (YAC).

Yards after catch were non-existent. Kansas City ranked dead last in that category by a large margin and, paired with turnovers, those struggles were directly related to the Chiefs poor offensive ranking and winless record.

“If you start adding one yard, two yards, three yards, it changes the game dramatically if all other things are equal,” Haley said.

So the Chiefs went to work on what Haley believed was correctable. Throwing accuracy needed to improve, but so did little things in the receiving game such as catching the football in stride.

Dwayne Bowe was one of the players who had reverted back to some of his old habits. He was leaving his feet, sometimes unnecessarily, to receive the football. Doing so took away one of his greatest assets - his ability to shed tacklers after the catch.

Things improved against Minnesota with the Chiefs nearly doubling their YAC output from the first three games combined. Steve Breaston accelerated as he caught the football and averaged over 10 yards after the catch. Bowe stiff-armed safeties and ran over cornerbacks en route to the end zone and a 100-yard game.

It was a start, but Sunday’s numbers in Indianapolis were even better.

“The run after contact, run after catch numbers [Sunday] were a phenomenal turnabout from a couple weeks ago in San Diego,” Haley said.

“We had over 260 yards after contact or after the catch, which gets up into the five [yards per play] range. A few weeks ago in San Diego it was two [yards per play].”

There might not be a better example of the difference YAC can make than Bowe’s 41-yard touchdown reception. Bowe caught a simple slant route in stride and raced though the Colts secondary into the end zone.

The catch-and-run was reminiscent of the big plays that defined Bowe’s Pro Bowl season a year ago.

“Dwayne Bowe averaged 10 yards after the catch on seven catches, so seven times ten, that’s 70 yards,” Haley said. “Three weeks ago, he had five catches for zero run after catch. Yards equal points and I think there’s never been more evidence of that than [Sunday].

“Really, the last three weeks I think it’s been a great study for us here going forward.”

Haley has all sorts of calculated equations that translate yardage into points. Just as he believes a certain amount of penalty yardage equates to lost points, Haley also has his own formula that links YAC to the scoreboard.

Against San Diego, Haley believes at least 10 points were left on the field because of poor YAC production.

“The run after the catch, to me, has been a significant difference maker for us,” Haley said.

A similar emphasis has paid dividends in the run game as well. Haley pointed to yards after contact as a critical factor in Jackie Battle’s breakout performance against the Colts.

“He averaged close to five yards after contact, which is just out of this world for a running back,” Haley said.

Naturally a “tall” runner, Battle has worked with running backs coach Maurice Carthon on ways to put his 240-pount frame to better use. Against Indianapolis, Battle ran much lower to the ground and minimized his cutbacks to become a much more effective north-south runner.

Battle finished the majority of his runs driving shoulder pads into defenders and falling forward for extra yardage.

“Coach Mo has championed (Battle) here for the last couple years in believing he could be a runner and he’s done a great job developing him,” Haley said. “And Jackie’s done a great job continuing to develop himself.

“Now you watch him run, he’s 240 pounds running under 4.5 (40-yard dash) and using it the way he used it (Sunday) and late in that game against Minnesota, I think everybody’s real excited, starting with Jackie, about where he was able to help us.”

After a non-existent start, the turnaround in yards after catch and yards after contact numbers have Haley excited.

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