A triangle is a shape consisting of three interconnected lines. A right triangle is one which includes a 90 degree angle. Its lines and angles are the basis of trigonometry, a form of geometry.
There are three phases of a football team. The defense, offense and special teams. When they connect like they have for the Kansas City Chiefs this year, everything is “right.”
To be honest, I’m as shocked as you may be that the Chiefs are 9-0. If you read my previous articles, you’ll see that week after week, I’ve looked into their success from every angle I could think of. I’ve delved into things ranging from religion to astrology, I’ve investigated psychology, Chinese philosophy, and even magic. Time to break into some geometrics, I guess.
According to the official NFL website, the Chiefs’ overall defense ranks eighth in the league going into their bye week. They have allowed the second fewest yards and have two individual performers in the top five statistically in that phase (leg A, we’ll call it) of the game. Justin Houston is second in sacks with 11 and Tamba Hali is fifth with nine.
Kansas City’s defense has obviously been the the apex, or highest point, in this year’s triangle. They proved that again on Sunday by scoring twice against the Buffalo Bills, including a 101 yard interception return for a TD by CB Sean Smith and a fumble recovery for one by DE Hali.
In a right triangle, the sharpest point depends on the length of the other legs. The Chiefs’ offense has come up short on many of occasions, so we’ll consider it leg B. It is ranked 25th overall and doesn’t break into the top 10 in any statistical category. Thanks to Jamaal Charles being the league’s third best runner, it does rank 14th in rushing.
So, leg A is the longer of the two lines, which form the right angle, and B the shorter. The line opposite that vertex is known as the hypotenuse (leg C) and in the instance of Kansas City, it would represent the special teams.
According to the Pythagorean theorem, the amount of ground leg C must cover to complete the shape is dependent upon the lengths of A and B. With the Chiefs’ defense doing so much better than their offense, the special teams have had make up the difference.
They have done it. Punter Dustin Colquitt leads the NFL in leaving teams inside their own 20, doing so 26 times. Dexter McCluster has the second longest punt return of the season — it went for 89 yards and a TD. He also has the most returns for over 20 yards. Field goal kicker Ryan Succop is fourth in the league and Quintin Demps is a top 10 kickoff returner.
In a perfect right triangle, legs A and B are the exact same length and the vertices in which they intersect with leg C create the exact same degree of angle. This would mean that the offense and defense would be equally as sharp in relation to the special teams. This is not the case in Kansas City.
While their record is, the Chiefs are not perfect. They have, however, put together the three phases they have to work with, and in 180 degree fashion, have made it “right.”