Enrique’s Post Patterns – Indianapolis

(Throughout the season, as soon as game day is over and the facts are compiled, Enrique will dissect the patterns that dominated the Red and Gold weekly extravaganza. See if you agree.)

You’ll have to excuse me, but since the Chiefs lost, I have to start with the ugly:

THE OUT PATTERN (aka, the one that needs to be dismissed right away.)

I thought about taking the high road and celebrating once again that first-year TE Tony Moeaki led the Chiefs in receptions (like he has done in all of the ’10 season). But frankly, the loss to the Colts did not put me in that kind of mood. So, a pragmatic spirit is responsible to point out that for the
4th consecutive contest NO CHIEFS WIDE RECEIVER caught more than four passes in a game. A streak that is especially disturbing once you realize that our top-two receivers are a fourth-year, former 1st-round pick (Dwayne Bowe) that should be showing a trace of playmaking-consistency by now, and a 10-year veteran with a Pro Bowl berth under his belt (Chris Chambers) that got a contract extension as recently as this off-season … because of his productivity. Is it Matt Cassel‘s fault? Is it Bowe? Chambers? Charlie Weis? I don’t have a clear-cut answer for that, but believe me when I say that I’m closer to finding out what’s going on with the Chiefs’ passing game.

Oh, and by the way…if you expect me to address the killer drop by Dwayne Bowe on Sunday afternoon, please hang on a little longer. I have a column coming up that will tackle the subject. And yes, you are right. That last paragraph is what you’d normally identify as a

…Read More!

Is Cassel Really That Bad?

OK, I get it … Matt Cassel stinks. I read and hear it in mainstream media. I read it online. I am not convinced. Would I rather have Peyton Manning? Stupid rhetorical question … so would almost any team in the league.

On Sunday against the Colts, Cassel averaged 5.3 yards per attempt and completed 55.2 percent of his passes. At one point in the third quarter, he tossed six straight incomplete passes. No touchdowns, no interceptions.

Manning wasn’t so great either, averaging 5.5 yards per attempt and completing 59.1 percent of his passes. He had a touchdown and an interception, and he was roasted on internet boards at Indianapolis newspapers following the game nearly as savagely as Cassel has been in Kansas City.

Both quarterbacks were hurt by dropped passes. Dwayne Bowe dropped a 30-yard touchdown pass that Cassel put in precisely the place were Bowe (and not the defender) could catch it. Bowe got both hands on it and couldn’t hang on. That was the first of three straight incomplete passes on that series. All three were dropped.

Consider these numbers. If Bowe catches the pass, Cassel doesn’t throw two more passes that series – one of them another drop by Bowe on a slant pattern. So his numbers improve to 17 of 27 for 196 yards – an average of 7.26 yards per attempt, a touchdown, no interceptions and right in the acceptable range for a quarterback. More importantly the Chiefs would have been in front 13-9 with three minutes remaining in the third quarter. …Read More!

How The Chiefs Were Built

The fruit we are seeing now from the Chiefs came from the seeds of change planted in 2008, when the Chiefs selected 13 draft picks and signed several undrafted free agents.

Herm Edwards told the media prior to that draft that he hoped to acquire at least five starters. The Chiefs reached his goal, as RT Barry Richardson, RDE Glenn Dorsey, CB Brandon Carr, CB Brandon Flowers and LT Branden Albert are all currently starting, although Richardson is officially listed as a reserve but currently starts.

They also added Jamaal Charles in that draft, their most explosive running back. On the injured-reserve list is TE Brad Cottam, another draft choice. That year, they signed rookie free agents like CB Maurice Leggett (their ’08 Mack Lee Hill Award winner for rookie of the year- now on IR), backup FB Mike Cox, DE Wallace Gilberry, who was their second leading sacker last year, RB Jackie Battle, OLB Andy Studebaker and LS Thomas Gafford. They picked up last year’s leading tackler ILB Demorrio Williams as an unrestricted free agent from the Falcons.

The Chiefs have 53 players on the active roster, eight on their practice squad and six on injured reserve. Of those 67 players, 14 or 20.9 percent came from the last year that Edwards, Bill Kuharich and Carl Peterson were in charge of personnel.

Current starters OLB Tamba Hali, ILB Derrick Johnson, LG Brian Waters, NT Ron Edwards, P Dustin Colquitt, WR Dwayne Bowe and FS Jon McGraw were all on the roster prior to 2008. So were No. 2 QB Brodie Croyle and backup C/G Rudy Niswanger. That’s 23 of 67 or 34.3 percent.

And it’s 11 of 22 starters, or 50 percent. …Read More!

A Milestone Sunday For Chiefs?

We’re only 19 (regular season) games into the Scott Pioli/Todd Haley Era, and yet there have been encouraging signs to assume that the duo indeed carries the Magic Touch.

Last year there was the rare home triumph over the Steelers in Arrowhead Stadium. This past January, the Chiefs notched their first victory at Invesco Field since the Broncos corral was inaugurated in ’01. And at the beginning of September, the Arrowhead Ones won a pre-season game for the first time in over two years. However, this weekend the bar will be raised a little bit higher.

Since 1984, the Chiefs have made four visits to Indianapolis and in rigorous chronological order, here they are: …Read More!

The Curious Journey of Matt Cassel

Matt Cassel has been described as a great teammate, a potential top five quarterback, a system quarterback, a bust and a career back-up. A recent article compared him to Steve Bono, who signed with the Chiefs after showing promise with San Francisco and a recent John Clayton article at ESPN.com described his chances of becoming an elite player as “zero.” Todd Haley and Charlie Weiss believe that he is a developing quarterback who gets better each day. Scott Pioli referred to Cassel in glowing terms even before he traded for him and agreed to pay him $25,000,000-plus over the last two seasons.

Cassel’s football career has endured more direction changes than Daniel Snyder’s staff directory. Cassel was a successful and highly rated high school quarterback recruited to USC. His only collegiate start was at halfback as he played behind two Heisman trophy winning quarterbacks – Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart. He also played tight end and wide receiver when he wasn’t able to win the quarterback job. He squeezed into the NFL as a seventh-round draft choice. He only threw 39 passes his first three years in the NFL, but is one of only five quarterbacks in NFL history to throw for 400 yards in successive games.

The first time he played quarterback for the Patriots with the game on the line was against the Chiefs, and the first pass he threw was from deep in his territory to Randy Moss out near midfield. He is the only starting quarterback in the NFL that did not start a game in college, but he has been named the AFC Offensive Player of the week twice. He is one of very few NFL quarterbacks that can punt, as he was a high school punter and executed a successful quick punt for the Patriots in 2008. His passer rating during his rookie year was 89.4, plunged to 32.7 in 2007, when he threw only 7 passes and then rose back to 89.4 in 2008 when he threw 516 passes. His rating last year fell to 69.9, and this year it has dipped to 55.8 until the third game of the season, when his rating zoomed to 111.6. After reputedly being considered as a training camp cut in 2008, he became the starting quarterback for the Patriots, received a public vote of confidence from Tom Brady and quarterbacked the team to an 11-5 record.

…Read More!

Creating Football Wealth

Why do Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and New England rarely draft early but still field competitive teams every year? Why did New Orleans win the Super Bowl a few years after Katrina? How did Dick Vermeil construct a top three offense within three years?

The answer – the success of a franchise is determined by the same principles that made Warren Buffett wealthier than all of us put together.

Like Buffett, successful franchises create wealth primarily through successful low-risk/high-return investments (mid-round draft choices and free agents), a few selective high-risk/high return-investments (early-round draft choices), seizing opportunity when it presents itself (successful trades) and by rarely losing their investment (failed draft choices and free agents.)

The degree of risk is determined by the amount of money you invest. The higher the draft choice, the greater the risk. The more money thrown at a free agent, the higher the risk. The more consideration you give when making a trade, the higher the risk. First-round draft choices are always high risk; about half of them are busts, offering low return. Premier free agents are high risk because they cost more, but again, often result in low or marginal return. Premier players become high-risk/high-return, because they cost so much and a team can only afford a few of these players because of the salary cap and other financial considerations. The bulk of the rosters from most successful teams are made up of low or mid-risk high return investments. …Read More!

A Chance To Be Head Coach

Monday night was just what Todd Haley envisioned it would be like when he was a head coach.

He wasn’t calling plays. He watched his team’s defense. He made a critical substitution on special teams. He monitored the lightning and rain, the number of plays each defender along the defensive line had. He managed the game.

And he loved it. He loved the 21-14 win, of course. He loved the surprising two-score lead his guys held midway through the third quarter. He loved it that his guys kept San Diego out of the end zone late in the game.

But what he really loved was being a head coach and doing the job the way he envisioned it should be done all those years he worked in the trenches as an assistant coach. On Monday he was involved in all aspects of the game. And . . . without much doubt, he helped his team win.

“This is the vision I had when I took the job,” Haley said late Tuesday afternoon and clearly showing the after-effects of the long night before. “I had a lot of fun coaching last night.”

Here’s what you should have suspected about Haley all along during his rookie season.

He didn’t want to call the plays. He didn’t like thinking about his next offensive series when his defense couldn’t stop anyone from running the ball. And he’s a smart enough guy to know that hurt the Chiefs a year ago. So when he got his staff in place, he became what he always thought he would be as a head coach. …Read More!

The Chiefs Will Be Super … Another Man’s Opinion

While going through my random sports notes, I noticed the following facts:

– Back in February, the Colts lost a Super Bowl in Miami for the first time since 1969. The following year’s NFL champs were … the Kansas City Chiefs.

– Back in April, Duke Basketball won its first National Championship since 2001 – The previous time that happened, a team that had Scott Pioli, Charlie Weis, Romeo Crennel, Mike Vrabel, Otis Smith and Anthony Pleasant under contract (the New England Patriots) was making preparations towards winning the Lombardi Trophy … I wonder: where are they now?

– Back in June, the Celtics and the Lakers played the 7th game of the NBA Finals in L.A., an occurrence that had been missing from the sporting landscape since … 1969. Did I mention who were about to become NFL champions soon after?

– Far away in England, but also back in June, John Isner and Nicolas Mahut played the longest match in tennis history, breaking the previous mark that was set … in 1969. No need to repeat the obvious.

– Looking ahead, this year’s Super Bowl will be played in Dallas. Mmm … the Chiefs once upon a time were FROM Dallas. Wouldn’t it be poetic that for a franchise looking to make its long-awaited return to glory, would be able to do so by returning home…?

My guess is that you probably know where I’m headed … the Chiefs will go to the Super Bowl this year. …Read More!

How Important Was Last Night’s Triumph?

Here’s your one-word answer: Very.

Yes, it came against a team that was protecting its most talented players. Yes, it still took place within the time frame of the training schedule. And no, the corresponding footage surely won’t be classified under the “CLASSIC” tag at the NFL Films headquarters.

Still, you can’t properly measure the value that it has.

Under different circumstances, the outcome of the pre-season finale between the Chiefs and the Packers would not have been considered as a subject for dissection. In fact, the very game would not have been worthy of additional attention. We can all agree on that. Taking into account that these kinds of instances are primarily being used nowadays as a last resort for a handful of rather desperate individuals (either struggling to fulfil their dreams of becoming active members of the fraternity called National Football League, or simply trying to hang on for dear life to that already-attained status), it really wouldn’t be that surprising to expect the final analyses to be focused around performances like the ones presented by Jackie Battle, Travis Daniels and Jackie Bates.

But every now and then, important concerns do get to be clarified at the last hour. And for the Arrowhead Ones (as a whole), the positive 17-13 result against Green Bay shed an inspiring light on more relevant issues than the customary ones that first meet the eye. Some that cannot be judged by raw numbers, and that primarily, are based on gut feelings. Among those achieved you can count: …Read More!

A Different View Of The Chiefs Draft

We always welcome input from readers. Sometimes those posts catch our attention and they turn up here on the site. Here are the thoughts of Douglas Wymore. Enjoy.

Maybe the best way to analyze the Chief’s draft is look from the top down, instead of the bottom up, which is the more traditional method of building a team.

I think that is what Todd Haley wanted, and he got his way.

The traditional NFL model provides a hierarchy for draft picks that puts a premium on QB, LT, DE, CB, etc. Teams say that they build from the inside out, depending upon talent available. Good teams have traditionally found players through the draft, free agency, trades, and UFA’s.

The success of the last few Super Bowl winners and changes in the passing game show that there may be ways to accelerate the run to the championship, and a dominating play-making safety may be as necessary as a pass rushing defensive end. …Read More!

A Case For Sean Weatherspoon

We always like to hear from our readers and sometimes they even send comments we think everyone would like to read. That’s what Matt Verderame did and what follows are his thoughts on the player the Chiefs should grab with the fifth choice. If you can put together your thoughts as well as Matt, feel free to send them to . No guarantees of being published, but don’t let that stop you should the muse tickle you.

Many draft experts talk about the value pick. Taking the best player available vs. a team’s biggest need is commonly discussed with the NFL draft. Also, there’s where a team picks (especially early on) dictates who they take. I think all that is overrated.

Every team in the NFL does scouting years in advance preparing for certain players in each draft. Most of the time these players coming out are assigned a value by men such as Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay, and everyone goes along with it. With all due respect to these men who put months upon months of work into their craft, they aren’t NFL scouts. They also don’t follow every team as close as their respective fans because there just isn’t enough time in the day, so they aren’t as acutely aware of every team’s needs.

Many people are saying the Chiefs will draft OT Bryan Bulaga or S Eric Berry because that’s what “value” says. I propose a question: say after the Chiefs workout of LB Sean Weatherspoon they feel he is the best player in the draft at a position of need. If they feel he has more upside than say Rolando McClain, but McClain may be a safer, more fan friendly pick, what is Mr. Pioli to do? …Read More!

Why Football Teams Must Have Lawyers

We don’t spend a lot of time working political angles on this site; too many trap doors there and the rough and tumble, well sometimes it is bloodier than football.

But (you knew there was a but coming, didn’t you!) I can’t walk away from this one.

The website Politico.com reported Wednesday evening that the Federal Election Commission revealed this week that it had dismissed a complaint alleging that the Chiefs had illegally boosted Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign.

The issue is a video that the Chiefs ran on the big screens at Arrowhead Stadium on November 2nd before a game with Tampa Bay. Featured in one of those videos was McCain, who was two days away from Election Day. In the video, McCain praised U.S. military personnel and honored the “hardships, danger and sacrifices you have born so valiantly for us.” …Read More!

A Hope For L.J.

Bob’s Note: We always welcome reader reaction and comments. Sometimes what comes through the e-mail box catches our attention because it’s written so well, or with passion and insight. When that happens, we like to pass along the work of our readers.

Thousands and thousands of jerseys in the Sea of Red … millions of dollars spent by fans across the nation … the bragging by Chiefs fans … the pride felt by Chiefs fans … the chanting, “L.J., L.J., L.J.!”

Gone in 60 seconds.

What happened to L.J.? 1,750 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns in 2005. Pro Bowl. 1,789 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns in 2006. Pro Bowl. Eight games started in 2007.

And on November 4, 2007, everything changed. Larry was pulled down awkwardly by Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk and limped off the field. He would not play the rest of the year. There have been moments since then, moments which defined the L.J. of 2005 and 2006, the L.J. who Chiefs fans loved and worshiped. Those moments have been scarce, but each moment brought back the excitement to each and every Chiefs fan. L.J. is back, he’s back, he’s angry and he’s pissed. Watch Out!

Unfortunately, those moments were followed by letdowns. The ghost of L.J. past disappeared just as quickly as he appeared. Chiefs fans were again left wondering, what happened to L.J.?

Was it the new contract he signed? Was it the new coach? Was it the new scheme? Did he lose his heart? Did he lose his motivation? Did he lose the hunger to win? Does he party first and play football second? We may never know.

What I do know, is that when L.J. was punishing NFL defenses, he had the largest and loudest supporting cast in all of the NFL, Arrowhead Stadium, also known as the Sea of Red. Kansas City Chiefs fans from California to Maine were wearing Chiefs apparel, specifically Larry Johnson apparel, with pride. He even had his own line of apparel. …Read More!

That Nasty R Word

Funny how Carl Peterson and Scott Pioli both dislike the same word:


The Chiefs were more than a year into trying to rebuild the roster under Herm Edwards before Peterson could choke out the word.

And on Thursday, when the Chiefs actions made it very plain that 2009 is about rebuilding, the man who replaced Peterson moved quickly to squash use of the term.

“We don’t believe in the rebuilding term and all that stuff,” Pioli said just moments after the team traded Pro Bowl tight end Tony Gonzalez to the Atlanta Falcons for a 2010 second-round draft choice. “This is something we feel was in the short-term and long-term interests of the Chiefs and the program we are moving forward with right now.”

Right now as the dust settles on the departure of a 10-time Pro Bowl tight end, it sure looks like rebuilding. Pioli may not want to say so, but losing the team’s leading receiver last season and one of the most consistent and productive offensive players in the league doesn’t do much to help his new quarterback Matt Cassel and the Chiefs offense for the 2009 season. …Read More!

The Legend

As I watched Len Dawson announce his non-retirement retirement Monday evening, I was reminded of another sporting legend.

In case you missed the news, Len said that come early April, he would be cutting back his hours at KMBC-TV, Channel 9 and would no longer handle the sports reports on the 6 and 10 o’clock newscasts.

“No, no I’m not retiring,” the 73-year old Dawson told viewers. “I’m too young to do that. But when you’ve been in this game (TV) for 43 years, for the first time in my adult life I’m going to down-size the work load that I have.”

Len’s announcement took me back several years ago when the U.S. Open golf tournament was at Oakmont Country Club in suburban Pittsburgh. Just a few minutes over hill and dale from the Oakmont course is Latrobe, home of Arnold Palmer. On the Tuesday of this Open week, Palmer was holding a clinic for junior golfers at the Latrobe Country Club course where he grew up. He now owns the course and lives there part of the year.

About a hundred junior golfers were there, accompanied by an equal number of fathers and grandfathers who were more excited than the kids. Palmer ran through the basics of golf and then asked if there were any questions. A lot of adults raised their hands, but Arnie asked first for questions from the kids.

Reluctantly, one youngster finally raised his hand and asked, “Mr. Palmer, where’s that tractor you ride in the commercial?”

Palmer roared with laughter and he sent someone to bring the tractor up from a barn. Yes, it was the same tractor he rode in those Pennzoil commercials and he posed for pictures and let the kids climb on the machine.

Those kids didn’t know Palmer as one of the greatest golfers in the history of the sport. They knew him as the guy on television driving that old tractor.

There are a lot of youngsters – who I identify as anyone 30 or less – who know Len Dawson only as the guy who reads the sports on television and the guy who does radio on Chiefs games. …Read More!

Taking Chance

If you’ve spent much time on this site you know we don’t venture too far afield from the world of sports, and football in particular. It’s what we know, the business that has been part of my life for over 30 years now, so it’s comfortable and stable ground.

But every once in awhile the real world knocks on the window and can’t be ignored.

This happened the other night when the body craved sleep but the mind wasn’t ready to shut down for the day. That’s when I found the HBO movie Taking Chance.

If you have HBO, make this movie appointment television. Crank up the TiVo or DVR. Just do not miss this short, but powerful movie. If there’s no access to HBO, then be prepared in May when it’s released on DVD. It will be worth the investment.

Taking Chance is based on the first-person narrative of Marine Lt. Col. Michael Strobl as he accompanied the body of 19-year-old Lance Cpl. Chance Phelps, USMC, to his hometown and final resting place of Dubois, Wyoming. Phelps was killed in Anbar Provence in Iraq on Good Friday in April 2004.

Kevin Bacon (right) portrays Strobl. This is a true story.

This is not a political movie. It’s not pro-war or anti-war, although the story of a vital young man losing his life thousands of miles from home will always leave questions in your mind about the incredible price of war.

The story line is simple: a Marine takes a fallen comrade’s body back to his family. …Read More!

The Road Ahead

















Maybe sometime this weekend, Scott Pioli will take a moment, roll back in his chair, grab a gulp of his favorite adult beverage and exhale.

But it will only be a brief moment. There is still so much work to do for Pioli when it comes to shaping the Chiefs team that all will see come July and training camp in River Falls, Wisconsin.

At least now, he has a partner.

There were a lot of reasons to hire Todd Haley. He’s been a successful coordinator in the pro game and that’s the training grounds for most of the head coaches who get hired in the league. He’s shown an ability to relate and if needed get after today’s pro football player. Just ask Keyshawn Johnson. Or, Terrell Owens. Or, Anquan Boldin.

But the No. 1 trait Pioli was looking for with his head coach was very simple: he wanted someone he could work hand-in-hand with as they go about reshaping and bringing the Chiefs back to respectability.

Sounds simple. But it’s not always easy to find the right personality to make two people work as one well-oiled machine. The NFL landscape is littered with examples where a GM-Coach worked as a unit, only to eventually be divided. Just take the example of the New York Jets, where Mike Tannebaum was the man who pushed for the hiring of Eric Mangini three years ago. Some 36 months later, Tannebaum was part of the process that fired Mangini.

Yes, Pioli-Haley have a history together. They chewed the same turf with the New York Jets from 1997 through 1999. Pioli was in personnel and Haley was part of the coaching staff. Their paths obviously crossed, but they did not work so closely together that they were able to finish each other’s sentence. …Read More!

Something Coaches Can’t Forget

When you are a head coach in the National Football League, it comes down to one thing:


There’s no other word that makes your job safe. Not rebuilding, not retooling, not almost, not close, not popular.

It’s about winning. Sometimes, even that won’t keep you employed.

But at the minimum, there must be winning.

Herm Edwards always knew that. He always worked towards that. But he let down his guard in 2008. He thought he had time to win.

Turns out, time ran out on him.

When the 2007 season ended with a 4-12 record, Edwards thought he had two years to get the Chiefs roster in shape and get the team winning again at the level of a contender for the playoffs. He knew the ’08 season would be a tough one, but never did he imagine it would turn into the 2-14 debacle that befell the franchise.

But ’08 was going to be the time to retool the roster, and ’09 was going to be the rebuilding of the won and lost record.

Well, the roster certainly got retooled and now somebody else has the opportunity to reap the benefits of that work.

That’s what makes the firing of Edwards so unfair. To suffer through the pain of what happened on the field in ’08 and then not get the chance to make things right and enjoy the potential fruits of that agony is heartbreaking.

Edwards made a mistake. He violated one the 10 Commandments of Coaching: win every game possible and approach every season like the Grim Reaper is sitting in your team meeting. Next year, even next week is not important, nor is it guaranteed. …Read More!

Hunt’s Home Run

From the Truman Sports Complex

To mix some sports and metaphors here, Clark Hunt hit a home run in hiring Scott Pioli as the Chiefs GM.

But Chiefs fans just need to remember one important thing: it’s a home run in the bottom of the first inning. There are a lot of decisions and a lot of football to be played before this homer leads to a Kansas City victory or championship.

When Pioli used that dreaded “P” word during his introductory news conference on Wednesday evening at the Chiefs offices, I could hear more than a few voices from Chiefs Nation sigh. Chiefs fans feel they have been very patient. They are tired of waiting. It’s now been 39 years since that January day in New Orleans when Lenny, Bobby, Buck, Otis and the boys strolled off the playing field at Tulane Stadium with Lombardi Trophy No. 4.

They want another one, and they want it now.

They are going to have to wait. Pioli is not some Football Shaman, who comes with a bag full of pigskin pixie dust that he’ll sprinkle around the locker room and practice fields that will suddenly turn this franchise into a Super Bowl contender. …Read More!

A Personal Look At Tony Dungy

I first met Tony Dungy in 1977.

He was a college free agent in his first NFL training camp at St. Vincent’s College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. I was a guy just out of college, in my first newspaper job and trying to figure out how to get out of my hometown and climb the ladder. Hanging around the Pittsburgh Steelers seemed like a good ticket to escape.

Now, I’m not going to blow smoke and say Tony and I bonded that summer or that year when he made the team. But we talked several times because he was such an approachable young player. He always had a smile on his face and there was a serene quality about him even then. Dungy would laugh about this, but he seemed to be in control of his life and his career even as a unproven rookie.

Dungy was taking the hardest road possible into the NFL: he was undrafted and trying to make an established team. On top of that, he was changing positions; he was a quarterback at the University of Minnesota, but he first went to the Steelers as a wide receiver.  His lack of speed and injuries on defense moved him to the secondary. He made the Steelers roster as a safety, the only rookie free agent to make the team in three years.

And for two seasons he was part of the team, including the ’78 squad that won Super Bowl XIII. Dungy led that championship team with six interceptions, all the more remarkable because he was the nickel back and started just two games. One of those was in the end zone on the final play of the game to seal a victory against arch-rival Cleveland. Dungy was a guy that made things happen with his brain; he was a student of the game and he learned very quickly that what he lacked in speed he could make up by getting to the ball first.

I will always remember him for a day in Houston against the Oilers in that rookie season where Dungy became a great trivia question answer: name the last NFL player to throw and make an interception in the same game. The date was October 9th and when Terry Bradshaw and Mike Kruczek left the game with injuries and with third quarterback Cliff Stoudt inactive, Dungy took over in the fourth quarter. He ended up throwing a pair of interceptions, after getting one himself earlier in the game against Houston’s Dan Pastorini. …Read More!

Another View of C.P.

This posting comes from a reader to the site, a long-time Peterson watcher who has communicated with me for many years. He sent this piece unsolicited and I found the quality of the writing to be such that I wanted to post it. It took some convincing, but the author finally agreed, with the proviso that I not include his name. Thus, the post comes under Anonymous. I think it’s worth your time. There have been plenty of views of Peterson’s time with the Chiefs on this site in the last week, both positive and negative. I think this piece does a good job of walking down the middle. Enjoy!

The big band leader Artie Shaw, who outlasted most of his contemporaries, once asked a columnist rhetorically, “how do we know Mozart’s any good?”

Replied the columnist: “Because he’s lasted.”

When a piece of music endures 200 years, we know it has value. Shaw pointed out that his recordings still sounded good after 60 years, which isn’t bad for something as ephemeral as pop music.

The life of a football man and his work is far shorter. A championship season and the guy or guys who brought it to you are quickly forgotten if the team stumbles the following year. It follows the old Marty Schottenheimer dictum: “It’s not what you’ve done for me lately, it’s what are you going to do for me next.”

Carl Peterson was with the Chiefs franchise for 20 years as president and general manager, one of the longest tenures for a man in that role in the National Football League. He exited the stage yesterday to little fanfare. There’s something remarkable about Peterson’s years in Kansas City. Crowds jammed the stadium for the most part; fans bonded with popular players he brought here – most of them anyway with the exception of some of the quarterbacks – and a populace at large fell in love with professional football after almost two decades of embarrassing play.

Lasting in this sense is a better substitute for loving. There never was much love from the media for Peterson.

When Peterson took over the Chiefs it frankly came as a surprise because local media could never believe that Jack Steadman who had fronted the franchise for so many years and had a warm personal relationship with team founder Lamar Hunt would ever leave. When I later listened to Peterson’s opening remarks at the time of the announcement of his hiring, which I had picked up from a cassette belonging to a local reporter, he spoke much in the manner of IBM’s boss Lou Gerstner, who famously said, “that the last thing IBM needs right now is a vision.”

Indeed, despite continued reports to the contrary, Peterson gave nothing approaching the visionary except to say he was studying the situation and would make moves in due time. The media questioning was no less vague, mostly concerned with the future of then-head coach Frank Ganz. In all his remarks there was no mention of any five-year plan he later was accused of issuing. The truth is GM’s get into trouble by setting overly ambitious objectives such as a Super Bowl, then in trying to meet them they compromise long-held beliefs. If the media and fan base were anxious, if not a little bit skeptical, given the franchise’s nearly 20 years of failure, Peterson showed none of it himself. …Read More!

Talkin’ Linebackers

Our subject today is linebacker, with various avenues that we will traverse off that main highway.

Count me as someone who isn’t quite sure this moving Derrick Johnson to middle linebacker is such a good idea.

I understand the reasons behind Herm Edwards and Gunther Cunningham’s decision to move him inside. I just don’t think now is the time to do that.

Last week the Chiefs linebackers as a group and Johnson individually played their best game in weeks. It was one of the major reasons the Raiders had trouble running the football. Assignments were getting done at a rate higher than in previous weeks. There were some crushing collisions involving the linebackers and that’s always important when shutting down gaps and screwing up blocking schemes.

Considering all the problems the Chiefs have had on defense, it would seem the better choice right now to take what happened last week and build on that, rather than introduce a new element into the craniums of these linebackers.

That’s the little picture, however, and this 2008 season has really been about the big picture. That’s what Edwards and Cunningham are trying to address with the Johnson move.

Here’s the simple take: the Chiefs need two new starting linebackers for the 2009 season. One of the questions they can answer right now is whether they need a middle and outside backer, or two outside backers. By moving Johnson inside, they get four games to evaluate whether that might be a better spot for him.

The mere fact that they have made this move is evidence enough that Johnson has not had much of a season. So much was expected of him coming off his ’07 performance (107 total tackles, four sacks, three forced fumbles and two interceptions) and he’s not delivered. He missed two games with a hamstring injury. So in 10 games he has 60 total tackles, 1.5 sacks, one interception and three forced fumbles. He’ll have to be very productive over the final four games to reach last year’s numbers.

I think it’s safe to say that if Johnson was tearing up the league on the outside that no thought would be given to moving him inside. …Read More!

Commentary: More Hurdles For L.J.

What happened on Friday with the announcement of a one-game NFL suspension for Larry Johnson did not bring an end to his situation or clarity to his immediate future.

It’s just the first of a 100 yards worth of hurdles in front of the Chiefs running back.

I’m sure L.J. himself wishes he could put all this behind him, but the penance and possible punishment he faces for his actions are all parts of the penalty for putting himself in those situations.

He has court dates in December for the two charges filed against him in Kansas City, Missouri. The league has left open the door for further sanctions against him depending on the outcome of those legal proceedings.

That’s a hurdle he’ll have to deal with next month. In the more immediate future is November 10. That’s the day he will return to the team. That’s the day he has to start changing the way the Chiefs feel about him.

From the Hunts, to Carl Peterson, to Herm Edwards, Johnson has fences to mend. He’s got a lot of fence line to ride to get them all buttoned up again, if that’s even possible.

When he signed the biggest contract in Chiefs history in August of 2007, with over $19 million in guaranteed money, he made promises to the owners, the general manager and the head coach. Those promises were not only the unspoken ones that come from signing a deal that big. He told all those parties and stated publicly that he understood the responsibilities that went with the contract and his position with the team.

He said he was up to handling those. He wasn’t. He should get one more chance to prove he can be the type of person the Chiefs want on their roster. …Read More!

A Message for Larry

Let me establish this right from the start: I like Larry Johnson.

I like Larry Johnson the player. I like Larry Johnson the man.

I know that leaves me in a very small room with all his other admirers. Actually, probably a phone booth is all that’s needed these days. But that’s OK; it’s not the first time I’ve been on the so called wrong side, and won’t be the last either.

Some of the things that Larry Johnson the player and man have done I do not like. He’s dished out a lot of hurt lately, and I’m not just talking about hurting himself. I’m talking about a locker room full of teammates, a coaching staff and an organization that he’s let down. His actions off the field have not been very good either. I know he’s a target out there. He knows he’s a target out there. So I don’t feel sorry for the guy when he puts himself in situations where bad things can happen. Wear a target and walk into a shooting gallery? That’s his fault.

I carry no grudge against L.J. Many in the media do. They are loving this time, because he’s suffering and they are remembering all the times when he wouldn’t play their game, by their rules. Now they can bash away in print and on the airwaves and sound all righteous and pompous about how they saw this coming.

Larry Johnson needs help. On Wednesday before the glaring eye of the media that hates him, he admitted that yes, there’s a problem, and the problem is him. He says he’s going to find help in taking care of his problems. He apologized to the Hunts, the team, the coaches, the GM and the fans.

Where Larry goes from here is unknown. He won’t play Sunday against the New York Jets. The NFL is investigating his two most recent off-field incidents. There’s a suspension coming, that you can count on.

What happens after that is up to Larry. He has professionals who can help him with their advice. He also has friends who can hurt him with their advice.

I count myself as neither friend nor foe. I’m certainly not a professional. But I’ve got some advice for Larry. Coming from a guy who at various times has screwed up his own life pretty good that might seem pretty funny, but that’s not stopping me. L.J. likely will never see this, but I’ll feel better getting it off my chest.

Larry, it’s time to go Rocky. …Read More!

Now The Ball Is In Tony’s Hands

For the second time in a month, Tony Gonzalez did not get what he wanted.

The first occasion was the failure of the Chiefs coaching staff to make allowances and get him the career receiving yardage record at Arrowhead Stadium in the final moments of a victory over Denver.   Tony G. had all his family members and friends in the stadium that day.  A big party was planned afterwards to celebrate the moment.

Gonzalez pouted after not getting the record, a pout that continued 24 hours later when he spoke publicly about it in the Chiefs locker room to the media.  He said then that he didn’t feel he was being selfish.

Now comes strike two against Tony G.  His desire to be traded away from the Chiefs so he would not have to suffer anymore the pains of rebuilding ended up in nothing.  The league’s trading deadline passed at 3 p.m. CDT and he remained on the Chiefs roster.

On Wednesday, he reports back to the Chiefs facility at the Truman Sports Complex, pulls on the No. 88 jersey and gets back to work.

Now, the most important question is how Tony will handle this matter with the teammates that he wanted to abandon?  Will he pout like he did after the Denver game? Or will he stand up and say in some similar refrain  ‘Hey, I took a shot. It didn’t work out.  I’m ready to go out and get a victory against Tennessee’? …Read More!

Rest In Peace Reg Dunlop

The week got away from me and I didn’t get the chance to say good bye to Reg Dunlop.

One of America’s great actors Paul Newman passed away last weekend. He was 83 years old.

Throughout his career Newman played some of the great characters in movie history. He was Brick in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. He was Eddie Felson in The Hustler. He was Luke in Cool Hand Luke and who could forget him as Butch in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

But in my narrow view, his best performance came as Coach Reg Dunlop of the Charlestown Chiefs in the classic Slapshot.

OK, so maybe it wasn’t a classic in the most classic of movies sense. It did not win an Oscar. It won no pictures of the year awards to my knowledge unless it was the Saskatoon Film Festival.

The movie did win a Hochi. Hochi? It’s the Hochi Film Awards in Japan and Slapshot won the Best Foreign Language Film in 1977. Seriously … you can look it up. I knew those Japanese had great taste!

If you do not know Slapshot and have never seen it, then you must go rent it, buy it, steal it; get your hands on it in any way possible. If it ever pops up on free television, do not watch. It will be edited to death and it will take the guts right out of the movie.

Slapshot is about a minor league hockey team trying to survive in an old steel mill town that’s seen better days. It’s based on the Johnstown Jets who won the North American Hockey League championship in the 1974-75 season. That was a real team, and a real league and Johnstown is a very real town. …Read More!


From Arrowhead Stadium

There’s nothing nastier, or stinkier, or more painful than a losing streak. And nowhere is that harder to live with than in football.

In baseball, a 12-game losing streak means a team has gone without a victory for two weeks, and there’s another game to play tomorrow where the dive might end with a victory. In basketball and hockey, a 12-game losing streak would generally stretch over three weeks and again, there’s always another game to get ready for.

In the world of pro football, a 12-game losing streak means months, in some cases many months of sucking on the most sour lemon you can ever imagine. It’s dealing with a weekly dose of the foulest tasting medicine you could ever remember from your days as a child. There’s only one chance each week to wash it away, and when that passes with another disappointment, the curdling in the stomach causes heaven knows how many internal problems.

In the case of the Kansas City Chiefs, it was 11 months and one week of pure football agony. It had been 343 days since the red and gold drank from the victory cup. There were nine defeats in a row to end the 2007 season and then an entire off-season for those that remained to think about the consequences and outcomes. Then, came three more weeks of agony to kickoff the 2008 season. There were a lot of new faces in new places but the same tired results were going up on the scoreboard.

It was a 12-game team record string of futility that called into question the competency of every employee of the franchise. The general manager was hung in effigy on the editorial pages of the local fish wrap. The head coach was declared an idiot on the sports talk shows. His coordinators and staff were sliced and diced on Internet message boards.

On a sun-splashed Sunday at Arrowhead, the Chiefs got the greatest mouthwash possible. They drove a stake through the heart of that ugly losing streak and beat the previously unbeaten Denver Broncos.

For this day, it was like the old Arrowhead again. The crowd was loud and for the most part supportive. The Chiefs came out and got a lead, something that they had not had in the previous 21 quarters, going back to game No. 14 of last season.

And the defense, the same group that had gotten bashed and battered on the field for the last two weeks, showed they had not given up the ship.

Even the special teams contributed some big plays, something that had not been coming from the kicking game in that losing streak.

Mostly, the Chiefs just went out and played football. The losing streak was forgotten. So was the last play. Everybody used to make fun of Marty Schottenheimer and his old cliché “one play at a time” but it’s so true. A player, a team can’t play the game thinking about yesterday, or the most recent moment. He and they must move on.

That’s a hard concept for humans to accept. We are not wired that way, at least anybody above the level of a psychotic doesn’t think in that manner. The Chiefs defense had been giving up big plays and during the week Derrick Johnson had admitted that once the first one came, more were likely because there was that feeling of “Oh crap, it’s happening again” except he didn’t use the word crap.

Their head coach hammered them all week about living in the present, making that day’s practice the important thing. The next meeting was now a priority. What happened in Atlanta, or against the Raiders, or in New England or back into November and December of ’07 was no longer germane to their duties.

One play at a time. For another Sunday, it worked. It helped slay the ugliest losing streak in the NFL.

It’s not a cure-all. It doesn’t mean anything more than the Chiefs are 1-3. But a team has to start somewhere.

For the Chiefs, that start was Sunday. The streak is dead. Bury it.

Across The Parking Lot

There won’t be many times on this site when I’ll venture into the world of baseball. I hold nothing against the game, the sport, or even the business. Like a lot of people of my generation I grew up with the game and drifted away. Somewhere in a box not 20 feet from where I sit at this moment is a notebook with the game-by-game stats of every member of the 1971 Pittsburgh Pirates. I haven’t spent that kind of time paying attention to baseball in many years.

I follow two teams: my Pirates and the Royals. Boy that’s a pair. Two teams stuck in the same never ending cycle of losing. Going into Tuesday night’s schedule, both teams were tied with the same record, 57-79. That’s the fourth worst record in major league baseball this season.

What caught my baseball attention was a story in Tuesday’s Kansas City Star with Royals GM Dayton Moore. The tenor of the piece was that it’s another lost September for the boys in blue and Moore is unhappy and promising changes with the team. …Read More!

The Boss

Ordinarily our conversation here is about football and that’s where this epistle will reach a conclusion.

But before that, we are going to wander all over the road a bit, the Thunder Road in fact. Stick with me; I’ll close the circle.

I went to the Bruce Springsteen concert last night at the Sprint Center.

I went expecting to be disappointed. I should have had more faith in The Boss.

Let me establish at the outset that this was not my first Springsteen evening. Not even my second or third. My calculations, hampered by diminished memories of age, put this concert at either the 29th or 30th time I’ve seen him in person. My wife says that makes me a groupie. I say now way, because I’ve known people that have seen Bruce hundreds of times. I knew one guy out of college that quit a job to follow him on tour.

I saw Bruce in ’78 at the Stanley Theater in Pittsburgh. I saw him in 1988 in Sheffield England at Bramall Lane, one of the oldest soccer stadiums still in use. There were about 40,000 Englishmen singing “Born in the USA.” He didn’t tour in 1998 or I would have had four 10-year mileposts of Bruce concerts. I first saw him in 1976 in Pittsburgh. I’ve seen him perform in Asbury Park, in Cleveland at the Agora and the Allen Theater, at the Tower Theater in Upper Darby, Pa., at the old Spectrum in Philly and in the Meadowlands, his home turf of New Jersey. I’ve seen him perform in a bar, a small theater, a small arena, a major arena and a stadium. Those are my Bruce credentials. …Read More!

An Example For Brodie

From Miami Gardens, Florida

Let’s make this plain right up front: the Chiefs did not lose their second pre-season game of the summer because of Brodie Croyle.

Neither did they win the game against the Miami on Saturday night at Dolphin Stadium because of Croyle.

It was not a good night for the Chiefs starting quarterback, but then he did not have a lot of help on his side of the ball.  Pass protection was a problem.  The running game did not produce.  Receivers could not get open, which is always a bit of a problem in making the passing game go.

I’m sure there are many things Croyle will learn by watching the tape of the Chiefs offense’s shutout performance against the Dolphins.  But he might learn more by watching the tape of the Miami offense and more specifically Chad Pennington.  Starting his first game for the Dolphins, Pennington did exactly what he’s done throughout his NFL career.  He played smart football, he threw passes that were available, he set up the running game, he made time for himself with his feet and mostly he did not make any mistakes. …Read More!

Answer Bob

From Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

The Chiefs arrived here Friday afternoon after being delayed by bad weather.  The Chiefs charter flight had to circle the Ft. Myers area as the Ft. Lauderdale Airport was closed by a bad thunderstorm.  The Chiefs were about to land in Ft. Myers to refuel when the airport opened and they were able to land.  Heavy rains in south Florida have puddles everywhere.

The extra time on the flight south allowed me to answer some of your recent comments and questions on bobgretz.com posts.  Again, thanks for your readership and interest.

Offensive line questions from Blake and Patrick.

  • Blake I can’t say that Anthony Alabi has shown much.  When it’s been time to fill  in with the first group he’s run behind Herb Taylor, Barry Richadson and sometimes Will Svitek.  I did fail to mention that Alabi can also play inside at guard,  something he did in Miami.
  • Patrick, I think it best for the health of Brodie Croyle that Herb Taylor stay at left tackle.  Believe me, if he can handle the duties there, moving to the right side  will not be hard.  Herb is a pretty smart guy as well, so while in theory I agree with your premise, he’s the best left tackle the Chiefs have right now and that means he needs to protect Croyle’s flank.

Several very nice comments on Gene Upshaw from long-time Chiefs fans who didn’t hold his silver and black  heritage against him. …Read More!

RIP Gene Upshaw

Gene Upshaw

Gene Upshaw

The scene was a hotel ballroom on the east side of Manhattan, right on Lexington Avenue.  It was a September Monday in 1982 and the room was packed with reporters and television cameras.  Just as I walked into the room, a hand reached out from behind a door and grabbed my arm.  It was Tom Condon, then Chiefs starting guard and one of the leaders of the NFL Players Association.

Before I knew it, I was on a day-long odyssey with Condon and a host of NFL players, including their leader Gene Upshaw.  First, they announced in the hotel ballroom that the league’s players were going on strike at the end of the Monday night game that was coincidentally being played in the Meadowlands in New Jersey that evening.

As you could imagine, there were plenty of questions for the union leadership in that room, and the guy at the center of things was Upshaw.  At the time, Ed Garvey was the union’s executive director.  The mere mention of Garvey’s name could send an NFL owner into spasms of angry shouting.  Garvey was considered him a socialist and the owners made fun of his stated negotiating goal: getting the players 54 percent of the NFL’s gross revenue. …Read More!

Cincinnati Bungles Do It Again

The late Pittsburgh Steelers announcer Myron Cope was big on handing out nicknames.  Chuck Noll was the Emperor Chaz, the Minnesota Vikings were the Minny Vikes and so on.

Myron used to call the Cincinnati Bengals the Cincinnati Bungles.  It was all done in fun and the chatter that goes back and forth between fans of one team to another.

But the folks who run the Bengals franchise seem to go out of their way to make sure they remain the Bungles.  How else to understand the team’s re-signing of WR Chris Henry this week.

This is the same Chris Henry who has been arrested multiple times in  multiple states over the last three years.  This is the same Chris Henry who has already served a pair of NFL suspensions and faces another one to start the  ’08 season.  This is the same Chris Henry who has brought shame upon the Bengals franchise on numerous occasions.

His return to the team on Tuesday makes a mockery of the franchise and the attempts by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to clean up the league.  At least the Tennessee Titans were smart enough to deal away another serial miscreant in Pacman Jones, a guy who is an even more talented player than Henry. …Read More!

Will The Chiefs Return To the Northwoods?

From River Falls, Wisconsin

For the last three weeks this website has been based in this Norman Rockwell little town here in western Wisconsin where people park their cars on the street in front of their homes at night, leave the driver’s window down and the keys in the ignition.

And when they come out in the morning, the car is still there.

As small towns go, it doesn’t get much better than River Falls.  It’s nice: nice people, nice weather, nice scenery.

But is it the best place for the Kansas City Chiefs to hold training camp? …Read More!

A Better Way For The NFL Pre-Season

From River Falls, Wisconsin

Within the last 10 years, the NFL league office took over the scheduling of pre-season games.  Before that, the teams set up the games among themselves.  The league took over to try and smooth out some perceived inequities in how the schedules came together each year.  Teams like Cincinnati complained that they couldn’t get good match ups because nobody wanted to come to the River City to play the Bengals.  They complained that there was less incoming revenue.

So now the pre-season gate revenue is thrown into a pot and split evenly between the 32 teams.  And, the NFL does all the scheduling. …Read More!


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