NFL Labor Pains … Tuesday Cup O’Chiefs

The current climate of professional football is not what anybody involved in the game – owners, players, fans and media – signed up for when we made the pigskin our favorite sporting orb.

Over the last year, the question I’ve been asked most by fans, readers, listeners and posters to the site is whether there will be NFL football in Fall 2011. The owners and players will be without a labor agreement come March 4 and some sort of deal needs to be negotiated between the parties.

I’ve always answered the same way – there are very smart people on both sides of this issue and when smart people get together, if they want to achieve a deal, then they will get it done. It’s impossible for me to believe that either the owners or players want to kill the golden goose that football has become over the last 24 years since the league’s last labor unrest.

I still feel that agreement is possible, but the foundation of my beliefs is being shaken by the current status of negotiations between the billionaire owners and the millionaires that work for them. Right now, the lawyers are in control, as both sides prepare to go to court. The NFL Players Association has been plotting its course of decertification, where they would disband as an association and then file an anti-trust case against the league. The NFL on Monday confirmed that it had filed an unfair labor practice charge against the NFLPA, claiming the union has not bargained in good faith because it plans to decertify. …Read More!

Cleaning Up The Hall … Monday Cup O’Chiefs

It was a weekend where I unplugged a bit after a constant barrage of football since July.

I fired up the site Sunday night and see that my post on the Hall of Fame has drawn plenty of reaction. Even my mother warned me that I got people all stirred up. That’s never my intent, but if so, that’s OK. I’ll address some of that at the end of this post

First, I want to bring you what I promised in that Hall of Fame post and that was my ideas on how the process can be improved. Understand right off the top that selecting entries to any type of Hall of Fame is a process fraught with peril and is never an easy thing. In every sport, a place in the Hall with the greatest of that game is the ultimate accomplishment.

The different major sports in this country all do it in different ways. The Baseball Hall of Fame voting is done by members of the Baseball Writers Association of America who have been part of the organization or 10 years or more. This latest class had 581 ballots cast by mail. Each voter could vote for as many as 10 or as few as none. To make the Hall, the player had to be named on 75 percent of the individual ballots.

The Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame voting is something of a mystery, done by screening committees that are not publicly named. The Hockey Hall of Fame has an 18-person committee made up of Hall of Fame members, hockey personnel and media. They are appointed to three-year terms.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame has 44 voting members. There’s one for each city where there is an NFL team (New York has two). That’s 32. There is a representative of the Pro Football Writers Association each year. That’s 33. And the final 11 are at-large selections. All voters are selected by the Hall from the ranks of the media who have covered the game for a number of years. There are representatives from newspapers, magazines, television, radio and the internet.

Here are my thoughts on three areas of the Hall that would improve what I think already is the best way to select a Hall of Fame among the four major sports: …Read More!

Hall of Fame Dunce … Weekend Cup O’Chiefs

I really hate to do this, but I feel there’s no choice in this matter. When you are dealing with an ignorant bully, there are only so many times you can let it slide.

I’m talking about Jason Whitlock, Kansas City’s long-time sports media bully extraordinaire. Listen, if I blogged something about that blob every time he was factually incorrect or didn’t know what he was talking about, then I would never stop. With the shrinking of his audience and no outlet for his special brand of yellow journalism in Kansas City, Whitlock tends to flail about willy nilly these days, trying to pick journalistic fights so he can save a dead career.

He’s not Chicken Little, he’s Chicken Big and he laid an egg this week by going after the Pro Football Hall of Fame Board of Selectors. If you like, you can go off to the only outlet he has these days and read the whole thing. I’m not going to link and make it easy.

But I will re-cap some of his comments: he says the process of selecting inductees to the Pro Football Hall of Fame is corrupt. He uses as evidence the failure of OT Willie Roaf to get a first ballot election. Whitlock says the committee knows nothing about football and does know about backroom dealing. Here are a few actual passages: …Read More!

It’s Franchise Day in the NFL …Thursday Cup O’Chiefs

Will Tamba Hali become the Chiefs newest member of the franchise player fraternity on Thursday?

That’s the day that NFL teams have a two-week window to use the franchise player designation on one of the veteran players who is about to become a free agent.

But whether or not the franchise tag comes out and gets applied to Hali is a far bigger question than just the negotiations between the outside linebacker and the team. It’s part of the labor battle between the NFL owners and players that threatens the 2011 season.

In a nutshell: the NFL has told teams that starting February 10 they can designate a franchise or transition player(s). The NFL Players Association says the teams cannot give the designation of franchise or transition player because the agreement between the parties is about to run out on March 3rd.

The issue between the owners and union is about interpretation of language in the soon to expire collective bargaining agreement that allows for application of the franchise tag “in any season during the term of this Agreement.”

The CBA is in place until March 3 so technically the Tag can be used now. However, once the Agreement expires, all bets are off subject to negotiation of a new agreement.

The union said in a statement given to agents last week that “The 2011 season is not a ‘season during the term of this Agreement’ so the NFL has no valid basis for claiming the right to franchise players in 2011.”   …Read More!

Mid-week Hodgepodge … Wednesday Cup O’Chiefs

What’s ahead for the Pro Football Hall of Fame?

Besides the 10 men held over from the 2011 finalist that did not get elected, there are going to be new additions to the list of eligible players.

How about the class of 2012 where three major coaching names will become eligible: Marty Schottenheimer, Bill Cowher and some guy named Bill Parcells. Also as part of that group will be former Chiefs guard Will Shields.

Here are some names for other classes down the road:

  • 2013 – becoming eligible will be DE Michael Strachan, QB Vinny Testaverde, OT Jonathan Ogden, DT Warren Sapp and K Morten Andersen.
  • 2014 – LB Derrick Brooks, S Rodney Harrison, and coaches Tony Dungy, Jon Gruden and Mike Holmgren.
  • 2015 – QB Kurt Warner, WR Marvin Harrison, OT Orlando Pace, LB Junior Seau, OT Walter Jones and WR Isaac Bruce. …Read More!

The Green Bay Way … Tuesday Cup O’Chiefs

The Green Bay Packers had just won Super Bowl 45 and general manager Ted Thompson was cornered in the bowels of Cowboys Stadium. The media had him surrounded. That’s him above on the far right, touching the Lombardi Trophy.

As always in these situations, Thompson appeared very uncomfortable. The man who built the Packers team that was able to control the league championship game against the Pittsburgh Steelers doesn’t enjoy the parry and thrust that goes with the media covering the team. To say that he prefers to stay in the shadows doesn’t begin to explain his trepidation in answering questions.

Thompson was up on the podium after the game, and was handed the Vince Lombardi Trophy and Fox-TV shoved a microphone in his face.   …Read More!

A Super Game-Day Cup O’Super Bowl

From Dallas, Texas

It has been one of the best pre-Super Bowl weeks that I can remember in sometime. Forget the unusual weather in Dallas, and the city’s inept handling of the roads and removal of ice. From the time this championship matchup was set a fortnight ago, Super Bowl 45 has been about football.

The Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers bring together one of the most storied title games of the last 50 years. This is what pro football is about, both its past and its present. The teams that take the field under the direction of the Packers’ Mike McCarthy and the Steelers’ Mike Tomlin are the most recent inductees to a special fraternity of green and gold and black and gold legends.

From Nitschke to Matthews, Bradshaw to Roethlisberger, this is a continuation of a legacy that built the game, creating the potential for one of the most fascinating of Super Bowls.

So much has been written and said of what should happen today, it’s time to put a close to the previews. The players and coaches will put it on the line later Sunday at the Cowboys Stadium. It’s time for the folks of to put it on the line. …Read More!

Yes On Sabol … Saturday Cup O’Super Bowl

From Dallas, Texas

Despite the fact that he never threw a pass, tackled the quarterback or scored a touchdown, I think Ed Sabol deserves to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and I plan to vote for him Saturday morning.

There will be a great deal of discussion on Sabol and whether or not he’s worthy of Hall of Fame status for his skills involving the game of football. I guarantee it, because I’ve been holding those discussions with myself for the better part of the last month.

There is no question about Sabol’s skill and his impact on the game. With the help of his son Steve, the Sabol’s elevated the game to dramatic and comic heights never seen before around the game. He was a pioneer in developing equipment to capture the pictures on film and the sounds on tape. If you are under 60 years of age, there’s a very good chance that your memories of the NFL have come through the lens of NFL Films.

But is that worth of a spot in the Hall of Fame in Canton? As part of the 44-person Board of Selectors, we have a constant battle of dealing with worthy candidates and not enough spots for them to land in the hallowed Hall.

If Sabol goes in, that means a player will be left out. I can tell you that of the 14 modern era players on the ballot, all will one day be in the Hall of Fame. But the election of Sabol means one of those men will have to wait another year. …Read More!

Redman’s Last Chance … Friday Cup O’Super Bowl

From Dallas, Texas

The look on his face was a combination of happy and sad, energy and pain, hope and surrender.

The happy, energy and hope was Dave Redding. The sadness, pain and surrender was Parkinson’s Disease, the opponent that “Redman” now fights every breathing movement.

“Gretzie, every day is a tough one,” Redding said, as he sat in the ballroom of the Green Bay Packers hotel in Las Colinas. “But I’m smiling right now.”

The smile came because of where this conversation took place and why. The Packers are in the Super Bowl and for the first time in his career as a NFL strength and conditioning coach, Redding has reached the ultimate game. Twenty-four pro seasons another six in the college game, thousands of hours in the weight room helping players sling around barbells and weights and now finally, he’s part of the one that counts.

“Every year with the Chiefs (1989-97) I thought we had a chance to get to this week,” Redding said. “It was always heartbreaking. It just takes a little bit of your heart every time you get a chance and it doesn’t happen.” …Read More!

Brett Who? … Thursday Cup O’Super Bowl

From Dallas, Texas

The questions fly fast and furious at the Super Bowl if one happens to be a starting quarterback in the game. Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers has found that out this week.

“Aaron, have you called Brett Favre or has he called you to talk about the expectations for the Super Bowl?”

“No,” answered Rodgers.

Next question.

Rodgers didn’t smile or frown when asked the question or when he gave the answer. But it was telling that after several days of answering questions, the Packers quarterback has made mention of several important conversations he’s had over the last year or so with a host of other quarterbacks.

Guys like Bart Starr, Steve Young and Kurt Warner, but not the man he replaced in Packers green and gold. …Read More!

Ben Bounces Back ….Wednesday Cup O’Super Bowl

From Arlington, Texas

I got there early. The clock was making a slow crawl towards noon on Tuesday and I wanted to be in a decent enough position to be able to hear what Ben Roethlisberger had to say.

It was Tuesday, it was Media Day at the Super Bowl and if there was one thing in the last week that the Pittsburgh quarterback had to be dreading in anticipation it was his one-hour with the media horde.

Media Day is a different type of experience for the players and coaches of the teams competing in the Super Bowl. There’s no idea from one moment to the next what type of question that will fired at players and coaches. There’s seldom anything off-limits and in this day and age of the instant media more than one hairdo and TV camera, or ink-stained wretch from the dying print media was going to load up and fire questions in Roethlisberger’s direction involving his problems in Georgia last year that led to his four-game suspension by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

Ordinarily, this type of affair would not interest me in the least. Big Ben did his time in the NFL pokey and was back in the Super Bowl for the third time he’s been to the title game in six seasons. All I wanted to see is what he did on the field. His boorish behavior, his thoughts on the turmoil in Egypt, his prediction for the current labor situation were of no interest. I figured Roethlisberger’s agent and his marketing people had probably prepped him in the last week for just about anything.

But my peeps in Pittsburgh say that Roethlisberger has really tried to change his attitude with everyone, from fans to teammates, even to the media. Surly and uncooperative had been replaced by helpful and available. Since he returned from the suspension at the start of the season, he’s tried to mend his fences. …Read More!

A Pittsburgh Guy … Tuesday Cup O’Super Bowl

Growing up in Pittsburgh is a big part of who I am. But I am a Green Bay Packer and we’ve come here to claim the Lombardi Trophy.” Packers head coach Mike McCarthy.

From Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas

He would never drop his guard long enough this week, but you can bet that what’s gone down for the last 10 days in the life of Packers head coach Mike McCarthy has been a surreal dream.

McCarthy is leading Green Bay into the Super Bowl against the Steelers. McCarthy is a son of Pittsburgh. He was born and raised there. He has black and gold in his blood. When he speaks there are those curious inflections that are so obviously from the river valleys of western Pennsylvania with odd pronouns like “yunz” and talk of the “Stillers.”

“The Stillers are part of me,” McCarthy said years ago, when he was working for Marty Schottenheimer’s coaching staff with the Chiefs. “But even if they had not been a successful Super Bowl team, football would be an important part of my life. Football, basketball, baseball – they were all parts of my life and contributed to what I am today. That’s just the way you grew up there. It was all about competition.”


…Read More!

Super Bowl Week Begins … Monday Cup O’Chiefs

Somewhere in the Texas Nation headed to Dallas

His name was Jones Ramsey and he was the sports information director at the University of Texas many years ago. That’s him to the right.

Ramsey was once asked what were the two biggest sports at Texas?

“Football and spring football,” Ramsey said without taking a breath.

There are very few places where football is more important than Texas. Whether it’s the pros, college or high school, it’s always topic No. 1 on the sports agenda in the Lone Star State.

Except right now, in the aftermath of the 2010 season when things didn’t go right in so many avenues of Texas football. The Cowboys and the Texans had bad seasons and missed the playoffs. The Texas Longhorns had their worst season in decades. No Texas team was in the national championship game in college football.

And to rub salt in the wound, the Super Bowl is coming to Texas. The eyes of football will be on the eyes of Texas and the only thing related to the Cowboys that will be in the picture is their stadium.

Super Bowl week kicks off Monday with both teams arriving in Dallas and escaping their snowy hometowns so they can begin practicing for the championship game. It figures to be an interesting week, filled with great personalities and story lines with two of the classic NFL franchises involved in the meeting.

Our boots hit the ground in Big D on Monday as well and we’ll be there all week giving you some of the better stories and behind the scenes type activities. …Read More!

Senior Bowl Stud … Thursday Cup O’Chiefs

From Mobile, Alabama

If the good folks that run the Senior Bowl presented an award called “Stud of the Year” then there’s no doubt the winner of that honor in 2011 would be Von Miller.

The Texas A&M linebacker has established during three days of practice here that he’s at the head of the class among the 100+ players taking part in the week of practices leading up to Saturday’s game.

“I don’t think anybody would argue that he’s probably the best player out here,” said Jets and former Chiefs personnel man Terry Bradway. “He’s a play maker.”

SCENE: The ball is snapped by the South offense and RB Charles Clay (Tulsa) leaks out of the backfield, plants his foot and cuts to his left, running a drag route across the second level of the defense. After back pedaling a few yards into coverage, Miller spies Clay and reacts immediately, pasting himself to the hip of the running back. There’s no space for the quarterback to throw the ball to Clay, so he passer looks elsewhere.

Coming off his sterling career at A&M, Miller seems to be one of those tweeners – he’s too small to play defensive end, which is essentially what he did in the Big 12 Conference. But can he play linebacker and can he cover receivers on the short field? If there’s one thing that Miller has done with his week of practice work in Mobile, it’s been to diminish any concerns teams would have with his ability to play the outside linebacker spot in the 3-4 defense. …Read More!

Quarterback Talk … Wednesday Cup O’Chiefs

From Mobile, Alabama

Everybody always wants to talk to the quarterbacks. Put six of the biggest names among college quarterbacks in the same place for a week, and there’s no doubt they will lead the scoreboard when it comes to interviews and autographs.

But then, these guys are used to being in the spotlight and having every part of their game and life under the microscope.

And there’s a chance – maybe even a good chance – that one of these six quarterbacks could be joining the Chiefs for the 2011 season.

GM Scott Pioli isn’t about to pull his cards away from his chest and divulge draft strategy. But the circumstantial evidence creates a scenario where Pioli almost has to grab a QB with one of his draft choices.

First, backup QB Brodie Croyle is without a contract for the coming season. There was little he showed in relief of starter Matt Cassel that screams for the Chiefs to bring him back. That will create an opening. …Read More!

Back Off Cutler … Tuesday Cup O’Chiefs

From Mobile, Alabama

Pull together representatives from every coaching staff in the NFL and put them in one spot, and it can generate some remarkable conversations.

The biggest topic on Sunday night that continued into Monday had nothing to do with the Senior Bowl and the 100+ players that are in town for a week of practice and Saturday’s game.

It had everything to do with Chicago Bears QB Jay Cutler.

The aftermath of NFC Championship Game on Sunday has left Cutler and the Bears a smoldering ruins of a team dealing not only with the crash of losing the game and a trip to the Super Bowl, but the demolition of a football career.

“How do you salvage Cutler at this point?” asked one NFL head coach walking through the lobby of the headquarters hotel for the Senior Bowl.

Let me get this off my chest right up front – I think anyone that has labeled Cutler a quitter because he did not continue to play on his injured knee in Sunday’s game is an idiot. Yes, I mean I-D-I-O-T-S, big, nasty, ugly dolts who should be ashamed of themselves.

That would include several current NFL players, who took to Twitter after the game to fire verbal torpedoes at Cutler. It would include former NFL types like Deion Sanders and ESPN‘s Mike Golic, who took to Twitter and the airwaves to question Cutler’s manhood. The Idiots Club would include pundits, columnists and radio tin throats too numerous to mention in the media, 99.9 percent of whom would have no idea what trying to play with a knee injury feels like.

And I don’t want to leave out any fans, including those in heartbroken Chicago that have fired flaming vitriol in Cutler’s direction. They are least culpable however, because they are fans and they are reacting with emotion, rather than knowledge and reason. …Read More!

It’s Evaluation Week … Monday Cup O’Chiefs

From Mobile, Alabama

The Renaissance Riverview Plaza Hotel sports a lobby that has two levels. On Sunday, both upstairs and downstairs were wall-to-wall football.

Clusters of men in warm-up suits sat and watched Green Bay-Chicago battle in the NFC Championship Game. Right next to them, would be a few other guys locked in an intense conversation, paying no attention to the Packers and Bears. Those conversations were invariably between an NFL scout and one of the players who will participate in the Under Armour Senior Bowl this coming weekend.

Sunday was check-in day for the nearly 100 players that are scheduled to take part in the week of practices leading up to next Sunday’s game. But there was very little time for those players to get settled or enjoy a look around Mobile. Those folks working for the 32 NFL teams were all competing for attention.

Like Pat Sperduto. Chiefs fans don’t know Sperduto, who is an area scout for GM Scott Pioli’s personnel operation. For some reason Pioli likes to keep his personnel people under wraps, so few people outside of the football operation at the Chiefs knows who these guys are.

But Sperduto was working hard Sunday afternoon. Sitting in side-by-side high backed chairs, he first grilled LSU linebacker Kelvin Sheppard. A half-hour later, Auburn linebacker Josh Bynes had moved into the chair. Both players answered questions, and Sperduto took notes as fast as he could.

That’s what this week in Mobile is all about – the opportunity to crack the shell a bit on these NFL prospects that until this week had largely been protected by their college programs. These all-star games like last Saturday’s East-West Shrine Game, the Senior Bowl, and a few other minor games that are played, are the first opportunity many teams have to sit down and have a conversation with these guys. The football ability is on tape for all to evaluate. The personality and intangibles have to come from other areas, and that’s what these lobby conversations are all about. …Read More!

Championship Weekend Cup O’Chiefs

It’s now been 17 years since the Chiefs were part of the NFL’s final four, semi-finals weekend.

As good as last weekend was with four games, it’s the conference championship weekend and there are only two games, but the outcomes of those contests change lives, both inside the competing teams and out.

Chicago, Green Bay, Pittsburgh and the New York Jets make up the surviving quartet. In this group, the Jets are a puppy playing in their 51st season compared to the Bears, Packers and Steelers. The Decatur Staleys became the Chicago Bears in 1922, a year after Green Bay got the Packers. In Pittsburgh they got the Pirates football team in 1933. It would be 1940 before they became known as the Steelers.

It’s the second championship weekend in the last three years that does not feature a No. 1 seed from either the AFC or the NFC. The Patriots and Falcons both were knocked out last weekend leaving the two conferences with No. 2 and No. 6 seeds playing for a ticket to the Super Bowl at Jerry World/Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

There are familiar faces on all four teams for Chiefs fans. Starting on the bottom left and going clockwise, there are former players like New York’s Tony Richardson, Chicago’s Todd Collins and Pittsburgh’s Keyaron Fox, along with former Chiefs assistant coach, Green Bay’s head coach Mike McCarthy.

…Read More!

Best Of AFC West … Thursday Cup O’Chiefs

It was a division that had just one team in the playoffs and just half of the group finished the season with more victories than defeats.

The teams of the AFC West were not overflowing with players having their best seasons in 2010. There were 10 players from the Chiefs, Chargers, Raiders and Broncos named to the Pro Bowl. Only the NFC West had fewer among the other seven divisions in the league.

While they may not have finished among the better performers in the ’10 season, there were plenty of good seasons put together by players in the AFC West. So, that’s why we’ve put together an All-AFC West team for the 2010 team.

About the selections, there are 12 defenders selected because of the use of the 3-4 and 4-3 defenses within the division. The offensive linemen were picked for the positions they play, rather than just the top five blockers.

At several positions there are honorable mention picks. These are players that just as easily could be on the All-AFC West first team.

Also at the end of the team rosters are selections for individual honors for players, coaches and executives.

Enjoy. …Read More!

Not So Special Teams … Wednesday Cup O’Chiefs

When Dexter McCluster returned a punt 94 yards for a touchdown in the season opener against San Diego it seemed a harbinger of a good things for the Chiefs special teams.

But that promise did not show itself for the final 16 games and it would have to go down as a mediocre season for the Chiefs kicking game. For a team that overachieved on both offense and defense, they underachieved on special teams.

“That’s an area that we have to compete in at a high level and be better in against most teams that we play for us to stand a competitive chance,” was pretty much a weekly comment form head coach Todd Haley

After McCluster’s opening night TD, the return game was not much of a factor. K Ryan Succop did not show major improvement from his solid rookie season. The Chiefs did not block a field goal or punt and they allowed a 94-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.

On the positive side, the overall coverage units were among the league’s best and punter Dustin Colquitt had a solid season.

Here’s an inside look at all aspects of the kicking game and how it played out for the Chiefs in the ’10 season and what needs to improve in the ’11 season for the Chiefs to improve. …Read More!

Developmental Stars For ’11 … Tuesday Cup O’Chiefs

Todd Haley hammered away at the theme all through the 2010 season. One of the biggest keys in the Chiefs improvement from the previous season was the development of players who were already on site. He frequently referenced players in their third, fourth and fifth seasons.

Ultimately, three players really took a step forward – RB Jamaal Charles, ILB Derrick Johnson and CB Brandon Carr.

Charles and Carr were in the third seasons, while Johnson was in his sixth season. D.J. may have been out of the group that Haley was speaking about, but he qualified because after five previous seasons, Johnson made huge strides in production and consistency.

It’s never too early to look ahead to the 2011 season. Just who might be the players already wearing red and gold that may make similar types of improvement as Charles-Carr-Johnson?

We’ve picked three and those choices are based on several different reasons, including what they’ve shown so far and where the team really needs to improve in the 2011 season. They are OLB Andy Studebaker (in his fourth season), WR Verran Tucker (a second-year player) and DE Tyson Jackson (going into his third season.)

Here’s a look at those three and why they have a chance to become major contributors in 2011. …Read More!

Learning From The Final Four … Monday Cup O’Chiefs

Now that the NFL is down to its final four teams for the 2010 season – the Steelers, Jets, Bears and Packers – it’s time to take the magnifying glass to the games of the last two Sundays and learn what they can tell us about how far away the Chiefs might be from being part of the championship game weekend.

The way Baltimore beat the Chiefs, and then went to Pittsburgh and lost what amounted to a heavyweight fight with the Steelers it’s obvious that Todd Haley’s team went about as far as they were capable of going. They made the playoffs and won 10 games on the season, quite a change for a team that was 4-12 the season before.

But we all saw at Arrowhead Stadium in a 30-7 loss that the Chiefs were not of the same class as the Ravens, and based on results, certainly not the Steelers. They were much like the Atlanta Falcons over in the NFC – a young team, with a QB inexperienced in the post-season. The Falcons were unable to raise their level of play against the Packers and got smoked by 27 points. Atlanta played out of character, as he Falcons made all sorts of mistakes they did not do in the regular season, things like penalties, turnovers and mental mistakes.

One thing that the Chiefs can take from the 2010 playoffs so far is that they should not worry so much about playing home games in the post-season. They’ve lost their last four games in the playoffs at Arrowhead. This year, the visiting team has won five of the eight games played so far.

There are a few other lessons the Chiefs can take from the 2010 NFL playoffs: …Read More!

Handling The West … Weekend Cup O’Chiefs

In Denver they have a new head coach. In San Diego they are trying to find a new defensive coordinator. In Oakland they are without a head coach and heaven knows how long it will take the powers that be in Raiders Land to complete the process.

And then there are the AFC West champion Chiefs, with a hole at offensive coordinator, but holding the division title for the first time since 2003, after breaking the Chargers stranglehold on the position.

That the Chiefs could win the division while losing four of six games against the Chargers, Raiders and Broncos is unusual. Since the league went to two conferences/four divisions in 2002, only two teams have won their division with a losing record attached to the intra-division games: the 2010 Chiefs and the 2002 Miami Dolphins team that was part of a three-way tie for the AFC East. Both teams went 2-4 in the regular season.

The Chiefs beat the Broncos by four points and the Chargers by seven points and went to overtime and lost to the Raiders by a FG. But in three other division games against those teams they lost by 20, 31 and 21 points. Those were the three worst losses in the regular season.

With only 20 percent of their 10 victories coming out of their own division, it creates an odd predicament for the Chiefs. They are division champs, but they are not the best team within the AFC West. That would be Oakland (6-0), followed by San Diego (3-3). Denver (1-5) finished behind the Chiefs.

“We showed you can get into the post-season without doing it,” Todd Haley said of winning in the division. “It’s not the way we’d like it to occur because you’re most efficient way to get into the post-season is to beat your division opponents. I think it’s very important from our players’ standpoint, we have to learn and understand how critical those games are to your placement, your seeding and really your overall chances of being a successful team in the post-season, which is the goal.

“We need to get better. We’re not there yet but we’ve done a real good job to this point of starting to lay the foundation of what’s going to be a real good team.” …Read More!

Kudos From The Coach … Thursday Cup O’Chiefs

More than likely it’s something he acquired from his time working for Bill Parcells. When it comes to verbal bouquets for his players, Chiefs head coach Todd Haley throws them around like manhole covers.

Its part of the mentality that believes pumping up a player does nothing but pump up his ego and that makes it that much harder to coach him because the player thinks he’s somehow “made it”. Uncomfortable is generally what NFL head coaches want the bulk of their players to feel on a 24/7 basis.

So it was an interesting moment the other day when Haley met with the media horde for a wrap-up chat on the loss to Baltimore and the 2010 season. His comments on the Chiefs season stayed on point through most of the session, as he talked in big picture views of how the team had improved from 4-12 to 10-6 and a division title.

But then Haley was asked if there were any specific player that made great progress and really stood out in the just completed season.

“There are just so many,” Haley said. “The coaches did such a great job of turning some unknowns to knowns. When you go into the draft and into the off-season you want to say ‘we would like to take care of this, this and this’ but you just can’t do it. That is why the development of players becomes so paramount to your success as a team.”

Normally, this is where Haley would head off in another direction, changing the subject without mentioning specific players. But this time, he named names. …Read More!

Waiting For An O.C. … Wednesday Cup O’Chiefs

From the Truman Sports Complex

The news rolled through the Chiefs Nation like a bolt of lightning from a dark cloud in the summer sky:

Todd Haley might not hire anyone to replace Charlie Weis as the team’s offensive coordinator and Haley may take over the job.

Immediately, the head coach’s words were being parsed, scrubbed, sliced, diced and reconstructed by everyone with any interest in how the Chiefs and their fortunes will shake out in 2011.

Now, understand this from someone who was there and asked the question that opened the Kansas City football version of Pandora’s Box – Haley did not say he would not have an offensive coordinator next season.

Here’s the gist of what he said when asked if he was committed to hiring a new offensive coordinator:

“We are in that process of evaluating the team and I am going to continue to do the things that I can do as the head coach to stay on course and continue to build and make all those decisions together with staff and our organization that we think give us the best chance to continue to make progress.”

Translation: I’m not sure what I’m going to do right now. I need some time to ponder the possibilities.

Another question for Haley: Would he consider calling plays next year? …Read More!

Saying Goodbye … Tuesday Cup O’Chiefs

The number one requirement for an NFL locker room on the day after the season ends is garbage bags.

Garbage bags?

Yes, big, heavy duty garbage bags, that can be used as suitcases, brief cases, storage bags and sometimes, they can even hold garbage as players clean out their lockers after some eight months of use.

A box of big black garbage bags sat on a table in the middle of the Chiefs locker room Monday as the team went through the last day of the 2010 season. The use of those bags was a fitting metaphor to what happened on Sunday when the Baltimore Ravens stuffed into the garbage the Chiefs chances of advancing into the AFC playoffs.

As a result of the 30-7 thumping, the Chiefs gathered one more time on Monday. There were a lot of phone numbers exchanged, a lot of immediate plans being shared, some footballs being signed as they were passed around the room. …Read More!

Welcome Back Playoffs … Game-Day Cup O’Chiefs

OK, Kansas City, the great Midwest and the Chiefs Nation – it’s been awhile I know, so this may be a good time to go over what happens when your team makes the tournament:

– Win and the season continues for at least another week, as they would go to Pittsburgh to face the Steelers.

– Lose, and there is no tomorrow; season is over.

Cut through all the plots and story lines of the post-season and really comes down to an either/or, a very simple set of ramifications for the Chiefs as a result of their game against the Baltimore Ravens. Kickoff is Sunday at noon and can we watched on CBS-TV with Jim Nantz and Phil Simms providing the necessary words.
“It’s really the easiest game of the year to figure out – win and we play again, lose and we go home,” said 11-year veteran G Brian Waters, who is playing in only his third post-season game. “I’m not ready to go home. I want to keep playing.”

The chronology of the playoffs for the Chiefs and Ravens is part of the panorama of this game. The Chiefs last made the playoffs in 2006. The last time they had a home game in the post-season was 2003. And the most painful fact for those among the red and gold faithful is that the Chiefs have not won a game in the playoffs since January 16, 1994.

The math on that is wild – it’s a week short of 17 years, or a full 883 weeks and slicing the pie to its smallest piece, 6,181 days since the Chiefs drank from the cup of post-season victory against the Oilers down in Houston.

…Read More!

Ravens Lead By Ray-Ray … Saturday Cup O’Chiefs

When the Baltimore Ravens roll onto the playing field at Arrowhead Stadium they will be led by R & R, and that’s not rest and relaxation. That’s Ray and Ray, as in Ray Lewis and Ray Rice.

Ray-Ray is about as dynamic a duo as any NFL team can put on the field. Ray Lewis has twice been the NFL Defensive Player of the Year, with 11 Pro Bowls, a spot on the NFL’s All-Decade team of the 2000s and 11 Pro Bowl invitations. He has defined the middle linebacker position in the NFL for the last 15 years.

Ray Rice in three seasons has become one of the most productive offensive weapons in the league. Over the last two seasons, Rice has had 1,339 and 1,220 rushing yards. He caught passes for 702 and 556 yards. The Rutgers product scored eight and six total touchdowns. Just three weeks ago, he ran for 153 yards on 31 carries while catching five passes for 80 yards against New Orleans. He scored touchdowns running and receiving in that game.

For the Chiefs to have a chance of victory in Sunday’s first-round game in the playoffs they will have to find a way to contain and minimize the contributions of Ray-Ray. …Read More!

A Very Different Feeling … Friday Cup O’Chiefs

Rookie G Jon Asamoah knew something was different within moments after walking into the Chiefs locker room on Monday morning.

“There as just this feeling that wasn’t there on other Mondays,” Asamoah said. “You could sense it, there was more intensity.”

It didn’t take Asamoah long to find out what was different, what that feeling was – it’s the NFL playoffs.

There were 22 players in the Chiefs locker room who knew what to expect this week.

But that left 31 others, plus nine more on the practice squad, 40 players in all who felt the difference on Monday, but didn’t know why.

They do now.

“In practice, in the film room, in here (locker room), the intensity is increased,” said rookie S Kendrick Lewis. “There’s a sense of urgency. You know this is a big game. The intensity level has picked up big around here.

“You hear about how important it is, but this week you can feel it and sense it, this is serious and you have to put your mindset on this as win or die, win or go home, so you had better give it all you got.” …Read More!

Cassel’s Playoffs Experience … Thursday Cup O’Chiefs

The question appeared to stun Matt Cassel, if only for a second?

“What do you remember about the last time you started a game in the playoffs?” Cassel was asked on Wednesday.

Cassel furrowed his brow a bit, as the memory did not come rushing back quickly. Eventually details came to mind.

This coming Sunday, Cassel will start for the first time in an NFL post-season game when he goes up against the Baltimore Ravens at Arrowhead Stadium.

That start comes 11 years after his last one in the playoffs. That was on November 24, 1999 when he led Chatsworth High School into a Los Angeles City Invitational quarterfinal game against Palisades High School.

“That was a while ago, back in high school and we ended up losing,” Cassel said with a smile. “We had a lot of fun. I handed off a lot. I think we lost 45-44.”

Actually, Cassel and the Chancellors fell 49-42 that night, as they kept the ball on the ground. Teammate Samuel Wesley ran for 290 yards and four touchdowns, while Cassel completed only three of 11 passes for 46 yards.


Now over a decade later, Cassel gets another post-season start. …Read More!

I Was Wrong … Wednesday Cup O’Chiefs

This is a tough one to write, but it’s necessary.

I was wrong about the 2010 Kansas City Chiefs. After watching the team work through the off-season and then training camp, I pegged them as a 6-10 team, 8-8 at their ultimate best. There was no way it was a season where the Chiefs would win a division championship or slip into the playoffs. The roster had too many holes and QB Matt Cassel was still too iffy.

But here we are in the first week of January and the Chiefs are still playing. They finished the season with a 10-6 record. They won the AFC West and they host a first-round game in the playoffs this coming Sunday against Baltimore.

And even if their trip to the post-season ends this Sunday, it’s been a remarkably successful season for the franchise.

They were able to overcome what I felt back in the summer was their greatest deficiency – a lack of talent. Now, 16 games later, I still think the ’10 Chiefs have a shallow pool of players it can rely on to get things done. They are most definitely overachievers and any post-season success they have will be icing on the cake.

So what happened that made my prediction so wrong? There are four major reasons in my mind the Chiefs were successful this year:

  1. They stayed relatively healthy, losing not a single starter for the season, or even half the season.
  2. A weak schedule that included four games against the awful NFC West (4-0) and games against struggling AFC teams Buffalo and Cleveland (2-0).
  3. Coaching staff additions in Romeo Crennel, Charlie Weis, Emmitt Thomas and Mike Clark that gave the Chiefs a veteran group that had been through the football wars. That’s especially true with Crennel, as the defense has made the biggest strides from the ’09 to ’10 season.
  4. Development of holdover players from the Peterson/Edwards/Kuharich regime that have driven the success on offense and defense. …Read More!

The Experience Factor … Tuesday Cup O’Chiefs

When it comes to experience in the NFL playoffs among those 12 teams still playing, they Chiefs rank No. 12.

That means no matter who they played in the first round of the 2010 AFC tournament they were going to be a serious underdog when it came to been there, done that.

“We’ve got 21 players or so that have played in post-seasons games and have great, great experience to pass along,” head coach Todd Haley said on Monday.

All well and good, but here’s the kicker – the Baltimore Ravens team that will come in for Sunday’s game has 42 players that have played in at least one post-season game. That’s double the number of Chiefs.

It only gets worse from there. The Chiefs have nine of their 22 starters with experience in the playoffs. There are 21 starts on offense from five players and 20 games on defense from four players. The bulk of those post-season starts belong to OLB Mike Vrabel with 17 of the 20 defensive starts.

The Ravens meanwhile have 19 of 22 starters with post-season experience. There are 54 starts on offense from 11 players and 46 starts on defense from eight players.   …Read More!

Three Hours From Playoffs … Game-Day Cup O’Chiefs

The “p” word has been everywhere around the Chiefs in the last week. It’s there when they go out in the community. It’s there when the media invades the locker room. It’s there when they turn on TV to watch ESPN.

The words – Chiefs and playoffs – are in the same sentence continually and that’s a good thing, unless you are head coach Todd Haley. He says his thoughts have not gone beyond what happens on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium. That’s when the Chiefs and Oakland Raiders finish off the regular season. Kickoff is 12 noon and the TV broadcast is on CBS, with Spero Dedes and Randy Cross handling the broadcast.

That’s why Haley says that his team will play out this relatively meaningless game just like they did the 15 that came before. Rest players for the playoffs? What playoffs?

“The stage we’re in we’re still in the developing foundation-laying period for this team,” Haley said. “There are some teams that can think like that, I don’t think we’re one of those teams, I know we’re not. We just have so much work still to be done.” …Read More!

Can’t We All Get Along? … Saturday Cup O’Chiefs

This started out as an epistle about last Sunday’s yo-yoing of Matt Cassel by head coach Todd Haley. There’s an interesting dynamic in that relationship that deserves discussion. I will get to it in due time.

That’s because something else popped up on the Chiefs radar screen yesterday and that was the Mr. Charlie goes to Florida story. Let’s start there.

Haley & Weis

National media outlets like ESPN and the Gainesville Sun newspaper (shouldn’t every paper in Florida be called the Sun?) were reporting that offensive coordinator Charlie Weis may soon be doing that job at the University of Florida for the Gators new head coach Will Muschamp.

Is it true? At this time that’s not crystal clear. Haley said it was news to him when asked about it after practice on Friday. But there is smoke in the air and I’m willing to say that there’s a fire causing the rumors. More than likely that fire was set by Weis and his agent.

Does that mean Weis is headed to “The Swamp”? It’s safe to say it’s under consideration. Whether it happens or not should play itself out pretty quickly. …Read More!

Arrowhead Advantage? … Friday Cup O’Chiefs

When the Chiefs have their practice on Friday, it will happen inside Arrowhead Stadium.

It would be much easier to stay at the team’s facility and walk out the backdoor and use the practices fields there. It would certainly be easier to just stay inside the building and use the indoor facility.

But all season, Todd Haley has been taking his team to Arrowhead on the Friday before home games. He calls it studying where the team is going to take the test.

It’s hard to argue with the results – the Chiefs are one of only two teams in the league that have not lost at home during the 2010 regular season (New England is the other team). They have the chance to make it 9-0 in the next nine days or so with the regular season finale and then a home game in the wildcard round of the AFC playoffs.

This comes after the team was 1-7 at Arrowhead during the 2009 season.

“I think it has helped our guys get really comfortable with the surroundings so on top of talking about it all the time which is one thing, we’ve gone up there and just tried to get more and more familiar with our home turf,” Haley said. “You do have an influx of new players that haven’t played there necessarily and I think that getting up there and practicing and spending time in and out of the locker room, on the field and off the field has been good for the guys and just helped with the comfort level.”

It is the comfort level that is why the home-field advantage is sought after. It’s especially one of those prizes that every team seeks when it comes to the playoffs. No matter the sport or the championship round, the goal is to stay home, and especially when it’s one game to play, not a series.

Find any Chiefs fan who was around for the 1990s and they know that having home-field advantage can be a mirage. …Read More!

Change Pays For Bowe … Thursday Cup O’Chiefs

Outside the sun had gone down and it was a dark, winter’s night at the Truman Sports Complex.

Dwayne Bowe walked into the press room in the Chiefs facility wearing an AFC West champions hat and a smile. In the previous 24 hours he had been given a lot to smile about. First it was a spot on the AFC team for the Pro Bowl, the first time he’s received that honor in his four-year career. Next, word came Wednesday morning that Bowe had been named the AFC’s offensive player of the week for his performance against Tennessee last Sunday.

Bowe sat down and willingly submitted to a short interrogation about the honors that had come his way. His voice was barely above a whisper as he talked about the season and his transformation from troubled under-achiever, to productive Pro Bowler.

“This year as every game got bigger I thought about how last year started out,” Bowe said. “It brought back memories of being overweight and now I can run away from 4.3 cornerbacks. So it’s been some kind of year.”

His reference was to his 75-yard touchdown play against the Titans where Bowe outran the Tennessee secondary over 50 yards and scored untouched on the longest play of his career.   …Read More!

All Things Chiefs Considered … Wednesday Cup O’Chiefs

So much ground to cover these days with the Chiefs closing out the regular season and then heading to the playoffs. There’s a lot to write about … here it comes.


The Chiefs put three players on the AFC team for the Pro Bowl, about what we could have expected going into the voting. LG Brian Waters, WR Dwayne Bowe and RB Jamaal Charles are all deserving candidates.

So were RG Ryan Lilja, QB Matt Cassel, CB Brandon Flowers, ILB Derrick Johnson and OLB Tamba Hali (above). The rosters for the all-star game are not set in stone and with the game the week before the Super Bowl, those players selected from the teams participating in the championship game must be replaced. Say Atlanta (seven) and New England (six) are playing at Jerry’s World in Arlington, Texas for the league title. That’s 13 players that must be replaced.

By the time the shuffling is done, I would expect at least one more member of the Chiefs to be selected, probably Cassel. …Read More!

Starting Fast & Right … Tuesday Cup O’Chiefs

The goal of every football team is to start fast.

Some teams are better at making it happen than others, but the goal for all teams is the same – come out strong, put points on the board early and try to control the momentum of the game.

That’s what the Chiefs did on Sunday in beating Tennessee by 20 points. They came out fast and quick and strong and they scored points on their first four possessions. That’s something they had not done during the 2010 season.

The key was their first chance with the football, when they opened the game with one of the best drives of the season. There have been other possessions that produced touchdowns on long yardage drives with many plays. But few were planned and as well executed as the opening drive against the Titans.

From head coach Todd Haley, through offensive coordinator Charlie Weis to quarterback Matt Cassel – these guys were on the mark and they got a lot of help from an offense that at times can be downright explosive. Led by Cassel, they methodically ripped apart the Titans defense before the visitors knew what happened to them.

“The coaches did a great job putting together a plan to start the game,” said Cassel. “Everybody executed well, we were very efficient, it was run and pass and we gave them different looks. We just stepped up and it was a great start for us.” …Read More!

Tale Of The Tape … Game-Day Cup O’Chiefs

If they had been around the 1920-30s when professional football took a backseat to baseball and college football, Jamaal Charles and Chris Johnson would take off after the season was over and do a barnstorming tour around the country.

They would stage 100-meter races in every city and podunk village on either side of the Rockies. Fans would come from miles around to see the dreadlocked duo race to decide the fastest man in America.

Luckily for these two young men, the NFL is America’s past-time and while the whole nation does not yet know their whole stories, they have learned enough to know that Charles and Johnson are two of the best running backs in the game today.

And Sunday, their skills and speed will be on display at Arrowhead Stadium. It’s the Chiefs (9-5) hosting the Tennessee Titans (6-8) in game No. 16 of the season. Kickoff is 12 noon and yes, the CBS-TV broadcast will be on in the Kansas City area with Bill Macatee and Rich Gannon handling the microphones.

There’s a lot on the line in this game, especially for the Chiefs. They need to keep winning to grab the AFC West title and a spot in the playoffs. The Titans have not been mathematically eliminated, so they can dream a bit, but so many other teams have to lose to get them in it’s not much to hang a helmet on.

There are offensive weapons on these teams other than Charles and Johnson, but none are as likely to provide the big and fast punch as these two backs that came into the NFL together as part of the league’s Draft.

The Chiefs understand the task ahead of them. Stopping the run is the first goal in every one of coordinator Romeo Crennel’s game plans. Two years ago Johnson lit up the Chiefs defense, running for 168 yards on 18 carries including a 66-yard touchdown run that ended with him playing the bongos in the bad pit in the end zone. Those drums are no longer there, but that doesn’t mean he can’t duplicate the play with another long run. He has plenty of them in his career, going for more than 10 yards 119 times in his career, or once every 7.5 carries.

“He’s got that combination of speed and elusiveness that makes him tough to handle so we’re going to have to do a really good job, everybody across the board, because he stresses the whole defense, not just one position or one player,” said Crennel. “It’s the whole defense he stresses. We better do an excellent job.” …Read More!

A Merry Christmas Cup O’Chiefs

From the Truman Sports Complex

Mike Vrabel was just a kid then, about 10 years old, but he was old enough to know better.

The excitement took hold of Vrabel, blended with his curiosity and he went off to search through the Vrabel home for hidden presents. He found them too. A G.I. Joe aircraft carrier and assorted other goodies. He checked them out and then put them back.

But he didn’t return them exactly as he had found them. Mother Vrabel soon realized that young Mike had gotten into the presents.

“She took all of them back,” Vrabel said the other day in the Chiefs locker room. “She got me, we grabbed the presents, we went back to the store and she returned all of them.

“Lesson learned – I never looked for anything else in my life.”

Like Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, Christmas and football have always had a very strange relationship over the years. The game provides entertainment during these holidays for 99 percent of the country. That other one percent is made up of people that have to work on those holidays. …Read More!

No Apology Necessary … Friday Cup O’Chiefs

Let me say this to Chiefs fans on this Christmas Eve – you have nothing to apologize for and no reason to feel bad.

Some of the folks in the media horde have been firing away here in the last few days because the Chiefs struggled to sell enough tickets to lift the local television blackout for this Sunday’s game against Tennessee. That finally happened around five o’clock Thursday night when the team announced they had met the league standards for allowing the game to be broadcast within 75 miles of Kansas City.

This game is not sold out and Arrowhead Stadium will not be full. In fact, depending on the weather – temperature and precipitation – there may be a lot of empty seats on all three levels of the stadium.

The gist of the media blather is that fans should be wrapping their arms around the 2010 Chiefs and spending their last dime to buy a seat at Arrowhead Stadium for the important game with the Titans. In their view, to not do so is a black mark against the football fans of the metro area.

I hate at this time of the year to use such language, but let me say that’s crap, and a major dose of it.

…Read More!

D.J. Fights Through … Thursday Cup O’Chiefs

You want to know a definition of perseverance? It can be defined in two words:

Derrick Johnson.

Think about it for a minute here. Consider where the Chiefs linebacker’s career was a year ago. The team was wrapping up another losing season and Johnson could hardly be blamed because he seldom got on the field. After starting for the first four seasons of his NFL career, Johnson was moved out of the opening lineup by Todd Haley and his coaching staff. D.J.’s contributions were limited to the nickel package.

At times, the whole thing left Johnson confused, frustrated, sometimes even angry, although he’s not a person who walks around being upset. The media horde asked him all the time what was up, whether he had talked it over with the coaches, whether they had given him any type of clue as to why his arrow was obviously pointing down.

His answers were the same: he didn’t know what was up, the coaches had told him nothing and he had no clue why he had to fight his way out of the dog house.

But there’s one thing Johnson did not do – quit. He put in the hardest working off-season of his career and he’s played in all 14 games this year. He has become the motor of the Chiefs 2010 defense, leading the team in tackles and earning himself AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors for his efforts last Sunday in St. Louis.   …Read More!

Post-Season Picture … Wednesday Cup O’Chiefs

I’ve always felt it was one of the dumbest statements at any point in the NFL season, save the final game:

If the season ended today …

The season doesn’t end today, or tomorrow, or the day after that. But we can see the end of the 2010 regular season on the horizon and fans all around the NFL that want to talk about playoffs and possibilities. This year for the first time in four years, the Chiefs Nation is considering post-season scenarios.

So … if the season ended today, the Chiefs would be hosting the New York Jets in a divisional round game in the AFC playoffs on either January 8 or 9.

All that changes nothing – the surest way for the Chiefs to be playing on January 8/9 is to win their final games against Tennessee and Oakland.

Right now, four of the 12 spots in the AFC and NFC post-season brackets have been filled. In the AFC it’s New England and Pittsburgh. In the NFC it’s Atlanta and Chicago. The Bears are the only team that so far has won their division outright.   …Read More!

Knowing Their Role … Tuesday Cup O’Chiefs

For every Brad Pitt, there are a dozen actors like Richard Jenkins. For every Meryl Streep, there are another dozen actresses like Mary Kay Place.

Pitt and Streep are stars, who get the big money, top billing on the marquee and unlimited attention from the media and fans. Jenkins and Place are role players, character actors, folks who never get top billing but who help carry a film production. Movies can’t survive without them.

Same for sports teams, especially NFL teams. When the roster is 53 players, not everyone can be one of those 22 starters. Not everyone can get the attention, the money or adulation. But without the role players, the stars can’t get their jobs done.

The subject of role players came up in Todd Haley’s talk with the media horde on Monday, some 24 hours after the Chiefs decisive 27-13 victory over the St. Louis Rams.

There’s no doubt that guys like Matt Cassel and Jamaal Charles were key performers in the victory. But so were players like Wallace Gilberry, Jackie Battle, Verran Tucker, Tim Castille and Leonard Pope. Only Castille was a starter in the game, but his role player status is assured by the fact it was his first time he was active in a month.

…Read More!

A Return To Relevance … Game-Day Cup O’Chiefs

From St. Louis, Missouri

For three years it was the Bermuda Triangle of professional football. The 250 miles from Arrowhead Stadium to the Edward Jones Dome was devoid of NFL victories as competent football disappeared in waves of losing.

In the 2007-08-09 seasons, the Chiefs and Rams, along with the Detroit Lions were the worst teams in the league. St. Louis had a 6-42 record, Detroit was 9-39 and the Chiefs finished 10-38.

But the winds of change blew down I-70 and almost two full years after major remodeling in both the Chiefs and Rams franchises, they are NFL teams that are relevant again. They are a combined 14-12.

And Sunday, they face each other at the Edward Jones Dome. Kickoff is just after 12 noon with television coverage from CBS with Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts on the microphones.

Four months ago it would have seemed silly to have predicted that in the 15th week of the regular season these teams would roll into this Governor’s Cup match-up with something on the line. Both teams are fighting for division titles. The Chiefs begin the day on top of the AFC West with an 8-5 record. San Diego is chasing them, and already has this week’s outcome included in their 8-6 record. If the Chiefs win all three of their remaining games, they will be division champions for the first time since 2003.   …Read More!

All Hands On Deck … Saturday Cup O’Chiefs

This is the 20th week of the 2010 NFL season.

That’s two weeks of training camp, four weeks of the pre-season and then 14 weeks so far of the regular season.

As the Chiefs wrapped up their 20th week on Friday it was done with a remarkable achievement. For the third consecutive day the Chiefs had all 61 available players on the practice field and participating.

That’s 53 on the active roster and eight on the practice squad. They have only one player on the official NFL injury report that was turned in on Friday afternoon for all teams that will play on Sunday. QB Matt Cassel practiced on a limited basis on Friday and made the injury report as questionable.

Otherwise it was all hands on deck. That just does not happen in an NFL filled with the type of collisions that these players have experienced for 20 weeks. Of the 29 other teams that have already turned in this week’s injury report – only the Monday night participants Minnesota and Chicago have not reported – there’s an average of 8.9 players on their injury reports. (See the chart).   …Read More!

Not Many Happy Returns … Friday Cup O’Chiefs

Javier Arenas wrinkled up his nose and grimaced.

“Oh man, I’m so tired of waiting for something to happen,” the Chiefs rookie CB-Returner said in the Chiefs locker room this week. “I’m thirsty for the end zone. I need a drink from the end zone.

“We’ve been close, we really have. We just need to break through.”

Arenas was talking about something that began the season with so much promise for the Chiefs – the return game on special teams.

After years of struggling to get anything out of punt and kickoff returns, there appeared great hope in second-round draft choices Arenas and Dexter McCluster. In the pre-season, they had returns of 41, 44 and 54 yards made all the more impressive since the blocking units were made up of many players who are no longer with the team or in the NFL for that matter.

Then came the Monday night season opener against San Diego. In what was a prelude of the problems the Chargers would suffer from during the 2010 season, McCluster and Arenas ripped the coverage units. McCluster had a 94-yard punt return touchdown, and he and Arenas added other returns of 36, 26 and 24 yards.

Anything seemed possible every time the ball left the foot of the opponent’s kicker or punter and hung in the air. Arenas had eight return TDs during his college career at Alabama, and McCluster’s speed, quickness and shiftiness made him a perfect for the job in the NFL.   …Read More!

Practice Soothes Pain … Thursday Cup O’Chiefs

When Matt Cassel woke up last Wednesday morning he had a pain in his side.

He’d noticed some discomfort the night before when he was at the Ronald McDonald House at Children’s Mercy Hospital with his charity Shadow Buddies. As the night wore on and he returned home and hit the sack, the pain increased.

Now, an NFL quarterback who had played a game just two days before is going to have a lot of pains that show up during the days afterwards. But this was different and it was still there when Cassel drove into the team’s facility early Wednesday morning to start his day.

“I came in and told D.P (Dave Price) our trainer and he was able to contact the doctor,” Cassel said. “They did a quick examination and they said we needed to go in because they thought it was appendicitis. They did all the tests and stuff and decided they had to take it out.”

And thus began a painful and difficult week for the Chiefs quarterback. One that really didn’t end until late Wednesday morning when he was with his team and taking part in the first practice of the week in preparation for the trip to St. Louis and Sunday’s game against the Rams.

“I think it is a pretty useless organ from what they tell me,” Cassel said. “I don’t know if it has much purpose, but I feel like a new man with it out of there.”

…Read More!

It’s The Little Things … Wednesday Cup O’Chiefs

Check out any book of great quotes and there will be a chapter on the little things. No matter the culture or time in history, philosophers have always had something to say about life’s minutia:

Success in life is founded upon attention to the small things rather than to the large things … All good work is done the way ants do things, little by little … It’s the little things that make the big things possible … The person determined to achieve success learns that progress is made one step at a time … Show me a man who cannot bother to do little things and I’ll show you a man who cannot be trusted to do big things.

And, then there is this one from a great football philosopher:

Inches make champions.

That was part of the thinking of a fellow named Vince Lombardi.

And it’s what the Chiefs coaching staff will hammer into the players when they return to practice on Wednesday, getting ready for Sunday’s game in St. Louis against the Rams.

“We’ve got to get back to work on the little things,” head coach Todd Haley said. “This time of year in December, the little things become even more critical and that’s what ultimately wins and losses games for you. That’s what we’re working on.”

In football, the little things are exactly what you might think they are. It’s knowledge and understanding of the assignments, knowing your position on the field, working techniques and fundamentals correctly, and basic themes like not giving the ball away on offense, and tackling on defense.

“We have to do a much better job here of making sure that our guys understand what they need to do from a fundamental (side) – the little things,” said Haley. “This time of year, that’s really what we’re trying to help our guys understand is you get away with some little things every once in awhile, especially early in the year. But this time of year, the fourth quarter of the season, you’re not going to. So your fundamentals have to be right on point.”

…Read More!

A Damage Control Monday … Tuesday Cup O’Chiefs

From the Truman Sports Complex

The Chiefs and Chargers were still playing on the field Sunday in San Diego when Todd Haley began the process of figuring out what went wrong.

That’s how bad things had gotten in the fourth quarter of the 31-0 debacle – there was time to access the damage even before the car came to a complete stop after the accident. They were doing the autopsy before the patient was pronounced dead.

“We did a lot of talking over the headsets as the game was winding down,” Haley said. “You go back through and you figure out what you personally could have done better to make the outcome be different. If all of us do that, we’ll have a chance to make progress out of this.”

Progress is going to be the only way the Chiefs recover from what has to go down as a learning experience for this team. Many of these players were in this position for the first time in their young careers and they learned a valuable lesson – when the calendar turns to December in the NFL, the intensity level goes up for those teams fighting for spots in the post-season tournament.

Haley talked about it last week, how the point was being made to the team that each quarter of the season requires a step up on the intensity level.

That certainly was what the Chiefs were missing against San Diego. They weren’t missing intensity; they were without an intensity level to match that of the Chargers.

“Right from the start, we did not come out and match the level of intensity they had,” said veteran guard Brian Waters.   …Read More!

Showdown Is Here … Game-Day Cup O’Chiefs

From San Diego, California

One of the reasons the Chiefs will play today’s AFC West showdown with the Chargers holding first place and a two-game lead on the rest of the division has been their ability to juggle various injuries over the first 12 games.

At various times they were without Dexter McCluster, Ryan Lilja on offense, and various contributors on defense, players like Jon McGraw, Kendrick Lewis, Brandon Flowers and even Tyson Jackson. But they have been able to overcome those injuries, win games and do it with a roster that’s not deep in talent waiting to play.

But on this Sunday under what’s expected to be sunny skies and warm temperatures, they have their biggest challenge of the season. QB Matt Cassel, their offensive leader and the man who has made giant strides in his development this season, is home in Kansas City. Cassel is recuperating from his appendectomy. He will watch the game that begins at 3:15 p.m. and can be seen on CBS, with Gus Johnson and Steve Tasker handling the broadcast.

Brodie Croyle steps into the starting lineup and all this comes down in a game they need to win and against an opponent that has made a habit of winning games in December. Whether or not the Chiefs can extend their winning streak to four games will depend a great deal on how well the offense molds with Croyle.

“If Brodie plays it should be a pretty seamless thing,” said LG Brian Waters. “It’s not like he’s a rookie who hasn’t played or started a game before. The differences come in little things and we’ve worked all week on taking care of those, things like cadence and how he handles the hand-off and drop back.

“This is not a complete redo.” …Read More!

Closing Gates Is Key … Saturday Cup O’Chiefs

For the last six years, Derrick Johnson has twice a year watched tape and prepared to play Antonio Gates.

Every year it’s the same reaction.

“How does he keep getting open?” Johnson said. “When you think you’ve got him figured out in that offense and what he’s going to be doing and where he’s going to be go, he comes up with something new.”

As long as he can deal with the pain of a foot injury that has limited him in recent weeks, Gates will be a big factor when the Chiefs and Chargers face off or their big AFC West showdown at Qualcomm Stadium on Sunday.

“Something would have to be really, really hurting for me not to go,” Gates said earlier this week. “Considering how important this game is and what this mean to our whole season I’d like to say that, speaking in the third person, Antonio Gates will play.”

If Gates does play, he’ll be a factor. Last Sunday playing basically on one league against the Raiders, he caught six passes for 73 yards and a touchdown. He’s always a factor.

“He knows how to find openings in the zone, he knows how to beat man-to-man, he has seen every kind of double coverage known to man and so he knows how to handle those things,” said defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel. “To still be able to catch balls with all of that going on says that you have a lot of ability. It says that you have good hands, you have good recognition of what is happening to you on the football field and that makes him good.”

Over his eight-year career, Gates has had some big days catching the football against the Chiefs defense. In 13 games, Gates has caught 73 passes for 879 yards and a dozen touchdown catches. Whether the defense was coordinated by Greg Robinson, Gunther Cunningham, Clancy Pendergast or now Crennel, Gates has been productive when facing the guys with arrowheads on their helmets.

In the first game between these teams back on the opening week, Gates caught five passes for 76 yards, including one for a touchdown and a 34-yard completion. …Read More!

Is Brodie Ready? … Friday Cup O’Chiefs

From the Truman Sports Complex

Brodie Croyle had six minutes to get showered, dressed and off to a meeting, so he did not have time to speak with the media horde Thursday afternoon between practice and meetings at the Chiefs facility.

“Got to go, can’t be late,” Croyle said, his wet hair flapping as he moved swiftly out the door of the locker room.

There is little doubt now that when it comes to the first offensive series of Sunday’s big AFC West showdown between the Chiefs and Chargers in San Diego, No. 12 will be in the huddle and taking the snap from center Casey Wiegmann.

“I don’t look at it like a scramble situation,” head coach Todd Haley said of the preparation to get Croyle ready to play this week. “He’s prepared and if it comes to fruition, we’ve got to be ready to go.”

Sometime Friday afternoon the Chiefs will declare the status of appendix-less starting QB Matt Cassel as either “out” or “doubtful”. If there was any chance – there wasn’t – that Cassel would play on Sunday, he would have been on the practice field Thursday. He was nowhere to be seen.

Haley spoke Thursday about his rule that players have to practice to play. The Chiefs have a 90-minute Friday practice and then a walkthrough practice on Saturday. The heavy lifting of preparation week is pretty much done.   …Read More!

Painful Start to Chargers Week … Thursday Cup O’Chiefs

It’s normally four inches long and there’s great debate as to its evolutionary purpose.

Some researchers think it’s a remnant of a time when we used to eat leaves and bark. Other researchers say it serves our body as a mechanics to replenish good bacteria in our digestive track.

Whatever it does, the inflamed presence of the appendix was enough to sideline Chiefs QB Matt Cassel on Wednesday.

His appendectomy was successful according to the team. But it’s unthinkable that Cassel will be available for kickoff at 3 o’clock CST on Sunday in San Diego. The Chiefs have not ruled him out of the game, but they should. No matter what procedure was used to remove his appendix, there’s little doubt that Cassel should not be on the field at Qualcomm Stadium.

When that news will be made public or even if it is announced at all … heaven knows. As they showed again on Wednesday, the ridiculous atmosphere of secrecy that has become part of the football operation makes the Chiefs organization look clumsy and appear deceitful in communicating with the media and their fans. That was again the case on Wednesday, just as it’s been before with health situations involving offensive coordinator Charlie Weis and even head coach Todd Haley.   …Read More!

Winning The Close Ones … Wednesday Cup O’Chiefs

When the Chiefs won Sunday’s game against Denver by a 10-6 score it was another notch in their belt of winning a close game.

That’s one of the prerequisites traits that a contending team must possess, and it’s a behavior they’ve learned in just this 2010 season.

In 12 games, six have been decided by seven points or less. The Chiefs are 4-2 in those games and 2-1 in games decided by three points or less.

That’s a huge upgrade from what went down the previous three seasons when the Chiefs were struggling to win any games, let alone those that were close on the scoreboard:

  • 2009 – They played eight games that were decided by seven points or less and their record was 2-6, with a 1-2 record in games decided by three points or less.
  • 2008 – In eight games decided by seven points or less, the Chiefs were 1-7 and their record in games that came down to three points or less was 0-3, including two one-point losses.
  • 2007 – The Chiefs had seven games decided by seven points or less and they were 3-4 in those games. They were 2-3 in games decided by three points or less and they lost the only one-point game they played in that year.

That’s a three-year total of 6-17 in games decided by seven points or less and 3-8 in games decided by three points or less.

It’s just one of those many areas where you can see the improvement of the ’10 team. …Read More!

Overreacting On Barry … Tuesday Cup O’Chiefs

There would be only one thing worse than Barry Richardson’s sideline tantrum on Sunday after he was lifted from the Chiefs-Broncos game.

That would be for the Chiefs organization to overreact to Richardson’s mistake and turn this minor situation into a continuing story line.

The closing chapter on what went down should be a trip to the principal’s office for Richardson, where he would be told that future behavior of the sort he displayed in the third quarter on Sunday would not be tolerated. Then on Wednesday, he would apologize to his teammates, and after practice he would stand up in the locker room and tell the media horde that he lost his cool and that should never happen, and will not in the future.

The Chiefs Nation has pushed back over the last 36 hours with demands that Richardson be released, suspended, benched, fined heavily and various combinations of those penalties.

It all came down on Sunday, early in the third quarter, as the Chiefs were driving the ball. On a 3rd-and-goal play at the Broncos two-yard line, Richardson jumped early and was flagged for a false start. It was his second such penalty of the game. …Read More!

Play-Action Puzzle … Game-Day Cup O’Chiefs

The play-action pass is one of the most underrated weapons available to a football offense.

When performed by a well schooled and practiced team, with all the “actors” playing their roles correctly, the play-action pass can devastate a defense. All it takes is a moment of hesitation from a defensive back or linebacker who thinks he’s about to stop the run, but then gets hit with a pass where invariably the defender is out of position.

As the Chiefs get ready to hit the final month of the 2010 regular season, they are developing into one of the better play-action offenses in the league. It will be a big part of their passing attack Sunday afternoon when the Chiefs welcome the Denver Broncos in an AFC West re-match. Kickoff is just after 12 noon and the TV coverage is available on CBS with Ian Eagle and Rich Gannon doing the talking.

Gannon can talk all day about the play-action pass because he was one of the best during his NFL career at faking the hand-off to a running back on what looked like a running play, only to keep the ball and throw it downfield.

The Chiefs have all the necessary ingredients to be a top-flight play-action offense. They have a head coach who believes in the edge the run fake and pass can give his team. They have a diligent quarterback who is intent on making it work. There is a veteran offensive line that is very good at making a play look like a run, while still preparing to block for the pass.

And most importantly, the Chiefs have a running game that really makes the play-action work. They are the NFL team leader in rushing with 174.3 yards per game. They like to run the ball, and they do it on average 35 times per game. …Read More!

What Might Have Been … Saturday Cup O’Chiefs

One is left to wonder what might have been.

Let’s roll back time to the middle of December 2008. On the 14th of that month, the Chiefs were beaten 22-21 by the Chargers at Arrowhead Stadium. Less than 24 hours later, Clark Hunt walked into Carl Peterson’s office and told him that his retirement as president/general manager – one that was scheduled for a year down the road – wasn’t going to be soon enough.

Hunt had decided he was going to remake the entire Chiefs operation and he was going to start at the top. He did not want to wait three more weeks until the regular season was over or another year to make the all-important first move. Hunt was going to get a head start on finding a new leader for his family’s franchise.

But Hunt’s search for a new G.M. did not fly out of the blocks. In fact, it would take a month for a decision to be made and finally a deal worked out with Scott Pioli so he could come over from the Patriots where he was the vice president of player personnel.

It was on January 13, 2009 that Pioli was announced as the new G.M. and a new era of Chiefs football began.

Just the day before, there had been another major announcement involving a team in the AFC West. On January 12, Broncos owner Pat Bowlen introduced Josh McDaniels as Denver’s new head coach, replacing Mike Shanahan. McDaniels was also coming out of the New England organization where he had been part of Bill Belichick’s coaching staff for seven years, finishing up as the Patriots offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

And one is left to wonder … what if Hunt had pulled the trigger earlier on hiring Pioli? What if there was an agreement with Pioli so he could begin the process of finding a head coach once the 2008 regular season had ended?

What if that choice would have turned out to be a young man named Josh McDaniels? …Read More!

Survival In The Backfield … Friday Cup O’Chiefs

He stood in front of his locker on Thursday afternoon looking down at his hands and turning them over, flexing his fingers and rubbing the backs of his hands.

Jamaal Charles won’t be 24 years old until two days after Christmas. But he has the hands of an old man. There are bruises all over his hands and what looks like a healing cut near his left thumb. There is discoloration across all of his knuckles and the outside of his right hand looks a bit swollen.

And, he wears gloves when he plays!

“Nah, I don’t do anything special for my hands,” Charles was saying as he headed off to the showers. “Every guy in this room has problems with their hands. They get chewed up playing football.”

Charles held up his hands for inspection. “See, mine aren’t too bad,” he says of his fingers that are all generally aligned as they were when he was born. “Yeah, they look pretty good now.”

The key word there is now. In his third NFL season, Charles has carried the ball as a runner, receiver and returner a total of 568 times in 42 games, or an average of 13.5 times per game. The collisions of the game have scraped him up, but there have been no major dents to his armor. He had major shoulder surgery in the off-season, but that was to correct a problem that first popped up when he was playing at the University of Texas.

Jamaal Charles – he’s still a baby in the world of NFL running backs.

“I’ve just been working hard and trying to use the talent that God gave me,” Charles said. “I know those gifts can be taken away at any time.”

Those gifts have been paying off in big numbers for Charles and the Chiefs. They are 11 games into the 2010 season and Charles is No. 2 in the league in rushing yards with 1,021 yards on 161 carries. He’s 126 yards behind Arian Foster of Houston who sits in the first spot. Charles is No. 2 in yards from scrimmage with 1,380 yards, trailing only Foster who has 1,600 yards. …Read More!

Hurt Or Injured? … Thursday Cup O’Chiefs

They started in the last days of July and went through a month of training camp in St. Joseph that was very hot and nasty and very physical. They got four pre-season games behind them and now have practiced for the last 13 weeks.

That’s going on 20 weeks of bruises, scrapes, contusions, sprains and the like. Football is a game of collisions and when they happen they aren’t always pretty and the sometimes leave a mark. There are dozens of plays in each game like the one to the left, where QB Matt Cassel is being sacked and his legs are caught under Denver LB Mario Haggan. A serious injury as avoided there.

For the 2010 Chiefs, there has been a lot of hurt, but not so much injured in the first 11 weeks of the regular season. With the Parcellsian attitude that Todd Haley takes towards injuries, a player is going to have to have an ugly MRI, a red-light x-ray and a bone sticking out of his skin before the head coach considers a guy unavailable.

“I have great faith in our medical crew,” Haley said on Wednesday. “I think you want to be careful when you talk about hurt, injured and those things. I just say to them what I’ve said: we need all hands on deck and that won’t ever change. This is the NFL and you need to be contributing when you can as fast as you can. That standard was set last year really and we’re still in that foundation-building process but I don’t see that changing a whole bunch for our team. I just think we’re going to want everybody that can to be practicing and playing and there won’t be exceptions to that very often.”

Through 12 weeks of the regular season and 11 games, the Chiefs have placed only one player on the injured-reserve list because of injury – LB Mark Simoneau. He was with the team for only three weeks. They’ve since reached an injury settlement with the former K-State linebacker and he’s no longer part of the organization. …Read More!

Tough Enough? … Wednesday Cup O’Chiefs

Tough is one of the most misunderstood words in the language of football.

Maybe that’s because there are several different types of tough in the conversations about players and teams. Too often it indicates the physical side of the word, as in “he’s playing without a left lung; he’s one tough guy” or “they ran the ball down the other team’s throats and couldn’t be stopped because they are a tough offense.”

There’s another side to the word and that has less to do with the physical, and more to do with the mental and emotional side of the game. That’s used in statements like “they didn’t collapse after that turnover and went on to win the game; that’s a mentally tough team.” Or, “with everything that’s going on in his life, that guy is mentally tough to be able to come out and perform at such a high level.”

Mental toughness comes in understanding the game and knowing the situation a team faces on the field with each snap. It’s about comprehending the effort needed for preparation and achievement. Mental toughness comes from that cliché of one-play at a time, the mentality of not allowing the most recent play to effect the next one.   …Read More!

Another Important Sunday … Game-Day Cup O’Chiefs

From Seattle, Washington

The maturation of a football team seldom shows itself in one moment in time. It’s a process that takes months, sometimes years to fall into place. More often than not, it’s created in fits and starts, as little victories are built on top of each other. Those hills then become mountains of confidence so visible in the way a team performs and acts.

But there are exceptions and Sunday is one for the 2010 Chiefs.

They face a game that despite their opponent being part of another conference is going to be meaningful for their future over the five games that come after this Sunday afternoon.

The Chiefs and Seahawks will kick it off just after 3 p.m. with TV coverage on CBS with Bill Macatee and former Chiefs QB Rich Gannon handling the duties.

The Chiefs are 6-4, on top of the AFC West once again as the games drip off the calendar. But if they can’t get over their inability to perform up to standard away from Arrowhead Stadium, they will likely be tied for the division top spot with Oakland or San Diego or both.

Right now, the Chiefs remain just an average team. They have taken big steps in their development as what Todd Haley likes to call “a transitioning team” but they remain pretenders because of their inability to put together the same performance week-after-week, no matter the venue, the situation or the participants.

They still struggle with the mentality of one play, one game, one day at a time.   …Read More!

Hold On To The Ball … Saturday’s Cup O’Chiefs

From Seattle, Washington

Back in the day, it was known as the Seattle Rule. It was established by former Chiefs head coach Marty Schottenheimer and it was instituted any week his team was preparing to play the Seahawks or another team that used a great deal of energy trying to cause turnovers.

The premise of the Seattle Rule was that on the practice field, the Chiefs ball carriers were to hand the ball to an official or ball boy at the end of each play. Failure to do so would lead to some sort of discipline.

Marty’s idea was simple – don’t get in the habit of allowing the Seahawks to touch the ball when it wasn’t in their possession.

Throughout Schottenheimer’s 10 seasons as head coach, the Chiefs were the league leader in the turnover ratio. A lot of that had to do with some outstanding defenses with players like Derrick Thomas, Neil Smith, Albert Lewis, James Hasty, Dale Carter and many others. But equal measure was given in the head coach’s eye to not giving the ball away and the Chiefs were among the league leaders in fewest turnovers each season.

From 1989-98, the Chiefs were plus-99 in the turnover ratio, easily the best differential in the league. In 160 regular season games, they gave the ball away 254 times and took it away 353 times. Both numbers rank among the league leaders. The New York Giants were second in that time frame in turnover ratio at plus-77.

This week, the 2010 Chiefs under Todd Haley did not start their own Seattle rule. But maybe they should have. When the Seahawks win the turnover battle they end up with the victory. When Pete Carroll’s team loses the turnover battle, they end up on the short side of the score.   …Read More!

Building A Contender … Friday Cup O’Chiefs

It’s the NFL – the Not For Long League.

More than once we’ve heard both GM Scott Pioli and head coach Todd Haley talk about how they were working to build an NFL franchise that would compete for Super Bowl championships on a yearly basis for many years. They are not going about their business trying to catching lightning in a bottle and getting one chance to win a title. They want a whole bunch of bottles filled year after year with champagne to celebrate victories in the final game of the season.

Of course, Chiefs fans have waited a long time now for a return to a championship, so they just want a team to play in the month of February. How that team gets there and how many times they go really doesn’t matter at this point to the red and gold nation.

But it should. Over the last two weeks, the Chiefs have and will face a pair of Super Bowl teams that made one visit to the ultimate football stage and have since fallen on hard times and haven’t come close to returning for another chance at the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

Last Sunday it was the Arizona Cardinals, who played in the NFL title game after the 2008 season, just two years ago. This year the Cardinals are 3-7 and since their loss in Super Bowl XLIII they are 14-14.

This Sunday the Chiefs face the Seattle Seahawks, who played in Super Bowl XL after the 2005 season. The Hawks are 5-5 this season and since losing to the Steelers at Ford Field in Detroit they have posted a 35-43 record. …Read More!

Road Woes Must End … Thanksgiving Cup O’Chiefs

This week of Thanksgiving is one of busiest travel times of the year. Family and friends come and go, flying here and there, driving the family truckster to Grandma’s house and enjoy that holiday feeling of family and friends.

Everyone hopes to survive weather delays, security pat downs, that crying baby in the next seat and the after-effects of tryptophan.

The Chiefs will be traveling as well this weekend, minus the holiday feeling. They will hit the road to play the Seattle Seahawks in what’s the biggest game of the season for the 2010 team. That’s not meant in the manner that head coach Todd Haley uses the term. He said this week’s meeting with the Seahawks was the team’s most important game of the season. Next week, he will say the re-match with Denver will be their most important game on the schedule. He says that every week – its part of his “one-game at a time” mantra.

What makes this weekend trip to the Pacific Northwest extra important for the Chiefs is they must start piecing together the final pieces of their personal puzzle and establish themselves as a legitimate contender for a spot in the AFC playoffs.

To gain some sort of legitimacy and respect, the Chiefs have to start winning on the road, where they are 1-4 this season with three road trips left to play. They have re-established their dominance at Arrowhead Stadium, going 5-0; that’s one of the first steps in becoming a contender.

Now, they have to show they can win on the road when it matters, and in the NFL it always matters in November and December. It’s the time of year where teams find the combinations that allow them to dream of post-season play. As Haley said earlier in the week, it’s the time when teams establish their identity. …Read More!

Cassel’s Numbers Up … Wednesday Cup O’Chiefs

His passing yardage each week is laughable when compared to guys like Rivers, Brees, Manning and the like. Highlights of his long bombs do not dominate ESPN Sports Center on Sunday evenings, largely because the lengthy pass plays are few and far between for him.

But ever so quietly, Matt Cassel has become one of the most efficient passers in the National Football League. Over the last six games, only Baltimore’s Joe Flacco has done a better job of helping his team with his passing game than Cassel.

Since the game in Houston, through home games against Jacksonville and Buffalo, then road trips to Oakland and Denver, and finally last Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium against Arizona, Cassel has been one of the best players on the field for the Chiefs. In those six games, the Chiefs were 3-3 and their quarterback had more to do with them winning three, than he influenced the three defeats.

In those six games, he threw 14 touchdown passes against one interception, and he has a 108.9 passer rating. Only Flacco with a 113.5 passer rating was higher among quarterbacks that threw at least 100 passes in the previous six weeks.

His season long total of 18 TDs against four interceptions is bettered only by Tom Brady’s 19 TDs-four INTs. Cassel is completing 59.5 percent of his passes and averaging 7.13 yards per attempt. His per-game average this season has been 17 of 29 for 207 yards.

That’s miniscule compared to the yardage numbers being thrown up by guys like Rivers, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Brady. He has topped 220 passing yards just twice in 10 games. His biggest passing day was 469 yards against Denver.

“For the quarterback of our team, he’s got a clear-cut job description and that’s win games,” said Chiefs head coach Todd Haley. “I think Matt’s arrow is clearly pointing up. I’ve continued to see him make strides every day.”   …Read More!

One Too Many … Game-Day Cup O’Chiefs

Eight Men Out was a baseball movie from 20+ years ago about the Black Sox scandal in the 1919 World Series.

Eight Men In is the live-action movie the Chiefs offense will see Sunday afternoon when they face the Arizona Cardinals. Kickoff is 12 p.m. at Arrowhead Stadium. Television coverage is from Fox-TV, with Ron Pitts and John Lynch handling the duties in the booth.

Almost from the start of this 2010 season, the Chiefs have seen opposing defense pull a safety down to the line of scrimmage where he essentially becomes a linebacker. Whether the 3-4 or 4-3, one of the safeties is moving off the back line and joining the fray between the tackles.

Until the last two weeks, this was not a problem. The Chiefs have led the NFL in rushing yards since the sixth week of the season, pushing their average to as high as 190.4 yards per game after beating Buffalo. Over the last two weeks, that season average has dropped to 179.6 and now 176 yards.

In back-to-back division defeats to Oakland and Denver, the Chiefs could not get their running game moving. They had 34 carries for 104 yards against the Raiders in a game that was in doubt until overtime. They had just 51 yards on 22 carries against the Broncos in a game that was lopsided in the first quarter.   …Read More!

Admiration & Respect … Friday Cup O’Chiefs

There are those that see Todd Haley’s face all scrunched up in a scream at one of his coaches or players and figure this guy is some sort of maniac. Then they see him go the non-shake route last Sunday and they figure him to be rude and obnoxious.

Those flashes of Haley are things that Larry Fitzgerald has seen before. But the Pro Bowl receiver for the Arizona Cardinals has seen a lot more. Two years (2007-08) together with the Cardinals created a tight bond between them. If there’s a bigger Haley fan around the league they haven’t shown themselves yet.

“I would love to play for Coach Haley,” Fitzgerald said this week on a conference call with the Kansas City media. “I would go play for him in Canada. I would go play for him if he was coaching high school. I would go do whatever Coach Haley asks me to because that is the kind of respect and admiration that I have for him.”

The respect and admiration Fitzgerald has for Haley were hard earned. Over the last two years we’ve gotten a taste of it in Kansas City with the relationship between Haley and WR Dwayne Bowe. They are situations that are completely different, but share the same back story – Haley pushing a talented player to be great, not just good.

Fitzgerald says his strength is his ability to deal with players.

“My personality is different than Dwayne Bowe’s personality,” said Fitzgerald. “My personality is different from Brandon Flowers personality; it is different from Mike Vrabel’s personality. I think the thing coaches have to do is you can’t coach everyone the same way. We might have the same assignment but you might not be able to yell at this guy or you might have to coddle this guy. I think Todd does a fantastic job of understanding what motivates each man. …Read More!

To Play Or To Sit? … Thursday Cup O’Chiefs

From the Truman Sports Complex

Matt Cassel walked into the room wearing slippers.

These were not special football slip-ons. They were the kind of slippers your Dad might wear after he’s put on the pajamas and has settled down to watch a little TV before bed-time.

“They are cozy,” Cassel said when asked about his selection of footwear.

He didn’t explain why he was wearing the slippers, but it didn’t take much to deduce why? The Chiefs quarterback injured an ankle in Sunday’s game at Denver. He never came out of the game and in fact threw every pass through the game’s last minutes. But there’s no doubt he was hobbled.

Cassel was on the practice field Wednesday and was a full participant in the work, according to head coach Todd Haley. He did not even turn up on the team’s practice/injury report to the league. But puttering around the locker room, meetings and training room in slippers had to help a bit with the throbbing joint.

When asked about his ankle, Cassel said little, but spoke his piece.

It’s fine, I’m not limited at all,” Cassel said.

There’s no question that there should be a lot of questions about why an injured Cassel and several other players were still on the field in the fourth quarter of the blowout loss to Denver. When the fourth quarter started, the Chiefs were down 42-17. There was not going to be a huge comeback, with the Chiefs scoring four touchdowns to win the game. …Read More!

Back To Basics … Wednesday Cup O’Chiefs

“Gentlemen, this oblong orb I hold in my hands is a football.”

The Chiefs are going back to basics on Wednesday when they step on the practice field to begin their week of preparation to play Arizona this Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium.

But I don’t think head coach Todd Haley will take it down to the most basic of basics like this is the ball, the field is 100 yards long, there are 11 guys on each side of the football, etc.

No, back to basics is coach-speak for “we’ve somehow strayed from old habits that worked so well, so we are going to crack down and kick butt and get those habits back.”

So what does back to basics really mean?

“That means we felt we had a pretty positive training camp, we played well at times in the pre-season and the start of the season, so it’s about getting back to doing now what we were doing then,” said OLB Mike Vrabel. “That means blocking, that means tackling, that means defeating blockers, being where you are supposed to be, trying to get back to good, solid winning football.”

Going back to the basics can be as simple as blocking and tackling. Certainly the later was something Haley did not like from his team’s performance against Denver. …Read More!

The Un-Apology … Tuesday Cup O’Chiefs

As the controversy of the Todd Haley non-hand shake from Sunday swirled around the Chiefs, it reminded me of an old story.

A man and one of his co-worker got into an argument in the company lunch room. Later that day, the boss called the man in and wanted to know why he had called his co-worker an “a—hole.”

“I didn’t call him an “a—hole,” the man said. “I said he was acting like an a—hole.”

I don’t know everything that was said between Haley and Denver head coach Josh McDaniels when they met up on the field after the Broncos 49-29 victory on Sunday. But I don’t think Haley called his counterpart an a—hole. I think he may have been trying to tell him he was acting like one.

After the game and even after his apology on Monday for his non-action action, Haley wouldn’t itemize his grievances with McDaniels and why he refused to shake hands. Instead, he pointed his finger at the Broncos coach and said a few choice words.

  …Read More!

Dealing With Change … GAME-DAY CUP O’CHIEFS

From Denver, Colorado

Patrick Bowlen owns the Denver Broncos with his siblings. Clark Hunt is chairman of the Chiefs and owns the team with his mother and siblings.

Despite the fact they are of two different generations and Bowlen is 21 years older than Hunt, some 23 months ago they shared similar thoughts about the direction of their football teams. They didn’t like the landscape of their franchises and both felt too far removed from the decision making process.

So Bowlen decided to fire the man who had led the organization for 14 years, head coach Mike Shanahan. Hunt asked Carl Peterson, the man who had run the Chiefs for 20 years to step aside a year earlier than his planned retirement. Both set about remaking their operations, from the locker room, to the coaching suite, to the front office.

On Sunday afternoon, the 5-3 Chiefs of Clark Hunt are visiting Invesco Field to play the 2-6 Broncos of Pat Bowlen. Kickoff is set for 3:05 CST, with television coverage on CBS-TV with Kevin Harlan and Solomon Wilcots.

Since the owners put into motion their changes neither team has enjoyed much success on the field. Hunt’s Chiefs are 9-15 and on the upward swing through the first half of the 2010 season. Bowlen’s Broncos are one game better at 10-14, but only 4-14 in their last 18 games. …Read More!

Cassel Needs A Big One … Saturday Cup O’Chiefs

From the Truman Sports Complex

One wonders what might have happened had the Denver Broncos been a little bit more “on the ball” or pro-active back in February 2009.

The new head coach in the mile high city was Josh McDaniels, who came over from the New England Patriots where he had been offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Right about the same time McDaniels was hired in Denver, the Chiefs hired Scott Pioli away from the Patriots to become the team’s new general manager.

Both McDaniels and Pioli had an eye for one of the Patriots players that was going to be available – QB Matt Cassel.

On February 29, the deal came down between Pioli and the Patriots, not McDaniels and the Patriots.

The whole escapade was the first of a string of dominoes that would fall, so much so that for years to come the names McDaniels-Cassel-Jay Cutler-Kyle Orton-Tim Tebow will be linked. When he could not get Cassel, McDaniels dealt the returning starter with the Broncos in Cutler to the Chicago Bears for Orton and draft picks, and then used one of those picks to grab Tebow.

For the third time since the soap opera went down, Cassel will face McDaniels and the Broncos on Sunday at Invesco Field. Here are the numbers for Cassel and Orton for the first two games: …Read More!

Colquitts Put Punting in Spotlight … Friday Cup O’Chiefs

The First Family of Fourth Down will make NFL history on Sunday at Invesco Field in Denver.

For the first time in league annals brothers will be punting for both teams when the Chiefs and Broncos take the field. It’s Dustin Colquitt for the Chiefs and his younger brother Britton Colquitt for the Broncos.

In the stands will be their father, former NFL punter Craig Colquitt.

And, just to add another level of six degrees of football separation, the ball boy who used to chase down Craig Colquitt’s punts during training camp and in pre-game warm-up will be on the field as well. That would be Todd Haley.

Plus, the guy coaching Britton out in Denver, used to coach Dustin with the Chiefs – Broncos special teams coach Mike Priefer.

It’s one of the biggest back stories involved in Sunday’s AFC West match up.

“The whole thing has a little Manning feel to it,” Dustin Colquitt said, referencing Peyton and Eli Manning and their father Archie. “I’m sure Archie has trouble watching when they are playing each other.

“I talked to my Dad last night and he’s excited. He just wants us to both punt well.”   …Read More!

Half-Time Comparisons …Thursday Cup O’Chiefs

The overtime loss in Oakland took the wind out of the sails of Chiefs players, coaches and their followers.

But 5-3 record at the halfway point of the season exceeds what anyone expected from this group in the second year of the Pioli/Haley regime.

They still lead the AFC West, they still control their own destiny, they still have four division games left, including Sunday’s visit to Denver to play the Broncos.

It’s time to look at the Chiefs and their production at the halfway point of the season. Just as we did after the season’s first quarter was completed, we are comparing the basic numbers for the ’10 Chiefs against the last four Kansas City teams to make the playoffs: 1995, 1997, 2003 and 2006.

The numbers indicate that the ’10 Chiefs are just a step behind those post-season teams. That’s at the halfway point, so it will be the numbers from here that will separate the Chiefs further from those teams, or put them back in good comparison to teams that made the NFL tournament.

Here are the numbers: …Read More!

D.J. Gets What He Deserves … Wednesday Cup O’Chiefs

Just about everybody that climbs the football ladder and makes it all the way to the NFL has skill. Webster defines the word “skill” as having a particular ability.

But not everybody in pro football has talent. Webby defines the word “talent” as having special aptitude or ability.

In the mind of the current Chiefs regime, Derrick Johnson has always had ability. But it’s only in the last year that he’s shown a special aptitude for playing linebacker. That’s the major reason they’ve agreed to a five-year contract extension with Johnson, signing him to a deal that with all the incentives and bonuses could pay him as much as $34 million and includes $15 million in guaranteed money.

That the relationship between Johnson and the Chiefs would take this turn has to be one of the major upsets of the 2010 season. A year ago, Johnson couldn’t get on the field in the team’s regular defense. He was relegated to working strictly in the nickel defense and occasional snaps on special teams. After four seasons as a starter for the Chiefs defense, he was off the No. 1 unit.

“Last year was not a negative year for Derrick Johnson in my opinion,” said head coach Todd Haley.

That’s easy for Haley to say, because he was the guy dealing the heat to Johnson. But as we continue to discover, there was a method to the head coach’s approach, and the way he handled D.J. was not without merit or reason.

  …Read More!

Still Growing Up … Tuesday Cup O’Chiefs

For the better part of the last month or so, the media horde has been trying to get Todd Haley to say the 2010 Chiefs are a good football team.

Sunday in Oakland we found out why he would not use those words.

A good football team does not lose its personality as the Chiefs did in falling in overtime to the Raiders. A good team doesn’t suddenly start having results on the field that are different than what they’ve done successfully in previous games.

As much progress as the Chiefs have made this year, the personality of this team remains putty in their hands. It hasn’t been hardened to create an attitude and performance level that seldom changes. On Sunday in Oakland, the Chiefs got on that roller coaster that Haley hates to see.

That’s why they lost and that’s why it’s too early to call them a good team. …Read More!

Getting Ready To Fight … Game-Day Cup O’Chiefs

From Oakland, California

Before the Chiefs and Raiders ever faced off on the field they were fighting. They’ve never really stopped.

Back then it was procedural arguments in the run up to the inaugural season of the American Football League. The Raiders were the last team in. Actually, they were not yet the Raiders; they were called the Senors and their first logo featured a man wearing a sombrero and serape.

They fought over the rights to Stanford WR Chris Burford, who had signed with Lamar Hunt and the Dallas Texans before Oakland had a franchise. They fought over the rights to RB Abner Haynes, whose right’s originally belonged to the Minnesota franchise that pulled out of the AFL. Those players were given to the Oakland team when it came in.

Through the rest of the AFL years and into merger with the NFL, the Chiefs and Raiders just never quite got along. Fed by Al Davis on one side and Hank Stram on the other, they took the rivalry to the edge of the rules and sometimes beyond.

Here they are on this Sunday in November, more than 50 years after their first disagreement, getting ready to play for the 100th time in the regular season. It’s the 5-2 Chiefs and the 4-4 Raiders from the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum at 3:15 p.m. CST. (Television broadcast is on CBS with Kevin Harlan and Solomon Wilcots.)

Much has been said in the past week about this being the first time in many years the Chiefs and Raiders have met where the outcome mattered to both teams. That’s not true. It’s mid-season and whatever team happens to win will not have wrapped up a division title or a spot in the playoffs. And, whatever team loses will not be out of the hunt for a spot in the NFL tournament or finished for the season. …Read More!

Rush Brothers & History … Saturday Cup O’Chiefs

Come Thanksgiving evening when they flip the switch that turns on the Country Club Plaza Christmas lights, we should have a very clear picture of whether Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones are rushing into NFL history.

Charles and Jones – Kansas City’s Rush Brothers – have been selected to be part of one of the city’s most endearing traditions on Thursday night, November 25th between 6 and 7 o’clock at the intersection of Nichols Road and Wyandotte. They join a big group of former Chiefs players who have had the honor of turning on the Plaza lights over the years: Marcus Allen, Bobby Bell, Trent Green, Willie Lanier and the late Derrick Thomas.

As they head to Oakland for Sunday’s AFC West showdown with the Raiders, Charles and Jones are on a pace to become the most prolific running duo ever in pro football. There have been six teams that had two players rush for more than 1,000 yards in the same season. If Charles and Jones keep up the rate at which they are currently piling up the yards, they will combine for 2,750 yards, or 500 yards more than any other duo.

Charles has run for 666 yards, a 95.14-yard average per game. For 16 games, that would be 1,522 yards. Jones has 538 yards, a 76.36-yard average per game. Over a full regular season, that would be 1,230 yards.

“If we keep winning and make the playoffs – that is all that matters,” Jones said. “The other stuff isn’t that important. We are running to win, not running for records.” …Read More!

This Flower(s) Hits … Friday Cup O’Chiefs

From the Truman Sports Complex

From the time he was eight years old and was first introduced to organized football Brandon Flowers has played cornerback.

Through PeeWee ball, Pop Warner, junior high, high school, college and the NFL, all the Florida native knows is life on the corner, it’s ups and downs, the feeling of living on a football island and knowing he can do everything right and still be beaten for the winning touchdown pass.

It’s what he does and he’s doing it very well. Among the 53 players on the Chiefs roster for the first seven games of the 2010 season, Flowers has turned in the best performance. In his third year in the league, he’s elevated himself to a spot among the top cornerbacks in the league. When Sports Illustrated writer Peter King selected his mid-season All-Pro team in the current issue of the magazine, he picked Flowers as one of the two cornerbacks.

But understand this about Flowers – he’s not just a cornerback, he’s a football player. Yes, he’s one of the best cover corners in the league, who loves the challenge of dealing with the best receivers on the opposing team. That’s only part of what makes him among the NFL’s best players.

The willingness of Flowers to provide run support elevates him above others at his position. He’s the fourth leading tackler on the team with 37 total tackles. That’s remarkable when it’s remembered that he plays away from the snap and only on one side of the field. He has a pair of interceptions, including one that he returned for a touchdown against Cleveland. Flowers also forced a fumble.

But it’s his ability to throw his body around against the running game that makes him special.   …Read More!

What To Worry About … Thursday Cup O’Chiefs

I hear from a lot of Chiefs fans. Whether e-mail, voice-mail, text or just old-fashioned snail mail, the emotions, questions and analysis never stop.

I think that allows me to paint a pretty good picture of the outward happiness and inner torment those in the Chiefs Nation are dealing with right now at 5-2 and in first place in the AFC West. Its happiness over the surprising start, but there remains a nagging suspicion that it all could still be a mirage and will suddenly be ripped away and the 10-38 football of the last three years will return.

There is also the realization that there’s a lot of football left to play and there have been too many disappointments in the past to let loose with unqualified glee for a veteran of the red and gold wars.

So what’s there to worry about if you are a Chiefs fan? Let’s crystallize it down to four factors that are a concern. That we can narrow it down to four tells you how improved this team is after seven games. At this time last year there were at minimum a dozen things for Chiefs Nation to worry about, including whether the head coach would survive the season.

Progress has been made, but worries still exist. Here they are:   …Read More!

Wednesday Cup O’Chiefs

Forget Randy Moss, but how about Shawne Merriman?

Two of the league’s biggest names over the last half-decade are now available on the NFL waiver wire. Moss was officially released on Tuesday by the Vikings, while Merriman was sent packing off the injured-reserve list by the Chargers.

Which one would most help the 5-2 Chiefs as they head into what may be the toughest part of their schedule with five of the next seven games on the road?

There’s a better than even chance that neither one of them will soon wear the red and gold. The Chiefs might not get a chance at either since both players must pass through the NFL waiver system. With their 5-2 record the Chiefs slot is in the bottom third of the 32 teams.

But if both players pass through waivers unclaimed by any team, should Scott Pioli and Todd Haley immediately begin a full-court press to bring either, or how about both to Arrowhead Stadium?

Let’s look at the facts as we know them:

  • Moss is now 33 years old and in his 13th NFL season. Last year, he caught 83 passes for 1,264 yards and 13 TDs for the Patriots. It was three years ago that he caught 23 scoring passes for the Patriots, setting an NFL one-season record. This year with the Patriots and Vikings, he caught 22 passes for 303 yards and five touchdowns in seven games. He was traded by New England to Minnesota on for a third-round choice in the 2011 NFL Draft.
  • Merriman is 26 years old and this is his sixth NFL season. Throughout his career with the Chargers, he’s been hampered by injury, especially in two of the last three years. He played only one game in 2008 because of a major knee injury that required surgery and so far in the current season he played in three games, with one start. He missed time this year with an Achilles injury and a calf injury that sent him to the injured-reserve list last month. Merriman had five tackles in three games this year. After putting up 39.5 sacks in his first three seasons, he has just four sacks in the last three and none this year.

Both play positions where the Chiefs need a lot of help, with Moss at wide receiver and Merriman as a pass rusher. Both carry baggage of off-field incidents over their careers that have involved law enforcement. Moss and Merriman are seeking their next NFL contracts as well. …Read More!

Second Guessing Haley … Tuesday Cup O’Chiefs

From the Truman Sports Complex

“There were some things from that game weighing on me that I know we have to learn from and fortunately we were able to get a huge win for our team, just a huge building-block win that I think we will reflect on later on.”

Sunday night, after the Chiefs beat the Bills in overtime, Todd Haley became an outlaw. It was the costume his daughters wanted him to wear for Halloween, so the head coach dressed up and along with his wife went with their five children as they did the trick-’r-treat thing through their Johnson County neighborhood.

“I mean did it feel like Halloween last night or what?” Haley said on Monday. “It was the perfect Halloween night. We had the wagon going, a couple beverages and the kids were fired up. I dressed up; they liked that. It was a great night.”

But there were items from the victory weighing on the coach’s mind. And surprise, surprise one of those was fourth down.

No, not that fourth down, the one where he passed up the 37-yard field goal on 4th-and-2, the one decision that everyone was talking about and second guessing after the game and into Monday morning quarterbacking sessions.   …Read More!

Another Step Awaits … Game-Day Cup O’Chiefs

The script was put in place early in the week. It came from the head coach, and it was repeated over and over again in the locker room. No matter how questions were phrased or structured about the Buffalo Bills, the reply was always the same.

According to the 4-2 Chiefs, who host the 0-6 Bills Sunday afternoon at Arrowhead Stadium (noon kickoff, on CBS-TV) they are in for a real tussle.

“This is a talented team … they have explosive offensive talent … they are much better than the 0-6 record they carry … they can score points … their quarterback is the best blocking quarterback.”

That last one isn’t a joke. Todd Haley said that this week, speaking of Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick.

“As you watch the tape of Fitzpatrick out there in front of these runs, it’s really, really impressive and it’s not just a one or two-time thing, it happens all the time, so they essentially gain an extra blocker,” Haley said. “You can’t do that with many quarterbacks in the league, so he is a dangerous player – he can hurt you with his feet, he can hurt you blocking and he can obviously hurt you throwing as he showed the last couple weeks.”

Here’s the deal – the Chiefs should win their fifth game of the season. They are the better team. They have proven that in the first part of this 2010 season. The Bills are struggling, especially on defense where they have the league’s worst unit against the run. The Chiefs have the best running game in the league.

It seems like it should be pretty simple formula: No. 32 run defense against No. 1 run offense, plus 4-2 vs. 0-6 = 5-2 and on to Oakland.

Not so fast say the Chiefs.

“Record in this league mean nothing,” said OLB Mike Vrabel.

…Read More!

Chan’s Gets A Chance … Saturday Cup O’Chiefs

Chan Gailey needs a victory. When your team is the last winless club in the NFL, getting off the schnide is motivation enough.

Coming to Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday and winning would make it a great day for Gailey. Beating the Chiefs and Todd Haley would elevate the satisfaction level to outstanding, at least a few hours.

It’s impossible to find words said publicly by Gailey to confirm that suspicion. But enough has been said away from the prying eyes of the media to indicate that beating Haley and the Chiefs would be very satisfying for the Bills head coach.

Gailey is a competitor, and even though he might be one of the nicest people that’s ever worked in the NFL, he craves success. When he walked into the Chiefs facility on Monday August 31, 2009, it was just another early morning start during football season for an offensive coordinator.

When he walked out of the building a few hours later, Gailey was no longer the Chiefs offensive coordinator. He was fired by Haley for reasons that have never been outlined or acknowledged. Suffice to say these guys were not on the same page when it came to offensive approach and rather than applying more band-aids to the situation and make it through the season. Thirteen days before the opening game in Baltimore, Haley yanked the band-aid off.   …Read More!

It’s About the O-Line … Friday Cup O’Chiefs

They are without a doubt the MVP group of the Chiefs as the 2010 schedule rolls towards mid-season.

Individually, the Chiefs offensive line does not garner a lot of attention or accolades. But this is very truly an offensive line that in sum is better than its parts. This year’s group has taken a position that was of concern for those inside and outside the Chiefs organization and turned it into a strength for the ’10 team.

The numbers tell the story:

– The Chiefs lead the league in rushing yards with an average of 176.5 yards per game. That’s 17.3 yards more per game than the team in second place, the New York Jets (159.2 yards per game.) The league average is 112.5 yards per game.

– They have allowed the fewest quarterback sacks than any team in the league, giving up five in six games. That’s an average of one sack for every 31.6 passing plays, a ratio that’s topped only by Indianapolis with six sacks allowed in 260 passing plays.

– In a season where close to half the league has already changed their starting quarterbacks due to performance or injury, they’ve kept QB Matt Cassel upright, improving in his performance and relatively healthy.

And ever so quietly, one of those blockers is starting to garner attention individually around the league. After six games, only one of those five sacks has been slapped on LT Branden Albert (left). Consider that last year in 14 games, he allowed nine sacks and the improvement even this early in the season is quite apparent.

But it’s stunning when compared to the rest of the left tackles in the NFL. Here are the best pass protections on the blind side of most quarterbacks at this point of the season:

  1. 0 sacks allowed – Dallas LT Doug Free.
  2. 1 sack allowed – Chiefs LT Branden Albert, Miami LT Jake Long, Indianapolis LT Charlie Johnson and Buffalo LT Demetrius Bell.   …Read More!

Haley & Fourth Down … Thursday Cup O’Chiefs

From the Truman Sports Complex

Last year it seemed that Todd Haley’s approach to fourth down was built on lack of head coaching experience and the fact his team wasn’t very good.

That seemed a good explanation of why the Chiefs led the NFL in 2009 with 29 fourth down plays. Only two other teams were even close to that: St. Louis with 28 and Detroit with 26. The common denominators were first-year head coaches and bad teams; combined the Chiefs, Rams and Lions were 7-41.

But as the 2010 schedule rushes towards mid-season, we are finding out that maybe there is something else at play here with Haley and fourth down. Now, he’s a second-year head coach and his team is 4-2 and leading the AFC West.

Yet, the Chiefs are still one of the league leaders in going for the first down when the down marker shows “4″. They’ve done it nine times so far this year. Only Jacksonville (13), Carolina (11), Denver (11) and Buffalo (10) have attempted more fourth down plays this season.

In the 22 games that he’s been an NFL head coach, Haley has tried a fourth down conversion 38 times. No other coach in the league has tried so many times to move the chains on the last down. Only twice in those 22 games did the Chiefs not try at least one fourth-down play; that was last year against Jacksonville and in the ’09 season finale in Denver.

The Chiefs converted 19 of those 38 plays or 50 percent.   …Read More!

Cassel’s Arrow Is Up … Wednesday Cup O’Chiefs

The steps have been small and very different from week to week. But one trait those steps share is they’ve all gone in the same direction – forward.

That would be Matt Cassel and his performances as the Chiefs starting quarterback. Ever so quietly for those around the country, Cassel has elevated himself into the top half of the quarterback rankings with his play over the past four games.

There are some Chiefs fans/Cassel haters who have seen the last four games and refuse to admit they’ve seen the progress. But it’s there and visible in the numbers both big and small.

No, he’s not challenging the big boys like Manning, Brady and Brees, but he’s also not dancing with the guys at the bottom of the passing list for the 2010 season, like Jason Campbell, Derek Anderson and some guy named Favre.

Cassel’s passer rating has risen this week to 91.5, good enough for the No. 9 spot among league quarterbacks. This week, that number is better than guys like Brees, Ryan, Rodgers, Sanchez, Palmer, Falcon, Cutler and McNabb.

“Matt has continued to make strides and improve in some subtle areas that make such a big difference for a quarterback,” head coach Todd Haley said this week.

Haley and offensive coordinator Charlie Weis have kept their foot on the accelerator with their quarterback and his mechanics. Along with improved decision making, releasing the ball quicker and throwing with more accuracy, what has pushed Cassel’s performance and production upward has been better mechanics. …Read More!

Complementing Each Other … Tuesday Cup O’Chiefs

From the Truman Sports Complex

Each week, little drips of Todd Haley’s football beliefs leak out when he talks to the media. Yes, the Chiefs like to keep things quiet these days, and sometimes it would easier to get information out of the Pentagon than out of the team’s facility.

But the Hunt family and GM Scott Pioli have made Haley the face of the franchise. He’s the guy who five times a week spends part of his day with the media horde. It’s a weekly joust between Haley and sporting press with the coach revealing as little as possible about things like strategy, injuries, thoughts on the officiating and the like.

However, Haley is not monosyllabic as he answers questions, and is actually quite forthcoming when talking about the foundation of his thoughts, principles and desires as he tries to get the Chiefs out of the NFL basement and back to the playoffs.

That led to a new item in the Haley vocabulary on Sunday and Monday – complementary football. According to the head coach, that’s what the Chiefs were able to play in the second half against Jacksonville that assured them of the victory.

“There were a lot of positives in that game and one of the biggest to me was that second half, that last quarter and a couple of minutes, where we really started to play complementary football,” Haley said on Monday. “Really it started following the fourth down that we were unable to execute. I think that’s when I thought we really started to play the way you have to play to make good things happen and that’s what occurred. I think the guys understand that, they understood that and we’re continuing to grow as a team.

“I’m real happy with the way the guys worked together from a complementary football standpoint.”

OK, so what the heck is complementary football? …Read More!

Matt Cassel Is Having Fun

From Arrowhead Stadium

Brian Waters shook his head when asked the question.

“It’s not smart,” Waters said of his QB Matt Cassel mixing it up in a post-TD scrum against the Jaguars in Sunday’s victory. “It makes the rest of us have to work even harder. Matt’s a fiery guy and we like his energy and he brings it every week, so we appreciate that. But …”

Cassel’s fiery personality had nothing but a smile after the Chiefs 42-20 destruction of the Jacksonville Jaguars. It was the kind of afternoon that starting quarterbacks dream about.

“It’s a lot of fun when you win,” Cassel said. “The locker room was awesome after the game. You know any time you win it’s fun. Coming off last week, having a disappointing loss in Houston, being able to come home and resurrect ourselves and get going again, it was great.”

Those that are not Cassel fans will have a hard time finding anything wrong with the quarterback’s performance in the victory:

  • He completed 13 of 18 passes for 193 yards. Manage those numbers a bit and that’s a completion percentage of 72.2 percent and an average per attempt of 10.7 yards. Both of those numbers far exceed his averages for the season (59.5 percent and 6.8 yards).
  • Cassel threw a pair of TD passes to WR Dwayne Bowe, giving him nine on the season.
  • He was sacked only once for minus three yards, although he took quite a few hits after releasing the ball, several got him just as he threw. Those passes could have been picked off but were not.
  • Cassel went another game without an interception. That’s now three in a row. He hasn’t thrown an interception in a month, going back to the San Francisco game. He’s now thrown 93 consecutive passes without an INT.
  • His 144 passer rating was the best of his 21 starts with the Chiefs.

Where Cassel was at his best was in the fourth quarter. Up by eight points, the Chiefs needed another score to seal the deal. That’s when they went on a 10-play, 85-yard drive, converting two key third downs with Cassel passes. They weren’t to the normal receivers he looks for like Bowe, or TE Tony Moeaki or WR Dexter McCluster.

On a 3rd-and-8, he found WR Terrance Copper for a 16-yard gain. Three plays later on 3rd-and-1, Cassel connected with FB Mike Cox for a 13-yard play and a first down. The drive ended with Cassel and Bowe hooking up for a six-yard TD pass.

“That’s what it’s about, being a great team,” said Cassel. “One of those critical third downs goes to Terrance Copper who didn’t play much offensively. But when he did get the chance, he made a huge play for us. Then Mike Cox, he’s a guy who doesn’t get many balls thrown to him, but he does his job without any complaints week in and week out. He sticks his nose in there and takes on linebackers and busts open in the flat and turns it up for a 15-yard gain.

“It’s great to see those guys contribute.”

It was on the Chiefs final TD that Cassel got himself involved in a post-play shoving match with the Jaguars.

“I just liked the shoving match,” Cassel said with a smile. “I don’t get physical much with those guys, so I figured I’d throw a little push in there and hopefully could get out of there before he retaliated on me.”

As far as Matt Cassel is concerned, it’s all part of the business of having fun.

“Winning is fun and you’ve got to enjoy it when it happens,” Cassel said. “It’s tough to win in the NFL. To be out there with a lead and enjoying ourselves and things are going right, you’ve got to enjoy the moment.

“It was fun today.”

A Big, Physical Day Ahead … Game-Day Cup O’Chiefs

Todd Haley says the Chiefs are going to see something today that they’ve have not seen in five previous games this season.

In physical size and attitude the visiting Jacksonville Jaguars are the biggest and baddest team that’s been on the field against Haley’s club. They are physically stout and play with more aggression that the Chargers, Browns, 49ers, Colts and Texans.

When the teams meet Sunday afternoon at Arrowhead Stadium, it will provide an interesting challenge to the 3-2 Chiefs facing the 3-3 Jaguars. Kickoff is noon and the game can be seen on CBS-TV.

That Jacksonville plays in the manner it does under head coach Jack Del Rio, it makes for an interesting situation given the events of the past week. The NFL’s fining of three players $150,000 for three tackles last Sunday and the threats of possible suspension for contact considered illegal will have some effect on every game played this weekend. Whether it’s the players or the guys in the striped shirts, the approach is different and it would seem to penalize the more aggressive and physical teams.

The Jaguars fall into that category.

“They are as big and physical of a team as we’ve seen and we have not seen a team like this and our players understand that,” Haley said on Friday as the Chiefs wrapped up their preparations for the game. “There are some real physical defenses, there are some physical offenses and there are some physical special teams.

“They are a big, physical, run-and-hit team so you see a lot of contact as you watch the tape, and that includes special teams.” …Read More!

A Chiefs Grab Bag … Saturday Cup O’Chiefs

From the Truman Sports Complex

There have been NFL teams over the years that like to stir the pot a bit, especially when playing one of their division rivals.

It’s never a surprise to see say the Baltimore Ravens sign a fringe player to the roster or practice squad, a guy who spent previous time with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Also was seems to come about two weeks before they play the Pittsburgh Steelers. The New York Jets and New England Patriots have done the same thing over the years. Back in the 1990s, there was constant movement in the AFC West between the Chiefs, Broncos, Raiders and Chargers, as players and coaches switched sides on a yearly basis.

How much of that was a factor this week with the addition of former Jaguars DT Atiyyah Ellison to the Chiefs roster, the same week they happened to be playing Jacksonville?

The Chiefs say no and it’s not hard to believe that. But it’s fun to speculate, especially since the Jaguars have a wide receiver on their practice squad that knows a lot about the Chiefs – Lance Long. He was part of the team last year, and was with the club through the off-season, training camp and the pre-season. He was released on August 31st. Long was signed to the Jaguars practice squad on September 22nd.

So, have the Chiefs had to make changes in offensive calls and the like because of Long’s presence in the Jags’ building?

“I wouldn’t let anybody know regardless from a competitive standpoint but like I said, I’ve seen it work both ways,” said head coach Todd Haley. “We just have to worry about us and what we’re doing and how we’re going to do it and then just try and do it better than Jacksonville. Generally if we do that we’ll win the game.”

But believe me, it’s been discussed in the coaching meetings earlier this week and if there were calls or signals that needed changed, bet they were altered. That doesn’t keep coaches teams from reacting to that type of situations, or maybe overreacting. Haley said he’s seen teams overreact to the idea of inside information being exposed.

It’s all over-rated according to the head coach.

“Variables change every second and you’ve got to be able to adjust and you’ve got to execute regardless of what happens, whether you’ve prepared necessarily for it or not because we’re human, they’re human, it’s not computers playing computers,” said Haley. “Different things are going to happen.” …Read More!

The NFL Takes A Hit … Thursday Cup O’Chiefs

It was back in the 1970s when Pittsburgh Steelers MLB Jack Lambert reacted to new protections for NFL quarterbacks by saying:

“Maybe they should put dresses on them.”

Understand this about Lambert – he was the epitome of old-school. Football in his mind was a game that was man-against-man, team-against-team, and the winner was the player or group that could dominate the other.

Lambert uttered those words some 30 to 35 years ago, but the discussion about physical contact continues in the NFL. It’s never really abated, going back to years before Lambert groused about the league protecting the quarterbacks. In those days they didn’t fine players for hits, no matter how vicious.

Now, there is another linebacker out of Kent State playing in Pittsburgh that likes to hit. James Harrison was the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2008. Undrafted coming out of college, he’s made his mark with sacks and some of the most aggressive contact the league has seen in recent years. This past Sunday, he hit Browns WR Mohamed Massaquoi with a vicious shot and the NFL league office on Tuesday handed down a $75,000 fine against Harrison for what it said was an illegal hit.

Harrison did not practice with the Steelers on Wednesday. He spoke with Pittsburgh’s head coach Mike Tomlin and said he is considering his future in the game.

“How can I continue to play this game the way that I’ve been taught to play this game since I was 10 years old?” Harrison asked during an interview on Wednesday on Sirius Radio.   …Read More!

Admitting A Mistake … Wednesday Cup O’Chiefs

Marty Schottenheimer used to say that the best advice his father ever gave him was not to be afraid to make a decision, because if you make a bad one, you get a chance to make another decision.

Generally, NFL teams are not quick to acknowledge they screwed up a decision. That’s especially true when it comes to the league’s annual draft of players coming out of college. The higher the selection, the tougher it is for the decision makers to admit mistake when the player doesn’t pan out.

So you’ve got to give Chiefs GM Scott Pioli some credit for the decision to jettison last year’s third-round draft choice DE Alex Magee. He and a 2011 draft choice were sent to Tampa Bay for another 2011 draft choice. The details were undisclosed. We can only assume that the Buccaneers pick coming back to K.C. at this time is higher than the one headed to Florida.

If Magee had been any type of player, he would not have been traded. If he had shown anything in the way of improvement, he would still be in the Chiefs locker room and not changing zip codes. The 67th player taken in the 2009 NFL Draft, Magee was a bust and should have never been drafted that high.

There is no other way to describe his brief time with the Chiefs. Last year he played in 15 games, with one start and had eight tackles, two sacks, three quarterback pressures and two passes knocked down. Considering his limited number of snaps, it was a pretty typical year for a NFL rookie defensive lineman.

In that first year, Magee showed he was a bit more advanced than his ’09 draft classmate Tyson Jackson, especially when it came to rushing the passer. It was largely due to his experience at Purdue playing both end and tackle. …Read More!

Another Painful Lesson … Tuesday Cup O’Chiefs

From the Truman Sports Complex

The Chiefs as a team learned a valuable lesson in their loss Sunday in Houston:

Sometimes when you see a light at the end of the tunnel, it’s a train speeding in your direction, about to run you over.

In the locker room after their 35-31 loss to the Texans several players, including QB Matt Cassel and ILB Derrick Johnson, said that in the second half they felt in control of the game. This was especially true when they held a 21-7 lead in the third quarter. There was a feeling of comfort, of controlling the pace of the game and its outcome.

It’s safe to say that once a team feels like they are in control of a game with a 14-point lead against a team that has the ability to score quickly and often has just lost control.

“There is a clear-cut lesson to be learned,” Todd Haley said on Monday, after getting a lengthy look at the game tape and then speaking with his team. “I don’t know exactly how to say it other than there were situations in that game where had our sense of urgency been at a higher level and understanding exactly where that game was and what the opportunity was, that we would’ve recognized it as a whole. Some guys recognized it, some guys didn’t.”

This happens with teams that haven’t won many games. It’s not so much learning how to win, as learning how to handle the situation when you have a chance to win. With leads in the second half of 14, 10 and 10 points, the Chiefs created situations for themselves where they should have walked out of Reliant Stadium with a victory.

It’s like this – any time the Chiefs score 31 points this year they should win. This is not a 31-point offense. When it happens, it’s a gift that can’t be wasted as it was on Sunday. The last time they scored 31 points or more and lost the game was last December against Cleveland, when the Browns grabbed a 41-34 decision at Arrowhead Stadium.

Instead, when they felt in control of the game and saw the light at the end of the tunnel, it turned out to be a train driven by the Texans explosive offense. …Read More!

Game-Plan Sunday … Game-Day Cup O’Chiefs

From Houston, Texas

It has been one of the favorite subjects of discussions among those in the Chiefs Nation this past week – how will the Chiefs attack the Texans and return to their winning ways?

The Chiefs and Texans will kickoff at noon Sunday at Reliant Stadium. TV coverage is on CBS.

Will this be the game where QB Matt Cassel rips apart a battered Texans secondary? Will the Chiefs assign their best player CB Brandon Flowers to cover Houston’s best player WR Andre Johnson (right)? Might this game be decided by the running game of both teams that rank in the league’s top 10?

These two teams share many characteristics, but the biggest one makes them part of a very large group of NFL teams. While both have winning records – the Chiefs at 3-1 and Houston holding a 3-2 mark – they are flawed teams. There does not appear to be a great team in the NFL so far this season. There are a few good ones and a few bad ones, but the bulk of the league is stuck in the middle. Those teams have parts that are strong and productive, but they also have facets of the team that are not up to average NFL standards, let alone that of a contender. It’s what makes them all pretenders right now.   …Read More!

He Won’t Be Quiet Sunday … Saturday Cup O’Chiefs

The voice mail message was to the point.

“BG, this is BP. See me after the game. I hope I have plenty to say then. I’m trying to keep a low profile. (Secondary coach David Gibbs) Gibby is on me. You know how that goes.”

Bernard Pollard has been a reluctant talker this week. Much like Ryan Lilja was last week when he returned to Indianapolis to play his former team, Pollard has not had much to say this week about his former team and the situation that sent him to the waiver wire last September and ultimately landed him in Houston.

“It’s not personal at all,” Pollard told a reporter from the Houston Chronicle this week. “It’s not about any individual. Obviously, it’s a big game. I was there before — things happen. But it doesn’t matter. This is another team we have to compete against.”

You can hear Pollard biting his tongue throughout that comment. There’s a lot that Pollard could say, probably wants to say about his experience last year in the off-season and pre-season with the new Chiefs regime. There’s no question there will be some trash talking from him on Sunday, because that’s what B.P. has always done. He loves to chatter and loves when he finds an 0pponent who reacts to it. At least in this game, he will go facemask-to-facemask because that’s what he does. …Read More!

Comparisons At The Quarter Pole … Friday Cup O’Chiefs

Without a doubt I think everyone on all sides of the various debates in the Chiefs Nation would agree that after four games, this year’s edition is improved over last year and more recent teams.

Just the 3-1 record is enough evidence, especially when considering that in the previous three seasons they started 0-4, 1-3 and 2-2. Remember that 2-2 start in 2007 was a team that was coming off an appearance in the AFC playoffs.

Thus, I think that’s a better comparison for the 2010 Chiefs after four games. Not last year’s 0-4 team; we already know they are better than that. But the last team to make the post-season, Herm Edwards team in 2006.

And just for fun, let’s throw in the numbers for the best teams of the last 15 years for the Chiefs. That would be the 1995, 1997 and 2003 teams that all finished 13-3, had home-field advantage in the playoffs and a week off to rest up.

We all know what happened there – they lost by three, four and seven points and went home and watched the rest of the tournament.

This is not to say that the ’10 Chiefs are on their way to a 13-3 season.   …Read More!

Too Early To Scuttle Cassel … Thursday Cup O’Chiefs

OK, so I’ve listened all week to those who want Chiefs QB Matt Cassel burned at the stake. At the very least, they want him benched as the leader of the K.C. offense.

And while I hate to repeat myself, it’s a must in this situation. If you are a Chiefs fan crying for the head of Cassel, and in the past you’ve moaned and groaned about the organization’s inability to develop a quarterback, then shame on you.

This is what it’s like when an inexperienced quarterback works his way up the ladder in the NFL. It can be exasperating, frustrating and it will produce blood curdling screams. What did you think was going to happen? Forget the $63 million for a moment. That won’t go down as a mistake by Cassel if he fails. That will be a decision GM Scott Pioli has to answer for if it falls apart.

It isn’t anywhere near falling apart. I’m not sure who, but someone declared this week that the only reason Haley is starting Cassel is because he’s being forced too by Pioli. There was something about the head coach really wanting to play Brodie Croyle.

 Let me assure you that whoever came up with that fairy tale has no facts to back up the situation. Let me also assure you that if he thought the Hunchback of Notre Dame would give him a better chance to win at quarterback, Haley would start the guy. Does Pioli want Cassel to play? Sure, his reputation is on the line. But for Haley, it’s his job on the line. If the Chiefs fall flat, the first change will not be made at GM. It will be made at head coach. …Read More!

It’s Déjà Vu, Again … Wednesday Cup O’Chiefs

It’s dangerous to project very far into the future when talking about a football team like the Chiefs. Yes they are 3-1. But this is only the second season of the “process” and this franchise is coming off the worst three-year stretch in its history.

But there’s one part of where this Chiefs sit right now that seems very, very familiar. It’s the part where one aspect of the team seems dominant. It was the case in the 1990s, when during the Marty Schottenheimer Era fans dreamed of an offense to match the Chiefs stout defense.

Best example: the 1995 playoffs, when the Chiefs had the No. 2 defense in the league during the regular season and allowed the Indianapolis Colts just 10 points in the playoffs. The Chiefs ended up losing 10-7.

Then in the 2000s, it was the opposite, as the Chiefs had one of the most productive and prolific offenses the league has seen in the last 20 years. But success in the post-season was hamstrung by a defense that possessed all the qualities of a sieve.

Best example: the 2003 playoffs, when the Chiefs had the No. 2 offense in the league during the regular season. That group came out and scored 31 points against Indianapolis. But the defense that finished the season ranked No. 29 allowed 38 points and never forced the Colts to punt.

…Read More!

K.C. Sees Labor Future … Tuesday Cup O’Chiefs

From the Truman Sports Complex

We pause for a moment of second guessing Todd Haley, dicing up the hands of Dwayne Bowe and the usual complaints about Matt Cassel. The real world of money, labor and the potential shutdown of the National Football League intruded into the Chiefs facility on Monday afternoon.

About a half-dozen suits from the NFL Players Association were on site to meet with the Chiefs players. This came after the players had their meetings with Haley and their position coaches, and went over the tape of Sunday’s loss in Indianapolis.

Once that football work was done, NFLPA executive board members Mike Vrabel and Brian Waters welcomed NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith (left) to the building. Part of Smith’s entourage included former Chiefs safety Jason Belser, who is now the union’s senior regional director.

“I’m not doing any media,” Smith said when approached about talking about what went down in the meeting with the Chiefs. “Sorry. There will be plenty of time for that.”

A union leader involved in a potentially huge labor dispute that doesn’t want to talk? I’ve seen everything now. Actually, I think Smith’s reluctance to make any comments had more to do with his group sprinting to the KCI to catch their flight out of town.   …Read More!

It is Peyton’s Place … Game-Day Cup O’Chiefs

From Indianapolis

There will be 90 players in uniform on the field Sunday afternoon when the Chiefs put their 3-0 record on the line against the 2-2 Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Kickoff is just after 12 noon and can be seen on CBS-TV.

Also on the field will be another 20 or so inactive or injured players, a good three dozen coaches, another three dozen trainers, equipment guys and staff. Then there are the officials, the ball boys, the chain gang, photographers, media types and on and on. In all, there will be a couple hundred people standing on the field.

But only one man will be in the spotlight. Only one player really counts. The focus, spotlight and attention will be on No. 18 in blue, Colts QB Peyton Manning.

Football is very much a team game, where it’s almost impossible for one player to put a team on his shoulders and carry them with a host of three-point shots or home runs.

Almost impossible … over the last 10 years, Manning has carried the Colts on his broad shoulders, establishing himself as not only a sporting icon in the middle of Indiana, but around the country.

“Peyton Manning has always been the Indianapolis Colts,” said offensive coordinator Charlie Weis. “It all starts with him. He’s not just the leader of the offense; he is the leader of their team. Everything starts with him.”   …Read More!

Man Behind The Manning … Saturday Cup O’Chiefs

Some 30 years ago, he was a red-haired guy who would show up at Chiefs training camp at William Jewell College in Liberty every summer for a couple of weeks.

He would haunt the media room and public relations office looking for the newest team media guides that had come in from around the league. Two, sometimes three times a day, he would stop in, ask the secretaries about new guides and it always seemed that he went away ticked off when nothing new had come in the mail.

At the time, he was known simply as that Polian guy that worked with Marv. At the time, Marv Levy was the head coach of the Chiefs, and Bill Polian was a “pro scout” for the team. His name can’t be found in any of the team’s media guides or NFL directories for the 1978 through 1982 seasons. But I can tell you, Polian was there and he was around.

Who knew that the media guide-seeking red-head would go on to become one of the greatest front office executives in the history of the NFL. Polian is President of the Indianapolis Colts and when we look at that franchise and what it has accomplished over the last dozen years, the focus falls squarely on Polian.   …Read More!

Spinning With Haley … Friday Cup O’Chiefs

You have to hand it to Todd Haley.

A year ago, the head coach was paddling as fast as is humanely possible just to keep his head above water as a tsunami of losing was washing over his first Chiefs team. It was October 18 before Haley saw his initial victory as an NFL head coach, after five losing efforts.

Fast forward to the first week of October 2010 and Haley’s world is very different. They are 3-0, on top the AFC West and the only unbeaten team left in the NFL. The head coach is now simply the head coach, not head coach-offensive coordinator-quarterbacks coach. He has spent the whole year so far working on his team’s head, continuing to pump home his themes and beliefs, while making sure nobody starts feeling comfortable about winning the first three.

Haley’s world has changed so much that he now has time to spin his message when he speaks publicly. What he’s told the media horde this week is probably not what he’s told his team in their meetings, or what he will tell them Saturday night in their hotel in Indianapolis or Sunday morning before kickoff at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Basically Haley’s answers have been that he just hopes his team can be competitive with the Colts, that despite their record the Chiefs are not a good team, just one in transition to being good, and that a team like Indianapolis knows all about winning, while his bunch of boys is just learning.   …Read More!

Cassel Faces A Challenge … Thursday Cup O’Chiefs

The question to Matt Cassel was germane and on the mark:

“Do you feel your level of play escalates going against a guy like Peyton Manning?”

Cassel didn’t hesitate with his answer either.

“Well, it should,” Cassel said. “You try to get yourself up for the challenge there is no doubt about that. You know you are going against one of the best and you have to embrace that challenge because what is what we are all here for – to play against the best.”

Well Cassel faces the chance to play against the best on Sunday when the Chiefs face the Colts in Indianapolis. This will not be Philip Rivers in the rain, or Seneca Wallace in Cleveland or a struggling Alex Smith with the 49ers. This is the man who is in the discussion when it comes to greatest quarterbacks in NFL history.

If the Chiefs are able to go 4-0, it will only be with a good performance from Cassel. We aren’t talking about matching the numbers Manning throws up on Sunday; that’s a bit out of reach for not only Cassel, but the Chiefs offense at this point in its development. The Colts are 2-2, but they still have Manning, WR Reggie Wayne, TE Dallas Clark, RB Joseph Addai and a handful of young, talented receivers like Austin Collie, Pierre Garcon and Anthony Gonzalez.

The numbers that will be important for Cassel will be improving his completion percentage, successfully throwing the ball on third down and making sure he does not throw an interception. To beat Manning, an opponent can’t provide him with more opportunities with the ball.

“Everything goes around this quarterback, Peyton Manning,” said head coach Todd Haley, in one of the great understatements of the season. …Read More!

Romeo To The Rescue? … Wednesday Cup O’Chiefs

The battles between Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts offense against Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots defense were some of the biggest stories of the first NFL decade of the 21st Century.

From 2000 through 2009, those teams met 14 times, with the Patriots winning eight games. Three of those meetings were in the playoffs, with New England winning twice. In the decade, the Patriots won three Super Bowls and the Colts won one Lombardi Trophy.

In six of those Indianapolis-New England games, Romeo Crennel was right in the middle of the competition, as defensive coordinator of the Patriots. Throw in two games where Crennel was head coach of the Cleveland Browns and faced Manning and the Colts, and the Chiefs defensive coordinator has eight games of experience against the guys wearing the horseshoe helmets.

And that experience is going to be very valuable for the 2010 Chiefs defense when they meet No. 18 and his offensive mates on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.

“We’ve got our coaching staff and coordinator who worked against them a lot,” said SS Eric Berry.

Added ILB Derrick Johnson: “I think we know that he (Crennel) has spent a lot of time in his career preparing to play the Colts. I’m looking forward to seeing what he has planned for us on defense against Manning … Peyton keeps a lot of defensive players up at night. He has a tremendous arm, he’s a smart guy and he doesn’t make many mistakes. When he does make mistakes, we have to capitalize off it.”

In those eight games, Crennel’s defenses forced a lot of mistakes from Manning, with 13 interceptions. Most of all, Crennel’s defenses were on the winning side six of the eight games, losing only during his two games when he was in Cleveland with the Browns. Here are the numbers:

…Read More!

Berry Knows What’s Coming … Tuesday Cup O’Chiefs

Eric Berry went on his bye weekend vacation with Peyton Manning.

No, he didn’t head to Indianapolis or meet the Colts down in Jacksonville where they were upset by the Jaguars on Sunday.

Berry had Manning and the Colts offense with him on the plane and at home in Georgia, where he enjoyed his time off by studying one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history.

“The coaches had cutups ready so I took the DVD with me and watched it flying down, over the weekend and on the plane flying back, trying to get ready any way I can,” Berry said. “He’s an amazing quarterback.”

Not that Berry hasn’t seen it all before. Yes, he’s an NFL rookie and yes Sunday’s game will be the first where he lines up in a secondary against the Colts offense. But Berry has seen Manning up close and personal. All three years that the safety was at the University of Tennessee, former Volunteers QB Manning returned to campus to workout with the football team.

“He always came back and worked seven-on-seven with us as he got ready to get back into his season,” Berry said. “He takes control of his offense and his team, in any situation he always competes. That’s all you can ask of any player. He’s a great quarterback.”

In fact, Berry said Manning could be around campus one day and Tennessee receivers who were having trouble adapting to a new offense for the Volunteers would very quickly be clicking with No. 18.

“We had three different offensive coordinators the three years when I was there,” Berry said. “The wide receivers would be having a difficult time learning the new offense. But for some reason, when he came back it was like they were working on one chord, and they were on all cylinders. It was pretty cool seeing that.”

And it was pretty cool for a young defensive back to see one of the game’s best in action, even if it was just seven-on-seven. …Read More!

Winning On The Line … Monday Cup O’Chiefs

Since the game was invented there is one thing that has never changed about football. Fancy offenses come and go. So do the defenses that react to those offenses. Players and coaches change with great regularity.

The constant is the line of scrimmage. The team that wins the contest at the line of scrimmage invariably is the team that wins the game. Oh sure, every once in a while the moon and stars will align and some team that couldn’t handle things on the line of scrimmage wins a game; happens about once or twice a decade.

That makes it simple to explain why the Kansas City Chiefs have shocked the NFL and opened the season with a 3-0 record. They have been winning the games at the line of scrimmage. The defensive front seven has been able to control opponent offenses, especially in the running game where San Diego, Cleveland and San Francisco were unable to gain any sort of traction.

But the excellence on the line of scrimmage for the Chiefs in three games has come along the offensive line. This often maligned group has been good to outstanding in three games. The outstanding came in the last game, when they opened enough holes for the Chiefs to gain 207 yards rushing and did not allow QB Matt Cassel to be sacked.

That’s why Todd Haley gave the line the offensive game ball for the victory over San Francisco.   …Read More!

The Achieving Rookies … Weekend Cup O’Chiefs

They have made an impact in just three weeks that few rookie classes have in recent Chiefs history.

Go back over the last decade and only the 2008 group of draft choices had as immediate an impact as the 10 rookies on this season’s roster. That year was Glenn Dorsey, Branden Albert, Brandon Flowers and Brandon Carr were all immediate contributors.  

But this year’s draft class, along with three undrafted free agents, have taken nine spots on the 53-man roster. That’s 17 percent of the players available to Todd Haley on a weekly basis. Of those nine, eight have played in the three games, six have made measurable contributions and three are in the starting lineup.

“I think this entire rookie class, everybody that made this team, drafted and undrafted, have come in with a certain attitude that’s been evident from day one,” Haley has said since he first got the chance to spend time with this group in the off-season program.

“I think that when you have a team that hasn’t been a very good team, that’s trying to make progress, that in this foundation process that we’re in, it’s very important that we get as many guys in, contributing sooner rather than later because you don’t have time to wait on anybody.”

As Haley says, these rookies have pushed themselves into the mix quicker and faster than even the Chiefs expected. …Read More!

Second-Half Cassel …Thursday Cup O’Chiefs

The gnashing of teeth in the Chiefs Nation over Matt Cassel and his performance has subsided for a week, maybe even two weeks given the bye weekend ahead for the Chiefs and their much maligned quarterback and leader.

Coming off a three touchdown pass performance against San Francisco, Cassel seemingly was forgiven for his first half interception against the Niners. He came back in the second half and threw the ball well and the Chiefs rolled to their third straight victory with a balanced offense that included those three TD passes to three different receivers.

In fact, the second half of the last two games has featured Cassel at his best. OK, maybe not his best, but compared to his first half performances in those games, he took quite a step forward in the third and fourth quarters against Cleveland and San Francisco. Here are his passing numbers for those games broken down to what he did in the first and second half against the Browns and 49ers: …Read More!

Coaches, Coaches Everywhere … Wednesday Cup O’Chiefs

Todd Haley’s desire to think outside the box had WR Terrance Copper running the special teams during the Chiefs first bye week practice on Tuesday.

It’s not a role that Copper ever envisioned for himself. “I’ve always been too busy trying to make the team and keep my spot,” Copper said. “I didn’t think about stuff like this.”

But Haley does. Like a lot of head coaches, he’s constantly trying to build a better mousetrap. He’s always looking for different ways to do the same thing, just to break the monotony, to fuel something in his players or even his coaching staff.

What the second-year head coach believes in, that foundation is set in stone. But there are always ways of sticking to those beliefs and making it work in different ways.

That’s what’s going down during the three bye-week practices for the Chiefs. Haley has designated 15 players as assistant coaches this week. They range from 15-year veteran center Casey Wiegmann to third-year cornerback Brandon Flowers. There is a player/assistant coach at every position group, save the specialists and quarterbacks.

“In a lot of different discussions with veteran players in the last year or so, in asking about what parts of the bye week they like, what parts they don’t like, I came to the conclusion that veterans didn’t like the bye week period,” said Haley.

It’s part of Haley’s personality and his approach to the job that he’s always poking and prodding, trying to pick the brains of people he trusts or respects on different subjects related to the team. In questioning the veterans about the bye week he found out that players, but especially older players, hate practice. It’s something they’ll put up each week because they know the importance of preparing for an opponent.

But when there is no opponent, spending three or four days practicing in the middle of the season is torture. …Read More!

Not Overlooking The Bye Week … Tuesday Cup O’Chiefs

Todd Haley never lets up on this forgetting about the past and not thinking about the future.

While some of his players may be looking forward to a matchup with the Indianapolis Colts on October 9, the Chiefs head coach doesn’t want his team overlooking the next few days and the time the team will spend during the bye week.

“The critical part of becoming a good team is the ability to focus on the task at hand and not getting caught up in the past and the future,” Haley said on Monday, after he’d looked at the tape of the 21-point victory over San Francisco. “From my standpoint I want us to be focused on this bye week and doing the things we have to do in the areas that we feel like as a coaching staff that we need to improve on.

“There are a bunch of things that we have to get better at. We aren’t there yet. There’s a lot of work to do. This is a great opportunity for us as a staff and a team to work on that.”

Before anybody in the Chiefs locker room starts plotting to face Peyton Manning and the guys with the horseshoes on their helmets, they must get ready to spend the next three days battling the bye week. That means placing a critical eye on the Kansas City Chiefs.

“I’m sure there will be plenty of things for us to work on during the bye,” said LG Brian Waters. “There’s not a thing that we do that is as good as it could be whether it’s on offense, defense or special teams. I think guys will be smart enough to take this time to take care of their bodies.” …Read More!

Looking For More Ugliness … Game-Day Cup O’Chiefs

So is there really such a thing as an ugly victory?

I mean come on, winning is hard to do, and anything that takes so much work and effort, how can that be ugly? I always figured it was like a newborn. When a baby is born, about one out of 100 is actually beautiful. The other 99 have scrunched up faces, misshapen heads, bumps, bruises and assorted other markings. A month later they don’t look anything like the day they were born.

The only time that a newborn is truly beautiful is when it’s yours. Then, there is nothing on earth that’s prettier.

So far this year, the Chiefs have birthed a couple of victories, the kind that have been labeled ugly. Not that it matters much to them.

“Call them what you want,” said CB Brandon Flowers. “Just call them wins.”

The Chiefs go for No. 3 on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium against the 0-2 San Francisco 49ers. Kickoff is noon and you can see the game on the Fox-TV network.

Whether the outcome is labeled another ugly victory remains to be seen, but the Chiefs could care less. The chance to go 3-0 for the first time since 2003 makes the look inconsequential.

“Are there ugly wins? Sure. Absolutely,” said veteran G Brian Waters. “We have played better in the past and been 0-2. So we are happy with the wins … it’s hard to get overly excited about the way we have played. It’s easy to get excited about what we know we can do in the future.”   …Read More!

The QB Class of 2005 … Saturday Cup O’Chiefs

It will not be remembered in the same breath as possibly the greatest quarterback draft in NFL history, the 1983 group that included Hall of Famers John Elway, Dan Marino and Jim Kelly.

But the quarterback draft class of 2005 is a remarkable collection of stories about the trials and tribulations of surviving at football’s most difficult position. Two of the 14 members of that class will be the starters Sunday when Alex Smith (1st-choice) leads his San Francisco team into Arrowhead Stadium to face Matt Cassel (230th-pick) and the Chiefs.

Almost half of the class has been in the news in the last three weeks as the NFL season has started. Smith, Aaron Rodgers, Kyle Orton and Matt Cassel began the season as starting quarterbacks for their teams. So was Jason Campbell, but after two games he’s lost the job. It Derek Anderson who was picked to start for Arizona instead of Matt Leinart and in Buffalo this week Ryan Fitzpatrick is the new starter, replacing Trent Edwards.

Of the 14 quarterbacks selected nine are still in the league and six will start this weekend. Five of the 14 are out of the league and four never played a game. …Read More!

Controversy At 2-0? … Friday Cup O’Chiefs

OK, let me get this straight; I’ve been a little foggy for the last few days.

The Chiefs are 2-0 and the Chiefs Nation is a buzz with not a quarterback controversy, but a running back controversy? Some think there is a conspiracy afoot to deny Jamaal Charles playing time. One internet clown apparently wrote that Charles isn’t being allowed to play because he’s a draft choice of the Peterson-Edwards-Kuharich regime. Supposedly that has Pioli/Haley slicing his touches.

So, let’s approach this with some logic, without emotion and hopefully without that kind of stupidity. Follow along.

#1 – Coach Says What?

Todd Haley said when asked Monday if he was satisfied with the number of carries Charles has had – “What’s our record? I am very comfortable with how the majority of things have gone. Do I want to be better? Heck yeah. We have to be better in every area.”

How has the lack of opportunities the Chiefs have given Charles over the first two games hurt them? How does his lack of work change the outcome of games?

It doesn’t. End of story.

However, we’ve got bytes to use and inches to fill, so let’s move on and look at the situation. …Read More!

Anything Can Happen … Saturday Cup O’Chiefs

Brian Waters has played in 150 NFL games.

Casey Wiegmann has stepped on the field for 198 NFL games.

They are the grizzled veterans of the Chiefs. They played a lot of those games together, starting in 2001, going through 2007. They picked up their collaboration again this past Monday night with the 2010 season opener against the Chargers.

Their careers have plenty of memories, moments, plays, games, outcomes that they’ll carry with them the rest of their lives.

But there is one they’ll never forget. When they are living out their days at the Old Offensive Linemen’s Home, and their great grandchildren are coming over and want to hear Pappy tell stories of his days in the NFL, they will both tell their family about the most unforgettable game they’ve played in to date:

Sunday, September 8, 2002. Cleveland Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio.

It was the Chiefs and Browns in the season opener in front of more than 72,000 fans on the Lake Erie shore.

When the players walked off the field that day they left behind one for the ages.

“There are plays from Monday night that I can’t quite remember all the details,” Waters said. “But I can remember everything about the end of that game. I can remember what I saw, what I heard, what I did, what others on the field did.

“It’s like it happened today.”   …Read More!

Third Down Problems … Friday Cup O’Chiefs

Nine percent.

That’s a great number for the increase in the value of your investments in this down economy. It’s a very good number to shoot for when it comes to body fat. Any time you can get nine percent discount, it’s a wonderful thing.

But when it comes to third downs in the NFL, nine percent is ugly. It’s bad. It sucks.

That’s what the Chiefs were on Monday night when they faced third down. They moved the chains just once in the 11 third down plays they faced on the night. In what was overall a fairly pedestrian offensive performance, the work on third down was the worst feature of the evening. The explanation for 197 yards on just 40 offensive plays (compared to San Diego’s 389 yards on 70 plays) is that nine percent conversion rate.

The Chiefs offense could not stay on the field.

“We have to get better in third down,” said QB Matt Cassel. “That’s something that as an offensive unit if you’re not good on third down week-in and week-out, it’s very difficult to continue to move the ball, especially when you’re in third-and-long situations. I think we just have to work on being more productive on first and second down and getting ourselves into manageable third-down situations.

“When you’re in manageable third-down situations you have the ability to run or pass and you keep the defense on their toes versus being in third-and-long, you know they’re pinning their ears back and they’re coming.” …Read More!

D.J. Makes It Happen … Thursday Cup O’Chiefs

It’s this week’s chicken or egg football question.

On Monday night, the star of the Chiefs defensive performance was LB Derrick Johnson. He had a dozen total stops, including 11 times when he was the primary tackler. He caused a big fumble that helped set up his team’s first touchdown.

Johnson was flying around the field, swooping in and making a big stop on Darren Sproles for a two-yard loss. He forced the fumble by San Diego’s Ryan Mathews by not giving up on the play and chasing it down from behind. D.J. was simply a force that the Chargers had trouble dealing with all night.

Now, did Johnson’s performance come because of all the trials and tribulations that he went through last season when he landed in Todd Haley’s dog house? Or was his big night built on the talents he’s always had and would have shown more often last year if given the chance?

“I don’t feel any vindication,” Johnson said. “I always knew what I was capable of doing. I always had confidence in myself. It was just other people that had to gain confidence in me.”

How could he not feel vindication? Last year he couldn’t get on the field, despite the fact he had the playmaking ability superior to just about everyone else on the roster. How does a guy go from getting defensive snaps only in the nickel defense, to being on the field for all 70 plays?

That’s what Johnson did Monday night. He started at inside linebacker on the weak side in the base defense. When the Chiefs went nickel, he was on the field, sometimes dropping into coverage, other times rushing the passer. He never left the field.

“That’s what I wanted,” Johnson said with a smile. “I wanted to start, I wanted to play and I wanted to help our team win.” …Read More!

A Good Man Is Gone … Wednesday Cup O’Chiefs

The Chiefs lost a good man on Tuesday. Maybe I should say another good man.

In the continuation of a process that he started in December 2008, Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt’s slice and dice of his team’s front office claimed another victim with the resignation of team president Denny Thum.

From the time his position was marginalized within the organization last year when he was named president without power, it was only a matter of time before Thum’s almost 40-year run with the Chiefs would end. Why Hunt would want to chase away a man with the talents and experience of Thum is beyond comprehension.

It tells us that this revamp of the Chiefs had nothing to do with competency and everything to do with throwing out the old and bringing in the new. That is Hunt’s right as the leader of the ownership family to make these moves, and to do it for whatever reasons. Unfortunately, that approach has cost his franchise some very talented people, men and women who were extremely connected, talented and loyal to the Chiefs.

None more so than Thum; if you want a definition of a good soldier for the Hunt family over the last four decades you need only look at Thum’s record and accomplishments. Hired after his graduation from Rockhurst College, Thum worked his way up on the business side of the organization. First Jim Schaaf and then Carl Peterson gave Thum the chance to handle business issues on the football side of the team. Along the way, there were opportunities for Thum to go to other NFL teams, but he always turned those down.

He became one of the best negotiators in the league, and he and Peterson played the role of Good Cop (Thum) and Bad Cop (Peterson) to perfection. Gifted with a remarkable quantity of patience Thum was always able to get a deal done simply by never giving up. …Read More!

A Benchmark Monday … Game-Day Cup O’Chiefs

Yes, this is a big one.

Year No. 2 of the Pioli/Haley Era kicks off with a national television audience watching and more than likely the biggest home crowd the Chiefs will see all season as they face the San Diego Chargers on Monday night at Arrowhead Stadium.

Kickoff is 9:15 p.m. CDT and can be viewed on Chanel 9/KMBC-TV and ESPN.

It is but the first step in a football marathon that runs until the first days of February for the good teams, and the first days of January for the bad ones. What category fits the 2010 Chiefs? That’s what makes this game so important.

Let’s set aside the obvious effect on business that rests on the outcome of this game. The Chiefs are struggling to sell all parts of their inventory, whether it’s tickets, suites, sponsorships, signage, etc. A victory over the Chargers would mean a real stomp on the gas pedal of fan enthusiasm and also would generate millions of dollars in sales for the franchise.

And we don’t need to dwell on the fact that it’s the first regular season game in the New Arrowhead, and the first Monday night game in Kansas City since 2004 and the Chiefs first prime-time appearance on Monday night since 2005.

What is most important is what this matchup means in a football sense. The Chargers are the defending AFC West champions, winners of four consecutive division titles and five of the last six. They are the alpha-dog that everybody else in the West is chasing and trying to dethrone.

  …Read More!

Window Closing On Bolts? … Sunday Cup O’Chiefs

What is it about the San Diego Chargers that this team has won so many games, drafted and developed so many outstanding players in the last half-decade, but has no Vince Lombardi Trophy to show for all that success?

It’s a situation Chiefs fans are familiar with, because in the 1990s their team dominated the division, won over 100 games and had only miniscule post-season success.

Now, as the Chiefs and Chargers get ready to face off in the 2010 season opener Monday night at Arrowhead Stadium, these teams are at opposite ends of the AFC West and have been now for some time. With head coach Norv Turner (left) at the helm, San Diego rules the roost, while Kansas City has leased the basement apartment for three years now.

Last year, the Chargers embarrassed the Chiefs, not once, but twice. They rolled into Arrowhead in October and grab a 30-point victory. Then later in the season, San Diego was the site for a 29-point victory by the Lightning Bolts.

That 59-point difference is the worst division beat down in the same season in 50 years of Texans-Chiefs football. (Check chart below.)

But over the last five or six seasons, there may not have been a better time for the Chiefs to face the Chargers than now, to open the ’10 season.

All that Chargers success has come with a price.   …Read More!

Surviving The Process … Saturday Cup O’Chiefs

There’s one thing that Matt Cassel knows, and if he doesn’t then somebody should give him the information.

Len Dawson was booed by Chiefs fans. Terry Bradshaw was booed by Steelers fans. John Elway was booed by Broncos fans. Insert name of Hall of Fame quarterback and he was booed by fans of the insert name team he played for during his career.

There were some Chiefs fans back in the day that believed Dawson didn’t take enough chances with his passes, that he threw short dinks and dunks and that he did not go down the field as much as he could have, especially since he was calling the plays. His career completion percentage of 57.1 percent, his career average of 7.7 yards per attempt and his 237 TD passes to 178 interceptions look like pretty good numbers now.

But in the day, some Chiefs followers were unhappy and they let Dawson know it, firing verbal assaults from the stands at both Municipal and Arrowhead Stadiums.

That’s a simple fact of life for an NFL starting quarterback. The scene gets played out over and over around the league. Guys like Peyton Manning and Tom Brady have escaped it so far, but their careers are not over yet. They still have plenty of opportunities to throw interceptions or badly timed incompletions that will raise the vocal hackles of their fan base.

Cassel reiterated the other day that he does not read papers, watch TV sports or listen to sports talk radio. I’m sure he doesn’t spend any time on Internet sites or web forums.

“I just try to block it out,” Cassel said this week. “That is something that goes along with this job. You are always going to be tested and there is always going to be scrutiny and there is always going to be somebody saying, ‘hey, he is not good enough. He can’t do this, he can’t do that.’

“I have a job to do and right now my job is to be the quarterback of this team. I am going to go out and work hard and do everything I need to do to be productive on the field.”   …Read More!

The Right 45 Ain’t So Easy … Friday Cup O’Chiefs

If you’ve ever sat at a table working the 500-piece jigsaw puzzle at a lake house or beach cottage, you have a pretty good idea of what NFL teams do when trying to decide on the 53 men that will make up their roster.

First, you get the framework of the puzzle in place, you know, the flat sided pieces. Then you start filling in the inside. For the picture to turn out correctly, the pieces can’t be forced into their holes. To make a pretty picture, they must click together

It’s the same with an NFL team. Try to force pieces together and the puzzle of the regular-season roster is not going to come together very well. Even more difficult are the game-day decisions; in this case eight players must be placed on an inactive list. Pieces have to be taken out of the puzzle.

The trick is pulling the inactive players out of the team puzzle without hurting the overall picture.

This process is on Todd Haley’s mind a lot these days, especially heading into a season opener against San Diego. Haley’s comments from Thursday may have shocked some people, but anybody who saw the two teams play last year – when the Chargers grabbed 30 and 29-point victories – knows that San Diego has a much better team.

“I know this team that we are playing on Monday … we are not nearly as skilled as they are,” Haley said. “It’s not close. That’s no disrespect to our guys. That’s just the way it is.”

Working from a deficit right off the starting line makes Haley’s job of shaping the game-day roster even more important. The head coach has made it clear he’s not in the business of taking insurance policies with him into games this season. Backup quarterback Brodie Croyle is the only insurance that’s a given. …Read More!

A Crossroads Moment … Thursday Cup O’Chiefs

Barry Richardson was at the crossroads of his young NFL career.

The third-year tackle came out of pre-season game No. 1 in Atlanta with a right leg injury. Specifics on the health of players are not something the Chiefs ever provide and this injury came at a time before NFL regulations required them to issue an injury report.

When a 6-foot-6 guy is walking around the practice field with a limp, it doesn’t take a medical degree to understand he’s injured. That was August 15, two days after the loss to the Falcons. Richardson spent time on August 16 in the rehab area while practice was going on.

But on August 17, other offensive linemen had fallen along the way and the number of blockers available was at a minimal number. That was the day the coaching staff moved DE Bobby Greenwood to offensive tackle. And it was the day when the limping Richardson returned to practice.

Since then, nobody on the Chiefs team was on the field for more snaps in the final pre-season games than Richardson. When starting right tackle Ryan O’Callaghan went down on August 24th with a groin injury in practice, the still ailing Richardson was forced into to the starting lineup. He got starters snaps at right tackle against the Eagles, and then worked at left tackle in the fourth quarter. In the pre-season finale against the Packers, he spent time again playing right, and then left tackle.

And there’s a good chance on Monday night he’ll be in the starting lineup at right tackle when the Chiefs open the regular season against the San Diego Chargers. …Read More!

Maple Leaf Magic … Wednesday Cup O’Chiefs

As a kid, Cory Greenwood was like any other youngster in his little corner of the world.

He was constantly engaged in some sort of activity; a whirling dervish like any young boy, bumps, scrapes and bruises galore.

Like all the mighty mites in Canada, it started with hockey. Putting on the skates, wearing the gloves, grabbing the stick, hitting the ice … it was all he thought about.

“It was fun, out there mucking around with the puck and banging the boards,” Greenwood said with a smile. “I put the skates when I was about five years old and played for like the next 10 years.” Eventually, he would rise in the ranks of amateur hockey in Canada, high enough that had he devoted his time to the ice, he may have made a career for himself in professional hockey.

But when Greenwood was in the eighth grade, he discovered football. There were pads and helmets, but no more sticks and no more boards. Just the wide open spaces of a Canadian football field. Something about it felt right for him. “There was more of a mental aspect of the game than in hockey,” he said. “There were game plans and preparation. There’s only one game a week and that allows you to do a lot of training. I really liked that.”

There were no dreams of football taking him anywhere. He followed the action in the Canadian Football League and the National Football League, but he did not have a favored team or player.

This week Cory Greenwood is standing in the locker room of an NFL team. That fact is sometimes beyond his comprehension.

“I never thought about it, never dreamed it,” Greenwood said. “It’s pretty amazing.” …Read More!

The Now Or Later Battle … Tuesday Cup O’Chiefs

It’s the constant predicament faced by NFL head coaches at this time every year. When chopping the roster to the league limit of 53 players, what’s more important – players who can contribute now, or developmental players who are a year or two or maybe more away from carrying their own weight?

The decision making can sometimes leave a head coach a bit dizzy. Todd Haley may have been that way on Monday. The Chiefs head coach said he wants help from every player on his roster this year, and he wants developmental players.

Here’s Haley on the idea of the players must produce now:

“What I’ve been telling these guys from day one, and that includes just now when we ended practice, is we need you now; we don’t need you tomorrow, we don’t need you next week, we don’t need you next year. In my mind I want to put the best team out there every week, whatever that is.”

So does that mean Haley has turned into a modern day George Allen, who as a head coach of the Rams and Redskins lived by the motto that “the future is now”?

Here’s what Haley had to say about that:

  …Read More!

Roster Tidbits … Labor Day Cup O’Chiefs

One of the best parts of getting to hang around pro football teams for 30-plus years is the collection of stories that can be found in every locker room, in every season.

NFL players don’t just come from one part of the country. There are not physical, mental or emotional templates when it comes to reaching the highest level of the game. Pull together 53 men and there’s no way that diversity doesn’t dominate the discussion.

There are big city guys working next to farm boys. It’s black and white together. There are smart guys, with high IQs and not so smart guys who have trouble functioning in the world. There are really big guys, and really little guys.

And every year, the deck of roster cards gets shuffled again. No team stays the same from year to year; the only constant in the league is change. As teams begin to lock down their regular season rosters, the group of men they pull together tells a new story of themselves and what the team might be in the 16 weeks ahead.

Like the Chiefs and their 53-man roster that didn’t go 24 hours without changing. They claimed NT Anthony Toribio off the waiver wire from Green Bay. To create a spot on the roster, WR Quinten Lawrence was released. More changes may come down this week, and certainly there’s a chance that more could come after the first game.

The rosters of struggling and rebuilding football teams are always very fluid, but we enjoyed a sunny Sunday afternoon picking apart the 2010 Chiefs roster and finding out more about the second edition of Pioli/Haley football. Here are the facts; I’ll let you decide what type of picture it paints.   …Read More!

The Not-So Final Roster … Sunday Cup O’Chiefs

There are a half-dozen or so players that went to bed last night, members of the 2010 Kansas City Chiefs, who may find their station in life changed by the end of business on Sunday.

They need to remember the mantras of all NFL players, other than the upper echelon of the league – rent, don’t buy.

Like all the other NFL teams, the Chiefs got their roster pared down to 53 players on Saturday. Among the decisions were some moves that could be called surprises, others that were obvious. How the roster looks on this Sunday does not necessarily mean it will look the same a week from now when Todd Haley holds his final practice to get ready for the regular-season opener against the Chargers.

Until then, here’s how the pieces came together for the first version of the final roster and what might change from there.


It’s not out of line to think that a team that won only four games last year, and just 10 in the last three years, would have a big roster turnover every season. It only seems natural that the franchise would be plowing the field over and over each year until they found the right bodies.

That’s what makes it a bit unusual that there are just 14 players on the roster right now that were not with the team last year in some form, whether active roster or practice squad:   …Read More!

A Guess On The 53 … Saturday Cup O’Roster

OK, the Chiefs got the jump on me and sliced seven players off the 53-man roster Friday night.

I was all set to give you my prediction on the 53-man roster as it would look early Saturday evening after the NFL deadline.

With seven gone, that means there are 15 more moves that must be made for the Chiefs to reach that league mandated number. There’s also the chance they could go lower, because they’ve already got their eye on somebody who popped up on the waiver wire on Friday. Todd Haley calls it last chance shopping.

I’m not big on mock drafts and I’m just as ambivalent on mock rosters. If I had all the answers, I would be hiding out in some fancy NFL front office, making sure I got all the credit and somebody else took the blame.

So rather than give you my 53, I’m going to give you the next 15 roster moves. Remember, this is opinion. Anybody in the media that says they have inside information is either a.) lying or b.) will soon be shot … you know one of those if I tell you the information, then I have to kill you type of things.

Anyway, here goes and remember please, no wagering: …Read More!

Finishing With The Offense … Thursday Cup O’Chiefs

When it’s a team that does not win many games, no matter when they are scheduled, every opportunity to score a victory is important.

So it is with the Chiefs on Thursday night, when they host the Green Bay Packers at Arrowhead Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. and the local TV blackout has been lifted.

Nothing gets forgotten faster than the outcome of the final pre-season game. But it’s an important night for a handful of players that were trying to earn their spot on the roster. By 5 p.m. on Saturday, the Chiefs like the rest of the NFL, must have its roster down to 53 players.

Over two days we are providing the lay of the roster land, or at least the look from our eyes after watching every practice of the pre-season and every play of three exhibition games. Today is the offense and here’s the defense. There are three different levels in our guess work evaluations:

  • RED means they are a lock to make the roster.
  • BLACK means they are sitting in a good position.
  • BLUE means they are on the bubble.

Here’s the offensive side of the roster. With each position are the range of spots that group should have on the final roster. I’ve also listed the players at each position in a ranking of where I think they stand within the group. …Read More!

Starting With The Defense … Wednesday Cup O’Chiefs

The clock is ticking on the start of the 2010 Chiefs season.

The team will have a walkthrough practice on Wednesday, play the Packers on Thursday at Arrowhead Stadium and then face the job of taking a 75-man roster down to 53 spots. They must get that done by 5 o’clock on Saturday afternoon.

Today, there are probably 45 of the 53 spots that the coaching staff can fill without much discussion. Every team hopes the last eight or 10 spots on the roster will generate a lot of internal debates, because that’s an indication of the competition that’s gone down in the pre-season.

As Scott Pioli and Todd Haley and their staffs get together and start slicing and dicing the roster, injuries will play a factor. Essentially most teams fill out the 53 slots with 25 on offense, 25 on defense and three specialists. But some key injuries can tilt the distribution of the numbers without that 25 or even force taking a spot or two form offense to help the defense or vice-a-versa.

Over the next two days we are going to provide the lay of the roster land, or at least the look from our eyes after watching every practice of the pre-season and every play of three exhibition games. Coming today is the defense and there are three different levels in our guess work evaluations:

  • RED means they are a lock to make the roster.
  • BLACK means they are sitting in a good position.
  • BLUE means they are on the bubble.

Here’s the defensive side of the roster; Thursday we will bring you the offensive side. …Read More!

Berry’s Confidence Grows … Tuesday Cup O’Chiefs

From the Truman Sports Complex

It’s a moment that is part of every rookie’s initiation into the National Football League.

Call it the AW S&@T! moment.

That’s when a rookie realizes, usually at the last instant, that he’s been had. Whether it was play action by the quarterback that had him biting on the fake handoff, or the double move by the tight end who doesn’t do double moves, all the sudden he’s out of position. That’s never good for a defensive player, most especially a safety.

Eric Berry says he hasn’t had his AW S&@T! moment yet.

“Not in a game, but I’ve had a few in practices,” Berry said Monday with a smile. “I’m sure coach (Emmitt) Thomas can give you the details. I try to forget them.”

As the team’s first draft choice and the fifth player selected in the 2010 NFL Draft, Berry has come to understand there are a lot of eyes on him. When that time comes in a game, when a good fake has him jumping and pulled out of position, everybody will notice.

His goal is to make sure that moment doesn’t come. Not as a rookie and not in the future. Like the perfect game every player seeks but never holds in his hand, a safety without an AW S&@T! moment is a safety that hasn’t played many games. …Read More!

How Much Is Too Much For Dex? … Monday Cup O’Chiefs

From the Truman Sports Complex

From the moment he first stepped on the field in the rookie mini-camp, it was apparent that Dexter McCluster was something different, a player with abilities unlike anybody else on the Chiefs roster.

Since then, he’s done nothing to dispel that notion. Whether it’s lining up at wide receiver, or the slot receiver, or the wing back, or the single back, or the halfback in a two-back set, or as the Wildcat QB, or returning punts, or returning kickoffs … whatever he’s been asked to do, McCluster has done it.

“It’s not too much, it really isn’t,” McCluster said after he finished the game against the Eagles with 16 touches – eight runs, three catches, two punt returns and three kick returns. He produced 177 yards or more than 10 yards every time he touched the ball. Another 23 yards was wiped out by a penalty, or he would have had 200 total yards.

“I don’t think they are going to give me anything more than I can handle and I can handle whatever they give me and more,” McCluster said. “They haven’t gotten close to wearing me out.”

That’s a cocky statement that was said in the least cocky manner imaginable. At 5-8, 180 pounds McCluster is one of the smallest players in the NFL. But like all little men who survive to play in pro football, his pride and belief in his abilities is huge. When nobody else believes, they always do. That’s what keeps them going.   …Read More!

Forget Pretty, Just Win … Sunday Cup O’Chiefs

“I don’t think there are going to be many pretty ones.”

Those were the words of Chiefs head coach Todd Haley, and he wasn’t talking about the fans sitting in the stands at Arrowhead Stadium.

He was talking about the games his football team will play in the 2010 season.

“If you are expecting it to be pretty fancy, flashy, dashing, daring, any of that stuff, it’s probably not going to be like that for a little while,” Haley added.

I think it’s safe to say that the die-hard Chiefs fans that are left out there could fill Haley in on a lot of ugly games and outcomes that have come down in the last four years. Nobody that holds the red and gold close to their hearts cares right now about how fancy or good looking their team might be.

They just want victories, and they don’t care if they come with warts, pimples or scabs. Haley feels the same way, and you can bet the Hunt Family, Scott Pioli and every person in the locker room wouldn’t care a whit about winning ugly.

Take for instance Friday night’s game, won with a last-minute touchdown by the Eagles, 20-17. Philadelphia was one of the most successful teams of the past decade in the NFL, winning 103 regular season games and made the playoffs eight times. But in the last two minutes of the game, when the Eagles offense went 80 yards on eight plays, they were not led by grizzled veterans of the Philly success story. …Read More!

A Team To Copy … Friday Cup O’Chiefs

It’s just a pre-season game, one of four the Chiefs will play this year. Winner and loser will be forgotten quickly as both teams move on to the regular season and the games that count.

But when the Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles meet Friday night at Arrowhead Stadium, fans of the red and gold will get to see their team, and a visiting team that their guys hope to emulate in this rebuilding process.

Kickoff is 7 o’clock and despite the non-sellout, the local TV blackout was lifted and can be seen on various stations throughout the Midwest. We will have complete coverage of the game late Friday evening/early Saturday morning.

Andy Reid (right) brings his Eagles into town with a new starting quarterback in Kevin Kolb, a new featured running back in LeSean McCoy and a host of talented offensive and defensive players, including former Mizzou WR Jeremy Maclin.

Under Reid’s direction over the last 12 years, the Eagles have become one of the NFL’s measuring sticks. Despite the fact they have not won a Super Bowl, only two other teams won as many regular season games in the last decade as the 103 pulled down by Philadelphia. In the 2000s, only one other team went to the playoffs as often as the Eagles.

Those are the kind of numbers that the Chiefs produced in the 1990s under Carl Peterson and Marty Schottenheimer. In today’s NFL, it’s one of the hardest things to do, sustaining excellence for a long period of time. Change is the only constant in the league and understanding and dealing with that dynamic is incredibly difficult. The Chiefs were able to get it done for 10 seasons, but since then their record in the last decade ranged from 13-3 to 2-14, with only two post-season appearances. …Read More!

Honoring History … Thursday Cup O’Chiefs

From Arrowhead Stadium

One can only hope that those who currently coach and play for the Kansas City Chiefs will achieve enough in their careers wearing the red and gold that they can be part of the team’s Hall of Honor.

The Chiefs officially opened the Hall of Honor on Thursday evening, with the mandatory speeches, dignitaries and Hall of Famers checking out the extensive displays and memorabilia of the Dallas Texas/American Football League/Kansas City Chiefs.

Pictures, audio, video and display cases are filled with information and mementoes of the team’s rich 50-season history.

While noting that Arrowhead was the first NFL stadium to provide fans with instant replay inside the stadium, Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt spoke with pride of the memory replays that are throughout the Hall of Honor.

And there is plenty of attention paid to Lamar Hunt and his football creation, the American Football League. In fact, under the direction of team historian Bob Moore, there is probably more attention paid to the AFL and the roots of that league than even at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

  …Read More!

Who Gets To Play? … Wednesday Cup O’Chiefs

The question was put to Todd Haley during his daily inquisition with the media horde:

How much do you consider Wallace Gilberry’s contract vs. what Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson make when it comes to playing time?

One of the site’s intrepid readers had e-mailed me a similar question just a week ago. He wondered how Gilberry (right), a guy who always seems to make plays, can’t get on the field more than Dorsey and Jackson who don’t seem to be involved in as many plays. He wondered whether that was because of the money they were being paid.

I had marked the e-mail so I wouldn’t forget it and then promptly … forgot it.

I thought I knew how Haley would answer the question and he did not disappoint. “Zero” is the consideration he gives to a player’s contract when it comes to parceling out playing time and starting positions.

“Once they enter the building it is who gives us the best chance to win,” said Haley. “I have been in other situations and other jobs where you are supported by the people who ultimately make the final decision and we have done that in a bunch of different places and that is the way that everyone in this building knows that it works. I would say zero (effect) in that way.”

Are you buying it? Do you think money plays no part in who plays in the NFL? …Read More!

Battling For Improvement … Tuesday Cup O’Chiefs

From the Truman Sports Complex

It happens between 12 and 15 times every Chiefs practice, and when it happens it comes with its own sound effects of two men grunting, pads crunching, heavy breathing and hand-to-hand fighting. It’s better than any of those cartoons where giant robots or space aliens fight with each other.

It’s Branden Albert on offense, and Tamba Hali (left) on defense. A pair of former first-round picks for the Chiefs Albert and Hali are frequent combatants during practice, whether those workouts went down in St. Joseph for three weeks of training camp, or back at their facility for another three weeks of practice before they open the 2010 regular season.

Sometimes it’s in one-on-one blocking drills for the running game, or one-on-one matchups in pass rush and pass protection. Most of the time they crash into each other comes during teamwork portions of practices when the No. 1 offense takes on the No. 1 defense.

“It’s just guys trying to get better so we can help our team win” is how Albert described the matchup that goes down in practice.

Sadly, that’s about all the words we’ll hear from either player about their battles.

  …Read More!

NFL Springs Leak … Monday Cup O’Chiefs

The National Football League has a problem.

OK, it has more than just one, but professional football has finally banged its head against an economic ceiling. The real world has intruded into the NFL and its bank accounts and revenue streams.

People have said “enough.”

If you doubt me, then consider this number – 30,413.

Saturday evening at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa the Chiefs and Buccaneers played a pre-season game. The paid attendance was announced by the Bucs as 41,386 fans. That alone was a joke. Anyone who was there knew that number had no relationship with the number of actual butts in actual seats.

That number, the total of people who walked through the turnstiles was – 30,413.

It was the smallest crowd of pre-season Week No. 2, but there were other games that drew something less than sellouts. Up in Toronto, the Buffalo Bills took their game against the Indianapolis Colts to the Rogers Center. Announced paid attendance was 39,583. There were 55,702 fans inside Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati. Up the road in Cleveland, 58,250 fans paid to see the Browns. Both numbers were far less than the capacity of either stadium.

There was a time when the NFL would wake up every morning and be millions of dollars richer than when it went to bed. It was the golden goose of professional sports, dropping golden eggs on everything that it touched. …Read More!

Improving The Improved … Saturday Cup O’Chiefs

From Tampa, Florida

Let me take you back over 30 years to a quiet Monday morning in October. Walking into the little kitchen area that the Pittsburgh Steelers had as part of their offices in Three Rivers Stadium, I ran into Chuck Noll.

He was sitting at a small table with a cup of coffee and he looked worn out, tired and sleep deprived. The Steelers had won the day before, beating I can’t remember who in I can’t remember what season, either 1978 or 1979.

Noll was never much for chitchat, especially with wet behind the ears sportswriters who barely knew if the ball was blown up or stuffed. He offered up a faint smile and a quiet morning greeting. I made mention of the fact that it was quite early and he looked very tired.

Noll grimaced at the suggestion. Over his shoulder as he was walking out the door he said: “Young man just remember it’s harder to stay on top that it is to get to the top.”

Fast forward to Saturday and pre-season game No. 2 for the Chiefs. They are here in Tampa to take on the Buccaneers in a game that starts at 6:30 p.m. CDT.

I think about Chuck Noll’s words every time I think of Jamaal Charles, or hear head coach Todd Haley talk about Charles, or hear somebody in the media horde ask yet another question about Charles and why after his great season in 2009, he’s not the team’s starting halfback in 2010 training camp? I will think about those words tonight when Thomas Jones will get the RB start with the Chiefs offense, and then Charles will come in for his chance to work with the No.1 group. …Read More!

Camp Express Rides Out Of Town … Friday Cup O’Chiefs

From St. Joseph, Missouri

Adios St. Joe.

It’s been fun. Year No. 1 of the Chiefs return to Missouri for training camp went down with only a few visible hitches. The weather was too hot; it was dangerously warm for men running around in helmets and pads.

But the Chiefs overcame and adapted, as head coach Todd Haley tinkered with practice times and sites to help his players deal with the heat.

Many people around the Chiefs missed the north woods in River Falls, Wisconsin, where camp had gone down for 19 years. I missed the people, the weather and the cheese curds. The Falls was a wonderful place to spend several weeks every summer.

But bringing the team closer to home for training camp was the right move by the Chiefs. Just as it was the right move to head north 20 years ago by packing up the trucks and heading to Wisconsin. At that time, Carl Peterson and Marty Schottenheimer decided two things were very important to prepare their team for the season – cooler weather and more competition. At the time they first landed in Wisconsin, the state had the so-called Cheese League, with NFL teams training in La Crosse (Saints), Stevens Point (Jaguars), Platteville (Bears) Green Bay (Packers) and Mankato, MN (Vikings.) There were numerous practice and scrimmage possibilities. …Read More!

Just A Little Bit Better … Thursday Cup O’Chiefs

From St. Joseph, Missouri

If Todd Haley has said it once, he’s said it 100 times since the Chiefs arrived on the campus of Missouri Western State University.

“We just need to get a little bit better every day.”

A little bit better? Why not a lot better every day? Long suffering Chiefs fans want this football team to improve and they want it done yesterday.

Haley feels their pain; he’s impatient too.

But it’s easier to want immediate 100 percent improvement than it is to get done. Better to keep the carrot closer and within reach on a daily basis. That provides positive reinforcement rather than the sense that the bigger goal is so far away.

CB Maurice Leggett learned that approach in college at Valdosta State. It was something he first heard from coach James Colzie, who is now the assistant head coach at Valdosta. He told his players they needed to get two percent better every day. Not 10 percent, not 50 percent, but two percent.

In a week that would be 14 percent better, in less than two weeks that would be 25 percent better.

“It forced you to think about the little things and how you had to get those done to keep improving and progressing,” Leggett said. “If you start trying to improve everything all at once, the little things get lost and forgotten and it won’t be real improvement.”

Leggett heard that two percent rule many times while at Valdosta. And, he heard it over the first weeks of training camp because Coach Colzie served as a minority intern for the Chiefs coaching staff. He worked with the team through the pre-season opener in Atlanta before returning to Valdosta for pre-season practice.

“He mentioned it a few times while he was here,” Leggett said. “I’ve been hearing a lot of that.” …Read More!

No Patty Cake Here … Wednesday Cup O’Chiefs

From St. Joseph, Missouri

The sounds of football in August have always had a special timber. It’s the crunching of pads as protected bodies hit each other. It’s the whistles and the exhortations of the coaches doing their best to move their charges down the road of improvement and production.

And for decades, those sounds would come twice a day, as players living in tiny rooms in a college dormitory would put the rest of their lives on hold to get up and run into somebody, and then do it again later in the afternoon.

Those are the sounds and moments of old-school football. Like much of the world of sports these days, the old-time concepts seem to be dying away. The chain that links generations of football coaches is regularly broken. The new coaching school has chased two-a-days into the history books. They do not use shoulder pads in any of their practices.

There’s no need for that type of protection, because those training camps are not built on having bodies bang into each other on a daily basis, let alone twice daily for several weeks.

Here on the campus of Missouri Western State University the Chiefs are holding an old-school training camp. There are shoulder pads, there are two-a-days, and there is contact, a lot of contact. I’ve been to the last 30 Chiefs training camps and I can assure you that few of those have had more contact. There were practices back in the Marty Schottenheimer decade where they got after it. Same with Dick Vermeil’s time and even under Herm Edwards.

But none of those coaches pushed the competitive level as high as Todd Haley does on a daily basis. How can one of the youngest head coaches in the league stage a training camp as physical and tough as the two that have gone down under him.

Why? …Read More!

Injury Talk Heating Up … Tuesday Cup O’Chiefs

From St. Joseph, Missouri

As I’m sure you are well aware of by now, the Chiefs do not talk about injuries in training camp and the pre-season. There are no NFL rules that require them to reveal any details, so they do not. In his daily media briefings at this time of the year, Todd Haley won’t even acknowledge that a player is hurting and not practicing.

It’s silliness at this point of the year, but it is what it is. That leaves those of us watching this team practice on a daily basis guessing at the physical state of some players. Although some of my compadres in the media horde don’t mind guessing on a daily basis, I don’t like it.

But it is what it is. There are players who are injured. They aren’t practicing and it’s the type of news that all Chiefs fans want available to them. We don’t want to see x-rays or the results of tests. We just want somebody to confirm that we really did see RG Ryan Lilja over in the rehab area.

This all bubbles to the top this week because after a pretty quiet camp when it came to injuries of note, Monday was a busy day in the training room. By the end of the afternoon practice the Chiefs were down 10 players because of various physical problems.

There’s a big injury bubble right now on the offensive line. There are 14 blockers on the roster and by the end of the Monday practice only 10 were available. One of those men practicing was rookie Jon Asamoah, who more than likely shouldn’t have been because of a left ankle injury that he suffered in Atlanta. When the team was heading for the buses that took them to the movies on Monday morning, his left ankle was heavily wrapped and he walked with a limp.

He walked with a limp again during practice, but he was out there and he was working. The third-round pick has already learned the difference between being hurt and being injured. …Read More!

Working On The “D” … Monday Cup O’Chiefs

From St. Joseph, Missouri

There is one game left in the first full weekend of NFL pre-season action. After 15 games that are already in the books, the Chiefs defense is ranked sixth in yards allowed, giving up 244 yards to the Falcons in Atlanta on Friday night.


Ponder that for a moment. The defense that finished 30th in yards allowed last year has begun the Romeo Crennel Era ranked behind only Minnesota, Tampa bay, San Diego, Carolina and San Francisco.

OK, I know it’s the middle of August, it’s a pre-season game and there was nothing on the line. But a girl can dream can’t she? It may sound like a broken record on these posts but your humble scribe believes that no team wins a division, conference or Super Bowl without playing very good defense. That’s just a fact of NFL life.

Yes it’s the golden age of offensive football, with the passing game ruling the roost and quarterbacks and receivers re-writing record books on a weekly basis. But the foundation of 99.9 percent of championship teams is going to be its defense.

It’s been a long time since the Chiefs have played defense the way it needs to be played to help them win. We’ve gone over the numbers before and you can find some of them here in this post. We won’t hit you over the head again.

And we certainly will not hang the red arrowhead helmet on the performance of the Chiefs defense against the Falcons. Not when the first team got shoved around in the first quarter the way it did.

But Crennel has to start somewhere and heck, allowing just 244 yards in offense is a good a place as any to begin. …Read More!

Time To Smarten Up … Sunday Cup O’Chiefs

When a team does not have the level of talent that comes close to matching the best teams in its league, does that mean their season is a waste of time?

Hardly. The best talent does not always win. There are ways to make up the deficiency in playing ability. One of those is to play smart football.

Coaches define “smart” football in different ways, but they all tend to come back to the same collection of actions and reactions. Because everyone in the game of football knows how significant turnovers are to the outcome of games, smart teams take care of the ball and force opponents to give it away.

Smart teams do not take penalties before the snap of the ball. On offense that’s false starts, illegal motions, illegal shifts, illegal formations, illegal illegals, delay of game. On defense that’s offsides, encroachment, 12-men on the field and on special teams that’s not sending the kickoff out of bounds, or having extra people on the field, or roughing the kicker.

A team that plays smart football always understands down and distance two of the most important statistics on any play in the game. Without knowing what the down and distance to a first down are, a player does not have a firm grasp on that particular situation. Smart football players always know where they are on the field, what time there might be on the clock to deal with and they know the things they should and should not do at that moment.

Playing smart football is not something the Chiefs did on Friday night in Atlanta. …Read More!

A Berry Homecoming … Friday Cup O’Chiefs

From Atlanta, Georgia

If this were a regular season weekend in the NFL, the game between the Chiefs and Falcons on Friday night at the Georgia Dome would be rife with good story lines.

There’s future Hall of Fame TE Tony Gonzalez going against his former team. There would be Hall of Famer Emmitt Thomas returning to the city where he spent the previous eight seasons as part of the Falcons coaching staff. There’s the first meeting between teams put together by Scott Pioli and Thomas Dimitroff; it was with New England where Dimitroff was part of the Pioli staff with the Patriots. And there are a host of geographical connections, especially with first-round draft choice S Eric Berry returning home to play in his first NFL game.

Yes, those story lines are still there, but with the kickoff at 7 p.m. CDT, it’s just the first of four games that do not register in the final accounting of the 2010 season. If Gonzalez plays long enough to catch a pass, it won’t be the 1,000th catch of his career. As much as Thomas will enjoy his return to the ATL, it’s not going to be the type of game where he’s seeking revenge.

But there’s a lot on the line in this game. It’s the first of four weekends where the Chiefs have a chance to improve, to see how many good players they have and to push along the process of learning how to win. …Read More!

Updating The QBs … Thursday Cup O’Chiefs

From St. Joseph, Missouri

The words flying out of the mouth of Charlie Weis this week certainly had to give some people pause.

“… the first thing I wanted to do was help fix the quarterback.”

Weis was speaking of Matt Cassel, but eventually he would include Brodie Croyle and Tyler Palko in the conversation about fixing quarterbacks.

Yes, quarterback. There’s no running away from how important the position is for any football team, and especially one that’s trying to climb out of the bottom of the NFL barrel. Even before he was wearing a brace on his knee, walking with the help of a cane and using a scooter to get around, Weis wasn’t the type of coach that would tiptoe around an issue.

In this case it’s the quarterback position and it holds the key to the Chiefs 2010 season.

“If the quarterback plays better, usually the team plays better,” Weis said. “You sit there and say that about the offensive line and others, but think about it, there are only two players on offense that have the ball in their hands on every play and that is the center and the quarterback. They are the guys that can do the most help and are also the guys that can do the most harm.”

Since the retirement of Hall of Fame quarterback Len Dawson after the 1975 season, many men have tried to become the new Dawson. None have succeeded. There have been 23 men that have started games in those 34 seasons, ranging from Adams to Vlasic, with plenty of stops in between. There were passers who put up some nice numbers like Bill Kenney, Joe Montana and Trent Green. None could replace “Lenny the Cool.”

Cassel, Croyle and Palko are on deck now. Combined they have 12 years of experience in the NFL. That makes them one of the least experienced quarterback groups currently in the league. There are six other teams that have quarterbacks on the roster with fewer years in the league: Carolina (5), Tampa Bay (7), Chicago (8), Green Bay and Denver (10) and Arizona (11). …Read More!

Fixing A Problem … Wednesday Cup O’Chiefs

From St. Joseph, Missouri

One would have a tough time finding two contract situations in the NFL more different than that of New York Jets CB Darrelle Revis and the unattached FS Jarrad Page.

One has a contract and is violating it, withholding his services from the team that holds his rights for the next three years. The other is without a contract, but the team that holds his rights is withholding his ability to seek new employment and can continue to do so for the rest of this year and beyond.

Revis is a Pro Bowler, maybe the most talented cornerback in the NFL these days, who played on a team that went to the AFC Championship Game last season. He’s part of the No. 1 defense in the league over the 2009 season. Page is an average safety, who in four seasons played in a first-round game in the playoffs as a rookie and never smelled the post-season again. Until last year he was a starter on what were very bad NFL defenses.

What they share is this: they both want money and freedom. Essentially in the world of sports, freedom leads to money. That’s why the term free agent is one of the great misnomers in sports. The top free agents come at a price, and that’s anything but free. But it almost always requires freedom, or the threat of freedom. Athletes secure the big-money contracts only if there’s the presence or hint of freedom.

And that’s why I think in the current collective bargaining negotiations between NFL owners and players they should implement a ban on long-term contracts and restricted free agency. …Read More!

Brothers In Offense … Tuesday Cup O’Chiefs

From St. Joseph, Missouri

“This has been a very easy transition for me. I am so in tune with thinking like Todd (Haley). I couldn’t have picked a better situation.”

Charlie Weis stood in the shade of a tent just off the practice field at Missouri Western State University and faced the media music. When he uttered the words above, some of the dozen or so press people clucked to themselves. They don’t believe Weis’ words. They think it’s only a matter of time before Weis starts thrashing about under the weight of the head coach’s personality.

Hired back in February as offensive coordinator, Weis made an appearance then with his new boss and two other hires, defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel and secondary coach Emmitt Thomas. Then he went into his offensive cave and was not seen again until the off-season program and then the start of training camp.

Understand that Weis can handle a group of media about as well as any coach in the NFL, whether they are head coaches, coordinators or assistants. He knows what to say. He knows what not to say. A guy doesn’t spend five years facing the media horde at Notre Dame University without developing some skills and a thick hide.

But living through that experience also doesn’t have a guy like Weis running to chit-chat with any scribbler, tin-throated sports talk yakker or TV hairdo that comes through the door. Oh, that goes for Internet wretches as well. …Read More!

Question Mark No. 1 … Monday Cup O’Chiefs

From St. Joseph, Missouri

Sometimes when you look at a football team and its numbers, there are moments where they do not mesh, where one number next to another leaves you scratching your head for a rational explanation of what’s happened.

Take the Chiefs defense, please. Sorry couldn’t resist the Henny Youngman moment! (For the kids, here’s a link to who Henny was.)

Last year they were the eighth ranked defense in the NFL when it came to possessions where the opposing offense went three plays and out. They faced 201 offensive possessions and the opponent punted after three plays 49 times. That’s right around 25 percent of the time.

That ranked the Chiefs defense at the top half of the league with the likes of the New York Jets, Minnesota and Pittsburgh, some of the best defenses in the league. This was a very good stat. It was one of the few they were able to muster.

Here’s the flip side that doesn’t connect: the Chiefs had the worst defense in the NFL last year on 1st-and-10; they faced 430 such plays and allowed 2,878 yards, or 6.7 yards per first down play.

Do the math and that means after a 1st-and-10 play, the opponent had on average a 2nd-and-3 situation on the next play.

“We were either really, really good, or we were really, really bad,” said OLB Mike Vrabel. “We were high in the league in three and outs and that’s a good stat to have. But we had trouble in stopping the running game and sometimes we couldn’t get off the field.”

Head coach Todd Haley saw it the same way. “We were all or nothing,” Haley said. …Read More!

Scrimmage Redux … Sunday Cup O’Chiefs

From St. Joseph, Missouri

First, it’s probably a misnomer to call what went down at Spratt Stadium on Saturday afternoon a scrimmage. The Chiefs weren’t really tackling and they weren’t allow to touch the quarterbacks and they didn’t always do things they would have automatically done in a real game.

For instance, when OLB Tamba Hali pulled up on a pass rush, you know it wasn’t a game or real scrimmage. Hali never stops when there’s real competition going on.

But the jazzed up practice presented Todd Haley and his coaching staff what they wanted and needed at this point in the pre-season. It ratcheted up the intensity and it provided players on the roster to show under “close” to game conditions how they are developing.

“When you start putting the coaches and all the other players on the sideline, it creates a different situation or a different comfort level than what they are used to from a daily practice schedule point of view,” said Haley. “We are looking for each individual, each position group then overall unit that on defense, offense and special teams to show that they are making progress.” …Read More!

Chiefs Hold Page Hostage … Saturday Cup O’Chiefs

From St. Joseph, Missouri

It was only a matter of time before it happened.

Jarrad Page and his agent/brother John have kept pretty quiet over the last six months about the safety’s status with the Chiefs.

But when you’ve been ignored and your football career is being held hostage, eventually you are going to get loud.

That’s what went down on Friday as brother Page issued an e-mail and then went on 610am to talk with host Nick Wright.

Essentially the outburst went like this – Todd Haley mishandled Page from the start last season, turning off the player to the point that he asked to be traded last August … there is legitimate interest in Page from other teams, but the Chiefs are not allowing a trade to happen … Scott Pioli won’t call them back to talk about the situation … an earlier trade request in June was ignored and never brought a response … the Chiefs are being vindictive.

The Page’s game plan is obvious: they are trying to provoke a response and have the Chiefs release their rights to Page. They want it to happen now, when he can find a job with another team and have a chance to play in the 2010 season.

At this point there is absolutely no reason for Pioli/Haley to hold on to Page’s rights. He doesn’t figure in their plan for 2010. He never did. They are going to end up releasing him anyway if they can’t make a deal. They simply are trying to make an example of him. …Read More!

Week One Is Done … Friday Cup O’Chiefs

From St. Joseph, Missouri

The Chiefs return to Missouri for training camp is now one week and nine practices old at Missouri Western State University.

In this short period of time, much has happened with Todd Haley (above), his coaches and players. They have taken the first steps of preparing for the 2010 season, and beginning the process of slicing 27 players from the roster before the Monday nighter that kicks off the regular season.

Coverage of this camp from the Kansas City media has been extensive, with TV, radio, newspapers and Internet sites spending a lot of time reporting on what’s going down on the practice fields. There have also been big crowds eyeballing the Chiefs as they went through their workouts. Both are pretty unusual for the team at this time of the year because the crowds among media and fans were not at these levels while the team was in Wisconsin.

Too often the media and fans are taking snapshots from practices and turning them into a feature film. Making evaluations on a player from his performance in one practice or one drill doesn’t provide any perspective on the training camp picture or the type of camp the player is having, or his position in the big picture of the team.

On Thursday, the guy who was suddenly a training camp bum was CB Brandon Carr. …Read More!

A Star In The Making … Thursday Cup O’Chiefs

From St. Joseph, Missouri

Dexter McCluster took the handoff at the running back position and moved towards the left side of the Chiefs offensive formation. This went down during the team’s Wednesday night practice at Spratt Stadium and Missouri Western State University.

The offensive line pushed the defensive front to the left. McCluster stopped, planted his foot in the artificial turf and then burst through the backside of the play. It happened so quickly and so fast that in a blink, he was 15 yards down the field. It was one of those zone blocking plays that the Denver Broncos used to kill the Chiefs with time after time.

This time, however, the guy carrying the ball was wearing a red helmet.

Dexter McCluster is going to become the new star of the Chiefs. He showed the 8,000-plus fans that were on campus last night how he will make them stand up and scream when the 2010 Chiefs start playing games in September.

It’s his speed, his quickness, his moves and his seeming fearless approach to toting the ball. When he runs, it is like the cartoon Road Runner – his legs are churning so fast they are a blur, while his upper body seems stable, with no wasted motion.

With his dreadlocks flowing out of the back of his helmet, he’s a treat to watch. …Read More!

Camp Grab Bag … Wednesday Cup O’Chiefs

From St. Joseph, Missouri

The Chiefs are getting ready to run up on the completion of their first week of training camp. There has been a lot going on, both in public and behind the scenes. With 80 players in the dorms, and another 80 or so people on campus to directly help the team, there are a lot of stories in the air.

Then add the weather that just scorching hot on Tuesday afternoon, leaving guys like DT Shaun Smith (left) using anything handy to wipe up the sweat.

Sometimes things get passed over because of the wealth of opportunities. We’ll attempt to provide some answers, forward some information and milk some different areas of training camp.


Basically because it does not sound like head coach Todd Haley finds that sort of work useful. Last year for one of the few times in the 19 years that the Chiefs were in River Falls they did not work against the Vikings. …Read More!

D.J.’s Last Stand? … Tuesday Cup O’Chiefs

From St. Joseph, Missouri

“I was drafted in the first round to make plays.”

A simple declarative statement by one Derrick O’Hara Johnson, Chiefs linebacker, former No. 1 draft choice and a young man who understands the time is now for him to fulfill the potential he’s carried through five seasons as a pro football linebacker.

Sometimes players enter the NFL and then pass out the back door of the league and never quite understand what their role was supposed to be with their team. That’s currently not the case with Johnson. He was drafted to make plays, big plays and a lot of them. That’s all very clear to him as he enters what is essentially the make-or-break season of his career.

The change in the labor situation left Johnson with few options after his disappointing 2009 season. Despite having five seasons in the league, he remained a restricted free agent when the owners took an early opt out on the collective bargaining agreement and the threshold for being an unrestricted free agent rose from four to six years. He signed the tender offer made to him by the Chiefs and will get $2,621,000 this season, so there’s no “woe is him” for D.J.

Next year, will be his chance for a big pay day. But to get that from the Chiefs or another team in the league, Johnson has “to make plays.” …Read More!

Making It Through The Weekend … Monday Cup O’Chiefs

From St. Joseph, Missouri

The first weekend of the NFL season is in the books all 32 teams were in training camp at the close of business on Sunday night.

Some teams will get their first practice done on Monday. The Chiefs will have their fifth and sixth workouts by the time dinner is served Monday evening at Blum Hall. By then Tamba Hali (left) will be drinking a lot more Gatorade.

Four workouts over the weekend gave everyone a first peak at the 2010 Chiefs. What can we tell from the weekend? When it comes to organization, to knowing what to do, to the general operation of every practice, it’s a night and day difference from last season.

When it comes to executing the plays designed by head coach Todd Haley and Charlie Weis and the defenses of Romeo Crennel, well things are little more ragged. That was especially so on Sunday afternoon when there was a bit of a roller coaster going on during the practice of two hours plus. It was just the kind of afternoon the head coach does not like, which might be why his voice was heard for the first time flowing across the dual fields at Missouri Western State University.

“I want guys to be the same guy every day,” Haley said. “Regardless of the amount of pressure, what type of practice it is, whether it’s a game, a Friday, a Thursday, whatever day it is, you want the same guys every day.”

Training camp can very quickly become Groundhog’s Day, where like the movie featuring Bill Murray every day seems to be the same. Actually, that’s the way the actual town of the groundhog, Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania is as well. But I digress …

It is far too early to make any sort of major pronouncements on the ’10 Chiefs. At times they appear more advanced than at any point last year. At other times, they seem to struggle with aspects of the offense and defense, which is pretty standard for a team just three days into camp.

Here are the observations of this observer, who watched every play in St. Joe and has the sunburn to prove it: …Read More!

Not Much Growl In Wildcat … Sunday Cup O’Chiefs

From St. Joseph, Missouri

As fads in the world of pro football come and go, the Wildcat has come and it’s making a slow exit out of the NFL. It’s unlikely to ever be gone completely, given the fact that plays where somebody other than the quarterback handles the ball or throws a pass have been part of the game for a hundred years.

While the Chiefs used a good portion of their Saturday morning practice working on plays from the Wildcat formation, it wasn’t because having the quarterback split wide and another player receiving the snap is going to be a regular part of the Kansas City offense.

Not with Todd Haley as head coach and Charlie Weis as offensive coordinator.

“We both come from the school of thought that you let the throwers throw, the catchers catch and the runners run,” Haley said on Saturday. “If you have a unique player, it can be useful.” …Read More!

Building Continues … Saturday Cup O’Chiefs

From St. Joseph, Missouri

It was the kind of day that Lamar Hunt would have loved, except for the part where he was the center of attention.

Friday morning at Arrowhead Stadium the Chiefs unveiled a nine-foot bronze statue of Hunt that will sit in what the team has called Founder’s Plaza on the north side of the revamped stadium.

Friday afternoon, the Chiefs kicked off their 2010 pre-season in their new home at Missouri Western State University. An afternoon thunderstorm did not deter the team or the 3,000+ fans that were on campus from enjoying the return of training camp football to the state of Missouri for the first time since 1990.

It was a day for an odd crossing of the swords within the franchise, as history and the future came together. The Chiefs that Hunt knew in his last years are gone. Long gone. While his statue will look over fans for many, many years as they enter Arrowhead, it’s interesting that his focus is pointed north, away from the stadium and looking out towards Parking Lot M and Kaufman Stadium.

The Chiefs are very much now Clark Hunt’s team. If there have been no changes in the ownership plan that was set in place over 20 years ago, Clark Hunt owns the same 24.5 percent that his sister and brothers possess. The rest of the team rests in Norma Hunt’s hands. But there’s no doubt he is running the show. While the revamped Arrowhead and a new in-state site for training camp were not ideas that he generated, Clark Hunt has carried and pushed the ball over the goal line in both cases.

But those are buildings. He’s done the same thing with the football team and that was never more evident than Friday with the start of training camp. There’s no question that Scott Pioli and Todd Haley are much closer to creating the type of organization they want than they were at any point last year. …Read More!

The Heat Is On … Friday Cup O’Chiefs

From St. Joseph, Missouri

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was a campus visitor here at Missouri Western State University on Thursday evening. He’ll be at Arrowhead Stadium Friday morning for the unveiling of the Lamar Hunt statue on the north side of the building, but he took the opportunity after flying into KCI to travel north to talk with the Chiefs players like QB Matt Cassel (right) who were enjoying their first hours in a new summer home.

“Just left Chiefs’ training camp. Very impressive. Fans will enjoy going out to watch practices,” is what Goodell posted on Twitter as he left St. Joe. He’s just the first of what figures to be thousands of visitors that will make their way up I-29 to see the team go through training camp practices.

Luckily for the Commish, he arrived after the sun went down and temperatures cooled a bit in St. Joe. When the Chiefs were checking into their rooms at Scanlon Hall on the Missouri Western campus, the sun was high in the sky, the temperatures were up and so was the humidity. It was a taste of what the Chiefs will get for the next three weeks as they roll through 22 practices in the morning, afternoon and evening.

There’s no question that weather will be a topic of conversation as the Chiefs have their first training camp in Missouri since 1990. As he stood talking to the media outside the team’s dorm Thursday afternoon, it didn’t take long for beads of perspiration to starting dribbling off the forehead of Brian Waters.

“I’m concerned as anybody else about the heat,” said Waters. “It definitely effects your performance on the football field the more you are in it. You have to be very smart.”

According to, the Chiefs camp here is the ninth hottest location for an NFL training camp. …Read More!

Time For Cassel To Shine … Thursday Cup O’Chiefs

The easiest way to win a Super Bowl is with a franchise quarterback. In the last decade titles were won by names like Brady, Brees, Manning (both Peyton and Eli) and Roethlisberger.

But in the 2000s, teams were able to win Super Bowls with quarterbacks that would never be considered among the best in the game. Tampa Bay won in 2002 with Brad Johnson leading the offense. In 2000, the guy handling the Baltimore offense with that great Ravens defense was Trent Dilfer, who had failed in his first NFL seasons with the Buccaneers.

The numbers from the last 10 years sound about right: it’s 60 percent tougher to win a championship without a franchise quarterback.

The Chiefs haven’t had a quarterback of the franchise stature since the retirement of Hall of Famer Len Dawson. Yes, Joe Montana was around for two years, but that was at the end of his Hall of Fame career and he was not the Super Bowl winning Joe Montana. Trent Green had five pretty darn good years and established his name in the team’s record book, but he didn’t reach the level of a Brady, Brees or Manning.

Can Matt Cassel be that man? …Read More!

Please, Less Kool-Aid … Tuesday Cup O’Chiefs

It’s been a remarkable turnaround in just a few months for the Kansas City Chiefs. There seems to have been a seismic shift in outlook for the franchise and the 2010 season.

Suddenly, the team coming off a 4-12 season, a club that has won 10 games in the last three seasons – the worst three-year stretch in franchise history – is now being talked about in terms of winning eight, nine, even 10 games.

The drinkers of “The Chiefs Are Really Improved Kool-Aid” say in year two of Pioli/Haley that the fortunes of the Hunt Family franchise have finally turned back to contender, back where the organization was for so many of the years between 1989 and 2006.

The glass is not just half-full these days among some fans, TV hairdos and sports talk yakkers. It’s overflowing. They have completely bought in to the new trio managing the team, that group includes chairman Clark Hunt who got this whole messy rebuilding started when he pulled the chain a year early on Carl Peterson.

Quite naturally it’s the time of year when all fans of all NFL teams hold hope that their favorite club can turn things around; that they can go from contender to champion, from pretender to contender or from bottom of the barrel to pretender status. That kind of enthusiasm is normal at this time of the year.

But let’s inject some reality here and let me ask these questions – just what have Pioli and Haley accomplished since they walked in the door in January-February 2009? Just how are the Chiefs a significantly better team, or a better organization? To win 10 games, they would have to be quite a bit improved from the teams that lost 38 of the last 48 games. …Read More!

The Good Old Days … Tuesday Cup O’Chiefs

“Training camp is like kissing an ugly girl. At first there’s a fear of the unknown, but once you get started it’s not so bad.”

 Hall of Fame TE Dave Casper

I wonder if we are seeing the last days of NFL teams kissing the ugly girl that is training camp.

More than half of the league no longer goes away for weeks of preparation for the regular season. There was a time when NFL teams would spend six weeks in training camp, but these days it’s hard to find any club that spends more than three weeks away from home. And 17 of the 32 clubs do not leave their own building.

Like so much else in our 21st Century world, the old methods are falling by the wayside. Going away to camp was once considered a vital part of not only preparing for a season, but creating an atmosphere of togetherness that is such a vital part of massaging 50 players into one team. There was the belief that having all the players living in a dorm, eating the same food, living the same schedule helped build the all-for-one, one-for-all attitude that is any successful team’s foundation.

But in these days of extensive off-season programs, so much of the work that used to be done in training camp is done in April, May and June. Players no longer go to camp to get into shape; that’s something that is expected to be taken care of long before arrival in late July. Team building is something that has to happen for 11 months a year. For instance, the first week of camp for the Chiefs will simply be a repeat of the practices they did at their rookie mini-camp and then repeated at their June mini-camp.

…Read More!

Training Camp Grab Bag … Monday Cup O’Chiefs

It’s finally here – the true start of the 2010 NFL season. It’s time for training camp.

Already camping as of Monday were the Cleveland Browns rookies, who started on Friday, the Dallas Cowboys who kicked off on Saturday and then on Sunday it was the San Diego and New England rookies. Opening the doors on Monday will be the Philadelphia and Baltimore rookies.

By the end of the week on Saturday afternoon the only teams not in camp will be the New York Jets veterans, the Indianapolis Colts and the New York Giants. They all begin on Sunday, August 1.

The Chiefs will congregate at Missouri Western State University on Thursday, learning the lay of the land and checking out the new facilities there. It’s all brand new for the Chiefs after spending the previous 19 years at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. The first practice is set for Friday afternoon.

The Chiefs remain one of the NFL teams that do not stay at its regular-season facility for training camp. This year, just more than half the league will not travel to camp – 17 out of 32 clubs. Of course, the Chiefs have moved far closer to home than they were in River Falls. It’s approximately 65 miles from the team’s facility at the Truman Sports Complex to campus.

Of the 15 teams that leave their facility, Dallas goes the longest trip, starting with two weeks in San Antonio (284 miles from the team’s headquarters and then Oxnard, CA for the final two weeks. Here are the numbers that show the growth of teams giving up the concept of going away to camp:

  …Read More!

From The Coaching Ranks #4 … Thursday Cup O’Chiefs

Sometimes it’s written down on a piece of paper and sitting in a desk drawer. In today’s world, there’s likely some on laptops or a Blackberry. A few are committed to memory.

But every general manager or owner in the NFL has one – a ready list for hiring his next head coach.

At some point in time, every NFL team is going to be out looking for a new man to fill their head coaching position. Some clubs tend to go for long periods of time with very few changes. The Steelers have had three head coaches in the last 42 years – Chuck Noll, Bill Cowher and Mike Tomlin. In that same time frame, the Baltimore/Indianapolis Colts have had 16 different head coaches. The San Diego Chargers and Atlanta Falcons counted 14 different men in charge.

A head coaching change will come to a majority of the league’s 32 teams in the next three years. As the NFL is set to begin another season, who are the likely names on the ready lists to become a head coach? We’ve limited our list to those men who are currently assistant coaches in the league, since the majority of current head coaches come from the coaching staff ranks. Guys like Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer (left). Only Tom Coughlin of the Giants, Mike Shanahan of the Redskins and Pete Carroll with the Seahawks did not move from a coordinator or assistant coach position into their current jobs.

Here’s one man’s opinion on the top 10 NFL assistants to keep your eyes on during this ’10 season and more importantly, once the GMs and owners pull out those ready lists. They are listed in alphabetical order:   …Read More!

From The Coaching Ranks #3 … Wednesday Cup O’Chiefs

Let’s say Minnesota Vikings head coach Brad Childress shows up for work one morning with an idea that he wants communicated to his football team. And let’s say that Childress wants this message delivered in personal fashion, one-on-one to highlight the importance of the situation.

All Childress would have to do is assign himself and each member of his coaching staff two players on his 53-man roster. He would have the whole team covered. That’s what can get done when a football team has a coaching staff of 26 men, so with NFL regular season rosters at that 53 number, there’s one coach for every two players.

No other team in the NFL in the 2010 season comes close to matching the size of Minnesota’s staff. Baltimore, Seattle and San Francisco each have 22-person coaching staffs.

At the other end of the spectrum New England, Cleveland and Dallas all three teams have coaching staffs numbering just 15 men.

Todd Haley and his Chiefs staff this year rank among the bottom half of the league in size with its 17 members. There are 21 of the 32 teams that have more coaches than the Hunt Family operation.

  …Read More!

The Coaching Ranks Part #2 … Tuesday Cup O’Chiefs

There’s one thing for certain that can be said for the coordinators that Todd Haley has collected for his 2010 Chiefs coaching staff – they’ve got plenty of rings.

The trio of Charlie Weis, Romeo Crennel and Steve Hoffman has coached in 13 Super Bowls and walked away with 12 championships. No other staff in the league comes close to matching those dozen titles among their coordinators.

What does that mean for the Chiefs? They have coaching staff leaders who have been there, done that at the highest level of the game. Discussion can be had on whether Weis and Crennel are products of the successful system of Bill Belichick. It’s the old chicken or egg question; were the Patriots so good because Belichick was the key decision maker, or did New England win because it had talented coaches on the staff like Weis and Crennel.

Last season, Hoffman led the most consistent and successful facet of the Chiefs game during the 2009 season. The kicking game had very few mistakes and developed a top kicking prospect in Ryan Succop.

There’s no doubt the Chiefs start the 2010 season next week with a significantly improved coaching staff, especially on the coordinator-level. Without a doubt, both Haley and GM Scott Pioli are hanging their football hats on the additions of Weis and Crennel making a big difference on their roster. …Read More!

The Coaching Ranks Part #1 … Monday Cup O’Chiefs

This week we are going to take a close look at the men who coach the game in the National Football League, from the head coaches to their staffs. Today, we begin with the guys on top, the head coaches.


It was an interesting weekend for Chiefs head coach Todd Haley.

As he finishes up his pre-training camp vacation, Haley took part in the American Century Golf Championship that was played at Lake Tahoe on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and broadcast by NBC. He was one of four NFL head coaches taking part in the tournament, joined by Jacksonville’s Jack Del Rio, Washington’s Mike Shanahan and Haley’s former boss out in Arizona, Ken Whisenhunt.

At the end of three rounds, Haley finished in a tie for 46th. He was behind Whisenhunt but ahead of both Del Rio and Shanahan.

Haley’s participation tells us one thing – he’s much more comfortable in his role as an NFL head coach who did not play the game on the high school, college or professional level.

Last year, Haley seldom referenced his career as a college golfer, or his years as a golf professional in the New York and Washington D.C. areas. He didn’t really have to because others frequently brought up the subject. That group included one of his players in RB Larry Johnson. Ultimately, it was not Johnson’s comments on the football resume of his head coach that got the running back fired by the Chiefs. But it didn’t help.

It’s a year later and Haley is comfortable enough in his position with the Chiefs that commentary on his golf game is not something that will bother him in the aftermath of his Lake Tahoe performance. Likely his final score in the celebrity field is what will bother him. But Haley is also experienced and reasonable enough in the game of golf to know that he couldn’t go out and challenge for first place. That’s not going to happen when a golfer can count on one hand the rounds he played in the last year.   …Read More!

An NFL Grab Bag … Weekend Cup O’Chiefs

Well guys, it’s been a really fun week bringing you the daily Cup O’Chiefs features and a very enlightening one as well.

Really, I don’t know how the heck our man Gretz has gone nearly 104 weeks (more or less, Bob?) putting these together – an incredible feat on his part. Trust me, if for some reason you get the feeling that you need to go through a humbling experience in your life, just reach Bob and ask him to do this for him. Your whole perspective of sports writing — and the effort that it requires — will be changed forever. For good that is. Nevertheless, I’ll also say that I wouldn’t trade the experience for the world.

And since I didn’t want to leave without covering a lot of ground in my last entry, please allow me to give you a tour around the NFL landscape. Enjoy.

The “Other” Player-Selection Format Brings A Couple Of New Faces To The League

The 2010 NFL Supplemental Draft came through and ultimately delivered the goods in the form of the two most-coveted players available.

First, let’s start with a familiar name, former Brigham Young RB Harvey Unga. And yes, so much for the Chiefs’ interest in him. Whether scared by additional revelations in Unga’s record, or simply wary of investing a future draft choice, the Red and Gold front office didn’t even put a bid on him.

  …Read More!

Chiefs Off-Season Grab Bag … Weekend Cup O’Chiefs

It will be three weeks from Friday when the Chiefs will step on the practice fields of Missouri Western State University for the first practice of 2010 training camp.

The scene around the football side of the Chiefs facility remained very quiet this past week as coaches and players are still scattered around the country either working out or resting up for the start of camp.

That doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty going on in the league. Here’s a grab bag of news and notes.


I know it must seem like football pundits like me are picking on Chiefs WR Dwayne Bowe. Let me assure you that I don’t go looking for Bowe news every week, but it seems to flow in nonetheless and almost always what comes is a statement or words that should never have left Bowe’s mouth.

Bowe popped up in Minneapolis on Thursday according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. He was there to take part in Larry Fitzgerald’s workout program. That’s Fitzgerald above on the left, talking with former All-Pro receiver Cris Carter, wearing the dark shirt.

Many of the league’s top pass catchers get together and work on their craft with Fitzgerald each summer. This is the first time Bowe has shown up. The sessions started on Tuesday, but Bowe did not get there until Thursday.

He admitted that he had taken 12 days off from workouts after he struggled in running 100-yard sprints with the other players. The group ran 14 100-yard dashes and then four 50-yarders.

“Can you imagine your first day coming back to 14 100s?” Bowe told the Star-Tribune. “Man, it was like college again. I’ve never done this intensive competing, conditioning and technique in one day.”

First, why in heavens name after all the work that Bowe put in as part of the Chiefs off-season program would he then sit on his ass for nearly two weeks without working out? Second, why was this the first time he did such intense “competing, conditioning and technique” work in one day?   …Read More!

Before LeBron Came Reggie … Thursday Cup O’Chiefs

The LeBron James Sweepstakes will come to a conclusion Thursday evening with a one-hour special broadcast on ESPN.

For those planning their evening, it will start at 8 p.m. CDT. Supposedly, James will announce his decision within the first 10 minutes of the show that will originate from the Boys & Girls Club in Greenwich, Connecticut. Various ESPN talking heads will appear in the program, probably more than we can imagine as James’ decision on his future employer will be dissected and analyzed.

OK, so if you are not an NBA fan, you are wondering what’s the fuss. James is a free agent and he will collect millions of dollars whether he stays in Cleveland, or moves on to New York, New Jersey, Miami, Los Angeles or Chicago. Those were the teams that all made trips to Cleveland last weekend to speak with James and his advisors.

Just where James stands in the history of the game is a determination that’s years from being made. Right now he’s one of the two or three best players in the league. He’ll soon be 25 years old, so if he can stay healthy, James has many years remaining to write the chapters of a career that could finish among the greatest the game has ever seen. Where he lands and how much he scores at the pay window are items that will cause ramifications for every team and player in the NBA.

So his situation is important and newsworthy. But it is not unique. I heard one of the sports talk radio yakkers say the other day that the James Sweepstakes is something that’s never happened before in the world of American sports. Typical comment coming from somebody just a few years removed from his senior prom and with no sense of history.

It was 17 years ago when the late Reggie White went on a free agency tour that in many ways was bigger than what we’ve seen in the last week with James. The late Hall of Fame defensive lineman did not stick to one place and have the teams come to visit him. White had a seven-city, 37-day tour where he flew all over the country meeting with NFL teams, with the media trailing behind. …Read More!

T.J.’s Work Never Stops … Wednesday Cup O’Chiefs

There may have been a half-day or so over the holiday weekend where Thomas Jones put up his feet and relaxed.

OK, there was like a 10 percent chance that he skipped a day in the weight room while enjoying the festivities of Independence Day.

Would we expect anything different from a man who at the age of six asked his parents for a set of weights as a Christmas gift. Legend has it that Thomas Jones Sr. thought his son was too young for barbells, so he told him to do pushups instead. Before long, 200 pushups became part of his bed time routine and stayed that way for years.

“I’m a workout warrior,” Jones said. “I love working out. I love taking care of my body. I’m very in tune with my body and how I feel.”

If you want to know how a 30-plus running back can defy the odds and still be a productive offensive weapon, then welcome to Thomas Jones and his work ethic. In his short time with the Chiefs, he’s shown his new teammates, the coaches and Kansas City fans what it means to be a dedicated professional. You don’t get biceps like his with a minimum amount of weight on the bar.

“Never,” is what G Brian Waters said when he was asked if he’d ever played with a running back who had bigger biceps than his own. Let’s remember that Waters is a good 100 pounds heavier than Jones.

But when it comes to slinging the iron around, nobody in the Chiefs locker room tops Jones. That’s especially true for the six-week, so-called vacation that the players are working through since the end of the team’s off-season program.   …Read More!

Wrapping Up The Roster … Tuesday Cup O’Chiefs

I appreciate all the feedback that’s come down the line that last few days on the series of personnel evaluations of the Chiefs. Some posters agreed with my assessments, others thought I was too tough, or not tough enough.

First of all, remember these are the thoughts of one person and I don’t have any say or power in the ultimate decisions on who stays, who goes, who plays and who does not. Again, these evaluations are based on what I’ve seen, not only in the recent off-season, but last season and years before that. I’m going to trust my eyes more than anything else.

I know the arrows up and down caused a bit of confusion for some readers. Generally, a young player was going to have an up arrow, because he should be an ascending player. Any player 30 or older was more than likely going to have a down arrow, as most of his career was behind him. There were exceptions to that, as there always will be when talking about 81 players. Those differences generally were based on what I saw as the potential value of the player’s contribution to the 2010 Chiefs.

Some questioned rating the rookies and putting some of them in slots ahead of players with NFL experience. That’s a legitimate gripe and one that I wrestled with as well. There wasn’t enough football in the off-season program to accurately judge a rookie and his skills against the veteran players. Once again, my ranking had more to do with where the player fit in the ’10 picture and his chances of making an immediate contribution.   …Read More!

The Chiefs – 81 thru 1/Part #4 … Monday Cup O’Chiefs

This is the finale of our four-part evaluation of the Chiefs roster a month ahead of the teams trip to St. Joseph and the start of 2010 training camp.

Understand this about the rankings – they are meant to provide information and create talk. I’ve based the grades and whether a player’s career is going up or down based on what I’ve seen and what I’ve heard about each of those 81 players. The difference in numbers is negligible. Whether a man is rated No. 12 or No. 18 doesn’t matter so much as the designation that they are part of the top 20 players and should be major contributors to what Scott Pioli and Todd Haley are building at Arrowhead Stadium.

That’s why I’ve included the rookies in these rankings because there’s no question they are going to be an important part of what happens with this team in the coming season.

So give or take a slot or two, here are the top 20 players on the Chiefs roster.


G Ryan Lilja

Evaluation – Beginning his seventh season in the NFL, Lilja is set to play his first regular season with the Chiefs. After six years with the Colts and winning a Super Bowl ring, Lilja was cut loose after the team’s disappointing loss in last February’s Super Bowl to New Orleans. At 6-2, 290 pounds, he’s built the way Haley would like his interior linemen to be – not so heavy and more mobile. The question is after a couple of knee injuries will be how mobile Lilja remains. The Colts do not make many personnel mistakes with veteran players, so the decision to let Lilja go tells us they thought his run was over. Considering his entrance to the league as an undrafted rookie, Lilja’s career is remarkable not only because he became a starter, but that he’s lasted this long. He will be 29 in October- can he go another year? The Chiefs are counting on it. …Read More!

The Chiefs: 81 thru 1/Part #3 … Sunday Cup O’Chiefs

Hopefully you are enjoying the Fourth of July weekend. Once the smoke and noise clears from the fireworks the ticking clock of NFL training camps will be even louder.

The evaluation of the 81 players that the Chiefs continues today as we get to the top-half of the roster with the middle 20 players and what they have and can provide the team.

As we’ve noted throughout this series, each player with NFL experience has been given an arrow up and an arrow down. Those going up are ascending players or guys that have potential to make great improvement. Those with arrows headed down are descending players.

Here we go.


DE Alex Magee

Evaluation – His rookie season for the 3rd-round draft choice in ’09 was a disappointment. Magee played in 15 games and contributed eight total tackles and two sacks. At one point near mid-season it seemed like everything was falling together for him, as he had sacks in back-to-back November games. From that point on, he had no sacks and three tackles in five games. Late in the season he picked up a hamstring injury and how long he dealt with that is something outsiders do not know. Magee worked hard in the off-season and he’ll need to show that progress in camp and the pre-season. If he can be stout enough to anchor one end of the defense against the run, he’ll shoot up the charts and rankings. None of that was very visible last year in his part-time play.

  …Read More!

The Chiefs – 81 thru 1/Part #2 … Saturday Cup O’Chiefs

Our evaluation of the Chiefs 2010 training camp roster continues on this Saturday. In Friday’s edition, we looked at the very bottom of the roster, those players ranked No. 60 through 81. If you missed that, here’s the link.

Today, the focus is on the lower middle of the roster. These are guys that all have a legitimate shot at making the final 53-man roster. Generally, there isn’t a lot of difference between slots in the rankings with the middle ground. A guy could be No. 57, or just as easily be No. 47. These players can contribute, but for the most part they are not going to be key performers.

On Sunday the Fourth of July comes players rated No. 20 through 39 and then on Monday, No. 1 through 19.

Again, a reminder about the evaluations – they are based on performances of the past and potential for the future. One thing everyone involved in football learns to do is trust their eyes. My evaluations are based on what I’ve seen, not what I was supposed to see. Plus, in the NFL a player or a team is either getting better or getting worse. They are either moving up or moving down. For any player who has played in an NFL game, our evaluation comes with an arrow indicating the direction of the player’s career. If they are an ascending player, or one at the top of his game, the arrow points up. An arrow down indicates a descending player, who may still be able to perform and contribute, but has most of his career visible in the rear-view mirror.

The rookies and first-year players who have not played a regular season game don’t get an arrow.

Here’s No. 59 through 40.

…Read More!

The Chiefs – 81 thru 1/Part #1 … Friday Cup O’Chiefs

Four weeks from Friday the Chiefs will be on the field for their first practice of 2010 training camp at Missouri Western.

The franchise has 81 players under its control. It’s a roster built more on the future than the past, more on what might be than what has been.

How this group of players is whittled down to 53 is what training camp and the pre-season will be all about. Just how much better that group of 53 is from the 4-12 team of last season is what the season will be about.

The next four days provide an opportunity to evaluate the group that will travel up I-29 to St. Joe. It starts at the bottom, as today comes an evaluation of players No. 81 through No. 60, as rated by your trusted observer. On Saturday, we’ll hit No. 40 through 59, with Sunday bringing No. 20 through 39 and then on Monday, No. 1 through 19.

A few notes on the evaluations – they are based on performances of the past and potential for the future. One thing everyone involved in football learns to do is trust their eyes. My evaluations are based on what I’ve seen, not what I was supposed to see. Plus, in the NFL a player or a team is either getting better or getting worse. They are either moving up or moving down. For any player who has played in an NFL game, our evaluation comes with an arrow indicating the direction of the player’s career. If they are an ascending player, or one at the top of his game, the arrow points up. An arrow down indicates a descending player, who may still be able to perform and contribute, but has most of his career visible in the rear-view mirror.

The rookies and first-year players who have not played a regular season game don’t get an arrow. …Read More!

One Down Six To Go … Thursday Cup O’Chiefs

Now that the Chiefs have finally announced the signing of a draft choice, hopefully that will slow down those red and gold devotees who think the Hunt Family is trying to go cheap.

First, the news – 5th-round choice FS Kendrick Lewis has signed a contract with the team. That was announced Tuesday.

Second, the reaction – this deal was probably done weeks ago, since the player selected ahead of Lewis and the player taken behind him signed their contracts back in mid-June. The whole dance between agents and teams over draft-choice contracts comes with the music of a slotted system of payment, usually confined to the player’s signing bonus. Any draft choice from say the third round down signs contracts where they receive the minimum salary in base pay each year. That would be $320,000 in 2010, $405,000 in 2011 and $490,000 in 2012, etc. The only negotiation point is over bonuses, including the signing bonus; that’s where the extra compensation comes into play.

Third, the context – is the reason the Chiefs don’t have more draft choices signed right now because they are trying to go cheap? Not likely. GM Scott Pioli, Director of Football Administration Trip McCracken and whoever else may be negotiating contracts for the team are going to try and get the best deal possible for the Chiefs. Because of the slotting system however, there’s really not a lot of give and take that should be going on. Generally what happens is the agent for the draft picks starts out trying to scramble the slotting system and the team simply waits for him to come back to reality. Once he does, getting a rookie contract done isn’t a tough thing to do. …Read More!

Time For A Muzzle … Wednesday Cup O’Chiefs

Mistakes are part of life. The only way they can be positive and productive is if something is learned from our failures, generally with the idea of making sure they don’t happen again.

This is a concept that apparently Dwayne Bowe has not been able to grasp, despite having numerous opportunities to do so.

The Chiefs wide receiver is at it again. Rather than getting as far away from the controversy involving the ESPN the Magazine article about the road trip habits of his teammates in 2007, Bowe has again opened his yap and breathed new life into what was a dead story.

Speaking on an Atlanta radio station last week while attending a football camp, Bowe again said he was misquoted by the writer of an article about road trip stories from athletes. In that piece, Bowe said in his rookie season on a trip to San Diego, some of his teammates arranged for various women to stay in the team’s hotel during the Chiefs visit there. His claims of an entire top floor of women flown in by Chiefs players was scandalous on the surface and ridiculous and likely fabricated in reality.

When asked by the show hosts on 790 the Fan if he took some grief from teammates over the incident, Bowe said:

“No, because now they are finding out that it definitely wasn’t me. Definitely, but I took that like a man. People that really know the Dwayne Bowe that clowns but on a serious note won’t let anything out of the locker room that is not supposed to be out.” …Read More!

A Smile For The Ages … Tuesday Cup O’Chiefs

Look at that smile. So vivid, so endearing, even now 27 years after he’s gone, it still provides a shot of life. It’s hard not to smile back.

Joe Delaney had one of the best smiles that ever walked through a Chiefs locker room. Shy and quiet by nature, he was always ready to push back his lips and show his pearly whites. For two years his teammates all remember one thing about him – no matter what time they walked into the locker room at Arrowhead Stadium, Joe was already there, sitting in front of his locker, sipping from a cup of coffee and ready to flash that smile to everyone.

It was on June 29, 1983 in Monroe, Louisiana that Joe Delaney drowned while trying to save three boys who were under water in a construction pond next to an amusement park. He was 24 years old.

Some three generations of Chiefs fans never got the chance to see him play. They know the story of his selfless act of heroism and they’ve heard of his tragic death. His remarkable rookie season of 1981 is recorded in the history books – his Pro Bowl trip where he was the only rookie starter, his Chiefs MVP award, the AFC Rookie of the Year, the All-Rookie teams and even a spot on a first-unit All-Pro team.

But that doesn’t begin to cover Joe Delaney the running back. Three generations of fans never got the chance to see him flying out of the backfield, headed for the corner and shifting into high gear. Oh my, it was something special. A crack in the defense was all he needed. He would explode out his stance so fast at the snap of the ball that quarterbacks Bill Kenney and Steve Fuller took awhile to adjust to handing off to him. …Read More!

Lewis Understands Disaster … Monday Cup O’Chiefs

Over this past weekend all of the NFL rookies landed at a resort in Carlsbad, California for the league’s annual Rookie Symposium. It’s a three-day session designed to make for a smoother transition to playing professional football for the guys just coming out of college.

There will be a lot of talk about dealing with the ups and downs of the first year. There will be advice and methods given them to help with the pressure they’ll feel from family, teammates, coaches, fans, groupies and even the media.

Fifth-round draft choice Kendrick Lewis of the Chiefs will be in the audience. He’ll likely be paying attention to every detail of every speaker, taking copious notes and pondering all the information. That’s the type of person he’s shown himself to be around the Chiefs since they selected in the NFL Draft.

Lewis could just as easily be at the microphone, telling his fellow rookies how to handle a difficult situation. Lewis celebrated his 22nd birthday about 10 days ago and he’s not yet played in an NFL game or even taken part in a pro training camp. But he has dealt with upheaval. He saw his life and that of his family turned upside down in such a profound manner that anything the speakers cover in three days will seem miniscule in comparison.

Five years ago this August, he was preparing for the season opening game of his senior year at O. Perry Walker High School in the Algiers neighborhood of New Orleans. Lewis was a highly recruited wide receiver who was courted by most of the teams in the Southeastern Conference, everybody from South Carolina, to Tennessee, to Georgia and Mississippi.

Within 48 hours, his life would be changed forever. …Read More!

Why It’s Buyer Beware … Weekend Cup O’Chiefs

Every year the enthusiasm level of NFL fans goes up around the first of March. For the last decade or so, that’s when the free agency market has gotten started each off-season.

Fans of 32 teams hope their management opens up the franchise’s vault and throws millions of dollars at the biggest and best names on the free agent list. Those clubs that sign the big names get a lot of attention and are thought to be the league’s movers and shakers. Those clubs sitting on the sidelines when those big, early contracts get done are considered slow on the trigger, cheap or football idiots.

Oh, how many times I’ve heard from Chiefs fans unhappy that the cream of the crop among free agents never stepped foot in Kansas City. Lamar Hunt, Carl Peterson, Dick Vermeil, Herm Edwards, Scott Pioli, Todd Haley and Clark Hunt were all suspect.

At various points they allowed Julian Peterson to leave San Francisco and sign with Seattle (2006) on a seven-year, $54 million deal. Or, they didn’t sign Adalius Thomas (2007) when he left Baltimore and got a free agent contract from New England worth $35 million over five years. Plenty thought they should have invested the four-year, $32 million deal that the New York Jets gave Alan Faneca when he left Pittsburgh (2008).

There has always been one caveat with free agency, actually it’s caveat emptor, Latin for buyer beware. The Chiefs have become part of the majority of NFL teams that have learned that big free agency money should go to keeping their own players, rather than importing high priced talent from elsewhere.

But some NFL teams still ignore buyer beware. Just ask Daniel Snyder and his silent ownership partners with the Washington Redskins. …Read More!

Answer Bob/Finale … Thursday Cup O’Chiefs

OK, here are the final answers to your questions from Ask Bob. My apologies for keeping some of you hanging on all week, but anybody that says there is an off-season in the NFL has no clue.

Once again, thanks for all the great questions – many of them are far better than the answers.



Anon says: Bob, I have read reports that the Chiefs have been at or near the bottom in player payroll the past few years. In addition, I’ve read several comments in the media, I believe you included, that indicate unwillingness on the Chiefs part to spend money on free agent players. Now, clearly if spending the most money was the best strategy, the Redskins would be racking up Super Bowl trophies. I believe Pioli and Haley want to build a team mostly through the draft and bring in some free agents that fit a certain profile. I get that, but at the same time, when you’re at the bottom of the payroll list, it leaves fans scratching their heads wondering if Pioli and Haley are talking the talk, yet going about things on the cheap. Could you address why it is the Chiefs have such a low payroll, even now several years after the “going young” roster turnover they went through under Herm Edwards, and do you think that being in such a position now that the Chiefs can honestly say they’re doing EVERYTHING possible to bring winning football to K.C.? Thank you.

Bob says: That there is confusion about just where the Chiefs are financially really shouldn’t be a surprise. There are several factors at play here that must be taken into account: losing, stadium renovation, a new collective bargaining agreement and new management.

Forget the way things used to be in the 1990s and most of the 2000s. The days where the Chiefs practically printed money every season are gone, long gone. Three years of losing has made it hard to sell tickets, hard to sell suites and hard to sell sponsorships. On top of the 10-38 record, there’s the renovation of Arrowhead Stadium. Yes, the taxpayers of Jackson County are helping to fund a lot of the changes, but the Hunt Family threw in close to $150 million of their own money. They did that because they expect to make that money back in tickets, suites and sponsorships. …Read More!

Answer Bob/Part #3

It’s been a busy week with some travel and a host of family in the house, so I’m not getting these answers done as soon as I would like.

But I’m muddling on and hope to have this all wrapped up by Thursday. Again, thanks for the questions and I hope you enjoy the answers.


Blake says: Bob, do you think Matt Cassel is good enough to lead the team to the Super Bowl in the future, or do you think we need someone different? How has Thomas Jones looked? Do you think Kestahn Moore can make the team if he has the same running style as Jones or would they want a different kind of runner? How many OLB do you think the Chiefs will keep – Vrabel, Studebaker, Sheffield, Walters, maybe Cole? Which undrafted free agents do you think could make the team? How many S will the Chiefs keep and who are they? Who do you like better Derrick Johnson or Demorrio Williams?

Bob says: I’m not sure if Cassel is good enough – there’s not enough of a sample size yet. I don’t think we can base any deep evaluation on what we saw last year. He does need help. Hard to say how Jones has looked since there was no real running game during the off-season. But there’s no question he’s in shape, he knows how to run, the questions that will follow Jones right now are how much tread is left on his tires at 32 y ears of age. I think Kestahn Moore has a real chance to make the team – he must make an impression on special teams to help out his cause. I think the Chiefs will keep five OLBs and right now I’d say it will be Vrabel, Hali, Studebaker, Walters and Sheffield. Cole has a chance, as he’s at the top of the list of undrafted rookies that could surprise. With him I would include WR Jeremy Horne and D Garrett Brown. I would expect the Chiefs to keep four safeties and right now I would say that group will be Eric Berry, Kendrick Lewis, John McGraw and Donald Washington. As for talent displayed on the field, I would take Johnson over Williams. …Read More!

Answer Bob/Part #2 … Wednesday Cup O’Chiefs

Here’s part No. 2 of answers to your questions for Ask Bob. I must say I know it, but these sessions really show me again that the readership here is pretty smart and aware of the Chiefs, the NFL and the game of football.

It’s a pleasure to answer these questions. There will be a Part #3 and you should see that Wednesday afternoon at some point.



JLoyd says: I see a couple of huge changes in what Todd Haley is doing. But, is it driven by the need to win a few more games, or is it Todd and Scott Pioli trying to go from worst to first in one big swoop?
Bob, you have seen it all meshing together from the start. They are doing things a little different and there are a lot of little questions that no one has been able to answer.

Bob says: JLoyd I’m not entirely sure what you are seeing, but let me see if I can answer your questions. There’s no doubt that Pioli/Haley are driven to win a few more games. These guys have got to push that four victory total higher in 2010. Remember always the words of Clark Hunt, who said several years ago that he wasn’t nearly as patient as his father. He’s already shown that, and there’s no reason to believe that he’s going to extend a lengthy dose of patience if the Chiefs don’t begin to win more games. There’s no way the Chiefs can go from worst to first in one big swoop, or several smaller swoops. As bad as the Chiefs have been, they have been better over the last three years than St. Louis (six victories) and Detroit (9). If there’s a sense they have changed, it’s probably because they have. Both feel like they have set in place the type of program they were looking for, so they are going to be less inclined to pick fights on the way things used to be done. …Read More!

Answer Bob/Part #1 … Tuesday Cup O’Chiefs

As always, you guys have loaded me up with plenty of questions and I plan to have plenty of answers. We’ll cover them in the next few days, as well as keeping track of all the personnel movement around the league on an everyday basis.

Here’s Volume No. 1 – enjoy!

Mike in St Louis says: Just what is/was Tony Moeaki’s injury? Do you see him as starting TE Monday night in September? Lastly, with the addition of Weis, do you see Haley now interested in using a TE more often?

Bob says: Mike, I wish I could shed light on what Moeaki’s problem was, but it would be easier getting launch codes from the Pentagon. Moeaki told me it wasn’t an injury, i.e. knee, or ankle, or hamstring, or shoulder or any limb or joint. That tells me it was some type of illness or irregularity, but it could not have been anything too serious because he was there every day and worked in the rehab zone all the time. When he finally got on the field, he didn’t show any type of physical problem. Eventually, we’ll find out. I think Moeaki in the starting lineup for the opener is a bit ambitious. I wouldn’t rule it out, but that would take a very strong six weeks of camp and pre-season performances. I do believe he’ll be on the field a lot in the offense and I think that will start from the get go. I think Haley’s interest in getting the tight end involved in the passing game is directly related to whether he has a tight end who he can count on to get open and catch the ball. If Moeaki can do that consistently, or any other tight end can, they’ll be on the field. It’s not like the Chiefs wide receivers are so strong that a coach wouldn’t want to take away some of their chances. …Read More!

Waiting For Word … Monday Cup O’Chiefs

Take a look at the picture above. It’s from the Chiefs and Browns game last December at Arrowhead Stadium. TE Brad Cottam has the ball. He’s obviously airborne after being hit by S Abram Elam (26) and OLB Matt Roth (53).

But it looks just like every other play that goes down in an NFL game, more than 100 in a single game and over 1,500 in a given pro football weekend. Keep doing the math and that’s the nature of the game, thousands of collisions.

What this picture does not show is how the play ended, how Cottam came back to terra firma. He kept pitching forward after Roth hit him and the first thing that hit the ground was the top of Cottam’s head.

Even in the aftermath of the play, it did not seem any different than most moments. Cottam appeared dazed, but was helped to his feet by teammate Leonard Pope. He even went back into the game moments later.

He went back into the game with a broken neck. …Read More!

Comparing Drafts … Weekend Cup O’Chiefs

The thought struck me last week when baseball was holding its annual June Draft: of the four major sports, which one does the best job of drafting players?

In many ways it’s comparing apples to oranges – they are both fruit, but they look and taste very different. The National Hockey League’s selection meeting is very international in scope. The National Basketball Association has become the same way. The NHL and Major League Baseball are sometimes selecting 17 or 18-year olds who are fresh out of high school, and generally the draft choices go right to minor league action, while in the National Football league they are immediately part of the game at the highest level.

The one thing the four different sports leagues hold in common is the value of their drafts. Look at the best players in football, baseball, basketball and hockey and they were all draft choices. Hockey’s Sidney Crosby, baseball’s Albert Pujols and LeBron James and Kobe Bryant in the NBA were all drafted as teenagers. In the NFL Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Larry Fitzgerald and Charles Woodson – all were draft choices.

So for the sake of a summertime discussion, we did some research. We went five years back to the drafts of 2005 and looked at the top 10 players selected in the four drafts. Those are 40 names who in the half-decade since being drafted are established all over the sporting road. One is his sport’s superstar. Another died two years ago in a motorcycle crash. Some have had careers derailed by injuries, others by off-field problems. Some are still moving forward in their careers, others are headed in the other direction.

Here’s a look at the top 10 selections in the 2005 MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL drafts, with some conclusions afterwards: …Read More!

No Mistake This Time … Friday Cup O’Chiefs

There’s one name to keep in mind when it comes to the situation between the Chiefs and Jarrad Page, their unsigned restricted free agent safety: Bernard Pollard.

Wondering why the Chiefs don’t cancel their tender offer to Page and allow him to find another place to work? Bernard Pollard.

It is unlikely there would ever be a public confirmation of the mistake the Chiefs made in slicing Pollard last season as part of the final cutdown before the regular season. But, bet on the fact that internally the organization knows that situation wasn’t handled very well.

They dropped a young player who had been a starter and got nothing for him in return. Pollard landed with the Texans where he became a starter and a key player for the Houston defense. Let’s remember that the Texans finished the season with a 9-7 record, quite a bit ahead of the 4-12 season put up by the Chiefs. It wasn’t like there was a major improvement in the Chiefs defensive production with Pollard out of the lineup and Mike Brown in at one of the starting safety spots.

Don’t get me wrong, Bernard Pollard was not an All-Pro safety in 2008 or 2009. He’s not a player without flaws. But releasing him without compensation was a bad decision by the Chiefs. Releasing him and not replacing him with a better player was a bad decision by the Chiefs.

That brings us to Page. It’s quite obvious that he does not fit the Chiefs future on defense. He didn’t fit last year when he lost his starting job to Jon McGraw. There’s no question that the head coach and player had their differences in the time when Page was still on the roster and not moved to the injured-reserve list with a calf problem.

But the Chiefs protected themselves with Page by giving him a tender offer back in February that made him a restricted free agent. The signing period for RFAs came and went and Page did not receive any offers. The NFL Draft came and went and the Chiefs were unable to package him up in a deal with another team. …Read More!

Coaching Suggestions … Thursday Cup O’Chiefs

The Chiefs coaching staff is packing up and getting ready for vacation. Some are headed for the beach while others are on their way to the golf course or mountains. More than a few may simply sit back and put their feet up and enjoy for a few weeks not having to work 18-hour days.

Knowing Todd Haley and the type of people that work for him, they may enjoy some down time, but football, the Chiefs and the 2010 NFL season will not be far from their minds.

I’d like to plant a few seeds in their minds to consider over the next 40 days. For the most part, these items have already landed on the coaches’ radar screens. In fact, some of these thoughts are originally their ideas. I just want to reinforce their thinking and pump up their desire to move forward with some of these plans and will benefit the 2010 Chiefs.


Over the last two weeks, defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel has been working veteran OLB Mike Vrabel at an inside linebacker spot in the nickel defense. Vrabel has replaced Jovan Belcher, with Andy Studebaker taking Vrabel’s position on the edge.

Romeo needs to keep this group together. That would put Vrabel, Studebaker, Derrick Johnson and Tamba Hali on the field at the same time. Those are the best four linebackers on the roster. Those are also three of the four leading career sackers on the team: Vrabel (57), Hali (27) and Johnson (13).

And Studebaker may have the biggest upside of all those players when it comes to getting after the passer. As he’s shown in his limited playing time, the 6-3, 248-pound has power and explosion. On the Division III level at Wheaton College, Studebaker played in 28 games and had 30 sacks.

Yes, it’s a big jump from Division III to the NFL, but in his brief chances to play last year, Studebaker showed he was a playmaker. It’s time to get Studebaker on the field and give him a chance to make more plays.

The odd man out with this scheme would be Belcher. He may be able to beat Vrabel in a 40-yard dash, but given the old man’s experience and knowledge, Vrabel would have a better chance of covering a receiver in the short to mid-range areas of the field. Belcher’s time is in the future; Vrabel’s time is now. …Read More!

That’s A Wrap! … Wednesday Cup O’Chiefs

Maybe you’ve noticed lately a lot of talk and stories about the new softer side of Chiefs head coach Todd Haley. The premise is that the snarling, yelling guy who patrolled the sidelines at Arrowhead Stadium and the halls of the team’s facility has changed.

That angle has popped up a lot lately and one reason is because Haley keeps doing things to give the idea legs.

Like his decision to cancel the final OTA practice session of the off-season. That went down Tuesday morning, after the players went through their normal early morning weight lifting and conditioning segments.

Haley let the veterans go, ending their off-season program. It was an obvious gift to a group of players that since March has put forth an effort that’s unmatched in the NFL.

There is no place in the country where you can go and get a complete participation report in off-season programs of each NFL team. There are obvious places where there are holdouts and unsigned players. The Chiefs have their own in restricted free agent S Jarrad Page; he did not attend any of the sessions, either on or off the field.

Otherwise, everyone else was in the house, and not occasionally attending, but there all the time. It was a remarkable showing. Pick your way through the Internet and check on other NFL teams and there are few that can come close to matching the consistent participation of the entire roster. Practice after practice the Chiefs had 85 or 86 bodies on the field. There were two injuries of note during the actual practices – a hamstring pull by WR David Grimes and the right index finger of backup QB Brodie Croyle. The other players – a half-dozen or less – who did not work were all carrying over physical problems and rehab from last season.

It was an exceptional performance and welcome evidence for Haley that his players bought in, or as he said, “invested” themselves in the future of the team. Giving up one last 90-minute practice was a small thank you for the extra time and effort that went into following through with a commitment. …Read More!

Injury Roulette Claims Kolby … Tuesday Cup O’Chiefs

It can happen in the blink of an eye. It did to Kolby Smith.

The Chiefs were at the midway point of the 2008 season. Larry Johnson had been sent home for being, well for being Larry Johnson. He wasn’t playing, he wasn’t even practicing. His absence provided an opportunity for Smith, then a second-year running back out of Louisville.

When injuries to Larry Johnson and Priest Holmes in 2007 gave the rookie a chance, he stepped up and performed, running for 407 yards on 112 carries. That included a 31-carry, 150-yard game against the Raiders.

A year later, Johnson was gone again and Smith was ready again. On November 2, at Arrowhead Stadium he was off to a big day against Tampa Bay, running 10 times for 46 yards and a touchdown.

Then came that instant, that moment every player dreads; Smith took a handoff and went right, moved back inside and planted his right leg to cut left. That’s when a Tampa Bay defensive back slammed into his right knee, leaving Smith in a crumpled heap on the field.

On Monday, some 20 months later, Smith was still feeling that blow. He was released by the Chiefs, one of six players that were cut loose as the team tidies up its roster for draft choice signings and a football vacation until the start of training camp.

Anybody that knows Kolby Smith, or saw how hard he worked to come back from his torn patellar tendon, is feeling pretty sad today. Smith was one of the good guys in the Chiefs locker room. He’s a pro, a man who does what he’s asked to do on the football field and in preparation off the field, and then he does more. The fact that he came back from that patellar tendon injury was an achievement; some players have seen their careers derailed by a torn patellar. …Read More!

Wrapping Up … Monday Cup O’Mini-Camp

From the Truman Sports Complex

The Chiefs off-season is not over. They have activity on Monday and a practice on Tuesday. That’s when Todd Haley will discharge his veterans for six weeks, meeting again for the start of training camp in the last week of July.

The weekend mini-camp provided a lengthy look at the 2010 Chiefs with five practices in three days. As the only member of the media horde and the only media outlet that covered every second of all five practices – that’s called blowing our own horn – there are honors to be presented to this team that only I can hand down.

So here are the 2010 Chiefs Mini-Camp Oscars:

MINI-CAMP MVP – CB TRAVIS DANIELS (above). He joined the Chiefs last year as an unrestricted free agent from the Browns. Daniels was released in the final roster cut of the pre-season and did not return until November 4th, when he was signed after S Jarrad Page was placed on the injured-reserve list. He played in nine games and finished with 16 tackles, two passes defensed and seven tackles in the kicking game. Daniels was a JAG – just a guy – something he showed in previous NFL stops in Miami and Cleveland. But in this ’10 mini-camp, Daniels was all over the place. His work at left cornerback was so good that in the last few practices he was running with the No. 1 defense in place of Maurice Leggett who was holding the spot for the rehabbing Brandon Flowers. Daniels brought mini-camp to a close with his interception in the two-minute drill off QB Tyler Palko. …Read More!

Sunday Cup O’Mini-Camp

From the Truman Sports Complex

He is the Lazarus of the Chiefs roster.

There have been many times when it looked like Demorrio Williams was down and out of the picture with the Chiefs. Last year during training camp in Wisconsin, it really looked like his time in Kansas City was over. Signed as an unrestricted free agent in 2008 out of Atlanta, Williams was the lead man on Todd Haley’s rehab team.

That’s not a position any player who aspire to hold. Williams peddled more miles than Lance Armstrong as he tried to get the injured leg stronger. Day-after-day, practice-after-practice rolled past and he was always over in the area that the head coach calls “No Man’s Land.” One could almost hear the clock ticking down on his Chiefs career.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the waiver wire. Williams finally got on the practice field and it came at the time when the other inside linebackers were found lacking for reasons of ability, focus, health or inexperience.

By the time the ’09 season was over, Williams had started 13 of the 16 games and led the Chiefs in tackles. Using film review by the coaching staff, the Chiefs listed him at 142 total tackles, while the league evaluation of the game tapes gave him 117 total tackles. Either way, Williams was among the top 20 tacklers in the NFL for the ’09 season.

And, he did it all with a bum left leg. The nature of his injury was one of those state secrets that the Chiefs keep these days from the media, fans and opponents. But understand that for every game and practice last year, Williams’ leg was wrapped in tape from his thigh to the middle of his calf. By the time the season was over, he alone may have put the trainers over their tape budget for the ’09 season.

Still, he did not miss a game.

“It feels great now that I can get dressed for practice in about five minutes,” Williams said, referencing his lengthy taping sessions with the trainers each day. “My main thing was always to keep going out and make a contribution to the team and continue to work. My thing was just to go out and contribute.” …Read More!

Saturday Morning Cup O’Mini-Camp

From the Truman Sports Complex

Five practices in three days – it’s a little June-time nirvana for a pro football fan when mini-camp rolls around. It’s as close to training camp as the off-season gets and that alone means the start of another season is growing closer.

Here’s a mixed bag of news, notes and quotes from the first day of the Chiefs 2010 mini-camp.


The mini-camp actually began on Thursday evening with the first full-team meeting of the season.

There were a lot of points that head coach Todd Haley had for his team in his remarks. One was to congratulate them on what for this franchise was the unprecedented participation in the off-season program, whether on the field or in the weight room.

The second was a word of warning.

“As I told them last night, having a great off-season, they aren’t going to spot us wins and that’s just the way it is,” Haley said on Friday. “That (off-season participation) will just give us a chance to improve and be better.” …Read More!

Always Something Going On In NFL … Friday Cup O’Chiefs

With the exception of Dwayne Bowe’s ill-advised comments about the actions of his teammates on a three-year old road trip, things have been pretty quiet around the Chiefs in this off-season.

When the team hits the field Friday morning for the first of five mini-camp practices in three days, the focus by the players, coaches and even the media will be on football. Naturally, some of the scribblers, yakkers and hairdos will reference the absence of veteran S Jarrad Page, the only player who has not been around during all the work that began in late March.

But Page has remained silent, so there haven’t been any verbal, Twitter or YouTube bombs thrown into Chiefs off-season 2010. That’s not the case in a lot of other places around the league.

In Pittsburgh, Steelers bad boy QB Ben Roethlisberger spoke to several TV stations on Thursday about his behavior. “Big Ben just kept building up and it ended up coming off the field,” Roethlisberger said, speaking like Big Ben was some sort of creature that took over his life. “It kept taking over. Superman kept taking over Clark Kent and you just never saw who Ben Roethlisberger was any more. At the time, I didn’t see it. I was gaining everything but I was losing a lot of who I was raised to be. It got so overwhelming, it consumed me.” …Read More!

Waters Still Runs Deep … Thursday Cup O’Chiefs

One of the best things about the Chiefs 2010 off-season and OTA schedule has been the presence of veteran guard Brian Waters.

Among players and coaches, the big man has the longest tenure with the franchise. In fact, it’s not even close; the players next in line for seniority are LB Derrick Johnson and P Dustin Colquitt. They got to the Chiefs in 2005, five years after Waters.

Soon, Waters will pass from the locker room. Maybe it will come this post-season, maybe the year after that, but he’s now 33 years old and in his 11th season with the club. After 2010, he has one more year left on the six-year, $26.5 million contract that he signed back in 2006.

Waters has a unique view of matters around the Chiefs, one that provides context and perspective that no one else in the building carries, especially on the football side. Maybe the only person in the building with a better understanding of what was is team president Denny Thum, but he’s been completely boxed out of the football operation over the last two years.

Just take the last 15 months, starting with the supposed hallway conversation between Waters and Haley last February where the new head coach stated that he could have won two games with 22 players off the street. Waters has not ever addressed that situation publicly, but his absence for all but the mandatory mini-camp last spring was evidence enough of his unhappiness.

That was then, this is now. …Read More!

It’s All In The Details … Wednesday Cup O’Chiefs

From the Truman Sports Complex

It was just over a dozen years ago that Todd Haley drew the ire of Bill Belichick.

It was 1997 and Haley was in his first season of coaching, working as the offensive quality control coach on Bill Parcells staff with the New York Jets. Part of Haley’s duties each week during the season was preparing the diagrams of opponent’s plays for the offensive scout team to use against the New York defense, whose coordinator was Belichick.

The plays are printed on cardboard cards and shown to the practice offense before they ran each play.

“I was running cards, coaching the show team receivers and Belichick would scream at me for having a play one-yard out of line on the cards,” Haley said. “At that time I had no idea. I said ‘Why is this guy being a jerk to me? I’m trying my best.’ Now I understand … now I know how important those details are. That’s how you learn all that.”

Jump ahead 13 years to the Chiefs indoor practice facility on a rainy Tuesday in June where the Chiefs are in the midst of another OTA practice session. The offense is running plays against the defense and Haley sees something is not right. He stops the quarterback who is calling the signals and walks towards the receiver on the far right of the formation.

His voice doesn’t cover the 50 yards to where the media horde is watching the practice, but there’s no doubt what he’s doing. He walks over to numbers designating the 50-yard line and marches off four yards to the right. That’s where he wants the receiver to line up and start running his route, exactly four yards to the right of the numbers.

Not three yards, not five yards, but four yards. Somewhere in New England, Belichick is wearing a knowing smile. …Read More!

Following The OTA Rules … Tuesday Cup O’Chiefs

Somebody snitched on the Baltimore Ravens and the Jacksonville Jaguars are brawling.

It’s just another week of the off-season in the National Football League.

Just where does the on-field work by the Chiefs fit in with other NFL teams when it comes to physicality and intensity? More on that subject later, but first here was the news of Monday:

– The NFL took the Ravens and head coach John Harbaugh to the woodshed, announcing that the team would forfeit its final days of OTA practice sessions because they violated rules and regulations for off-season work that were set up between the league and the NFL Players Association.

“We made a mistake and it won’t happen again,” said Baltimore GM Ozzie Newsome in a team statement. “We’ll complete our organized team activity days this week and then turn our focus to the start of training camp.”

– In Jacksonville tempers flared at the end of the Jaguars Monday morning workout and it took several players an extended period of time to bring an end the skirmish. The main combatants were offensive lineman Paul McQuistan and defensive lineman Walter Curry. Afterwards, Jags coach Jack Del Rio said he had no problem with the practice fisticuffs. …Read More!

Tight End Is Wide Open … Monday Cup O’Chiefs

Last week Chiefs head coach Todd Haley was speaking about the team’s situation at tight end.

To say the situation is muddled would be an understatement. After the signing of rookie Cody Slate on Friday, the Chiefs now have six tight ends on their roster.

Career NFL catches from those half-dozen TEs? That number would be 86, with 68 from starter Leonard Pope (left), 16 by the still rehabbing Brad Cottam and two from last year’s draft choice Jake O’Connell. Slate, Tony Moeaki and Leroy Banks are all rookies.

Haley makes it plain what he’s seeking for the position is versatility – he wants a tight end that can block and catch.

“I think tight end is a critical position for the offense,” Haley said of the scheme that he and coordinator Charlie Weis are piecing together for use in the 2010 season. “When you have tight ends that are versatile, that can be strong in the run game and equally strong in the pass game – those complete tight ends put the defense in a little bit of a bind.

“That’s where some of the matchup issues come into play.”

Haley and Weis are big on creating mismatches with their players and offensive game plan. That’s why the plan will change from opponent to opponent because of what they see from the other defense. To take advantage at the tight end position, they need a player who is a factor in the passing game and the running game. …Read More!

Half-Time For On-Field Work … Friday Cup O’Chiefs

From the Truman Sports Complex

On Thursday, the Chiefs had their ninth OTA practice session. Ahead of them are five more OTAs and a three-day mini-camp. In essence, the franchise hits the coming weekend at half-time of their on-field off-season work.

What seemed like a long series of workouts, now doesn’t seem so long for the players and the coaches, including the top dog, Todd Haley.

“it’s very important that we’re getting everything out of it that we can, both physically and mentally for the entire group because time’s going fast right now and before too long these guys are going to be heading home,” Haley said after Thursday’s practice. “We’re trying to use the time as efficiently as possible to get as much done.

“This week I felt like we had a really good work week overall. I feel like the guys got better.”

Six of the nine OTA sessions have been open to the media. That’s 90 minutes each or about nine hours of football that we’ve seen. Plus, it’s not really football, since there are no pads, no tackling, no blocking and no line play.

From what we’ve seen here are some evaluations at the halfway point: …Read More!

Getting Rookies Inked … Thursday Cup O’Chiefs

For the second season in a row, the Chicago Bears became the first team in the NFL to have all of their draft choices under contract.

If they handed out the Lombardi Trophy for getting done the dirty work of contract negotiations in the spring, then the Bears would be holding the hardware.

But Super Bowls and championships are not won in May and June, certainly not because all the players are under contract. Last year, the Bears did the same thing. They finished 7-9 and out of the playoffs.

The fact that there are just 19 of the league’s 255 draft choices under contract at this point speaks to the need for the NFL to have a rookie salary system that’s similar to that of the NBA. In basketball, drafted players are paid on a scale that set up before hand. There are no negotiations.

Based on years of evidence in he NFL, teams and agents can pretty much slot out the payments for each choice in each round and not be far off the reality of the situation.

There’s another reason only 19 contracts have been turned into the league office: until a draft choice signs his contract, he does not count against the 80-man maximum roster that teams can have right now. At a time when almost every team is going through on-field practices, OTAs and mini-camps, having the extra bodies are always helpful and something coaches seek and enjoy.

Generally, rookie contracts go up between five and 10 percent each year. This year’s No. 5 choice, the Chiefs S Eric Berry, will likely sign a contract that’s about 7.5 percent bigger than the one inked last year by the player at the same position in the draft. That was QB Mark Sanchez, with a five-year, $50 million deal with a $28 million signing bonus. Berry’s contract should end up being between five and 10 percent bigger than that signed by the fourth choice in ’09, LB Aaron Curry who went to Seattle in a 6-year, $60 million deal with $34 million in guaranteed dollars. That’s a more apples to apples comparison than with a quarterback.

None of this qualifies as rocket science for either the teams or the agents. In fact, it’s easier this year for the 32 clubs because the league has no salary cap to juggle and work around. …Read More!

Fighting The Restrictions … Wednesday Cup O’Chiefs

It’s the type of story that GMs and head coaches dislike, especially at this time of the year. But at some point we need to stop at the NFL business office and take stock of where players and franchises sit now that everyone is about three months away from starting the 2010 regular season.

There are restricted free agents still sitting out there that have not signed their tender offers, some 35 to be exact. There were 255 draft choices in April, and only 16 of those have signed contracts as of Tuesday evening. There also remain many veteran free agents who are still looking for work, take WR Terrell Owens for example.

Scott Pioli and Todd Haley have not had to read or hear much about the only player who has not been in their house for the club’s off-season work: veteran free safety No. 44 Jarrad Page (right).

There were 85 players on the practice field Tuesday for the Chiefs seventh OTA session of the spring. For the most part the media has focused on those players in attendance. Page has been forgotten, despite the fact he played four seasons, games and starts for the team.

Let’s catch up with the business of the NFL in this off-season, the final one with a collective bargaining agreement. …Read More!

Big Little Men … Tuesday Cup O’Chiefs

There’s one thing we know for sure about Dexter McCluster – if he’s going to fit in with the other little guys that played for the Chiefs over the years, the rookie needs a nickname.

The three smallest players in franchise history were Michael Clemons, Noland Smith and Mark McMillian, a trio otherwise known individually as Pinball, Super Gnat and Mighty Mouse.

Ever since the game of football was organized into teams and then leagues, it has attracted physical freaks. Not the type from the carnival, where there’s a guy with three arms and the bearded lady. No, these are remarkable bodies that are usually big, sometimes close to 300 pounds, but with 8 percent body fat and the ability to dunk a basketball or run 40 yards in a blink of the eye.

Sometimes those unusual bodies are on the opposite end of the height/weight scale. They are quite small, yet powerful and sturdy enough to take the beating that comes from playing a game that is one collision after another for 60 minutes every week.

(Here’s a list of the shortest and lightest players in Chiefs history.)

Consider some of the stars of today’s NFL. Jacksonville RB Maurice Jones-Drew is but 5-7 in height, San Diego has a stick of football dynamite in Darren Sproles, who is just 5-6. Last year DeSean Jackson burst on the scene for Philadelphia; he weighs 175 pounds soaking wet. New England’s Wes Welker led the NFL in receiving, at 5-9, 185 pounds. Carolina’s Steve Smith has been catching passes for a decade at the same size. Baltimore’s running and receiving threat Ray rice is but 5-8. …Read More!

A Holiday Grab Bag … Friday Cup O’Chiefs

From America’s highways and byways

It’s a busy Memorial Day weekend for your intrepid scribe. We busted out of the Chiefs locker room Thursday afternoon, jumped in the family truckster and headed on down the highway.

But a lot happened before we put K.C. in our rearview mirror, and thus a lot to write about. Here goes a potpourri of thoughts and information, starting with the man who always seems to be weaving in and out of trouble like the old man I passed on I-70 outside out of St. Charles.


Every year the F.A.A. puts together a report on every airplane/helicopter accidents in the world. This ranges from passenger jets that crash and kill hundreds, to some guy who is flying is Piper Cub, runs out of gas and has to land on an interstate highway.

Over the years, what the FAA’s investigations have shown is this – the accident or crash is seldom caused by the first mistake made by the pilot. It comes from the second mistake, generally made in the tense moments when problems have shown themselves.

If the F.A.A. would investigate the Dwayne Bowe matter involving ESPN the Magazine and comments about his teammates importing female companionship on a 2007 road trip, they would find one big mistake, followed by another one, maybe even bigger. That’s from Bowe’s statement on Thursday that he was misquoted from an interview he doesn’t remember giving.

How you can claim being misquoted or taken out of context from an interview that you can’t recall having done? That is beyond funny. It’s sad. When that discrepancy was pointed out to Bowe, he was smart enough at that time to realize his plane had crashed and he went ahead and got out as fast as he could by changing the subject.

“I’m just not going to go back into that,” Bowe said. “I’m all football now. If you want to talk about football, I’m open to any football questions. You can’t look back to yesterday.”

The folks at ESPN the Magazine say they have a tape of Bowe’s conversation with their reporter and that he was quoted accurately in the story that appears in the latest issue about athletes on the road. Seldom these days does anyone have less credibility than the media in general, but in this case it’s far easier to believe the magazine than it is Bowe. …Read More!

Don’t Judge Tyson Yet … Thursday Cup O’Chiefs

“Maybe night and day. I can’t think of any two things more different.”

That was the answer from Chiefs DE Tyson Jackson when he was asked to compare last spring to this one when it comes to preparing for the NFL season.

Jackson’s statement came with a dose of confidence that was palatable in the room. That’s a good sign for the Chiefs because there are a lot of people with their fingers crossed that year two of Jackson’s career will far surpass that of his rookie season.

Last year, Jackson was not very productive in his first taste of pro football. He had 31 tackles and no sacks in 16 games. He did not force a fumble or recover a fumble. He had two passes defended (knocked down) and four quarterback pressures. It was not a very good year.

He says there will not be a repeat in his sophomore pro season.

“I can tell from just the first few OTAs; I understand the game more,” said Jackson. “The fundamentals are stronger. Everything is starting to slow down for me. I should be a very productive player this year.”

The Chiefs hope productive and consistent. …Read More!

Will They Wildcat? … Wednesday Cup O’Chiefs

Nothing gets taken out of context more quickly than football in May. Throw 80-plus bodies on the practice field in the spring sunshine and assumptions are made by those on the outside looking in.

The starting quarterback has a bad day throwing the ball, and suddenly he’s a bum. The team’s top receiver bobbles a few passes and he’s Mr. Butterfingers. A cornerback bites on a fake, gets beat deep and he can’t cover a soul.

The same holds true for what coaches do with the offense or defense. These spring football practices are a time to experiment, test and evaluate. There are coaches that will spend a week working on a certain package of plays or defenses and then never return to that page of the playbook during the season.

Much was made after the Chiefs OTA practice on Monday about the Chiefs running Wildcat plays on offense. For the most part, the calls had rookie RB/WR Dexter McCluster taking direct snaps from center. He threw a couple of passes, ran what looked like the veer-option, handed off on an end-around run by a wide receiver and several times took the snap and took off running.

OK, so we should assume that the Chiefs will be one of those teams throwing Wildcat-type plays into every game plan, right?

Wrong. …Read More!

Shivering at Super Bowl 48 … Tuesday Cup O’Chiefs

Dream Chiefs fans, dream. A trip to the Super Bowl this coming February at the Jerry World Stadium in Arlington, Texas is farfetched at this point. The 2012 title game could be more doable, and that game goes down at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. If it all falls together the next year, the Chiefs and their fans could reprise their trip to New Orleans for Super Bowl IV, by heading off to Super Bowl 47 at the Louisiana Superdome.

On Tuesday, the NFL will decide where they will hold Super Bowl 48 in February of 2014. As the NFL owners gathered on Monday at the Las Colinas resort in Dallas it sounded more and more likely that that game will be played in the new stadium in the New Jersey Meadowlands (above), the soon to open building that does not have a roof.

That’s right folks, a real cold weather Super Bowl, played outside in the elements whatever they may be for that early February day in the swamps of Jersey … only 17 votes among the 32 teams is required to make this happen.

The folks in New Jersey/New York can’t figure out why anybody wouldn’t think it’s a good idea.

“On a personal level there would be something very special about playing a game of this magnitude in this area, nearly 90 years after we started playing games in the Polo Grounds,” Giants co-owner John Mara told the New York Daily News. “It’s the most-anticipated sporting event of the year in this country. Let’s play it on the biggest stage in the world.” …Read More!

D.J. Needs To Start … Monday Cup O’Chiefs

“I could have been a douche bag and caused a lot of trouble and distractions. I’m not that kind of guy. But I do need to get on the field this year.”

That’s Derrick Johnson talking about his situation with the Chiefs — his hard to explain, hard to understand 2009 season when one of the most physically gifted players on the Kansas City defense could barely get on the grass.

It was a confusing, frustrating, angry time for the former No. 1 draft choice. After four seasons of full-time playing, he was suddenly a role player and there was no explanation from the head coach or his staff. But he did not act like a “douche bag” as he said. There was no explosion publicly or privately. He went about his business, getting on the field in the nickel defense and expressing only confusion with his inactivity.

Johnson was also right when he said the other day “I do need to get on the field this year.” There’s no doubt about that and given time, hopefully new defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel realizes that and finds a way to make better use of the physical skills Johnson can bring to his 3-4 defense. If Crennel can get that done, it will be a better coaching job than his predecessor last year in Clancy Pendergast.

If he does not, it doesn’t sound like Johnson is going to keep his mouth shut this time.

“When it’s training camp, and I’m working my butt off and staying healthy and I’m not out there with the first team, then we might have some problems,” Johnson said. “Right now, I’m a man on a mission.”

When a team goes 4-12 on a season, the mistakes are many. Some get charged off to the ledger of the players, others to the coaching staff and still others to the head coach. Last year’s mistake of not getting Johnson on the field more falls to head coach Todd Haley and Pendergast. …Read More!

D-Bowe’s No No … Weekend Cup O’Chiefs

Me thinks it’s going to be a long weekend for Dwayne Bowe.

I’m sure his phone has blown up with calls, texts and messages from teammates, both former and current. Not sure if D-Bowe does e-mail. If he does, then that mail box figures to be full. Some folks who play and played with him might seek him out for a little face-to-face.

All because he fumbled twice on the same play, or in Bowe’s case he dropped the same ball twice. He broke the age old “code-of-the-road” and the long-time axiom about what is said and done in the locker room, stays in the locker room.

Let’s make sure we understand what’s important in this little soap opera, because some fans and the pundit class have lost perspective on this matter. What Bowe said and what he says his teammates did on a road trip during the 2007 season did not break any laws and may not have actually broken any team rules.

The NFL is not going to investigate this matter and the Chiefs are not going to take any overt disciplinary action against Bowe. This is not about anything more than a young man unable to control his mouth, speaking out of turn and possibly exposing locker room secrets. This happened three years ago, and the people in charge of the Chiefs were elsewhere when it supposedly went down.

We know only what Bowe told ESPN the Magazine. It’s on page No. 94 of the edition dated May 31, 2010. In a fluffy three-page story about athletes and their road trip stories, the writer Eddie Matz quotes Bowe as saying this: …Read More!

Does Dorsey Know Nose? … Thursday Cup O’Chiefs

From the Truman Sports Complex

No one involved with the Chiefs has ever said that Glenn Dorsey was going to become a nose tackle.

Yet that subject has great legs among the media and fans who love to dissect all things red and gold, even if the imagines might be a mirage.

Dorsey has heard the talk; he’s not one of those players that says he doesn’t read the papers, or the internet or watch television.

Glenn, have you heard you are supposed to be moving to nose tackle?

“Yeah, I’ve heard that,” he said. “People have told me they heard that.”

Has anyone in the organization talked to you at any time about moving to nose tackle?

“No, not a word,” said Dorsey. “Nobody has said anything about that.”

Would you be surprised if they asked you to move there?

“I’ll do whatever they ask me to do,” Dorsey said.

So how does all this get started? Well, the guy who opened the door on this story was GM Scott Pioli. …Read More!

Safety Surprise … Wednesday Cup O’Chiefs

Heaven knows it’s a fun Chiefs fact that will likely be forgotten days from now, let alone remembered down the road:

Name the accomplished Southeastern Conference safety that was the starting strong safety for the Chiefs in the team’s first practice of 2010?

No, it wasn’t first-round draft choice Eric Berry out of Tennessee. Ultimately, the job likely belongs to Berry and maybe as soon as tomorrow. But on this Monday in May, he was running with the third team. The starting strong safety was Reshard Nelson Langford, a four-year starter at Vanderbilt, who is with his second NFL team.

Reshard Langford? Who he? He’s the Alabama native who is determined to make Berry fight for playing time at safety, because he wants the opportunity to play.

“Anybody that plays the game and loves being part of the game does it so they can play in the games,” Langford said this week as the Chiefs began their OTA practice sessions. “That’s all I’m trying to do every day, make another step to being able to play in the games.”

The 6-1, 213-pound Langford talks in the language that is music to the ears of Chiefs head coach Todd Haley. He’s been a determined, consistent and improving player since he walked in the door late last season. Had veteran safety Jarrad Page shown up for the start of OTAs, it was going to be Langford who joined Jon McGraw as the starting safeties.

Starters in May do not rack up equity in the position. But for Langford, the honor was recognition of the hard work he’s put in for the past two months.

“He’s at the top of the list of guys working as hard as they can to put themselves in a position to succeed,” Haley said of Langford. “All these guys know that they all have great opportunity because anything they learned from last year (is) the guy that gives us the best chance to win will play. When guys hear that and know that, they’re excited and it gives them hope and then it’s just up to them to take advantage of the opportunity given.” …Read More!

Everybody On Board … Tuesday Cup O’Chiefs

Say this for the guys in the Chiefs locker room – they’ve bought in lock, stock and barrel. He may drive them crazy sometimes, ruffle their feathers and bruise their feelings, but Todd Haley has won over his roster, and won it over in a big way.

With one exception, the Chiefs were present and accounted for on Monday with the first OTA practice session. That pretty much matches the attendance numbers that Haley has seen from the team’s strength and conditioning program that began in the last days of March.

That’s 85 players on the roster and 84 in the house. Thanks to the TI-1795 calculator, I can tell you that’s 98.82352 percent of the team.

Remember, these are voluntary practices. Players attend only if they want to keep their spot on the Chiefs roster for the coming season. That’s right – 84 men want to be part of a team that went 4-12 last year and has gone 10-38 in the last three years.

Why? Because of what Haley has established in his first 16 months on the job. Through all the histrionics of last season, the tantrums by the head coach and some of the players and the sideline shouting matches, Haley has connected with his players.

We saw that late in the season when the Chiefs continued to play hard, despite the growing number of defeats. They didn’t always play smart or their best, but there was never a question about effort with the ’09 Chiefs – they played hard every Sunday. They all want to win; many are desperate for the chance to achieve success in pro football. They listen to what Haley says, see what he and the organization have done, and they believe in the future.

That’s grown in this off-season. …Read More!

’10 Offense Unveiled … Monday Cup O’Chiefs

The Chiefs will hit the practice field for the first of their OTA sessions on Monday.

It will be then that the offensive players get their first real indications on what the new Chiefs offense will look like.

New offense? Yes, it’s going to be new, although it won’t be quite the change that the players experienced at the end of the 2009 pre-season when head coach Todd Haley fired coordinator Chan Gailey and installed himself as the play caller and man in charge of the offense.

However, there will be noticeable differences when they crack the books this week and get a look at the scheme. Is it Haley’s offense? Is it the playbook of new offensive coordinator Charlie Weis? Will it be a combination of the two?

No, the father of the Chiefs 2010 offensive scheme will not even be on the field Monday. He’ll be somewhere in Florida, more than likely on a golf course. The man behind the Chiefs offense is Ron Erhardt. It is an approach that he developed from his time as a head coach at New England, seasons as an NFL offensive coordinator with the Giants-Patriots-Steelers and Jets and even a bit back to his own days as a college head coach at North Dakota State.

The Erhardt philosophy does not establish any sort of new agenda in the sport. It’s a tried and true formula.

“Its run the ball and then throwing play-action passes off of those runs,” Haley said when asked last week to describe the offensive philosophy for the 2010 Chiefs. …Read More!

OTAs Are Coming … Weekend Cup O’Chiefs

It’s Article XXXV of the collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and its players.

Section 1 is very plain in its language:

Voluntary Workouts: No player shall be required to attend or participate in any off-season workout program or classroom instruction of a Club other than as provided in Article XXXVI (minicamps). Any other Club off-season workout programs and classroom instruction sessions shall be strictly voluntary …”

That’s what the CBA says. But there’s really nothing voluntary about off-season work for players that hope to have a long and fruitful career in the NFL. The reality is this: Article 35, Section 1 is meaningless to 95 percent of the roster.

That’s why the NFL Players Association asked for addition language that appears at two different places in the CBA:

“No club official shall indicate to a player that the Club’s off-season workout program or classroom instruction is not voluntary or that a player’s failure to participate in a workout program or classroom instruction will result in the player’s failure to make the Club.)

That’s how it is written, but it’s ignored by 95 percent of the roster; the fight for jobs and a career are too intense to stay away. Players can figure that out themselves, without any club official or coach telling them.

This weekend will be the last free time for most members of the Chiefs until they start their summer vacations in the middle of June. …Read More!

Pickin’ On The Nose … Thursday Cup O’Chiefs

We don’t mean to keep beating on a dead horse. Okay, maybe we do mean to harp on the Chiefs remarkably bad defense against the run during the 2009 season.

And our focus is not so much on what happened last year, but what the Chiefs have and more appropriately haven’t done to fix what was an obvious problem. Teams cannot expect to win enough games to be a contender when they can’t stop the other team’s running game.

There is little under the category of “obvious moves” that Pioli/Haley have done to address the run defense. They’ve put their defensive eggs in the basket of new coordinator Romeo Crennel and a big jump in production and performance from the players that were on the roster during the ’09 season.

Two days ago the focus was on DE Tyson Jackson, one of those returning performers who simply must get better in the ’10 season. If he’s not a factor in shutting down his side of the field on the run, the Chiefs will have badly misjudged his potential and wasted the third choice of the 2009 NFL Draft.

But Jackson and the team’s other starting DE Glenn Dorsey can’t do it alone. They need help from the man between them. The Chiefs need more from their nose tackles like Ron Edwards, who is hitting Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger above.

They need a lot more.

Here’s what the 13 teams that played the 3-4 defensive scheme last season got in the way of production from their primary nose tackles: …Read More!

End Of An Era … Wednesday Cup O’Chiefs

This is a story about a professional football player who was not arrested. He was not fined and handed a suspension by the NFL Commissioner. He did not embarrass himself, family or his team’s fans with bad behavior.

He just went out and played pro football and acted like a gentleman for one season, two seasons, three … in the end it was 22 seasons.

Lost in the muddy ramifications of Big Ben’s trip to a dirty bathroom in a Georgia bar about two weeks ago was this story: New York Giants punter Jeff Feagles announced his retirement.

After 22 seasons and 352 games in the NFL, Feagles’ body had enough. A sore back and a swollen knee from the start of his off-season workout program was a message he could not ignore. So as the month of April came to end, so did his career as the NFL’s most prolific punter.

Most fans around the country that even bothered to know who Feagles was generally considered him just another one of those faceless legs that handle the punts and kicks in the pro game. But among other punters and those in the know when it comes to NFL special teams, Feagles was a rock star.

“I remember the first season I was here, we played the Giants and I remember running out on the field before the game and making a bee-line for Jeff,” said Chiefs punter Dustin Colquitt. “I was so excited to get to speak with him. I went running up to him and told him I had worked with Steve Hoffman after I was drafted when the Chiefs brought him in to work on some stuff and clean me up. It was Hoff who was his coach at the University of Miami and found the guy (in an Arizona junior college.)

“I told him I used to play him on the Tecmo Super Bowl (video) game.” …Read More!

Expectations For Tyson … Tuesday Cup O’Chiefs

The Chiefs were next to last in run defense during the 2009 season.

With that kind of hole in their defense, Pioli/Haley apparently decided there were two answers to fixing the problem. First was the hiring of defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel. Second was improvement from within.

The Chiefs are obviously counting on significant improvement from within since they’ve added just two players in the front seven: draft choice OLB Cameron Sheffield and free agent NT Shaun Smith.

Haley wouldn’t name names when it came to what players already on the roster must provide more production, but one of them is obvious: last year’s No. 1 draft choice DE Tyson Jackson.

Most fans and observers of the ’09 Chiefs called Jackson’s rookie season performance a disappointment. He played all 16 games, started 14 times and finished the year with 31 tackles, no sacks, no fumbles caused, no fumbles recovered, no interceptions, knocked down two passes and put pressure on the quarterback four times.

There’s no question that Jackson struggled with the transition to the NFL. He had a five-game stretch early in the season where he contributed a total of two tackles. There was another three-game stretch in November where he had two tackles. But he had seven tackles against Jacksonville, including two quarterback pressures. Against Buffalo, he had six tackles.

Every week was a learning experience for Jackson. Now, the Chiefs are expecting him to put those lessons into use in season No. 2. But what can the Chiefs reasonably expect from their second-year defensive end? …Read More!

An NFL Grab Bag … Monday Cup O’Chiefs

It has been a mad scramble over the weekend as we celebrated the graduation of our youngest with her Masters of Science in Speech Pathology from the University of Tulsa. As a parent, you always hope your children are smarter than you; that was not too hard for Liz, but she went above and beyond to get it done. Congratulations sweetie!

Now back to work as we catch up on a number of items from around the world of pro football.


He is not at Arrowhead Stadium. He’s not going through the off-season program with the New York Giants. John Henderson remains unemployed several weeks after his release by the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Why? There could be several factors at work here, but likely the biggest reason is an over-estimation of his value to his next team. Simply: he wants too much money. This happens a lot when long-time veterans are cut loose by their old team and they view it as a chance to cash in at the pay window.

If that’s the case, it sends a message about what this player thinks is important. If that’s the case, it would seem to diminish the chances of Henderson landing with the Chiefs. Pioli/Haley are not looking for guys seeking a pay day. They are looking for players “that fit” their mold.


Houston Texans LB Brian Cushing, the NFL’s defensive rookie of the year last season, got slapped for a four-game suspension by the league under the performance enhancing drugs category.

Rumors of PED use by Cushing go back to his days at Southern Cal and it was a charge that the linebacker denied, saying he never tested positive. Even after the NFL suspension, Cushing denies using PEDs, saying in a statement released by his agent that the suspension was due to a “non-steroidal banned substance.” …Read More!

And the Loser Is … Weekend Cup O’Chiefs

There’s no surprise that maybe a Chiefs fan or two, or two thousand, enjoyed the sad news that came out of Oakland on Thursday with the Raiders release of QB JaMarcus Russell.

The move ended what has been an NFL soap opera for the last three years and established a new standard for failure in the NFL Draft. Russell is the poster child for the decline of the storied Raiders franchise, one that has made football proudest man a laughingstock among those that once feared him.

More than anything else, I would bet Al Davis is sad, upset and angry not with the wasted draft choice, or the $39 million Russell collected over three years. I’d wager that what just destroys Davis is that Russell remains a remarkable athlete, capable of doing memorable things on the football field. For any number of reasons, the Raiders were not able to get cultivate those talents so that Russell was a winning and productive quarterback.

Instead, he’s now the second man in the debate on who is the biggest bust in NFL Draft history, joining former San Diego’s selection Ryan Leaf. Russell was the first man selected in 2007, while Leaf was No. 2 in 1998. There are others that would be in the running with them, say the first choice of the 1999 NFL Draft QB Tim Couch who failed miserably in Cleveland. But the gold and silver medals are reserved for Russell and Leaf.

Any recent first-round draft failure in the Chiefs dossier does not come close to matching the sad results of Russell’s career. …Read More!

A Free Agent Find? … Thursday Cup O’Chiefs

If Todd Haley has said it once, he’s said it a hundred times in the 16 months that he’s been the head coach of the Chiefs:

“It doesn’t matter how a player got here. It’s what we see once he’s here.”

All coaches like to say things like that, and sometimes it’s believable. Other times it’s just something a coach thinks he has to say. We all know that no matter how bad say Eric Berry may look before the start of the regular season, he’s not going to be released. No chance. The early draft choices will always get more chances than the undrafted college free agents.

But bad teams provide a greater opportunity for players on the fringe to make the roster. When a team doesn’t have enough talent, it’s really not going to matter to the decision makers where a player comes from; if he can play, he has a job.

Last year, Haley and GM Scott Pioli started the season with eight rookies on the 53-man roster. Two of those players were undrafted – LBs Jovan Belcher and Pierre Walters. Both spent the entire ’09 season on the active roster and they were joined at one point last year by S Rickey Price, G Daryl Harris and DL Dion Gales.

This season the Chiefs have signed 11 college free agents who will return on May 17th and work with the team in the OTAs and June’s full-team mini-camp. Most will go to training camp in St. Joe and take their shot at one of the most difficult tasks in the pro game – making the roster after all 32 teams passed you by in the NFL Draft multiple times.

As we’ve dug through the list of Chiefs signees, one player in that group stands out – OLB Justin Cole out of San Jose State (above).

Checking around the league in the 10 days since the Draft, we found that Cole was on most team’s boards as a draftable player. Some had him rated as high as a fifth-round choice. Others had him in the sixth or seventh-round. At least one time labeled him a “desirable signee” as an undrafted free agent. …Read More!

A Chiefs Grab Bag … Wednesday Cup O’Chiefs

Cleaning up the notebook on a few matters Chiefs related around the NFL in the first week of May.


What should we make of this signing? Is this strictly a Charlie Weis deal? Or did Grimes really show enough as a tryout player during a three-day rookie camp to warrant a chance to continue on with his NFL dream?

Grimes played four seasons for Weis at Notre Dame, where he was an OK possession receiver, working a lot out of the slot. He did not put up big numbers, finishing his career with 90 catches for 900 yards and seven touchdowns. He also did some kick returning, averaging 23.7 yards on 36 returns, but no touchdowns. During his senior season in ’08, he was one of Notre Dame’s three captains and he was a leader on the field and locker room who helped the transition to the Irish program for Golden Tate and Michael Floyd. All that is good stuff.

Now here’s the not so good stuff. Grimes is 5-9 7/8, 173 pounds. He posted 40-yard dash times of 4.58 and 4.62 in the last few months. So while he’s small, he’s not really fast. He signed with Denver as an undrafted free agent back on April 27, 2009 and was released by the Broncos on July 23, 2009 without even going to training camp. Part of his problem was surgery on his back that happened after the ’08 Notre Dame season.

Here’s how one talent evaluator described him before the ’09 NFL Draft: …Read More!

It’s A Crowded Weight Room … Tuesday Cup O’Chiefs

The rookie mini-camp was in his rearview mirror and his beloved Pittsburgh Penguins were on the tube skating in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

But Sunday afternoon, Todd Haley had no trouble turning his attention to talking about his team’s strength and conditioning program. That’s the one involving returning veterans and recently acquired players with NFL experience.

That group got back to work on Monday morning as the rookies cleared out of the building and the program that began on March 29th continued on its way to a June conclusion after 10 weeks and 40 workouts.

“I am excited about the guys that have been here working out,” Haley said. “I can’t stress that enough, I know I go over the top on this off-season (program), but it is so critical to success and you must be pushing towards the top in that area to have a chance to sustain and be a good team over the long haul. I am really excited about what these guys are doing here on a daily basis.”

Here’s what is so exciting about the off-season program for Haley: with the exception of veterans Brian Waters and Mike Vrabel, every other player on the roster has been in the program.

“That’s everyone, 100 percent?” Haley was asked.

“Everyone,” he said. …Read More!

Wrapping Up Rookie Camp … Monday Cup O’Chiefs

From the Truman Sports Complex

The draft choices that were part of the Chiefs rookie camp were all singing the same tune over the weekend.

And it was music to the ears of head coach Todd Haley:

“Wherever Coach Haley needs me to be, that’s where I’m going to be … wherever he puts me, you’re going to get the same guy … whatever I’m told to do is what I am going to do …. Do whatever I can to make the team better and make the team at this point … I’m just trying to make the team and learn the playbook … whatever the coaches want me to do, I will do.”

All seven of the Chiefs draft choices spoke to the media for a few moments during the rookie camp, and all of them repeatedly used words like compete, opportunity, willing to contribute, do anything I’m asked. It almost made you think they were scripted.

They weren’t. Certainly they said things they knew the head coach and organization would like to hear. But that would be the cynical outlook on their words. Those that prefer a bit more optimism and hope should consider this: they were seven players from seven different college football programs but they all have the same goals and desires, and it would seem personalities.

They all took to heart one thing that Haley told them during their first meeting of the camp: you don’t know what you don’t know. As Bill Parcells would say – and maybe Haley did too – you are rookies, act like it.

And they won over their head coach. …Read More!

Rookies Will Get An Earful … Friday Cup O’Chiefs

It was at last year’s rookie mini-camp that we got our first exposure to Todd Haley and his coaching style.

There had been hints here and there thanks to grumbling from veteran players about his demeanor and of course there was that incident/fantasy involving Brian Waters and the supposed “guys off the street” comment.

But when the rookies and tryout guys showed up at the Chiefs facility, they got an earful on the practice field. In helmets and shorts, Haley and his staff were very vocal in demanding quicker and faster plays. Mental mistakes were discouraged in a very loud and sometimes profane manner. Those of us allowed to view some of the workouts found out that Haley’s practices were going to be a lot different than Herm Edwards and Dick Vermeil before him.

Well, it’s another year and another crop of draft picks, free agents and tryout guys will hit the field on Friday afternoon at the Truman Sports Complex. They are scheduled for four practices on the weekend: one Friday, two on Saturday and then a finale on Sunday. More than likely they’ll undergo some physical testing on Friday morning.

And there’s been no indication that Haley has mellowed, certainly not with the addition of grouchy coordinators like Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel. The head coach will establish the Chiefs mentality very quickly, right down to his first conversation with these guys.

Haley doesn’t reveal what he says to the players or even prospective players, but we’ve got an idea of what this opening talk might be like. That’s thanks to his mentor Bill Parcells. …Read More!

What You Say? … Thursday Cup O’Chiefs

In these ultra-sensitive times one can create headlines when asking someone whether their mother was a prostitute.

Heck, there isn’t any time when asking if Mom was a professional slut wouldn’t cause a reaction; generally it would be a guaranteed knuckle sandwich in the proboscis no matter the year, decade or century.

But the controversy of the week involves Jeff Ireland (left), the GM of the Miami Dolphins.

Right off the top let me tell you that Ireland is a very good man. He spent four years working in the Chiefs personnel department back in the day (1997-2000) scouting the colleges in the southwest and southeast. Ireland helped the team evaluate and draft guys like Dante Hall and Greg Wesley.

Ireland is also the step-son of Chiefs great E.J. Holub, and his maternal grandfather was Jim Parmer, who was the college scouting director for the Chicago Bears for 35 years. He was responsible for drafting many of the players who made up the Bears Super Bowl team of 1985.

It was spending summers with his grandfather that sparked the desire to be a scout in Ireland. He joined the Dallas Cowboys in 2001. When Bill Parcells took over the football operation of the Dolphins in 2008, he named Ireland the team’s general manager. …Read More!

The Search Never Ends … Wednesday Cup O’Chiefs

Already the Chiefs scouts have cleaned up after last weekend’s NFL Draft and are working on the class of 2011. The personnel process is a 365-day a year job.

In the days leading up to the Draft, during the three-day affair and in the three days afterwards, there has been plenty of personnel movement. Veterans of all kinds have been released, traded or sliced off their old roster for many different reasons.

Despite the opportunities, GM Scott Pioli and the Chiefs have not pulled the trigger on any trades or signings. There haven’t even been any rumors about their interest in a player until Monday when Jacksonville released DT John Henderson (right). He’s supposed to talk with the Chiefs on Wednesday, an obvious indication that they have an interest in him.

But what about some of the other players that have changed teams or remain available? Why were the Chiefs silent? Why did they not add them to a roster that needs more talent? Let’s discuss some of them:

LB AKIN AYODELE – He was released back in March by the Dolphins and was available until this past Saturday, when he signed with Denver. Certainly, Pioli had an avenue to check on Ayodele and why he was cut loose by Miami where he played two seasons. He joined the ‘Fins after two seasons with Dallas, where he was signed as a free agent by Bill Parcells. The 6-2, 245-pound native of Texas has played both inside and outside, with 630 total tackles, 95 sacks and seven interceptions. He will be 31 in September.

Did he fit the Chiefs? – They need help at linebacker, especially on the inside where Ayodele has played the last four seasons. Based on what happened to him and the Dolphins defense last year, he seems a duplication of players they already have on the roster. Whether he would have helped is something the Chiefs will see up close and personnel, since they’ll play him and the Broncos twice. …Read More!

Defining Character …. Tuesday Cup O’Chiefs

It’s one of the great dichotomies of football. Teams like players that are willing to do things that would get them arrested if it happened on a city street. Teams would like those same players to check that aggressive and sometimes rude behavior at the white stripes and behave off-the-field like solid, law abiding citizens.

Inflict punishment on the field while off the field, help a little old lady cross the street; every team in the league seeks those types of players. That personality group is out there and available among the young men that play the game. But they are not always easy to find or cultivate.

No team in the league makes more noise about finding players of character than the Chiefs of Pioli/Haley. From the first day they were in the building, the general manager and the head coach have used the term “the right 53″ when describing their attitude towards personnel. A player’s talent is not what makes him attractive to Pioli/Haley. It’s his personality, work ethic, character and determination, or at least that’s what they say.

According to them, character is the biggest foundation block in re-building the Hunt Family franchise.

Over this past weekend, the local media got caught up in the character issue. Despite the fact it’s been repeated ad nauseam since they arrived in Kansas City, it seems the Chiefs 2010 Draft class finally convinced the scribes and golden throats that this is truly the Pioli/Haley approach.

They regurgitated the mantra of character and the “right 53″ so much in their stories from the Draft that Pioli felt obliged to mention that the team did select some guys who could play football. …Read More!

Looking At The Chiefs Draft … Monday Cup O’Chiefs

Perspective is a funny animal. Four people can stand shoulder to shoulder and look at the same picture, in the same light and see different things. And they all might be correct in their interpretation of the vision before them. Even black and white has shades of grey and shadows that can be translated to mean different things.

It’s the same with the NFL Draft. One man sees the selection of a player as a reach, while another sees it as assurance that the team making the decision got their man. One group thinks a team’s draft class is filled with projects and over-valued players, while another sees potential and future stars.

So it goes with NFL Draft class of 2010 for the Kansas City Chiefs. It’s a class of seven players that will play an important role in whether the franchise can dig itself out of the hole that comes with a 10-38 record over the last three seasons.

Without question, the Chiefs were able to draft some talented players, a handful of playmakers that is so lacking on the roster. Eric Berry, Dexter McCluster, Javier Arenas could bring big plays and yardage and point production to the offense, defense and kicking game.

“We’ve got good football players,” said GM Scott Pioli. “Team speed has been improved. I think we’ve added smarter players, we added competitive players, physical, tough players and all those things that we added along with the speed improved the overall competitiveness. We feel we improved a lot of things, but we improved this football team.” …Read More!

Thoughts On Draft Day No. 2 … Saturday Cup O’Chiefs

From the Truman Sports Complex

There’s so much to talk about with all the decisions that went down on Friday in rounds two and three of the 2010 NFL Draft.

The Chiefs alone produced plenty of discussion points, but we’ll save those for the next few days as they have two more picks to make and heaven knows what else might happen. You’ve got to hand it to GM Scott Pioli: he loves to trade picks so he can draft tight ends.

Last year, he traded the 2010 seventh-round pick to Miami so he could get back into the ’09 seventh-round to take TE Jake O’Connell. Then on Friday, he gave up fourth and fifth-round choices to move back into the late third round to take Iowa TE Tony Moeaki.

That leaves the Chiefs with just two choices early in the fifth round, and no picks in the fourth, sixth and seventh rounds.

One other Draft Day No. 2 note: once the 50th pick was made there was finally closure on last year’s trade of Tony Gonzalez to Atlanta. It came down to Gonzalez for CB-Returner Javier Arenas. Little Javy has some big shoes to fill.


Sure Pioli made a deal to get back into the late third round. That was his only move in the two-day draft. That’s nothing compared to his old boss Bill Belichick with the Patriots.

By the time the smoke cleared in the third round Friday night, New England had traded eight different draft choices and accumulated 10 more. They made deals with six different teams – Denver, Oakland, Houston, Arizona, Dallas and Carolina – and still drafted five players by the end of the night: CB Devin McCourty, TE Rob Gronkowski, LBs Jermaine Cunningham and Brandon Spikes and WR Taylor Price. …Read More!

Thoughts on Draft Day #1 … Friday Cup O’Chiefs

From the Truman Sports Complex

So much to cover in what was a wild and wooly first round of the NFL Draft; here are random thoughts galore on what went down Thursday night.


It was a big day for the new GM-coach combo with Seattle in John Schneider and Pete Carroll.

And it started out very good for the Seahawks thanks to the Chiefs decision to pass on OT Russell Okung (left) at the fifth slot, drafting instead Tennessee safety Eric Berry.

The Seattle draft room watched the Chiefs move with some anxiety, especially offensive line coach Alex Gibbs, who definitely wanted to put Okung in a Seahawks uniform.

“I was scared to death because I know the line coach there (Chiefs OL coach Bill Muir) very well and he wanted this kid as bad, or worse, than I did,” Gibbs told the Tacoma News-Tribune. “And he didn’t get him. So we quickly texted him and said, ‘Ha, ha,’ and all that good stuff. We’re all in the same community and we all think together so that’s kind of the way it is.”

Seattle has to go down as the gold medal winner in the first round, getting Okung and then adding Texas safety Earl Thomas with the 14th pick. Okung was considered the best offensive lineman in the Class of ’10, while Thomas was thought by some to be the equal if not better than Berry as a safety. Carroll also went for Thomas rather than his former Southern Cal safety Taylor Mays.

For a team that struggled last year, it was a nice double for Carroll to begin the rebuilding process.

Kudos to the Lions as well, getting the big man Ndamukong Suh, and then trading back into the bottom of the round to pick up RB Jahvid Best out of California. …Read More!

It’s Decision Day … Thursday Cup O’Chiefs

Will it be a big, burly offensive tackle like Russell Okung or Bryan Bulaga? Is a defensive player like Eric Berry or Rolando McClain about to become the newest member of the Chiefs? Is there a name coming out of the blue, matching what happened last year when Tyson Jackson was Kansas City’s first-round choice.

The question of who will be the Chiefs first-round selection should be answered Thursday evening with the start of the 2010 NFL Draft. Maybe the biggest question is whether Scott Pioli and Todd Haley stay at the fifth choice of the first round, or will they take the bait offered by another team and move down in the order?

When a football team has won just 10 games in the last three NFL seasons there are always a lot of question that must be answered. This three-day selection meeting is hugely important to Pioli/Haley in their attempt to reverse the fortunes of the Chiefs. With eight selections in the first 144 players, they must use those choices to infuse the roster with badly needed talent.

With three of the first 50 picks and four of the first 68 selections, there can be no mistakes by the Chiefs personnel operation. Those four spots must produce help, both long-term and immediately, for the team’s offense, defense and special teams. The remaining four selections – including three choices in the fifth round – must also provide players who can step into various roles with the team. …Read More!

The Lights Are On … Wednesday Cup O’Chiefs

Quite possibly the biggest upset of the 2010 NFL schedule that was announced Tuesday evening came in the season’s first week. That would be the Chiefs making it to a prime-time broadcast.

Lobbying by the Hunt Family convinced the league powers to give the nation a look at the first regular season game in the revamped Arrowhead Stadium. On Monday evening, September 14, the San Diego Chargers will be in town for Game No. 1.

That’s all well and good. Considering the amount of money the Hunts have spent themselves on the renovation of Arrowhead, they have every reason to want to show off the building. Of course one must also take into consideration that the reason Arrowhead became one of the NFL’s most famous stadiums wasn’t the cement and steel, the concourses and the club level.

Arrowhead became an iconic stadium thanks to the crowds that filled the seats in the 1990s and the enthusiasm they brought to watching Chiefs football. Of course that bloom is long off the rose as the team has struggled for the last three years to sellout their home games, just as the team struggled on the field to win games.

The visit by the Chargers on that Monday night will certainly give the Chiefs something to sell to potential ticket buyers. For fans that want to be part of that evening on a single ticket basis, expect to be forced to buy a ticket to the December 19th game against Tennessee as well, or maybe the October 31st Halloween home game against Chan Gailey and his Buffalo Bills. …Read More!

The Picks History … Tuesday Cup O’Chiefs

The Chiefs have eight of the first 144 selections in this week’s NFL Draft.

On paper, those numbers sound impressive. Eight of the first 144 selected players should provide a big infusion of talent to a roster that badly needs just that: talent.

But what can the Chiefs really expect to get from those selections? We went back and dug through the last 10 NFL Drafts and matched up the selections in the slots the Chiefs currently hold in this year’s selection meeting. Like last year’s fifth pick in the first round was Jets QB Mark Sanchez (right).

Not surprising, the results show a mixed bag in successfully finding players. That’s very much the plot line that runs through any look at the NFL Draft. Despite the millions of dollars spent on scouting and evaluation, there are no guarantees when it comes to selecting young players and then developing them into contributors to success.

And, there are no guarantees that the Chiefs are going to score with these choices; in so many cases the teams that have drafted in those spots in the last decade failed to find or develop an outstanding player. Sometimes they got no contribution at all. All eight of the Chiefs picks are in the first five rounds and those are always players that are expected to make the roster and play for at least several seasons. …Read More!

Checkin’ The Latest Line … Monday Cup O’Chiefs

Chiefs GM Scott Pioli was talking the other day about how information on potential draft picks keeps flowing right up until moments before selection.

The 2010 NFL Draft got a taste of that on Saturday when Alabama LB Rolando McClain (right) told a Birmingham, Alabama newspaper that he does not have Crohn’s Disease, an inflammation of the intestines that can sometimes be very painful and disruptive to a person’s health.

It was McClain who surprised everyone at the Alabama Pro Day workout last month when he said he had the malady since he was in the ninth grade.

Saturday in Tuscaloosa as he was having his handprint and cleat print set in cement at a Walk of Fame on the University of Alabama quadrangle, McClain said he has now been told he does not have Crohn’s.

“In all my talks with my doctors in the past two weeks, with all the tests we’ve done, they don’t even feel I have Crohn’s disease,” McClain said. “The tests came out good and positive. Every team knows it’s not going to affect me at all.

“I don’t have any signs of it right now.” …Read More!

The Busts Of Busts … Friday Cup O’Chiefs

Here’s our premise for today:

Who were the worst first-round draft choices in the NFL since the merger in 1970?

The selections are based on their position in the round. In other words, who was the worst 12th player taken in the first round of the NFL Draft from 1970 to 2008? Who was the least productive player taken with the 25th pick?

We will leave out last year’s draft since those players have not had the chance to show themselves as busts just yet.

For instance, our pick as the worst No. 1 draft choice in the last 38 drafts is DL Steve Emtman (right), taken by the Colts with the first choice of the 1992 NFL Draft.

When I picked the best first round picks it was very subjective. I’ll use a more objective reference for picking the worst first round selections. The No. 1 ability any player can have is availability and that’s how we’ve made our selections: games played. It’s not a perfect barometer of their contributions, but they couldn’t begin to be productive if they weren’t on the field. Injuries, in some cases death and in one case even murder led to departures from the league by first round selections. We violated this rule only once in 32 picks, and that’s the first choice.

Again remember that picks No. 27 through 32 have not always been in the first round. It was in 1976 that picks No. 27 and 28 joined the first round, with No. 29 and No. 30 coming in 1995, No. 31 in 1999 and No. 32 in the 2002 Draft. There were various exceptions along the way, like the ’95 draft when new teams in Jacksonville and Carolina received a pair of first round selections.

So here we go, the worst first-round picks, spot by spot: …Read More!

Best 1st-Rounders Ever …Thursday Cup O’Chiefs

Here’s our premise for today:

Who were the best first-round draft choices in the NFL since the merger in 1970?

Our picks are based on their position in the round. It’s not whether they were taken in the first round, but where they were selected. In other words, who was the best 12th pick taken in the first round of the NFL Draft from 1970 to 2005? Who was the most productive player taken with the 25th pick?

We are going to leave out last year’s draft since those players haven’t gotten the chance to prove themselves worthy of all-time status yet. But that leaves 39 other drafts, with very familiar names and others who do not come as quickly to mind.

Obviously, this is very subjective, which is why I’ve included honorable mention selections at almost every slot. Also remember that picks No. 27 through 32 have not always been in the first round. It was 1976 that picks No. 27 and 28 joined the first round, with No. 29 and No. 30 coming in 1995, No. 31 in 1999 and No. 32 in the 2002 Draft. There were various exceptions along the way, like the ’95 draft when new teams in Jacksonville and Carolina received a pair of first round selections.

So here we go, the best first-round picks, spot by spot: …Read More!

Surviving The Top 5 … Wednesday Cup O’Chiefs

Carl Peterson used to say it all the time.

“I don’t ever want to be drafting in the top five,” the former Chiefs GM said. “That means your team is struggling and you didn’t win a lot of games the year before.”

During Peterson’s reign in charge of the franchise, the Chiefs had a top five draft choice three times: 1989, 2008 and 2009. Derrick Thomas was the fourth choice in ’89 and went on to a Hall of Fame career. Glenn Dorsey was the fifth pick of the ’08 Draft and has been a solid, if unspectacular player. Peterson didn’t get the chance to use the third choice of the ’09 Draft that went for DE Tyson Jackson.

In theory, the top five choices should be the top five players available in that year’s draft. Funny, how it doesn’t always end up that way. Even though the teams picking in the first five slots get a head start, they take just as many busts as teams picking at other areas of the first round.

What are the odds on getting a good player at one through five? …Read More!

Ben Escapes Legal Sack … Tuesday Cup O’Chiefs

From Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

The words of Dean Vernon Wormer of Faber College came to mind:

“Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life son.”

That unforgettable scene from the Hollywood classic Animal House had Dean Wormer speaking to freshman Kent Dorfman who had just registered a 0.2 grade point average thanks to excessive partying as a pledge at Delta House.

District Attorney Fred Bright did not mention those words on Monday when he announced that Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger will not be prosecuted over an incident in early March in Milledgeville, Georgia. But he did tell the 28-year old quarterback that it was time for him to grow up.

Roethlisberger is the NFL’s version of Kent Dorfman. Big Ben is Flounder.

“If he were my son, the best way I could say it is, Ben grow up,” Bright said. “You are supposed to stand for something. You are the leader. You should be a role model. You don’t need to put yourself in this situation anymore.

“Grow up. Cut it out.”

The reason Roethlisberger will not be arrested or charged with rape came down to a simple fact: his actions could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

That does not mean Big Ben was innocent of the allegations. In fact, as Bright laid out his decision and talked about the investigation of the events that went down that night, it’s obvious something did happen between the quarterback and the 20-year old coed who said she was assaulted. …Read More!

Lick This Wonder! … Weekend Cup O’Chiefs

Consider the possibilities – would you rather be San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith or Hall of Fame passer Dan Marino? If you could trade places with these two NFL quarterbacks who played with the Buffalo Bills, would you pick Ryan Fitzpatrick or Hall of Fame QB Jim Kelly?

Say you want to replay your football career as a college quarterback in the state of Virginia. Would you pick Marques Hagans of the University of Virginia, or would you rather be Virginia Tech’s Michael Vick, without all the pit bull baggage?

By most measures, there is little doubt that trading places with the likes of Marino, Kelly and Vick, would be preferable to living the football life of Smith, Fitzpatrick or Hagans. But not by every measure, especially not by one important element in the evaluation process.

The Wonderlic Test is a 12-minute, 50-question exercise that is given to potential NFL draft picks each year. It has become famous at this time of year as the Wonderlic results leak out.

Smith scored a 40 on the Wonderlic before the 2006 NFL Draft; back in 1983, Marino’s score was just 15. Coming out of Harvard, Fitzpatrick hit 48 in the test; Kelly was a 15. Hagans – remember he was with the Chiefs early in the 2008 season as a wide receiver – scored 37; Vick hit for a 20 on the Wonderlic.

Sometimes the results of a Wonderlic Test are just as confusing as taking the test. It’s one reason why some teams have chosen to diminish the importance of the score, whether high or low.

“The Wonderlic does not tell us about a player’s football intelligence,” said former Chiefs President-GM Carl Peterson, who in over 30 years of evaluating potential players saw a lot of Wonderlic scores. “The player’s score is just an indication of a player’s ability to read and comprehend what he has just read.” …Read More!

The Latest Line … Thursday Cup O’Chiefs

There are 14 days until the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft. Seems like a good enough time to guess, conjecture, dissect and throw darts to divine the name of the Chiefs No. 1 draft choice.

Understand that no magic information has slipped under the door at the Truman Sports Complex to reveal their interest. No puffs of smoke, black or white. Various players have come to Kansas City to meet with the club. Team officials have headed out around the country to meet with players on their home turf. What it all means is unknown at this point. These assignations could be evidence of interest on the part of the Chiefs, or could be smokescreens to shield the true objects of their football desires.

We sit on the periphery of the media world so like our bigger brothers in the print, television and yakkers world, we are not going to allow facts or in this case non-facts to clutter up our story. That’s a long sentence to say we are guessing on the No. 5 choice.

Here’s what I think can be established at this point: QB Sam Bradford, DT Ndamukong Suh and OT Russell Okung will not be available when the Chiefs turn to draft in the first round begins. Bradford will go either No. 1 to St. Louis or No. 4 to Washington or a team the Redskins trade with. Suh will go No. 1, No. 2 to Detroit or No. 3 to Tampa Bay. Okung figures to be drafted at No. 2 or No. 4.

One other player will also be off the board and thus unavailable to the Chiefs.

Right now, I think these are the players that Pioli/Haley will consider with the start of their time on the clock: …Read More!

Using Picks For QBs … Wednesday Cup O’Chiefs

This NFL week started with a one of the league’s most established quarterbacks changing teams as Donovan McNabb was traded by the Eagles to the Redskins for a pair of draft picks.

On Tuesday, the subject was the most likely player to be chosen with the first selection in the 2010 NFL Draft – QB Sam Bradford. The Rams, whether at home in Los Angeles or St. Louis, have not drafted a quarterback in the first round in 46 years.

That’s the longest drought without drafting a first-round passer in the league. The Chiefs are tied for the third longest streak at 27 years, or since they grabbed Todd Blackledge with the seventh choice in the first round of the 1983 Draft.

But that doesn’t mean the Chiefs haven’t used first-round draft choices to get their starting quarterback. And, it doesn’t mean they haven’t used plenty of draft choices on QBs over 27 seasons.

Since Blackledge was picked by head coach John Mackovic, only two other quarterbacks drafted by the Chiefs have started for the team: Brodie Croyle and Doug Hudson, a little-known 1987 draft choice who was signed during the players strike that year and started one of the replacement games. Since Blackledge’s last start with the Chiefs on September 20, 1987, there have been 10 games where the starting quarterback was a Kansas City draft choice. That’s 10 out of 377 regular and post-season games – one for Hudson, nine for Croyle.

That’s 3 percent of the games! …Read More!

Rams Must Take Bradford … Tuesday Cup O’Chiefs

The 2010 NFL Draft is just two weeks and two days away. The St. Louis Rams are already on the clock with this year’s first choice.

They absolutely, positively, without a doubt must select QB Sam Bradford. For the Rams to do anything else would be a football folly of stupendous proportions. There is no other possible scenario for St. Louis. None.

The last time the Rams franchise selected a quarterback in the first round of the NFL Draft was 46 years ago. That year the Los Angeles Rams drafted Bill Munson with the seventh selection of the 1964 Draft.

No team in the NFL has gone longer without drafting a first-round quarterback. The next longest stretch without that choice in the opening round belongs to the New Orleans Saints, going back to 1981. The Chiefs are next on that list – but more on that later.

Last year the Rams went 1-15. They had two victories the year before, and three the season beyond that. That’s a 6-42 record in the past three seasons.

There’s only one positive that comes out of football that bad – the chance to draft the type of quarterback who has the skills to become one of the game’s best. When that opportunity presents itself, a team cannot let it pass. They must grab a quarterback who has the physical, mental and emotional tools to be “the man.” Bradford has all those qualities.

Nobody knows that better than Rams GM Billy Devaney. He was working for Bobby Beathard and the San Diego Chargers in 1998 when they had the second pick of that year’s Draft. The first choice belonged to Indianapolis and the Colts grabbed Peyton Manning. …Read More!

A Gutsy Move With McNabb … Monday Cup O’Chiefs

The most talked about, written about and speculated about trade in recent NFL history finally went down Sunday night. The balance of power in the AFC West was not tipped by the Eagles decision to deal quarterback Donovan McNabb.

By all media reports, the Oakland Raiders were the team that was going to add McNabb. That certainly would have changed some of the landscape for the Chiefs and others in the division. But instead, it was the Washington Redskins that paid the price the Eagles were looking for in exchange for their starting quarterback.

The Redskins gave up their second-round choice in this year’s NFL Draft and then either a third or fourth-round selection next year, depending on circumstances that were not publicly announced. Quite frankly it must go down as a pretty ballsy move by the Eagles – trading their 31-year old icon to a team in their own division. Everyone will get to see how smart they are twice a year in the NFC East, especially the always vocal Eagles fans.

With the deal, all sorts of dominoes fall around the NFL, and while they were nowhere near this entire scenario, the move has an effect on the Chiefs.

By all indications, Washington was enamored with Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford. The McNabb deal is a sign that Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen did not think that Bradford was going to be there on the fourth pick, or that they were going to be willing to put together the type of package that would entice the Rams to make a deal.

So why McNabb? Shanahan wants to win now. …Read More!

The Readers Picks & More … Weekend Cup O’Chiefs

We asked and we received. The request was your top 10 Chiefs draft choices of all time, and you responded.

By the time we finished up tallying the votes, there were more than 43 different players nominated on over 70 ballots. That group included Gale Sayers, Bob Lilly and Roger Staubach.

Yes, they were all Chiefs draft choices, but they never played for the franchise. All were taken during the signing wars between the AFL and NFL in the early 1960s. Sayers went to Chicago, while Lilly and Staubach ended up with the Dallas Cowboys. Yes, all three made the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but we were interested only in those players who actually played for the franchise.

We also had several votes for Len Dawson; all three voters knew that he wasn’t a draft choice of the Chiefs. But they felt Dawson’s pro career was so tied to the Chiefs that he should be considered a selection of the team. Len was selected in the first round of the 1957 NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Remarkably, five players were named on almost all the lists. To break ties, we tallied up the number of times the player was named No. 1. Even then, we had to break a tie between three players going down to how many times they were voted No. 2 on the ballots.

In the end, it’s really a remarkable collection of football talent at the top of the list, lead by three Hall of Fame linebackers: Bobby Bell, Derrick Thomas and Willie Lanier.

Here’s how it all broke down: …Read More!

We Always Have Answers … Thursday Cup O’Chiefs

This is Dickie Dunn and welcome to today’s edition of Sports Yak here on KFUL, All Sports Radio for the 22nd Century.

Coming up in our second hour, we’ll have an interesting conversation with TV bigwigs Brent Musburger and Hall of Fame basketball coach Bob Knight as they evaluate local sports talk radio. That should be interesting.

Until then we will go to the phone lines and talk about the Chiefs and NFL football. Our first caller is Jay who used the toll-free line from Jefferson City. What’s your question Jay?

Hey Dickie, long-time listener, first-time caller. I’m very upset that the Chiefs and Rams will not be playing a Governor’s Cup Game (right) in the pre-season this year. What’s up with that? I thought that was tradition? Why did they get rid of this game?

Well Jay, rest easy because the Chiefs and Rams will play in the regular season, so there will be an awarding of the Governor’s Cup in 2010. As to why they decided to not play in the pre-season as well I’m not sure. They have done that before, most recently in 2006 when the Chiefs swept both games.

I’m going to bet that the Chiefs took one look at their opponents for the 2010 home schedule and immediately started campaigning with the league office to get some bigger names in the two pre-season home games. The Chiefs are having trouble selling tickets and when your home schedule features teams like Arizona, Buffalo, Jacksonville, San Francisco and Tennessee, along with the AFC West, that doesn’t help sales. …Read More!

McNabb to Chiefs? … Wednesday Cup O’Chiefs


The current rumors about the future employer of QB Donovan McNabb remained just that after the close of business in the NFL on Tuesday.

Over the last week, just about every team in the league with the exception of the Chiefs has been linked to a trade for the Philadelphia quarterback. Don’t fall for any April Fool’s Day jokes on Thursday about McNabb heading for Arrowhead. But don’t be surprised if somebody reports it as fact.

I’m not quite sure there’s anything we can completely believe in this soap opera. It has not played out behind the NFL scenes, but in the media that cover the Eagles and the NFL. There have been so many contradictory reports on McNabb, the Eagles and where he might play in 2010; it’s a real indictment of the willingness of the media to be manipulated by forces that make being first with the news more important than being right.

A week ago, there were stories written in Philadelphia that a deal was all but finalized between the Eagles and St. Louis Rams for McNabb. There were no sources named for that nugget, but Rams GM Billy Devaney did go on the record and declare the rumor “nonsense.”

In fact through it all, there are only three people willing to stand by their comments with use of their names: Devaney, Eagles coach Andy Reid and McNabb himself, although his comments came from the printed word rather than spoken.

Call it a giant mess of rumor, innuendo and sometimes sheer fantasy. When you wade through the pond and the scum that sits on top of the water in this situation, there’s really very little that is real. …Read More!

Importance of Pro Days … Tuesday Cup O’Chiefs

The total attendance inside the University of Oklahoma’s Everest Center on Monday morning was unknown. But combine the NFL types, along with the media that showed up at the Sooners indoor training complex and there were more than 100 people watching Sam Bradford throw the ball.

Thousands of dollars and man hours went into what was a 30-minute throwing session for the former Heisman Trophy winner and Sooners starter. That’s right, 30 minutes and 63 throws. Bradford did not do anything else during this session. Oh, he was measured – 6-5 and 236 pounds – and he spent time with representatives from several teams, and even had breakfast before the workout with the St. Louis Rams contingent including GM Billy Devaney and head coach Steve Spagnuolo.

There were other Oklahoma players that worked out before Bradford’s session; most of them either did not take part in the drills at the NFL Combine or were not invited to Indianapolis. It was Oklahoma’s Pro Day, one that will be repeated on Tuesday at UCLA, Houston and Alabama, and then on Wednesday at Texas, Southern Cal and South Carolina.

Pro Days are a rather recent phenomenon in the personnel world of the NFL. A decade ago there were but a handful of these events around the country. Now, they are held every spring at every college that produces players that the NFL is interested in.

What are they for? More than a few folks in the NFL ask that question every year when they are jumping on planes and heading for Lubbock, Corvallis, Starkville and Gainesville to see players run around in their underwear. …Read More!

Starting To Sweat … Monday Cup O’Chiefs

Monday morning is the kickoff to the Chiefs off-season strength and conditioning program and the tension and anxiety level in the locker room must be significantly lower than it was at this time last year.

Todd Haley hopes it’s not too low; a healthy dose of anxiety is something he wants for every one of his players.

There isn’t a soul on the roster that after his performance during the team’s 4-12 season in 2009 that should feel he’s arrived in the NFL and he can’t improve his production and efficiency. If there is someone of that mindset, he will be exposed very quickly once the bodies are set in motion during the workouts.

Last year at this time, the team began Year No. 1 under Haley without much of an idea of what they faced. They soon learned that no matter what shape they reported in, they were not nearly in good enough shape for this head coach. By the time the workouts were over in June, there had been some 700+ pounds lost, gallons of sweat poured from the players and there were more than a few hard feelings along the way.

It was during these sessions that the returning Chiefs found out there head coach wasn’t a guy that was going to pat them on the back and tell them to try harder next time. It was a real culture shock to those players who may have known only Dick Vermeil and Herm Edwards as head coaches. Various players ended up spending time in Haley’s dog house for showing up overweight, out of shape and/or unwilling to change their mindset. Branden Albert, Dwayne Bowe, Derrick Johnson, Glenn Dorsey, Jamaal Charles and others had to change their ways. …Read More!


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         Copyright 2010 Bob Gretz. May not be used or reprinted without the expressed written consent of Bob Gretz.