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.

“With tackling we teach to wrap up, form tackle and take our man to the ground and we don’t teach the block tackle and do some of those things that will cause you to miss tackles,” said Haley.

For most of the season, there was not a lot of block tackling with the Chiefs defense. Led by CB Brandon Flowers, who is one of the best wrap-up tacklers in the league, the K.C. defense was not bouncing off ball carriers in the first games of the season.

But against the Broncos there were quite a few times when defenders tried to tackle with their shoulders, rather than their arms. At the end of a pass completion from QB Kyle Orton to WR Demaryius Thomas, both S Ricky Price and LB Derrick Johnson threw a shoulder into the receiver. Neither contact stopped Thomas who eventually went out of bounds at the Chiefs one-yard line.

“I don’t like the block tackle, never have because I think it leads to injury and it puts you in a vulnerable position,” said Haley. “That’s when you take knees to the back of the head, you take knees to shoulders or quads to shoulders and collarbones and then on top of that, you don’t have any chance to wrap somebody up and drag them down if you don’t initially get them off their feet.”

But it won’t be just the defense that goes backs to basics. It will be on offense and special teams as well. Every available player is going to have the chance to go back to the earliest days of the season and renew their fundamentals.

“We teach specific techniques and how we want to do things whether that is up front or at the tight end position, quarterback position or receiver position,” Haley said. “To me this team has to do all those things at a high level that we can control. If we do all those pre-snap things to a high level and then play with technique and effort we should have a chance to compete down in and down out.”

So why did the Chiefs leave the basics that were so successful for them. It happens in sports all the time – as seasons go on, old habits can be forgotten and new habits formed. It’s especially true with inexperienced teams and those groups that have not played together for any length of time.

“Success is the biggest obstacle to success and that is why I try to be really clear in here that we have had some success but we are not a good team yet because good teams show certain traits on a consistent basis and do things a certain way on a consistent basis,” Haley said. “We are just not there yet. I want us to be there but I wouldn’t expect us to be there.

“I have high expectations day in and day out. This is a process for us and anytime you are trying to go from one point to another and you try to do it as fast as you can. It is going to be difficult and there are going to be bumps in the road. The key is that we handle those bumps and that adversity and show the ability and resiliency to bounce back.”


So now that ILB Derrick Johnson has signed a contract extension, there are other players who do not have deals for 2011 for the Chiefs front office to negotiate with before the end of the season.

There are at least 24 players on the current roster that will become free agents in some manner. Of course, all that depends on the structure of the collective bargaining agreement and the qualifications for free agents.

Of those 24, seven are starters. On offense it’s RB Jamaal Charles, RTs Barry Richardson or Ryan O’Callaghan and C Casey Wiegmann. On defense it’s OLB Tamba Hali, OLB Mike Vrabel, CB Brandon Carr and NT Ron Edwards.

Here are the rest of the players without deals: RB Jackie Battle, FB Tim Castille, WR Terrance Copper, FB Mike Cox, QB Brodie Croyle, CB Travis Daniels, LS Thomas Gafford, DE Wallace Gilberry, LB Cory Greenwood, S Reshard Langford, CB Maurice Leggett, LB Corey Mays, S Jon McGraw, C/G Rudy Niswanger, TE Leonard Pope and DE Shaun Smith.


  • NFC – named Eagles QB Michael Vick offensive player of the week; Cowboys CB Bryan McCann defensive player of the week; Bears WR Devin Hester special teams player of the week.
  • BENGALS – signed K Aaron Pettrey; signed OT Kirk Chambers, last with the Bills.
  • BROWNS – placed G Billy Yates on the injured-reserve list (biceps) ending his career; signed CB Eric King, last with the Lions; signed RB Clifton Smith, previously with Buccaneers; released QB Brett Ratliff.
  • CARDINALS – placed RT Brandon Keith on the injured-reserve list (knee) ending his season; signed OT D’Anthony Batiste.
  • COLTS – re-signed S Chip Vaughn; released WR Chris Brooks.
  • DOLPHINS – signed TE Anthony Fasano to a 2-year contract extension, with a $2.1 million signing bonus.
  • 49ERS – released WR Jason Hill.
  • GIANTS – placed WR Ramses Barden on the injured-reserve list (leg) ending his season; re-signed WR Derek Hagen.
  • PANTHERS – signed OL C.J. Davis off their practice squad; released RB Andre Brown.
  • PATRIOTS – released LB Shawn Crable.
  • RAMS – signed TE Derek Schouman, last with Bills.
  • STEELERS – released K Jeff Reed; signed K Shaun Suisham, last with Redskins.
  • TITANS – named QB Vince Young starter for this Sunday’s game against Washington; QB Kerry Collins is out with a calf injury.

19 Responses to “Back To Basics … Wednesday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • November 17, 2010  - Tracy says:

    In the late ’40′s, Frank Leahy was particularly frustrated with his Notre Dame team. He announced in the locker room that they would go back to the basics.

    Holding a football in one hand and pointing to it with the other he announced “This, gentlemen, is a football.”

    From the back of the locker room came the response “Hey, coach…not so fast.”

  • November 17, 2010  - bhive01 says:

    Pretty much this is what we need after that last game. Hopefully we can actually show up at home against the Cards.

  • November 17, 2010  - Edward says:

    I’m sure we’ll get Tamba, Charles, Leggett, Gilberry,Shaun Smith, Battle, Carr, Cox, Greenwood, Castille, Richardson, and O’Callaghan resigned. Explains why we haven’t been overpaying people in free agency last two seasons we definately need get most of those guys resigned. It’ll be interesting who Pioli keeps.

  • November 17, 2010  - bhive01 says:

    I’m hoping for S. Smith for sure. We need someone to grab the other team by the balls and squeeze. Figuratively speaking of course.

  • November 17, 2010  - el cid says:

    We all have favorite players who we feel are just what the team needs. I favor Smith, Chales, Richardson, and one FB. Hali may be a money issue, especially if he cannot get more sacks or return to DE. A definite maybe to Gilberry, Carr and Battle. Irritating part is there is no salary cap right now, so what is the big deal about money. How many times have we heard it is not about the money with Cassel? As for the rest, Ed, probably can be replaced by about anyone, but could be wrong. I am a major non-supporter of Pioli, so we shall see. Sometimes teams, as they make the first move to the plus side of winning, actually take a step backwards. Consider the schedule in 2011, the needs of the team, and injuries/retirements of 2010.

  • November 17, 2010  - el cid says:

    Bhive01, I am worried about Smith. Notice when he arrived he was vocal. That is something the Chiefs do not like or want. He had fire in his voice and the fans heard it, again something the Chiefs do not want. Who is the team leader on this team? No one on this “right 53″, no this team is designed to keep their mouth shut and play. Apparently we do not need a leader on offense or defense because who “talks” to us, no one but Haley or the parroted replies from Cassel. Getting back to Smith, have you heard much from him recently or has Pioli’s version of what is what taken over? Can you tell I do not like it or a Pioli fan?

  • November 17, 2010  - James says:

    I’m right there with you el cid. This team will suffer for a long time because of Pioli’s decisions his first year.

  • November 17, 2010  - bhive01 says:

    I was mainly just joking about Smith (hence the ball grabbing), but he actually seems to be effective sometimes… I kind of like the fact that Smith is a bit vocal. I understand that him being so does not fit with the “team” dynamic as Haley has laid it out for us peons, but I think he could very easily find a home here if he continues to plug his lane. I think that perhaps Smith has toned his personality down recently, but it may have something to do with his recent/public suggestion that he wanted to stay in KC.

    By keeping his head down and mouth shut he just might get that contract.

    I understand that you two don’t care for Pioli’s early work, but at the same time… we’re an improved team this year and things are looking up. I’m not sure I would ask for much more. I really want the Chiefs to be competitive and next year will certainly be a challenge with a much improved Bronco/Raider teams and a better division than the NFC West.

  • November 17, 2010  - napahank says:

    Why wasn’t Barry Richardson starting at RT when he did so good for the first 7 games? I never thought I would say how much we missed McGraw. The reason we lost on the defensive side of the ball was our safeties and the fact that we have totally stopped blitzing up the middle.

  • November 17, 2010  - Jimbo says:

    Back to the Basics is ideally the best approach to the Bronco ass kicking contest last Sunday. I noticed the uncharachteristic miffed tackles on numerous occasions, especially on the running backs. The Chiefs clearly are a team in transition that appeared to have a playoff caliber start. I’m a big homer, I was excited, I thought we had truly turned the corner of mediocrity & embarrassment. We were drawing the attention from the media that we so much longed for. Now, all of a sudden, reality is starting to set in.

    Back to the Basics, yeah thats a great idea. Maybe there was a little to much bravado & swagger the first 5 games. Maybe our rushing attack, special teams & defense were playing a little over their heads. Maybe our coaches were spending a little more time preparing for next weeks opponent and a little less time practicing the fundamentals. Certainly alot less time doing drills etc. that they do in the heat & humidity of July & August. It’s now mid November with December looming. That’s when the sports pundits & media are plotting & strategizing who they think are going to the playoffs.

    Maybe going Back to the Basics is the best thing for both the players & us fans. I’m basically gonna hope that come Monday morning the Chiefs & the playoffs are still on good terms.
    Go Chiefs.

  • November 17, 2010  - gorillafan says:

    el cid,
    Im glad you finally said what you disliked. I couldt figure out if you were just a hater in general, or a chiefs hater,(but you suscribed to bobgretz so I knew you were a true fan if you pay for a chiefs site), a Haley hater or a Pioli hater, ect ect. Now that we know you just dont like Pioli, we or I can RIP!!!

    If I may ask, what dont you like about him that rubs you the wrong way? DEcisions he made here? or in New England? or just the decision of bringing him here by Clark Hunt?

  • November 17, 2010  - el cid says:

    My view of Pioli is simple and has nothing to do with his ability to improve the Chiefs. Care to name a GM type who would NOT have improved team called the Chiefs after Carl flamed out?

    1. At this day and age, the air of secrecy that the Pioli Chiefs feel necessary to operate under.

    2. First draft, Bob and several “experts” have said ad nausem it was Pioli’s draft, by him, for him, all his.

    3. He describes himself as being very talented in the area of player evaluation. Well, I see as many misses as hits. The team he took over was 2-14, he should have found enough starters fot field a better team (ask Haley).

    4. Free Agency, I am aware there is not always a lot out there but with his “talent for evaluating” players, he sucks in free agency.

    5. 2010 had no salary cap, he should have busted the bank and been in the hunt for better than second string/off the street types.

    6. The “right 53″ sickens me. Today’s athlete, the best, seem to have egos/attitudes bigger than all outdoors. I do not like it but that is today. To tell us that we can win it all without these superior guys, cancers, is assuming we are dumber than dirt. We could develope our own “super stars” but honestly how long would that take 4-5 years?

    7. The long haul also gets to me. The NFL is not designed to take 5-6 years to reach the playoffs. To want to create a dynasty, I love but you lose for a lot of years waiting.

    8. Lastly, this year was turning into something special with a better record than I could have dreamed of. It may have been smoke and mirrors but I bought into it. Which is the Chiefs, a team leading their division with 5 wins, or the Chiefs, who suck a big one the last two games?

  • November 17, 2010  - gorillafan says:

    who would you have chosen then to take the roll of gm?

  • November 17, 2010  - bhive01 says:

    Parl Ceterson.

  • November 17, 2010  - gorillafan says:


  • November 17, 2010  - gorillafan says:

    el cid,

    I understand, kinda, of what your saying on some things. But, WHO, was better in your mind that we should have hired?

    Im not going to judge you for disliking Pioli, I hated Herm Then Worm hiring before he even walking into the building. Just for the fact he cant win, and he didnt…but pioli has won in the past, I just dont see why you dont give him anytime to build a team? But, I guess I didnt give Herm time either, Hated him!!

  • November 17, 2010  - el cid says:

    Well, it is easy to potshot things, I know I do it all the time but “pioli has won in the past” rather, Poili has been part of a winning organization in the past. He may well make the Chiefs a winning organization some time in the future. More power to him. Just do not like how he is going about it. And do not see the why except Pioli is going to show the NFL he can do it better, his own way, and I beleive those who will not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Why re-invent the wheel?

    As for who better at gm, do not know, do not care. Not my job. Just want a winner in KC. How much time have baseball fans wasted on the royALs with that makebelieve playoffs run? Want the same for the Chiefs, not me?

  • November 17, 2010  - Edward says:

    Pioli is good Gm. People confuse right 53 as saying you don’t want talented guys. That’s not what right 53 means. Eric Berry and Brandon Flowers represent what Pioli is talking about with the right 53. Talented guys that are leaders, smart, and guys that keep their mouths shut and play football. You don’t need TO or Ocho Cinco on your team to win. You can have guys like Reggie Wayne or Andre Johnson high character guys that produce on the field and not someone who makes a spectacle of themselves off it. So I think el cid you misunderstand what right 53 is all about. Pioli is trying keep organazation focused on football. Limit the distractions that can come to organazations like Vikings bashing their head coach. Or the tweeting drama and antics that have went on with Cowboys in the past. History tells us those type organizations don’t win. I have no Problem with the way Pioli runs the organization. If he doesn’t want media to know what’s going on with the team that’s his business. For the most part when media know everything about you it does more harm than good because their job is to sell drama which sales papers and that not something any good organization needs. WEre their some mistakes made in 2009 draft heck yes. Know one is perfect. Free agency yes Chambers flamed out. But give the guy credit hit a homerun so far with 2010 draft. Free agents this yr are contributing.

    This guys is 4 time Gm of the year and 3 time Super Bowl champion he know how to build a winner and I’m glad he’s here in Kc hopefully we can win some Super Bowls here while he’s at the helm.

  • November 17, 2010  - el cid says:

    Correct again, Wasn’t Flowers a Carl pick? Succop, Berry, Moeaki, McCluster (if he does not prove to fragile), Arenas (if not to small in the long run) Richardson (not sure who gets credit here) and FS, all add value. We need 53, how many years will it take?

    As for all Pioli’s records, well deserved. How many did he actually earn on his own? Maybe all, maybe none. Give him the benefit of the doubt, he is no NFL exec of year since at KC. Jackson, Magee, Lawrence, OConnel, rb (i do not remember name). An exec of year does not break even or average, they are superior in choices.

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