Finally A Team? … Game-Day Cup O’Chiefs

It was a little thing, but it was an indication of the bigger problem the 2009 Chiefs faced.

A month ago, when QB Matt Cassel was sacked – and he was taken down a lot – he generally picked himself off the ground. There wasn’t a lot of help from his offensive teammates. They were worried about their own problems.

Fast forward to last Sunday when the Chiefs beat the Steelers in overtime. As usual, Cassel hit the ground under the Pittsburgh pass rush five times – he’s the second most sacked passer in the league – and was knocked down as many times.

But as the play ended, there were teammates offering a hand up. His offensive linemen were peeling back and knocking off late arriving Steelers who were looking to provide an extra hit. They may still have been worried about their problems, but the rest of the offensive Chiefs showed they were also concerned about their quarterback.

Again, it’s a little thing, but it’s a sign that progress has been made in turning the 2009 Chiefs into a team, rather than a group of players. As the Chiefs play the Chargers on Sunday in San Diego, they will have to take another step in its maturation as a unit, not 53 parts. Kickoff is just after 3 o’clock, with TV coverage on CBS.

“I think (it’s) getting a lot closer,” Todd Haley said about the process of his players becoming a team. “This week will be a great opportunity for us to see where we’re at in that area. But last week was an encouraging sign, as long as we build on it, as long as we continue to use that as a little bit of a stepping stone as a team.

“As long as we understand, it might be an 11-play drive but everybody knows or believes somebody is going to make a play. I’m referring to the defensive play that Andy Studebaker made (his interception in the end zone and 94-yard return.) I think we made a step, but now again it’ll be up to us to see what we do with that.”

It’s the chicken and egg question of all sports where a group of players have to come together to form a cohesive unit. Does team create success? Or does it take success to create a team?

There was neither team nor success six weeks ago with the Chiefs. They were a group of players who shared a locker room, meeting space and a playing field. But in the last five games, the Chiefs found a way to win three games. As far as Haley is concerned that success has created the early stages of a team.

“You’ve got to have some success to build that confidence and camaraderie,” he said. “If you go 0-and-16 there aren’t going to be a lot of guys wanting to hang around. It’ll be where can I hide? You’ve got to have success.

“Winning does so much for you. This being the embryonic stages you need some positive reinforcement. The guys were working really hard and were into it and trying to get better every single day. But until you actually see those results and have that validation that’s when you can start taking little bigger steps. We were taking baby steps. Then we win on the road in Oakland and you come back home against Pittsburgh in front of your fans and defeat the defending Super Bowl champions. There’s no doubt there’s a little more bonding that goes on; the guys want to hang around a little more and success breeds success.”

The result of success is the birth of chemistry.

“I think it’s huge; chemistry is what really makes good football teams,” said Cassel. “It’s players caring about each other. It’s players caring about what they’re doing on a day-in and day-out basis. We’re still building that chemistry here and I think every guy in the locker room has bought in.

“They’re working hard and we’re trying to do our best. You can see our play starting to get better and I think that coming out and winning a tight game – we’ve been in a lot of tight games this year – against a good opponent was big for us.”

Sunday at Qualcomm Stadium there is another challenge opportunity to foster that chemistry. It was a month ago that the Chiefs were crushed by the Chargers, losing by 30 points in one of the franchise’s worst home defeats in 50 seasons of play. It was the start of a current five-game winning streak for San Diego and Norv Turner’s team now controls the AFC West with its 7-3 record.

The Chiefs remain who they are, a 3-7 team. They have an inconsistent and slow starting offense and a defense that gives up way too many yards and far too many big plays. Only the special teams have been consistent for 10 games.

Back in late October, they proved they could not beat the Chargers as a group of 53 players. Now, they can show what a team of 53 can do.

LAWRENCE GETS ANOTHER CHANCE

Sixth-round draft choice Quinten Lawrence was promoted from the practice squad on Saturday to fill the open spot on the club’s 53-man roster. That spot opened up earlier in the week when DB Maurice Leggett went to the injured-reserve list with a shoulder problem that will require surgery.

Lawrence was on the active for the first six weeks of the season, before he was released and then signed to the practice squad. The McNeese State product had been a disappointment in his transition to the NFL, showing inconsistent work habits, route running and pass catching. He played in the season’s first two games and had one end-round run for 16 yards and a kickoff return for 17 yards.

It will be interesting to see if he’s active for the San Diego game. The move leaves the Chiefs with six wide receivers, or one more than is normally active.

CHARGERS SELLOUT; BLACKOUT LIFTED

It was an unusual day in San Diego on Saturday. It rained for the first time in 164 days. That’s right, 164 days or more than five months ago. Maybe driven by the soggy skies, football fans bought enough tickets to get the television blackout lifted and folks in southern California will be able to watch the Chiefs and Chargers.

Weather forecast for Sunday is partly cloud, light winds and a high in the low 60s.

D.J.’S KNEE KNOCKS ROETHLISBERGER OUT AGAIN

The left knee of Chiefs LB Derrick Johnson knocked Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger out of last Sunday’s overtime (above).

And Sunday night’s Pittsburgh visit to Baltimore to play the Ravens. The Steelers announced Saturday evening that Roethlisberger will not start. He’ll be in the inactive third quarterback in the game. Dennis Dixon will make his first NFL start and Tyler Palko, signed just this week out of the Canadian Football League, will be the No.2 quarterback.

Roethlisberger experienced post-concussion headaches after he practiced the past week and the Steelers decided to not start him. He left the game against the Chiefs with concussion-like symptoms. Doctors conducted additional tests on Saturday and will do so again on Sunday.

On Thursday, Roethlisberger said he felt fine and would start against the Ravens. But he began having second thoughts on Friday after he suffered from headaches following practices on Wednesday and Thursday.

SIGNINGS, INJURIES & MOVEMENT AROUND THE LEAGUE

  • COLTS – out of Sunday’s game against the Texans is DE Dwight Freeney.
  • DOLPHINS – promoted DE Ryan Baker from the practice squad: released CB Evan Oglesby.
  • FALCONS – promoted WR Troy Bergeron from the practice squad; released RB Verron Haynes.
  • JETS – released CB Justin Miller
  • STEELERS – promoted QB Tyler Palko from the practice squad; released WR Shaun McDonald.

FROM PAGES OF CHIEFS HISTORY

On November 29, 1964, the Chiefs fell to the New York Jets 27-14 at Shea Stadium in front of 46,597 fans. RB Abner Haynes had a good afternoon, scoring twice on the ground, including an 80-yard run. Haynes finished with 120 yards on 11 carries. QB Len Dawson threw four interceptions that set up 17 points by the Jets. WR Frank Jackson did catch 10 passes for 175 yards.

On November 29, 1970, the Chiefs beat the San Diego Chargers 26-14 at Municipal Stadium. The Chiefs scored first and never trailed in this AFC West matchup. QB Len Dawson hit TE Morris Stroud (left) for a 50-yard TD pass just two minutes, 20 seconds into the game to give the Chiefs the lead. They added a one-yard TD run by RB Wendell Hayes and four Jan Stenerud field goals, the longest from 43 yards. The Chiefs defense held San Diego to just 196 total yards, as they picked off two John Hadl passes; CB Emmitt Thomas and LB Jim Lynch got the interceptions.

On November 29, 1992, the Chiefs beat the New York Jets 23-7 at Giants Stadium in the New Jersey Meadowlands. Two third quarter touchdowns sealed this victory for the Chiefs, after they went to the half-time locker room up 6-0. QB Dave Krieg connected on a two-yard TD pass to TE Keith Cash and then a four-yard scoring toss to WR Tim Barnett. Nick Lowery had three field goals. The KC defense allowed just 251 yards.

On November 29, 1998, the Chiefs beat the Arizona Cardinals 34-24 at Arrowhead Stadium. QB Rich Gannon (right) threw three TD passes for the Chiefs offense as they dominated the second half. Gannon threw two yards to RB Donnell Bennett, 30 yards to WR Derrick Alexander and then another 15 yards to Alexander. RB Bam Morris had a two-yard scoring run and Pete Stoyanovich had a pair of FGs. Alexander finished with six catches for 116 yards and two touchdowns. The KC defense had interceptions from CBs James Hasty and Mark McMillian and five sacks, with LB Donnie Edwards getting two of them.


5 Responses to “Finally A Team? … Game-Day Cup O’Chiefs”

  • November 29, 2009  - MenInRed says:

    The Chiefs Defense should have an edge going into this game because Chambers is a Chief now and he knows all of the Chargers offensive plays and formations. Haley & Pendergast should of pumped Chambers all week for information. I just hope our secondary can cover these guys, they need to play a little tighter coverage with a good hit at the snap to slow them getting in thier routes. Maybe another good game.

    Go Chiefs!!!


  • November 29, 2009  - Indplschiefsfan says:

    Forget about any “edge” that Chambers might give the Chiefs defensively. Turner is too smart offensively to bring in a game plan Chambers may be familiar with. Besides, players move around all the time in the NFL, the only place I’ve ever seen an “edge” be displayed is in their one-on-one match-ups.

    More importantly, the Chiefs need to stick with the fundamentals that won them the game against Pittsburgh. Good tackling, team play, and big plays. The O is still too inconsistent to be relied on. It is up to the D, and perhaps Mr. Studebaker, to show that the performance they put on against the Steelers can be duplicated against the Chargers, on the road. I don’t fear the Chargers D as much as I fear their O.

    The Chiefs, when they were good, did it with D, not O (the Vermeil years were the exception). Super Bowls are won, and good teams made, with defense, period. You can count on one hand, with fingers left over, the number of teams who have achieved the ultimate goal with overpowering offense and average defense. For me, in this game, it is more important for the D to show they have the same intensity, than it is for the O. If the D shows up, then the O will have a chance in the second half, just as the did against Pittsburgh.

    And God, I pray Studebaker is not a flash in the pan…


  • November 29, 2009  - ThunderChief says:

    Another thought on the possible, make that PROBABLE Chambers advantage. He did go at the Charger DBs in numerous practice sessions over the past couple of seasons, should know their tendencies and be able to exploit it.


  • November 29, 2009  - JohnNdallas says:

    Chiefs oughta take a serious look at Justin Miller. This guy was a second rd pick by the Jets in 05, Could maybe help in the KR game. The Jets released him yesterday.

    In 44 games he has returned 152 KO’s for 3,966 with an 26.1 yrd avg and a long of 103 yrds and 5 td’s.

    I doubt he’d add much as secondary help, but could maybe contribute on coverage units.


  • November 29, 2009  - CK 30 yr STH says:

    LJ has 49 yards from 6 carries so far today. Amazing what he can do with an average O-line.




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