Going Faster At First … Friday Cup O’Chiefs

With a bye weekend at his disposal, Matt Cassel didn’t head to either coast, or Vegas, or back to his alma mater at Southern Cal.

Cassel stayed in Kansas City. He spent time with his wife and other family members. Cassel got some coach time and suffered through watching Oregon rise up and batter his Trojans. Considering how the first part of this season has gone, Cassel’s lucky he didn’t have to spend his off weekend in traction.

“The break was great,” Cassel said on Thursday as the Chiefs continued their preparations for Sunday’s game in Jacksonville. “To get a few days away from here, to re-energize, come back focused, ready to go. We need to start getting on a roll here and hopefully we can start putting some wins together.”

One of the ways the Chiefs can get the roll going that Cassel is talking about would be more production at the start of the game from the Chiefs offense. So far this season, they have been ineffective and unproductive on the first play, first possession and first quarter. There isn’t anything where the Chiefs rank first near the middle of the 2009 season.

It’s a pretty gruesome offensive picture early in these games: 


In their first seven plays in a game, the Chiefs have gained 34 yards or less than five yards per play. But that’s misleading because nearly half of those yards came on a single play. Here are the first snaps for the Chiefs offense:

  • Baltimore – Larry Johnson run for five yards.
  • Oakland – Quentin Lawrence end-around run for 16 yards.
  • Philadelphia – Matt Cassel pass to Mark Bradley for four yards.
  • N.Y. Giants – Johnson run for two yards.
  • Dallas – Johnson run for four yards.
  • Washington – Cassel to Bobby Wade for zero yards.
  • San Diego – Johnson run for three yards.

On average, the Chiefs began their first play with a 1st-and-10 at their 23-yard line.


The Chiefs have had seven first possessions that have all ended with punts by Dustin Colquitt. They are the only team in the league that has ended all of their first trips with the ball by punting it away.

Their first possessions have produced no points; making them one of four teams without points, joining Denver, Houston and Oakland.

Here’s how those first possessions went down:

  • Baltimore – three plays, one-yard gained, punt.
  • Oakland – four plays, 19 yards, punt.
  • Philadelphia – five plays, minus-five yards, punt.
  • N.Y. Giants – three plays, eight yards, punt.
  • Dallas – four plays, six yards, first down by penalty, punt.
  • Washington – three plays, zero yards, punt.
  • San Diego – three plays, three yards, punt.

That’s 25 plays, 32 yards, one first down by penalty and seven punts.


No team has scored fewer points in the first quarter than the Chiefs with their six points, a pair of Ryan Succop FGs. Here’s how it looked offensively in the first quarter:

  • Baltimore – six plays, five yards, no first downs.
  • Oakland – 23 plays, 99 yards, five first downs, one FG.
  • Philadelphia – 11 plays, zero yards, one first down by penalty.
  • N.Y. Giants – 11 plays, 33 yards, one first down, one FG.
  • Dallas – eight plays, seven yards, one first down by penalty.
  • Washington – 20 plays, 63 yards, three first downs.
  • San Diego – 11 plays, 18 yards, no first downs.

Overall, the Chiefs have had 21 possessions in the first quarter, or that started in that period; eleven of those went three plays and out. They’ve had 90 offensive plays that gained 225 yards, or an average of 2.5 yards per play.

That’s the offensive ugliness. So how do the Chiefs turn this around?

“I think we just have to get into a rhythm early,” said Cassel. “I think we’ve struggled a little to get into a rhythm early, whether it be getting in third-and-long situations early in the game and not being able to keep the drive alive. Then all of a sudden we’ll get into a little bit of a rhythm, but we need to do it earlier.

“I can’t pinpoint one thing for you and say we need to run the ball more or we need to hit more short passes. I think we just need to come together as a unit and make a few first downs and get going early.”

The offensive coordinator can help with his play selection. The Chiefs are five runs to two passes on those first plays, a trend most defenses won’t have trouble deciphering. That’s slightly higher at 71 percent, than Haley has been in overall 1st-and-10 play selection, where he’s 60 percent run, 40 percent pass.

Overall, the Chiefs are 54 percent pass, 46 percent run through their 443 offensive plays, not surprising given the types of games they’ve been involved in during this 1-6 season, trying to make up points on the second half scoreboard.

Better kick and punt returns setting up field position for that first possession would be helpful as well. They got the ball three times on kickoffs, with an average start at the 24.3-yard line. The other four times came on punts, with three returns and one fair catch, an average of nine yards per return.

Better results on returns would give Haley more options in play calling thanks to improved field position.

Seven weeks in the offense and a bye-week to work on the system may also help. But there’s no question that the Chiefs need to find more success on their first chance with the ball. At the end of the first quarter, they are losing 45-6. They are down 77-33 at half-time. In seven games, they’ve had just one lead at the end of the first 15 minutes, a 3-0 advantage against the Raiders. They’ve been down 14-0 twice, 10-0 another time and 7-3. Two games they were even at 0-0 at the start of the second quarter.

Obviously the defense needs to step forward in that first period as well. But that 39-point differential rests largely on the offense’s ledger.

Haley has set up practices in hopes of getting out of the blocks faster.

“Every period we start out here we talk about starting fast,” Haley said. “You’ve got to catch the ball, got to get our blocks; quarterback has got to get rid of the football, all different things a period starts that’s as close as we can get to starting a game.

“(Friday) we’ll do a period that will be the next closest to starting a game. You just have to coach it up, try to come up with the right mix of plays that give you the right opportunity to start fast and guys can execute. There are a lot of factors and you just don’t know.

“I’ve been on teams that were great starters and been on teams where we were slow starters. I think it would definitely serve us well to start faster.”


  • COLTS – have lost CB Marlin Jackson for the rest of the season with a knee injury suffered in practice on Wednesday.
  • FALCONS – placed S Jamaal Fudge and C Mike Schneck on the injured-reserve list; signed C Bryan Pittman and S Charlie Peprah.
  • TEXANS – placed TE Owen Daniels on the injured-reserve list; activated DE Jesse Nading from the practice squad.


On November 6, 1960, the Dallas Texans beat the Buffalo Bills 45-28 at War Memorial Stadium in Buffalo. Details on this game coming later today.

On November 6, 1966, the Chiefs beat the San Diego Chargers 24-14 at Municipal Stadium in front of a crowd of 40,986 fans. The Chiefs got all the points they needed in the first half, as QB Len Dawson threw a pair of TD passes and RB Bert Coan scored on a one-yard run. Dawson found WR Otis Taylor for 27 yards and WR Chris Burford for 10-yard scoring tosses. San Diego QB John Hadl (left) threw a pair of TD passes to WR Lance Alworth of seven and 46 yards. Chiefs RB Curtis McClinton ran 23 times for 90 yards and Burford caught five passes for 77 yards. The KC defense got interceptions from FS Johnny Robinson and CB Willie Mitchell.

On November 6, 1977, the Chiefs beat the Green Bay Packers 20-10 at Arrowhead Stadium in their first game after the firing of head coach Paul Wiggin. With interim head coach Tom Bettis running the team a crowd of 62,687 fans watching, the Chiefs offense had a nearly 10-minute advantage in time of possession, while the Kansas City defense held Green Bay to 199 offensive yards. The Chiefs had a one-yard touchdown run by RB Ed Podolak and a three-yard TD pass from QB Mike Livingston to WR Henry Marshall. Podolak finished the game with 98 yards on 18 carries, while also catching four passes for 51 yards. The Chiefs defense sacked Green Bay QB Lynn Dickey three times. After the game, Bettis announced that the game ball was going to go to a fellow in Mission with the initials P.W.

On November 6, 1983, the Chiefs lost to the Raiders 28-20 at the Los Angeles Coliseum. The Chiefs held a 13-7 lead at the start of the fourth quarter, thanks to a pair of Nick Lowery FGs and a one-yard TD run by RB Theotis Brown. But Raiders QB Jim Plunkett came off the bench and led the L.A. offense to a pair of touchdowns, on a one-yard run by RB Marcus Allen and a 19-yard TD throw to WR Dokie Williams. The Chiefs got a TD on a two-yard pass from QB Bill Kenney (right) to RB Ken Thomas. The Raiders scored last, as LB Rod Martin returned an interception 40 yards for a TD. DE Art Still had three sacks.

On November 6, 1988, the Chiefs lost to the Denver Broncos 17-11 at Mile High Stadium. The KC offense struggled in this game, unable to score a touchdown. The Chiefs only points came on a safety from the defense and a hat trick of Nick Lowery FGs. The Broncos got a pair of TDs from their offense, as RB Sammy Winder scored on a one-yard run and QB John Elway threw a six-yard TD pass to WR Vance Johnson.

On November 6, 1994, the Chiefs beat the Los Angeles Raiders 13-3 in a Sunday night game at Arrowhead Stadium. In front of 78,709 fans and a national TV audience, the Chiefs defense dominated the game, allowing the Raiders only three points, while forcing three turnovers and five sacks. Safeties Charles Mincy and William White had the interceptions, while DE Neil Smith had two sacks and DE Darren Mickell and LBs Derrick Thomas and George Jamison added one sack each. The only touchdown of the game came in the second quarter when QB Joe Montana hooked up with TE Derrick Walker on a 57-yard scoring throw. K Lin Elliott had a pair of field goals.


Born on November 6, 1971 in Detroit was WR Derrick Alexander. He joined the Chiefs as an unrestricted free agent in 1998, after spending four seasons with the Browns/Ravens franchise. Alexander spent four seasons with the Chiefs (1998-2001), appearing in 60 games with 56 starts. He caught 213 passes for 3,685 yards and 19 TD catches. Alexander’s best season was 2000, when he caught 78 passes for 1,391 yards and 10 TDS. That yardage total is the single season franchise record. He also has one of the longest runs in Chiefs history, going 82 yards with an end-around against Pittsburgh in 1989. Alexander finished his career with one season in Minnesota.

32 Responses to “Going Faster At First … Friday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • November 6, 2009  - MenInRed says:

    By now Haley has to realize what talent he has and how to utilize it in his offensive play calling. He can’t continue to think that with the talent he has they can do what it is he wants them to do so it would be best served for him to call plays to thier strengths and not his. Time will tell if “He Gets It” or not this next half of the year. I sure hope so.

    Go Chiefs!!!

  • November 6, 2009  - Devil Dog 1976 says:

    time check 0819

    26,160 signatures to deactivate LJ


    don’t let LJ take from Priest Holmes

    it is always about the TEAM and the right 53!!

  • November 6, 2009  - Mad Chief says:

    I don’t know about the rest of you guys…but I’m really looking forward to watching a game that half the plays won’t be LJ up the middle for no gain.

  • November 6, 2009  - Devil Dog 1976 says:

    time check 0842 and there are 26,483 signatures

    Make all the plays up the middle without LJ

    deactivate LJ at petitiononline.com

    don’t let LJ take from Priest Holmes

    it is always about the TEAM and the right 53!!

  • November 6, 2009  - Rodeo John says:

    While I agree that Haley needs to maybe temper down some of his more exuberent schemes, I do have to say this:

    What ever happends, please do not go back to the Barnum & Bailey Three Ring Circus act of an offense that we used last year. I would rather that our guys play and utilize pro formations and lose than to use the “Arrowspread” or something similar formation and, oh wait that’s right…we still lost last year.

    The reason why I bring this up is because both Haley and Pioli know that the team can not progress by using an easier or collegiate style formation. While I know a bunch of you will not like this I fully believe that he needs to continue implementing his offensive schemes that he is currently running. In the long run it will be more beneficial to the team. The right players will be brought in that can run that offense. It will continue to hurt this year. But the pain will go away.

    Now, I am not saying he can’t fix some of his play calling blunders, and I believe that he will and everyone will see a difference in that area this week. But to say he should change his schemes to something easier…yeah, not buying that. It just tells the players that hey, you don’t have to play to this higher level that is expected of you in the NFL. We will just take things down to your knowledge/skill/capabilities level and still not be able to compete against these other teams because they ARE holding the standards higher.

  • November 6, 2009  - ChuckDiesel says:

    Yo devildog and anyone else with this petition thing. go around some other place if you want to spread that around, there’s enough negativity on this team, it doesn’t have to end up on the boards too.

    Yeah he’s done some bad things but things will work themselves out they always do. Let whatever is going to happen happen. Maybe we’ll draft the next great RB in years to come and when he gets put behind a better O-line he may climb atop the nfl all time rushing list…

    I mean guys if you have been a fan of the Chiefs for some time, you have seen this rushing record get broken, and hey, don’t worry it will get broken again in the next 10 years FOR SURE.

    Anyway also, damn Bob Gretz must be really looking for some material to write about at this point because these damn articles are pointless, we know we’re bad on offense we don’t have to go in details about it to this point

    Also I want to see Lance Long do well this week, if he recovers well from injury theres no telling how good he may be in the slot

  • November 6, 2009  - Jim Lloyd+ says:

    They need to do something drastic and get way ahead early and not let the game get close to only lose to a bad call by a REF . that thinks he is doing his job and he fumbles on a BAD call .
    Six bad calls in the last 2 ys have changed the lives of a lot of players – coaches – profits !

  • November 6, 2009  - Zach says:

    Great article, Bob!

  • November 6, 2009  - Devil Dog 1976 says:

    yo chuckie

    you’re missing the point. I am not the one being negative. I am trying to get rid of the negative. “Things will work themselves out”??? really? How many more women does he need to hit before his is not your hero anymore? My opinion is he needs to be deactivated, and this site is to express your opinion. The NFL is a privilege and those participating should act in an appropriate manner or suffer the consequences. The message needs to be we will not accept any negative behavior by any on this TEAM.
    The time check is now 0931 and we are over 27,000 signature of those who agree with me.

    It is always about the TEAM and the right 53!!

  • November 6, 2009  - Devil Dog 1976 says:

    time check 0933

    27,267 is the tally


    deactivate LJ

    don’t let him take from Priest Holmes

    it is always about the TEAM and the right 53!!

  • November 6, 2009  - gorillafan says:

    I really thought bob would have wrote an article on the jl petition. Its all over the net, I thought bob would have put his 2 cents in about it.

    Why do you think he didnt? His integrity? He doesnt want to bash lj? Ties with team some how still?, eventhough he doesnt so we think….

  • November 6, 2009  - Josh says:

    Well put Rodeo John.
    And I too am curious to see Lance Long preform. When he was last in he showed some fire and change of pace. Nice to have a young receiver with some up side instead of past their prime underachievers. (barring Bowe of course)


  • November 6, 2009  - jimbo says:

    Thanks Bob,
    You made my day… The stats on the Chiefs early offensive skills were much better than I thought.
    It will be extra nice Mad Chief with LJ out of the arena on Sunday. Hopefully we have a running back with a breakout game. If not, we may have to satisfy the players union & insert LJ back into the line up.
    Rodeo John… I agree with your prediction of a changing offense on Sunday. I disagree that playing a simpler offense is detrimental to the Chiefs offensive future. I am of the opinion that a more aggressive approach by our offense is in order. We find ourselves behind, early in most games. Oue conservative & safe 1st qtr. has gotten us nowhere thus far. We need to set Matt Cassel free & let him rip. Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, I know our o-line sucks, but think about it, we do’nt scare any opponent with our offensive prowess. If we are aggressive early with some success, I see the o-line playing better, happier & meaner. A little offensive line swagger early in a game would be refreshing & justified if we can put up some early points.
    I say let’s take a few more risks early in the game, score some points & let the defense take care of itself. The Jaguars are the “perfect storm” for the Chiefs to take a few more risks.
    Go Chiefs.

  • November 6, 2009  - Mad Chief says:

    I agree with you, Devil Dog 1976. There’s not a damn thing wrong with the fans voicing their opinions. We’re the ones who pay for tickets, merchandise, insane prices for beer and food at the games, etc. In other words, these guys salaries. I mean seriously…who’s working for who in the big picture? And if there are that many passionate Chiefs fans trying to let Pioli know how they feel? Then I applaud their efforts.

  • November 6, 2009  - Jim Lloyd+ says:

    Whitlock AND Larry Johnson ,Or is it Larry Johnson AND Whitlock >
    Arrowhead Pride

  • November 6, 2009  - Devil Dog 1976 says:

    time check 1038

    27,953 is the tally


    deactivate LJ

    don’t let him take from Priest Holmes

    it is always about the TEAM and the right 53!!

  • November 6, 2009  - gorillafan says:

    I really am interested why bob hasnt addressed the petition issue..dont know why I just think its odd

    Any suggestions??

  • November 6, 2009  - Josh says:

    Because he knows that it has no affect on the decision making process of Pioli.


  • November 6, 2009  - craig says:

    Devil Dog 1976, enough already! I have viewed a lot of the signitures on the petition and am surprized that everyone from bob dylan to larry johnson himself has signed it. I am no huge LJ fan, but I agree with ChuckDiesel on this one. I personally believe that Pioli and Haley are using the LJ incident to cover their own failures. This team stinks in just about every area, and they continue to get worse, not better. No improvement! Devote your energies to the real culprits.

  • November 6, 2009  - Alexthe"GREAT" says:

    I have a question for the forum……..If Pioli is this great GM why would an owner ever let a guy who supposedly built a juggernaut franchise walk away?

  • November 6, 2009  - Mad Chief says:


    Here’s a question for you. If Pioli isn’t worth a crap…then why did Bill Belichick hire him in Cleveland, and then hire him AGAIN in New England – after working with him in between with the Jets, where Bill Parcells had hired him?

  • November 6, 2009  - gorillafan says:


    Why would a man”scott” cheat on his wife”robert kraft”…..because he wants to try something new and different, wants to revive something, ect ect

    What could the wife “kraft” due to stop you from doing such a thing….nothing.

    point is again as usual, we dont know what happend in those doors, my guess is kraft didnt want him to leave because that is what he said in his statement to the public about it.

  • November 6, 2009  - Mad Chief says:

    Agreed, gorillafan. Business executives move up, move out, accept new challenges, try new things. And this IS a promotion for Pioli, after all. He’s never been a GM before.

    Personally, I think the guys got balls. Nobody had a gun to his head to leave New England. And the guy leaves his good job there to come here to try and turn around this mess? However it ends up…I think the dude has some serious balls for TRYING.

  • November 6, 2009  - Longtimer says:

    Bob, thanks for an insightful analysis. The trends are interesting but don’t necessarily provide any answers. Better blocking will cure all ills.

    And the petition thing is rediculous. It might make the petitioners feel powerful but won’t change a thing, and can only be divisive when Larry does come back. Not good for the team at all. LJ is an arse, his Haley comments inexcusible, but his name calling is simply immature. Get over it.

  • November 6, 2009  - arrowhead1978 says:

    alex thats the same question I had when they let Pioli walk, if he was the man in NE, I just remember them giving the best of luck speech for him and how he is a great worker, it’s the expected reaction. The same was given when Cassel was traded. Belichick is the man in NE and still is the man in NE, if you want to see the truth, look at the deals that the patriots have made this season and then look at the deals the chiefs have made. Look at who was drafted this season by both teams. Dont give me this stuff that Pioli was here late and the scouts weren’t his. When he was in NE wasn’t he looking at college players already? He had no ideas as to who they wanted to draft?? His scouts weren’t giving him information then on players?

  • November 6, 2009  - Mad Chief says:

    arrowhead1978 says:
    “alex thats the same question I had when they let Pioli walk, if he was the man in NE, I just remember them giving the best of luck speech for him and how he is a great worker, it’s the expected reaction.”

    What were they supposed to do…fall down on their knees and beg him not to go? And how do you know they didn’t?

    “See the truth”? Be serious. Pioli has had praise from his peers and his employers. Parcells hired him. Belichick hired him TWICE. If the guy doesn’t know his sh*t…then why would they do that?

  • November 6, 2009  - Rodeo John says:

    Not to mention, the same personnel that was being looked at to fill the NEEDS of New England through the draft I am sure did not satisfy the NEEDS of the Chiefs.

    Not to mention, there probably is/was some clause in there that you can’t undercut your former team in all areas because of the intimate knowledge that you had of that team. I am pretty sure that NE is smart enough to make sure that wasn’t going to happen.

    I realize people aren’t happy because the Chiefs are doing so good this year. But holy cow people, to be asking for the new peoples heads to be rolled is ridiculous and unreasonable to have expected them to come in here and magically we are a division champion contender.

    The team sucked. The previous coaching sucked. The previous drafting sucked. A lot of things sucked. Some things still suck. Some things are still going to suck next year to.

    But overall, this team will have improved from where it was back on the very first day of training camp. We will have a better record this year than what we had last year. Mark my words. And in 2010 we will have a better record than we are going to finish with this year. Its called progression and you have to give it time to happen.

    Everyone has a right to their personal opinion. Its just that I am having to hold my nose more often than not when I come onto this site.

  • November 6, 2009  - gorillafan says:

    Rodeo John, Ride that bull and give em hell dude!! ha. jk

    But i TOTALLY agree!!!

  • November 6, 2009  - Jim Lloyd+ says:

    I like Warren Sapp and his pick of the Chiefs this weekend-
    YES !!!!!!!!!!!!

  • November 6, 2009  - jimbo says:

    I’m with you Rodeo Dude. If I’m gonna here pissing & moaning I can go to my in-laws house…
    Calm down people. One game at a time. We have all been disappointed this year as in recent years.
    Pioli was the most sought after GM replacement in recent years. Patience & Faith Chiefs fans.
    Pass it on…

  • November 6, 2009  - colby says:

    This season hasn’t been a total disaster. The low point was dropping the ball against Oakland. Had we won that game and stood at 2-5, I think that would make all the difference in the world. Honestly, did anyone really expect us to be better than say, 3-4 at this point in the year?

    I think Savage would be a better option at KR than Charles. Charles has that speed, but Savage runs more aggressively and I think he would get it out to the 30 on a more consistent basis. If Charles is in line to get 20-25 on offense on Sunday, he doesn’t need to be running back kicks. Maybe Savage gets another shot at that KR role.

  • November 6, 2009  - CK- 30 yrs STH says:

    I really hope LJ becomes the Chiefs all-time leading rusher at Arrowhead vs. the Steelers so I can see it in person.
    For those petition lovers…. just change the channel like you probably always do by the 4th quarter every week.

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