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.”

Tackling has been a little thing that’s become a big problem for the Chiefs. They’ve been lit up in the last game and a quarter by the Broncos and Chargers running games and a big part of that is because of poor tackling.

In the last five quarters, the Chiefs defense has allowed 266 rushing yards on 45 carries. (The total was actually 47 for 271 yards, but two runs were by a scrambling San Diego QB Philip Rivers.) Eight of those runs went for 10 yards or more. The two longest runs were for 22 and 24 yards by Denver’s Knowshon Moreno, but those had little to do with poor tackling. It had more to do with bad defense and the Broncos blocking the play, in fact it was the same play.

But they missed Moreno too many other times. Most people do, as Moreno ranks among the top 25 running backs in the league in broken tackles. Almost half of his yards come after first contact from the defense.

Of those 45 carries in the last five quarters, 19 went for five yards or more. A dozen were for one-yard or less. The Chiefs came out of the half-time locker room in San Diego and tightened up their run defense quite a bit. The first five runs by the Chargers in the third quarter gained just four yards. But after that they had continued troubles bringing down San Diego backs.

And all the troubles came from missing on the first hit. Michael Tolbert also ranks among the league’s top 25 backs in broken tackles and more than half of his yards this season have come after first contact. However, his eight-yard touchdown run came without contact of any kind.

Not so with the 15-yard TD run by Ryan Mathews. There were four different Chiefs defenders that had a shot at hitting Mathews as he ran wide right. OLB Mike Vrabel fought off a blocker and got his hands on him but he couldn’t bring him down. Showing great balance, Mathews kept moving forward. ILB Jovan Belcher overran the play, FS Kendrick Lewis seemed to slow down and give up when it looked like Vrabel had the tackle. The last line of defense was SS Eric Berry, but rather than hit Mathews and try to bring him down with his arms, he used a shoulder tackle that didn’t slow him down at the two-yard line. He rolled into the end zone for the score.

“We were in position and we missed tackles, which is not something we’ve done a lot of this year,” Haley said. “When we’ve been in position, we’ve been a pretty good fundamental tackling team and we’ve tackled. Yesterday we did not do that. We as a coaching staff, we have to do a much better job.”

Coming up are Steven Jackson (1,081 yards), Chris Johnson (1,137 yards) and Darren McFadden (993 yards) in the final three games of the regular season. Those are not little challenges for the Chiefs run defense.

But it will take the defense to do all the little things, or as Lombardi would say, they need to create the inches that will a division champion.


  • BENGALS – placed S Tom Nelson on the reserve/NFI list; signed S Marvin White, last with Lions.
  • BILLS – placed TE Shawn Nelson on the reserve/NFI list with migraines; placed WR Lee Evans on the injured-reserve list (ankle) ending his season; signed G Colin Brown off the Ravens practice squad; signed OT Erik Pears.
  • BRONCOS – re-signed OL Stanley Daniels.
  • BROWNS – signed CB Coye Francis from their practice squad; released CB Eric King.
  • BUCCANEERS – placed DT Gerald McCoy (biceps) and SLB Quincy Black (forearm) on the injured-reserve list ending their seasons; signed DE George Johnson and LB Tyrone McKenzie off their practice squad.
  • COLTS – signed OT Michael Toudouze, last with Titans; released RB Joique Bell.
  • DOLPHINS – placed OT Vernon Carey on the injured-reserve list (knee) ending his season; signed WR Kevin Curtis, last with the Eagles.
  • EAGLES – placed DE Brandon Graham on the injured-reserve list (knee) ending his season; signed DE Derrick Burgess.
  • GIANTS – placed LB Clint Sintim on the injured-reserve list (knee) ending his season.
  • PANTHERS – placed LB Jason Williams (knee) and G Travelle Wharton (toe) on the injured-reserve list, ending their seasons; signed DT Corvey Irvin and DB R.J. Stanford off their practice squad.
  • PATRIOTS – signed DT Louis Leonard, formerly with Panthers.
  • REDSKINS – released P Hunter Smith; signed P Sam Paulescu.
  • SEAHAWKS – placed WR Deon Butler on the injured-reserve list (broken leg) ending his season; signed G Paul Fanaika off the Browns practice squad.
  • TEXANS – signed DT DeMario Pressley, last with Saints.
  • TITANS – placed C Eugene Amano on the injured-reserve list (neck) ending his season; signed DT Malcolm Sheppard off the Texans practice squad.
  • VIKINGS – placed CB Chris Coo on the injured-reserve list (knee) ending his season; signed OT Thomas Welch off their practice squad.

2 Responses to “It’s The Little Things … Wednesday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • December 15, 2010  - dave says:

    I see x-chief 5th round pick colin brown from MU is on the move again from the ravens to the Bills.

  • December 15, 2010  - Edward says:

    This team will be fine. Haley and co. Will get these guys to lock but the key is getting Cassel back and getting him back healthy.

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