Mission Bay Appetizers

From San Diego, California

There is no place better to visit for a road trip than this city on the Pacific Ocean. From Coronado Island, to Mission Bay, to Balboa Park, to the Cove in La Jolla, to the serenity that can be found in the Torrey Pines State Preserve – there isn’t a stop on the NFL treadmill that even comes close to San Diego. It’s the gold, silver and bronze medal winner all wrapped up into one.

One thing I learned very early sitting in the sand in Pacific Beach and watching the waves, a road trip to San Diego is not reality. It’s a fun respite from the everyday world for those of us landlocked and missing the sound of the surf.

Should I go missing at any point, look first in San Diego.


Take the game of football down to its most basic elements and the most important factor is to own possession of the ball. The second most important factor is where that possession takes place. It’s called field position and because of the Chiefs large number of turnovers on offense and almost no takeaways on defense, they are getting hammered by 79 points in large part because they keep landing in a field position hole.

The Chiefs offense has had 28 possessions. Not one started in opponents’ territory. Only one started outside their own 35-yard line. Of the 28, 19 started at the K.C. 20-yard line or less. Of those 28 possessions, five ended in opposing territory. That’s one TD, one FG, 2 missed FGs and an interception.

Here’s how bad it’s been for the offense. In two games they have taken just 23 snaps in Buffalo or Detroit territory. That’s 23 of 110 total plays or 21 percent. Those plays produced a net 94 yards.

Of those 23 plays, none came in the second half.


How best to describe the foundation bricks that Todd Haley has tried to build the Chiefs on? Let the head coach provide the details:

“On offense, run the football efficiently, throw the ball efficiently, protect the football and control the clock. On special teams, don’t allow field position changes that put you 20-something yards in the hole right out of the gate. Defensively, stop the run, create some turnovers, and don’t allow big plays. That’s the philosophy, that’s the way it will be and it’ll stay as long as we’re here.”

So, if you want to know why the Chiefs have struggled so poorly and are 0-2 on the season, then look no further than the fact they haven’t accomplished any of those foundation points Haley listed. They haven’t run or passed efficiently, protected the ball or controlled the clock. The kicking game has cost them field position rather than helped them. They haven’t stopped the run, created turnovers and they’ve allowed big plays.

What the future holds for the 2011 Chiefs remains to be written, but if Haley can’t get them back on point, it will be an ugly fall, even uglier than the last two weeks.


In the first two games of the season there have been 15 players involved in the kicking game beyond Ryan Succop, Dustin Colquitt, LS Thomas Gafford and returners Javier Arenas and Dexter McCluster.

There are four players that are on all the key special teams units – kickoff, kick return, punt and punt return. ILB Cory Greenwood, OLB Andy Studebaker, OLB Cameron Sheffield and RB Jackie Battle are on all four of those units.

Getting work on three of those teams has been S Donald Washington, LB Justin Houston, LB Demorrio Williams, WR Terrance Copper and S Sabby Piscitelli.

Other players getting snaps in the kicking game are WR Jerheme Urban, CB Jalil Brown, CB Travis Daniels, CB Brandon Carr, S Jon McGraw, DE Allen Bailey and FB Le’Ron McClain.

WR Jeremy Horne was promoted from the practice squad this week and the only reason has to be his ability to play special teams. There are enough receivers on the roster and Horne doesn’t quite fit in with the offense. So he must be on the 53-man roster for his kicking game skills.



George Pernicano remains to this day a minority owner of the San Diego Chargers. I think he still owns three percent of the team. A Pennsylvania native who landed in Detroit and then San Diego, he made a fortune with his pizza restaurants and real estate and invested in the team when Barron Hilton moved the Los Angeles Chargers to town after the first season of the American Football League was complete.

He paid $100,000 for a 10 percent stake in the club.

“He’s a fun guy I always enjoy seeing,” Lamar Hunt once said of Pernicano. “He has that love of the game, that twinkle in his eye, and that mustache.”

George’s restaurant in the Hillcrest neighborhood of San Diego became the meeting place for the AFL, and then after the merger the NFL. It was called Casa di Baffi – the house of the mustache, because George had one of those handle bar mustaches. It was the best Italian food you could imagine and the home of the greatest pork chop in restaurant history. Even those of us who weren’t fond of pork chops would enjoy one or two because they were so tasty. George and his cook Mike got their pork chops from Minnesota and they would rub them in garlic and let them sit in a marinade of olive oil and spices before throwing them on the grill. Oh, they would just melt in your mouth.

Sadly, Casa di Baffi is gone. George closed the place many years ago. Up until recently, he still traveled with the Chargers and he always made the road trip to Kansas City. He would check into the team hotel and immediately head to Jasper’s, when it was at 75th and Wornall and then when it moved to 103rd and State Line.

I hope to see George at Qualcomm on Sunday. Too much has changed around the NFL and I want to believe that the mustache will still be there, cigar in his mouth, griping out the officials and second guessing Norv Turner’s play calls.

2 Responses to “Mission Bay Appetizers”

  • September 24, 2011  - Thomas Salmon says:

    Wow, could all of the players on both sodes of the ball decide to suck all at once? Maybe it was the failure of the head coach to prepare them and develop a game plan.

  • September 24, 2011  - el cid says:

    I may be paranoid but how did the Chiefs fall into this perfect strom? Will anyone get the blame? And I do not mean Haley, that is the cheap shot. Better question, who can fix it? Not this year, naybe not next. Still who? Not a new HC, that means at least 3 years of playing “the plan and the process” game by Hunt and Pioli. Anyone got any idesa?

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