Ready For Football This Time … Game-Day Cup O’Chiefs

From Baltimore, Maryland

The fine line that Todd Haley has walked throughout the Chiefs training camp in St. Joseph left the head coach with one arm tied behind his back last week against Tampa Bay in pre-season game No. 1.

In the days after the NFL owners’ lockout ended, the Chiefs head coach quickly came to understand that approaching training camp in his usual manner was not going to get done what he wanted done for his team. Football was going to take a back seat to getting his players in shape, or closer to the type of shape they would have been had there been an off-season strength and conditioning program.

It was aerobic work, not attack work. Call him crazy, call him stupid, call him innovative, but Haley was convinced things had to be different in Camp Haley ’11. That made for an ugly performance against the Buccaneers, losing 25-0 while sitting and seriously limiting the play of his starters.

Whether due that game, or because he felt his team’s conditioning had reached a level he liked, there was a new element introduced to practices in the past week – contact. There was hitting, blocking, pushing and shoving and even a few near fights broke out as the Chiefs went football physical on Sunday-Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday.

And that should make for a different performance for Haley’s team tonight when the Chiefs play the Baltimore Ravens in pre-season game No. 2 at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.

Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m. CDT and can be seen on KCTV and the Chiefs TV Network.

There’s no question the Chiefs are better prepared football-wise to play a game. They better be, given their opponent. The Ravens whacked them out of the playoffs in January and they are the type of team that never seems to have a problem being physical.

But there has not been much consideration of Baltimore this week with the Chiefs. Only the three former Ravens on the roster have given it much of an extra thought, and they say it’s no big deal.

“It will be fun to see those guys,” said NT Kelly Gregg, a member of the Ravens for a decade. “But I’m not thinking about them. I’m thinking about the Chiefs.”

And what are the Chiefs thinking about this week?

“We all want to go out there and have a better performance,” said QB Matt Cassel. “Hopefully we can go out there and gain some momentum. That’s what we want to do on offense.”

The intensity level of practice went up this week. Part of that came from within the roster itself. Part was driven by Haley, who had his team in full pads for three of the four practices and in shoulder pads for all four.

There were collisions, there were short tempers, especially when the Chiefs defense really took control of the practices and pounded on their offensive teammates. But after weeks of getting into physical shape, they needed some time to get into football shape.

Some of that got done on the practice field. More will have to be put into place on Friday night against the Ravens. But from Haley’s perspective, it’s another step in the process of getting his team prepared for the season.

“It’s our first road game so there’s going to be a lot of coaching and teaching that goes on,” Haley said. “Like last week, how we come out of the locker room? We had to kind of educate everybody. Now, it’s what do we wear on the plane? How do we get to the plane? How do we act in the hotel? When are the meetings? It’s a new challenge, but it’s another one of these days, and what are we down to? Twenty-five days until September 11? It’s another day that’s going to be just as critical as any other in this process.”

Friday is 23 days away from opening the regular season against the Buffalo Bills at Arrowhead Stadium. There is a lot to accomplish. Some of the to-do list for the Chiefs against the Ravens includes:

Give their backup QBs a chance to perform – That did not happen last week against Tampa Bay, as Tyler Palko and Ricky Stanzi had to run for their lives as their pass protection was so poor. Evaluating their performances was nearly impossible.

Allow the No. 1 offense a chance to get something done – Haley and coordinator Bill Muir do not have to crack open the playbook to all the chapters. But they need to give Cassel and opportunity to test out the weapons he will have at his disposal. Specifically, they need to get Jerheme Urban, Steve Breaston and Tony Moeaki involved in the passing game. They will all be big contributors for the ’11 Chiefs offense.

Throw a few defensive wrinkles at Joe Flacco early – Apparently, one thing the Ravens are going to do this year is allow Flacco to call some of the plays. He’ll have the chance to change calls, to move the point of attack from right to left, to pretty much work as quarterbacks used to do. In light of that, make him think for a time or two. Again, Romeo Crennel doesn’t have to use the entire defensive playbook, but give his guys a chance to force some mistakes.

Get as much time on the field for some of the rookies – And the coaches should do this early, and allow some of these guys to play with the starters. Specifically, players like CB Jalil Brown, DE Allen Bailey, OLB Justin Houston and NT Jerrell Powe. If WR Jonathan Baldwin is available, then give him some early time as well.

Improve all aspects of the special teams, but especially the return game – Against Tampa Bay the Chiefs offense was continually in bad field position because when the punt and kickoff return groups had a chance to bring back a ball, they couldn’t get anything done. They are going to need major help from the return game in the ’11 season and there’s no time like now to work on improving their returns.

8 Responses to “Ready For Football This Time … Game-Day Cup O’Chiefs”

  • August 19, 2011  - Arrowheadlines: Chiefs News 8/19 | Sports Feedr says:

    [...] Ready For Football ThisTime… Game Day Cup O’Chiefs from Bob Gretz Training camp at Missouri Western this week looked, sounded and, to the players felt, more like training camp as the Chiefs inch closer to the start of the regular season. [...]

  • August 19, 2011  - el cid says:

    About the rams game, would rather see the rookies and fa vets fitted in where they have earned positions with the first string, then for a series or two only. Really do not care about the Gov Cup one way or the other.

  • August 19, 2011  - Rick says:

    Haley will release the hounds when he’s ready to, and not a moment before. Anyone calling him crazy or stupid is most likely clueless or has an agenda that doesn’t necessarily have the Chiefs best interests in mind.

    I’m willing to trust our coach and not concern myself with what the whiners happen to be bleating at the moment.

  • August 19, 2011  - Tenand6 says:

    Is Baldwin with the team?

  • August 19, 2011  - jim says:

    Exactly what Rick said. The reseason is not there for our pleasure. There is work to be done and Haley has a schedule that fits his team.

  • August 19, 2011  - Blake says:

    Bob, do you have any information on what happened to Baldwin? Did he really get into a fight with Thomas Jones and injure his wrist? Is he out for the rest of the preseason?

  • August 19, 2011  - el cid says:

    For what it is worth, the Star says he is out for the preseason. Think any Chief will comment??

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