Road Woes Must End … Thanksgiving Cup O’Chiefs

This week of Thanksgiving is one of busiest travel times of the year. Family and friends come and go, flying here and there, driving the family truckster to Grandma’s house and enjoy that holiday feeling of family and friends.

Everyone hopes to survive weather delays, security pat downs, that crying baby in the next seat and the after-effects of tryptophan.

The Chiefs will be traveling as well this weekend, minus the holiday feeling. They will hit the road to play the Seattle Seahawks in what’s the biggest game of the season for the 2010 team. That’s not meant in the manner that head coach Todd Haley uses the term. He said this week’s meeting with the Seahawks was the team’s most important game of the season. Next week, he will say the re-match with Denver will be their most important game on the schedule. He says that every week – its part of his “one-game at a time” mantra.

What makes this weekend trip to the Pacific Northwest extra important for the Chiefs is they must start piecing together the final pieces of their personal puzzle and establish themselves as a legitimate contender for a spot in the AFC playoffs.

To gain some sort of legitimacy and respect, the Chiefs have to start winning on the road, where they are 1-4 this season with three road trips left to play. They have re-established their dominance at Arrowhead Stadium, going 5-0; that’s one of the first steps in becoming a contender.

Now, they have to show they can win on the road when it matters, and in the NFL it always matters in November and December. It’s the time of year where teams find the combinations that allow them to dream of post-season play. As Haley said earlier in the week, it’s the time when teams establish their identity.

Best Home Record 2010                        Best Road Record 2010

# Team

Record

  # Team

Record

1. Chiefs

5-0

  1. New York Jets

5-0

  Atlanta

5-0

  2. Pittsburgh

4-1

  New England

5-0

    Miami

4-1

4. Indianapolis

4-0

    Tampa Bay

4-1

  Baltimore

4-0

    Chicago

4-1

          Philadelphia

4-1

“This time of year is when teams are defining themselves because each and every year starts brand new; there’s no carryover from the year before, whether you’re a good team, a bad team, or in between,” said Haley. “The process we go through defines what our team’s going to be and we’re right in the middle of that grind.”

But Haley is reticent about making a big deal out of winning away from home. He wants his team thinking about playing better than their opponent, rather than depending on the site of the game.

“I think it’s something that if you’re not careful that you get caught up in,” said Haley. “That’s really what I’m focused on with our guys is understanding that the final result is determined by who plays the best on Sunday, wherever you’re playing it. When you play in the Super Bowl, nobody is at home so you’ve got to learn how to win away from your place and you do that by playing fundamental football.”

Fundamental football is what’s not gotten done in the four games the Chiefs have lost on the road. For instance:

  • The Chiefs averaged one turnover per game in their four defeats on the road. In the other six games, they averaged .5 turnovers.
  • They averaged 6.75 penalties in the four road defeats. In the other six games they averaged 5.2 penalties.
  • In those four road defeats they’ve allowed nine sacks or 2.25 per game. In the other six games they allowed six sacks, an average of one per game.
  • They ran for an average of 124 yards per game in road losses. In the other six games, they averaged 191.8 rushing yards.
  • They allowed an average of 123.5 rushing yards in four road defeats. In the other six games, they allowed an average of 91.2 rushing yards per game.

If the Chiefs hope to make something more of the 2010 season, then they’ll have to grab a victory or two starting at Seattle this Sunday or in San Diego on Dec. 12 or St. Louis on Dec. 19.

“We have to figure out a way to take what we are getting done at home and take it on the road,” said QB Matt Cassel. “We have to go and learn how to win on the road. I don’t think it has anything to do with preparation. I think it has more to do with execution.”

Of the four games they’ve lost on the road this season, the Chiefs were tied 9-9 at the start of the fourth quarter in Indianapolis, they lead at Houston 24-14, trailed in Oakland 14-13 and were rolled by Denver after three quarters, trailing 42-17.

“I think the main emphasis for us as we go out on the road is to finish games,” said Cassel. “We’ve had quite a few close ones, but we need to finish it when it gets to the fourth quarter.”

Haley keeps pushing the focus towards playing better than their opponent, whether at home or on the road.

“We went on the road against Cleveland coming off a big, big win here in Arrowhead (over San Diego) and much like this scenario and we just played better than our opponent,” said Haley. “Then we went to Indy and I thought we played a heck of a game against a good team but it’s a hard place to win and we just didn’t make quite enough plays to change the outcome. We went to Houston who’s a good team that was playing real good on both sides of the ball. We had it in a position to win the game but you’ve got to make two plays at a critical time in the game and we didn’t make those plays. Oakland was the same thing, multiple opportunities to get the game to go the way we wanted it to go and we weren’t able to get the job done.

“That’s really what it’s about, it’s about our football team just focusing on what we need to do, the things we need to do to make progress.”

Over the previous five seasons (2005-09), the Chiefs were 6-16 on the road in November/December/ January – 4-6 in November, 1-10 in December and 1-0 in January. Of those six victories, they did not beat a team that finished the year with a winning record and half of those victories came against Oakland in seasons where the Raiders did not win more than five games.

There’s a long trail of head coaches that did not get a road win late in the season against a team headed for the playoffs. Haley, Herm Edwards, Dick Vermeil and Gunther Cunningham were shut out there. The last time the Chiefs won a game on the road in November/December against a team that made the NFL playoffs the head coach was Marty Schottenheimer. It was in 1996 when they beat the Vikings at the Metrodome in early November. Minnesota went on to finish 9-7, earning a wildcard spot. That year the Chiefs did not make the playoffs.

The ability to perform up to standard on the road is one of the major reasons that Haley still won’t call the 2010 Chiefs a good team.

“We’re going on the road to a very difficult place to play,” Haley said of this weekend’s game in Seattle. “In my experience it’s a difficult place to operate because it’s a great, great atmosphere out there in Seattle. They’re a team that’s trying to define itself. So this will be a great, great opportunity for our team to make progress.”

NFL PERSONNEL FILE FOR WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 24

  • AFC – named Jets QB Mark Sanchez offensive player of the week; Bills CB Drayton Florence defensive player of the week and Titans returner Marc Mariani special teams player of the week.
  • NFC – named Packers WR Greg Jennings offensive player of the week; Bears DE Julius Peppers defensive player of the week and Cowboys DB Bryan McCann special teams player of the week.
  • NFL – fined Eagles CB Asante Samuel $40,000 for a hit from Sunday night’s game against the Giants; fined Eagles G Todd Herremans $5,000 for an illegal hit from Sunday night; fined Bills WR Steve Johnson $5,000 for an illegal end zone celebration in last week’s game against the Bengals.
  • BENGALS – signed S Jeromy Miles off their practice squad; released DE Victor Adeyanju.
  • BUCCANEERS – signed DT Frank Okam off their practice squad.
  • GIANTS – claimed WR Devin Thomas off waivers from the Panthers; placed FB Madison Hedgecock on the injured-reserve list (hamstring) ending his season.
  • RAIDERS – signed DE Jarvis Moss, last with the Broncos; placed DL Trevor Scott on the injured-reserve list (knee) ending his season.
  • REDSKINS – placed RB Clinton Portis on the injured-reserve list (groin) ending his season.
  • VIKINGS – placed G Anthony Herrera on the injured-reserve list (knee), ending his season; signed OT Patrick Brown off their practice squad.

9 Responses to “Road Woes Must End … Thanksgiving Cup O’Chiefs”

  • November 25, 2010  - Butler says:

    Happy Thanksgiving to you Bob & All of the Chiefs Nation God Bless you ALL

    Go CHIEFS Go


  • November 25, 2010  - David says:

    Bob, you saved it all up for the holidays. What a great article with a lot of new information, at least to me. I appreciate you everyday when searching for my Chiefs news. Signing up on your website was some of the best money I ever spent.

    Happy Thanksgiving


  • November 25, 2010  - TDKC says:

    Happy Thanksgiving Bob.

    Your site is one of the things I’m happy for this year.


  • November 25, 2010  - Chuck says:

    BOB; May you and your family have a “GREAT THANKSGIVING”. I truly enjoy your writings and the site is great. Chuck P


  • November 25, 2010  - Don says:

    Happy Thanksgiving to all! I hope we get some stuffing and gravy the next 6 games and not be the turkey. Keep up the good work Bob.


  • November 25, 2010  - Fan Since 93 says:

    Happy Thanksgiving Bob. Put the laptop away and enjoy the holiday!


  • November 25, 2010  - Tenand6 says:

    Happy Thanksgiving, Bob. Hope you and your family have a great holiday. Thanks for all your hard and brilliant work.


  • November 25, 2010  - Steven says:

    Bob – Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family. Thanks for the holiday report. I imagine the media pool was pretty thin this morning. I really enjoy your work.


  • November 25, 2010  - Edward says:

    I think if Chiefs can establish the run game early and get heat on Matt Hasselback the entire game they should go up there and get a win. Happy Thanksgiving to Chiefs nation.




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