Running at Defense … Wednesday Cup O’Chiefs

As Todd Haley spoke about Sunday’s loss to Buffalo after the game and then the next day after reviewing the tape, he said the same things.

The Chiefs offense was error prone and inefficient against the Bills according to the head coach, looking good only in the running game with Jamaal Charles. The special teams battle went to Buffalo in his view. And, Haley said he was pleased with the overall performance of his defense.

“I thought our defense did a very good job overall, did a great job of creating turnovers, did a great job versus the passing game holding them to 73 yards,” Haley said. “In the run game, we’ve got to be better.”

Better? It’s hard to imagine the Chiefs run defense being any worse than what they’ve done the last two weeks. Denver had 245 rushing yards. Buffalo had 200 rushing yards. Two weeks in a row and the opponent averaged 223 yards rushing per game. No wonder the Chiefs are ranked 30th in the league when it comes to giving up yardage on the ground, with a 13-game average of 148.1 yards.

So why was Haley pleased about his defense? Well, when a coach is reviewing the performance of a 3-10 football team, one that has lost three in a row and by a combined score of 103-37, there are not going to be many positives. When something like forcing three turnovers and allowing 73 yards passing shows up on the tape for this team, it’s something to be pleased about.

There’s no question that defensive production is lacking with this group.

They are 30th in yards allowed, with only Cleveland and Detroit turning in worse yardage totals. They are 29th in points allowed, better than only Tampa Bay, St. Louis and Detroit. They have 19 sacks and while that’s nearly double what they had last season, it still ranks No. 31 in the league; only Jacksonville has fewer sacks. They have nine interceptions, which ties them for 24th in the league, with six other teams below them.

Only one statistic shows up on the plus side for the ’09 Chiefs defense and that’s on third down, where they are 12th, allowing a conversion 36.7 percent of the time.

But there’s another factor to be pleased about with the Chiefs defense right now and that is the effort this group displays on a constant basis. Sunday they played as a 3-9 team, one that is going nowhere and playing out the string on an ugly season; not exactly a motivational bonfire. Yet, against the Bills the defense was as active as any time this year. They showed constant pursuit. When a Buffalo ball carrier was stopped outside the scrum of the line of scrimmage, there would be six or seven defenders there to make the tackle. Most of them arrived at a full gallop, as they came from other spots on the field.

Why is the Chiefs defense still hustling like that?

“We are doing it for ourselves,” said CB Brandon Flowers. “We are doing it for each other. We don’t want to let the other guys down. We’ve got a good mix, a bunch of guys that care about getting something done. We don’t always get the offense stopped, but it’s not because we aren’t trying. We want to stop every play and we want to help each other.”

Help for each other needs to be increased against the running game, because the Chiefs already slim chances of winning disappear if they can’t stop the other team’s running game. The front-seven needs to raise its efficiency level. The gaps need to be filled as designed by coordinator Clancy Pendergast. That impressive pursuit needs to be tempered from guys like OLB Tamba Hali, who comes off the edge like a missile and sometimes isn’t able to stop his trajectory as a running back blows past the area he just vacated.

Tackles need to be made, not missed. Undrafted rookie DE Dion Gales got his first taste of NFL action against Buffalo. Twice, Gales blew up the blocker across from him and got his hands on the Bills ball carrier. Both times he couldn’t finish the play and the back gained yardage, when he could have lost yardage.

“We’ve got to do a better job of executing the defense – missed tackles being the other culprit in reviewing the tape,” said Haley. “But I thought the defense gave us a chance to win and kept us in the game throughout.”

For a coach, it’s not much to hang his hat on. In Todd Haley’s situation right now, any little ray of sunlight is welcomed when the dark clouds have taken up residence above your team. He says the Chiefs are getting better.

“I don’t have any doubt we’re making progress,” Haley said. “It’s tough when you look at the record and see that. But I just have to go by what I see on a daily basis and see what I see during the game, after the game, certain responses by players, desire of the players to get better and do the right thing. We’re making progress.”

That progress better show itself soon in the Chiefs run defense, or these last three games will have even more disappointing results. Cleveland is 20th in the NFL in rushing yardage. That’s not especially good, but running the ball is the best thing the 2-11 Browns have done during this season. Then comes Cincinnati, ranked No. 6 in the league in rushing and the season finale is at Denver, an offense that just a little over two weeks ago put up that 245 yards on the ground. The Broncos are No. 12 in the league in rushing yardage.

It’s time for the progress Haley sees to show itself on game day.

HOW THE ’09 CHIEFS COMPARE TO THE REST OF THE DECADE’S DEFENSES

 Season/Coordinator Avg.
Yds.
Avg.
Rush
Avg.
Pass
   Sacks       Total
 Takeaways
      TDs
  Allowed
Overall
NFL Rank
’00/K. Schottenheimer 330 113.1 216.9

51

29

38

18

’01/G. Robinson 331.5 133.8 197.8

31

26

34

23

’02/G. Robinson 390.5 129.2 261.3

34

31

46

32

’03/G. Robinson 356.7 146.5 210.2

36

37

37

29

’04/G. Cunningham 377.3 114.6 262.7

41

21

50

31

’05/G. Cunningham 328.1 98.1 229.9

29

31

36

25

’06/G. Cunningham 328.9 120.5 208.4

32

30

32

16

’07/G. Cunningham 319.4 130.6 188.9

37

22

28

13

’08/G. Cunningham 393.2 158.9 234.3

10

29

46

31

’09/C. Pendergast* 385.2 148.1 237.2

23

26

43

30

         *-2009 projected final stats on 13-game defensive numbers.

SIGNINGS, HONORS, INJURIES & MOVEMENT AROUND THE LEAGUE

  • BROWNS – spent Monday and Tuesday meeting and talking with former Packers-Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren about GM job with the team.
  • EAGLES – released RB P.J. Hill; promoted TE Martin Rucker from the practice squad.
  • FALCONS – p laced WR Brian Finneran on the injured-reserve list (knee); promoted WR Troy Bergeron from the practice squad.
  • LIONS – claimed CB Brian Witherspoon on waivers (Jaguars); signed TE Michael Matthews; promoted RB Cedric Peerman from the practice squad.
  • PANTHERS – placed OT Jeff Otah on the injured-reserve list (knee); signed OT Rob Pettiti.
  • RAIDERS – signed QB J.P. Losman.
  • RAMS – released G Richie Incognito.
  • REDSKINS – released OT D’Anthony Batiste; promoted LB Curtis Gatewood from the practice squad.
  • STEELERS – have ruled out S Troy Polamalu and G Chris Kemoeatu for Sunday’s game against the Packers because of injuries.
  • VIKINGS – LB Erin Henderson was suspended for four games by the NFL for violation of the performance enhancing drugs rules; promoted LB J Leman from the practice squad.

FROM THE PAGES OF CHIEFS HISTORY

On December 16, 1962, the Dallas Texans beat the San Diego Chargers 26-17 in front of 18,384 fans at the Cotton Bowl. It was a beautiful winter’s day in north Texas and the home team put up 23 points in the first half to control the game. In 60-degree temperatures QB Len Dawson scored on a five-yard run and threw a 13-yard TD pass to FB Jack Spikes. Tommy Brooker added four FGs, the longest from 35 yards. RB Abner Haynes ran for 82 yards on 20 carries, putting him at 1,049 yards for the season. The Texans defense picked of five passes by Chargers QB John Hadl (right), with S Bobby Ply grabbing four.

On December 16, 1973, the Chiefs beat the San Diego Chargers 33-6 at Arrowhead Stadium in front of 43,755 fans. In 29 degree temperatures and with the smallest crowd in the two-year history of Arrowhead in the stands, the Chiefs ran away with this meaningless season finale. They got touchdown runs of one-yard from Ed Podolak, two yards by Wendell Hayes (left) and five yards by Jeff Kinney. K Jan Stenerud kicked four field goals, the longest from 45 yards. The only San Diego points came on a pair of FGs by Ray Wersching. The KC defense allowed just 203 offensive yards, while picking up six takeaways. The Chiefs finished the season with a 7-5-2 record, their ninth straight winning season.

On December 16, 1979, the Chiefs lost to the Buccaneers 3-0 at Tampa Stadium. Sometimes NFL Films specials will have clips of this game played on the last weekend of the ’79 season. It rained so hard that day that rivers were rushing down the steps and ramps of the old Tampa Stadium. It made playing football nearly impossible, as the game’s only points came late in the fourth quarter when Tampa Bay kicker Neil O’Donoghue kicked a 19-yard FG. The Chiefs finished the game with only 80 offensive yards and four first downs. Overall in the game there were three interceptions and seven fumbles.

On December 16, 1984, the Chiefs beat the San Diego Chargers 42-21 at Jack Murphy Stadium. Chargers QB Ed Luther threw for 333 yards, including a 15-yard TD pass to WR Wes Chandler. Chiefs QB Bill Kenney threw three scoring passes in the game, hitting WR Stephone Paige for 65 yards, WR Henry Marshall for eight yards and TE Walt Arnold for four yards. RBs Billy Jackson, Herman Heard and Theotis Brown added touchdown runs. Kenney was 17 of 23 for 245 yards.

On December 16, 1990, the Chiefs lost to the Houston Oilers 27-10 at Arrowhead Stadium. Oilers QB Warren Moon (right) turned in one of the greatest passing days in pro football history when he threw for 527 yards and led Houston to a 17-point road victory. Moon completed 27 of 45 passes in the run-and-shoot Oilers offense, including touchdown passes to Haywood Jeffries and two to Tony Jones. Leading all receivers was Jeffries with nine catches for 245 yards. All that passing success came despite the fact the Chiefs sacked Moon three times, as Derrick Thomas, Neil Smith and Bill Maas all took down the passer. The Chiefs only score was a 62-yard TD throw from Steve DeBerg to J.J. Birden. Eighteen years later, Moon’s 527 yards still ranks as the second best passing production day in NFL history.

On December 16, 2001, the Chiefs beat the Denver Broncos 26-23 in overtime at Arrowhead Stadium. It was K Todd Peterson’s 32-yard FG in the extra period that gave the Chiefs the victory. Denver won the toss, but the Chiefs defense held for a three-and-out series. When the Chiefs offense got the ball, QB Trent Green found WR Snoop Minnis for a 56-yard play that set up Peterson’s field goal. Denver K Jason Elam sent the game into overtime with a 49-yard FG with 73 seconds to play. The Chiefs got touchdowns on a 12-yard run by RB Priest Holmes and a 24-yard scoring pass from Green to WR Derrick Alexander (left). Peterson made four of his six field goal attempts. Holmes ran for 121 yards on 29 carries. Minnis caught five passes for 89 yards.

SAY HAPPY BIRTHDAY …

Born on December 16, 1969 in Los Angeles, California was S Charles Mincy (right). He was selected in the fifth round of the 1991 NFL Draft out of the University of Washington. Mincy spent four seasons with the Chiefs (1992-94), appearing in 54 games with 30 starts in the regular and post-season. He had 12 interceptions, 243 total tackles, three fumbles recovered including one in 1992 that he returned 30 yards for a touchdown against New England. Mincy also had a 25-yard interception return vs. the Raiders for a score and TD against Denver when he took a lateral from teammate Bennie Thompson and went 32 yards into the end zone. After his time with the Chiefs, Mincy played one season with the Vikings, three seasons with the Buccaneers and one season with the Raiders. Over his eight full NFL seasons, he had 23 interceptions. Mincy is currently the head football coach at Inglewood High School in Los Angeles. This fall, the Sentinels went 7-4 on the season.


13 Responses to “Running at Defense … Wednesday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • December 16, 2009  - Jim Lloyd + says:

    They say pratice makes perfect …
    The key to Matt’s sucess is going to be all the work with his TE’s & WR’s day and night , now that he has the right stuff .
    To me , it look’s like they are really starting to mesh , now is the time to really pay close attention to setting high level goal’s .


  • December 16, 2009  - gorillafan says:

    colby,

    Looks like lions got first dibs on Witherspoon and took him.

    as for the article, I agree these players are playing their ass off and you have to give it to Haley on not letting this team quit. To get this thing turned around, quiting is not an option and these guys act like they never will, the tide is going to turn sooner than later, and I cant wait..just like the steelers game, wow, that was fun!


  • December 16, 2009  - jimbo says:

    I’ll agree the Chiefs defense statistically is not good. What the stats don’t say is that the Chiefs defense have, when it counted the most, given the offense an opportunity to win the game in the last one or two possessions. To me, that is a good defense.
    I’m going to put myself on an island & say this. Hats off to our defense for keeping us in games (the close ones anyway) & giving the offense an opportunity to win games. Thanks for not giving up & working hard together.
    No, I did not drink any kool aid, nor am I going to sing Kum-bye-ahh
    Go Chiefs.


  • December 16, 2009  - Jim Lloyd + says:

    When I get up and go somewere during a game , it’s ONLY during when the team dosen’t have the ball , Defence has improved a LOT …
    It would help the Safeties / more of a blitz .


  • December 16, 2009  - Danny W says:

    Many of those run plays would have been stopped for a loss and will in the future as Giles progresses. But Hali is not a run stop guy he loses his contain on the end and there it goes for a giant play.


  • December 16, 2009  - Hank says:

    Bob,
    You failed to mention the two biggest factors that TOTALLY bias the run defense stats.

    FIRST: Number of drives available to the opposing team. When our offense goes three-and-out many times, the opposing offensive unit will have more drives to run more plays and gain more yards, etc.

    In the Baltimore game for instance, we went three and out almost an entire half, and then blocked a punt for TD and INT return inside the 10-both resulting in very little (or no) KC offensive time of possession and conversely more drives/yards for the Ravens.

    SECOND: So what if Bills had 200 rushing yards, they only had 76 passing yards. In other words they ran the ball way more than they passed-duh! The total offensive production from the Bills was 276 yards. Will you call that acceptable?

    The only rushing defense stat that means anything is the yards per carry and then you should back out goal line or other less than 3 yards to end zone/first down carries.

    What I SENSE as I watch the 09′ Chiefs run defense is a top 5 run stopping line that when an occasional breakthrough occurs by the RB, there is not the consistent LB/Safety/CB help to stop the long run.

    Finally, I went back and watched four games from the Neil Smith/DT/3-4 defense Marty days against moderate to good teams. Our 09′ DT-NT-DT are more consistent against the run than this vaulted group.


  • December 16, 2009  - Jim Lloyd + says:

    What’s going to happen—>All at once , and proably this weekend , the whole group will go together as a team .
    What they need is 2 or 3 players to have this game be their game . ( there IS about 14 guy’s that could do it )
    #’s 7-11-17-24-25-30-45-47-50-80-82-87-91-94==there’s more , in fact there’s some real talent starting to show some lite . Creating fumbles & sack’s =Wins & LARGE margins . Gite’n close .


  • December 16, 2009  - gorillafan says:

    I agree hank, our d is rated very bad, but they have been able to stop offenses better this year than last year or 2 imo….and maybe they are just covering it up with their had work and effort on the field, but its more exciting to watch…

    its still better than the tampa2 we tried to run!!


  • December 16, 2009  - Gary H. says:

    If they bring back anyone on this defensive staff they are really stupid. This defense gets dominated week in and week out. They have allowed over 400 yards in 9 of 13 games. I don’t want to hear about 3rd down defense. How about this defense on 1st down. I enjoy the methodical drives down the field. This defense should be able to control the browns this week. Then in the final 2 games give Carson Palmer his first 300 yard game. Then let the Broncos have 450 yards in their tune up for the playoffs.


  • December 16, 2009  - tm1946 says:

    My goodness, one could get diabetes from you guys. What happen to Rin? Not sure you are watching the same team as me.


  • December 16, 2009  - Jim Lloyd + says:

    At the start of the regular season S.F. looked like nothing , and along with the Browns hated their coach & did nothing .
    The Browns showed up here with some talent and played a very – very good game —Sun. S.F. spanked a team loaded with talent and sent them home having the suprise of the season , Arz. never had the ball long enough to do much .
    My point is there is a handfull of teams that are comming off the bottem and are playing better ball every weekend . KC is looking better & better .


  • December 17, 2009  - Bakjon says:

    The Chiefs’ biggest problem as it has been for the last few years is missed tackles. The lack of technique has led to big gains on plays that should have been stopped. Also, the three and outs on offense have led to the defense playing some heavy minutes and getting tired toward the end of games. Had the defense been able to make a play against Baltimore, Dallas, and Oakland the Chiefs would be 6-7 and in the playoff picture.




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