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Column: Are the Chiefs 32 Points Better Than Patriots?

Let me be the first to lay this in front of you after Sunday’s Chiefs victory over Miami, 34-15.

From the comparative scores department, the Chiefs first winning effort of the season was completed with a 19-point advantage over a Dolphins team that won their season opener by 13 points over New England.

So obviously, the Chiefs are 32 points better than the Patriots when they face each other next Monday night at Arrowhead Stadium.

OK, you can stop laughing now. There isn’t a soul alive that thinks the Chiefs are more than four touchdowns superior to a team like New England. At least there’s no one in possession of all their mental marbles.

It was a conference victory, a winning performance on the road and they did it without three of their best players – running back Jamaal Charles, safety Eric Berry and inside linebacker Derrick Johnson. They did it with a revamped offensive line and a restructured back eight on their defense that took advantage of an inferior Miami team.

Yes, it’s the same Dolphins squad that somehow beat the Patriots by a touchdown and two field goals.

How to explain that? Well, there’s this moment guaranteed to happen to each of the 32 teams in the NFL at least once during a season. The best description of these types of days is a team simply was out of its body and mind and ended up failing against an inferior opponent.

That’s the only explanation for the Dolphins beating New England. And maybe it’s the defining explanation of what went down with the Chiefs in their season opener when they lost by 16 points at home to Tennessee.

Since then, the Titans have been clubbed by Dallas (a 16-point loss at home) and Cincinnati (a 26-point defeat by Cincinnati).

Yes, the Chiefs sit 1-2 on the season, the same as Tennessee and Miami. But they appear to be riding the upward elevator from the basement, while the Titans and Dolphins are headed south.

It’s a scenario where more information is needed before a decision can be made on just what the 2014 Chiefs are capable of producing this season. While Knile Davis, Alex Smith and Joe McKnight got the attention for their performances after the game, it was the Chiefs defense that made the victory possible.

In the absence of defensive starters Berry, Derrick Johnson, Joe Mays and Mike DeVito, this group has been re-calibrated by coordinator Bob Sutton. Against Miami the key performers were Chris Owens, Allen Bailey, Josh Mauga, James-Michael Johnson and Ron Parker. All made big plays against the Dolphins; none were major contributors last season.

The defense wasn’t perfect; they allowed too many rushing yards (141 on 20 runs) and they were not able to force a turnover, giving them now three games without an interception or recovered fumble. But they pressured quarterback Ryan Tannehill, sacking him four times and not giving the young quarterback a lot of time to survey the field. Speedy receiver Mike Wallace was targeted a dozen times by Tannehill, but caught only five passes, for an average of 14.8 yards per catch.

Sutton dialed up more blitzes in his game plan than in the previous two games combined sending all sorts of combinations of cornerbacks and safeties flying at Tannehill.

Miami is not one of the league’s better offenses; they came into the game ranked No. 21 in offense per game at 325 yards. They had 332 against the Chiefs. Tannehill is still feeling his way, they were without starting running back Knowshon Moreno because of injury and the tight end was barely visible in the game plan. They have a pair of good receivers in Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline, but the offensive line had two injury-replacement starters for this game at center and right guard, with a rookie right tackle.

There are never bad victories in the NFL . . . never. They are too difficult to acquire and after all the hard work that goes into preparation, every winning Sunday should be celebrated, especially when it’s the first of the season.

It’s too early to tell whether or not the victory over the Dolphins was a harbinger of what’s still left for the Chiefs in the season’s next 13 games. What we do know is whether they go up or down, they will go with a fighting attitude, even if their best players are not on the field.

No Jamaal, No Problem As Chiefs Beat Miami, 34-15

Jamaal Charles never left the Chiefs bench on Sunday afternoon at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. He wore a Chiefs t-shirt, red shorts and a Gatorade towel wrapped draped over his shoulders.

No. 25 was not available because of his sprained left ankle. But No. 34 and No. 22 stepped into the opportunity and led the Chiefs to their first victory of the season, 34-15 over the Miami Dolphins.

Knile Davis (#34) ran for 132 yards and a touchdown and Joe McKnight (#22) led all Chiefs receivers with six catches for 64 yards and two touchdowns. Quarterback Alex Smith threw three touchdown passes and completed 76 percent of his passes. With help from the defense that limited the Dolphins to a single touchdown, the Chiefs earned that first “W” in a game that counted since December 15th of last season when they won on the road in Oakland.

“Our defense, any time there was an adverse situation, they bowed up and got us out of it,” said head coach Andy Reid. “We were able to run the football a little bit and Knile sure did . . . it’s not easy filling in for (No.) 25, but he did a nice job.”

The Chiefs ran for 174 yards without their best running back thanks to Davis carrying the load. He finished with 14 carries in the first half, nine runs in the third quarter and then nine more in the fourth quarter as the Chiefs pounded the Miami defensive front.

“It was a workload but I was happy to handle it,” Davis said afterwards. “As the game goes on, you become more comfortable and you become more productive. I’m tired but I could have run for a few more.”

Davis got things rolling for the Chiefs in the second quarter after the game’s first 15 minutes was a battle of punters. Neither offense was able to maintain possession and produce first downs. There were six possessions – three for each team – seven first downs and five punts in the first quarter.

Midway through the second quarter Miami kicker Caleb Sturgis missed a 48-yard field goal wide left and the Chiefs had their best in the first-half field position at their 38-yard line. This one was all Davis (three carries for 25 yards) and Smith (three-for-three, for 37 yards.) The score came on a rugged 21-yard run for a touchdown by Davis. The Chiefs ran a trap play with left tackle Eric Fisher pulling to his right and opened a running lane with a nice block. Davis broke two tackles and chugged into the end zone. The PAT from Cairo Santos gave the Chiefs the early 7-0 lead.

The next time the Chiefs offense got the ball, Smith led them on an eight-play, 76-yard drive that also reached the end zone. The score came on a 20-yard pass play from Smith to tight end Travis Kelce, who did a good job of stretching the ball out and bouncing it off the goal-line pylon for his first NFL touchdown. The big plays in the drive were a 26-yard Smith to McKnight completion and then an 11-yard run on third down by Davis.

That should have sent the Chiefs to the half-time locker room with a 14-0 lead, but Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill drove his offense 74 yards down the field, hitting five of six throws and setting up a 22-yard field goal by Sturgis on the final play of the first half.

After winning the coin toss to start the game and deferring the option, the Chiefs had the first possession of the second half. But they blew that chance when on the third play Smith was sacked and fumbled, with Miami defensive end Derrick Shelby recovering the ball at the Chiefs 19-yard line.

The Dolphins scored what would be their only touchdown of the day, as Tannehill hit wide receiver Brian Hartline for a one-yard touchdown pass. The PAT kick made the score 14-10.

But it was after his touchdown that Hartline made the dumb move of performing some sort of touchdown celebration with his teammates. That drew a penalty of 15 yards and when Sturgis kicked off, the ball was teed up on the 20-yard line. A 25-yard kickoff return by McKnight allowed the Chiefs offense to start its possession at their 34-yard line.

Smith and Davis again pushed the offense down the field, with Smith completing five of six passes for 54 yards and Davis ran three times for 19 yards. They converted a pair of third downs, including a third-and-eight where Smith used his legs and ran for 13 yards, moving the chains.

The touchdown came on an 11-yard pass and run to McKnight out of the backfield. The PAT kick gave the Chiefs a 21-10 lead.

However, in the next four minutes the Chiefs allowed the Dolphins to climb back into the game. First, they gave up a 74-yard kickoff return by Miami rookie returner Jarvis Landry. The defense didn’t allow a yard on three Miami plays and Strugis came in and kicked a 51-yard field goal.

Two minutes later, another special teams screw up (illegal block above the waist) left the offense starting a possession at the Chiefs one-yard line. On the first play, Smith was sacked in the end zone for a safety and the Chiefs lead was now 21-15.

But the Dolphins did not get another point, as the Chiefs defense twice held them on fourth downs and the offense scored two touchdowns, with Smith connecting on a four-yard scoring toss to McKnight and running back Cyrus Gray going for six yards in the final minute for a score that set the final 19-point victory.

Now, the Chiefs get an extra day to heal during the week of preparation for hosting the New England Patriots next Monday night.

“It was a good win,” said Reid. “It’s a long season and we’ve got to make sure we keep working. We’ve got a lot of room to improve. We’ve got good talent on this team that is able to get better and we’ve got to keep doing that.”

Pre-Game Report – Chiefs Vs. Dolphins

2:55 p.m. CDT – Kickoff is now just 30 minutes away for the Chiefs-Dolphins in Miami Gardens, Florida. Remember, we’ll bring you post-game coverage Sunday night and early Monday morning. Enjoy the game.

2:45 p.m. CDT – If you aren’t in the states of Missouri, Kansas and Florida there’s very little chance your nearest CBS-TV affiliate is going to show the Chiefs and Dolphins. That’s because more than 90 percent of the country is going to get the Super Bowl re-match between the Broncos and Seahawks from Seattle. Just on Friday, stations in Tampa and Panama City, Florida along with a CBS station in Cedar Rapids, Iowa shifted the game they would show from Chiefs-Dolphins to Broncos-Seahawks.

2:40 p.m. CDT – The National Weather Service forecast for kickoff is mostly cloudy, with light winds out of the southwest and a 50 percent chance of rain, and a strong chance of thunderstorms. Kickoff temperature should be right around 83 degrees with 65 percent humidity.

2:35 p.m. CDT – The Dolphins made a roster move Saturday promoting safety Brandian Ross from the practice squad and releasing defensive tackle Bruce Gaston. Ross has spent time on the Raiders active roster.

2:30 p.m. CDT – Defensively, expect coordinator Bob Sutton to go after the right side of the Dolphins offensive line. Injury replacement Dallas Thomas is making his first start in his third NFL season, while rookie right tackle Ja’Wuan James will start for just the third time. Both Thomas and James are from the University of Tennessee, where they played with the Chiefs starting right guard Zach Fulton.

2:25 p.m. CDT – This is one afternoon where the Chiefs may be able to get an edge in the game through the special teams. Last week against Buffalo, the Dolphins had a punt blocked, fumbled away a punt return and allowed a kickoff return for a touchdown.

2:20 p.m. CDT – The Chiefs get lucky in this game with Knowshon Moreno out today because of a dislocated left elbow. In nine games over his career with Denver, Moreno ran for 681 yards on 161 carries with five touchdown runs. He also caught 16 passes for 220 yards and two scoring catches. The Chiefs were Moreno’s favorite and most productive opponent to run against. In those nine games, the Broncos were 7-2.

2:15 p.m. CDT – The Dolphins are minus four starters for this game against the Chiefs. Starting at running back will be Lamar Miller, at center it’s Samson Satele, at right guard it’s Dallas Thomas and the Dolphins have not made it public who will step in at linebacker for Koa Misi.

2:05 p.m. CDT – With Jamaal Charles out of the action, Knile Davis is scheduled to get the start at running back against the Dolphins. With Eric Berry on the bench, Ron Parker is scheduled to get the start on the back line of the secondary with Husain Abdullah.

2:00 p.m. CDT – The inactive players for the Dolphins against the Chiefs are running back Knowshon Moreno, linebacker Koa Misi, center Mike Pouncey, right guard Shelley Smith, linebacker Jordan Tripp, guard Billy Turner, defensive end Terrence Fede.

1:55 p.m. CDT – The inactive players for the Chiefs against Dolphins are quarterback Aaron Murray, wide receiver Albert Wilson running back De’Anthony Thomas, running back Jamaal Charles, safety Eric Berry, guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardiff, defensive lineman Damion Square.

1:50 p.m. CDT – The Dolphins say they’ve sold 70,000 tickets for this game. They are also handing out 65,000 aqua-colored t-shirts to the fans coming into the stadium. So instead of a blackout or whiteout, would this be an aquaout?

1:45 p.m. CDT – It appears the Chiefs and Dolphins will start the game under mostly cloudy skies, with the potential for thunderstorms in south Florida before the end of the action. The playing field at Sun Life Stadium is normally one of the best draining surfaces in the NFL. History indicates it will be the falling rain that causes more problems than the effect on the fields. More weather details closer to kickoff.

Week #3 Notes: Cradle of Kickers – St. Augustine, FL?

Some 300 miles from Miami, traveling up Interstate-95 along the east coast of Florida is St. Augustine.

Known as the oldest continuously inhabited village in the continental United States, St. Augustine saw European explorers as early as Ponce de Leon in 1513 and what became a permanent settlement was set up in 1565. There’s 600 years of history there that went down on the Atlantic Ocean and in the many rivers that crisscross the city.

But it’s doubtful anyone has ever called St. Augie the cradle of kickers. But of the 32 men booting the ball in the NFL, two are from St. Augustine and they’ll be together on the field Sunday afternoon when the Chiefs and Dolphins face off back down I-95 in Miami Gardens.

Caleb Sturgis will be kicking for the Dolphins. He’s in his second season with the team out of the University of Florida and St. Augustine High School. Cairo Santos will be booting the ball for the Chiefs. He will be in his third NFL game after signing as an undrafted free agent out of Tulane University with his high school days coming at St. Joseph Academy in St. Augustine.

Of the 30 other kickers this week around the league there are two that kicked at the same high school – Notre Dame High in Sherman Oaks, California: Nick Folk of the New York Jets and Kai Forbath of the Washington Redskins. Sturgis and Santos are two of six kickers that have come out of Florida, from St. Augustine in the north, to Ft. Lauderdale in the south. There are also six Texas raised kickers in the league. No other state or area had more than two kickers.

Sturgis and Santos have never kicked against each other in a game – St. Augie and St. Joe were in different leagues and classifications, so they never went head-to-head. But they have spent many hours kicking together in St. Augustine during springs and summers when they came back for visits. …Read More!

Tamba Hali vs. Branden Albert – One More Time

Through his nine seasons in the NFL, Tamba Hali has been taking notes, a lot of notes. Before each game in preparation, and after each game in analyzing the action, Hali records what he saw on tape and then what he saw in live action from the guy trying to block him.

But in week three of this, his ninth season, Hali didn’t have any notes to use in his preparation to face the left tackle of the Miami Dolphins, a fellow by the name of Branden Albert.

“It’s all right here,” Hali said Friday, taping his head to indicate his scouting report was filed away on his mental hard drive. “We both know each other’s strengths and weaknesses that’s for sure.”

Hali actually has more information about Albert than any opponent he’s faced since arriving in 2006. That’s what comes from six years of going against each other constantly in practices and training camp. They probably had a thousand or more snaps between the 2008 season when Albert arrived as a first-round draft choice, through the 2013 season that proved to be the last for Albert in red and gold. In March he signed a five-year $47 million contract with the Dolphins as an unrestricted free agent.

Has Albert been sharing what he knows about the Chiefs defensive scheme? …Read More!

Officials Look: Triplette Crew For Chiefs-Dolphins

The Chiefs are without a victory in the young 2014 NFL season, but one part of their troubles has not been penalties.

So far, they’ve seen 10 flags walked off against them for 87 yards. That’s No. 6 in the league for fewest penalties and No. 7 for fewest penalty yards. Overall, in the Chiefs first two games there have been 33 penalties and 268 yards walked off against both teams.

This week, the Chiefs will get referee Jeff Triplette (right) and his veteran crew when they face the Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. Triplette is in his 19th season as an NFL official, joining the league in 1996 as a field judge and promoted to referee in 1999.

Off the field, he’s the CEO and President of ArbiterSports, a business he founded that’s developed hardware and software that allows sporting organizations to educate, assign and pay officials for any athletic event. Triplette has also worked in risk management consulting and worked 32 years for Duke Energy Corporation in North Carolina. He’s a retired Colonel with over 32 years of service in the U.S. Army National Guard and Reserve. He was awarded the Bronze Star while serving in the first Persian Gulf War.

Triplette and his crew worked the Jacksonville at Philadelphia game in the opening weekend, and they had St. Louis at Tampa Bay last Sunday. Home teams are 1-1 on the season with Triplette as the referee. His crew has walked off a total of 22 penalties for 200 yards. That ranks them near the top of the list of NFL crews that have thrown the fewest flags. …Read More!

Chiefs Practice Report – September 19

From the Truman Sports Complex

Jamaal Charles was working, De’Anthony Thomas was not as the Chiefs wrapped up preparations for Sunday’s game against the Miami Dolphins.

The practice report was identical to what went down during Thursday’s workout when Charles was a limited participant. Thomas along with safety Eric Berry were not on the field.

It remains hard to believe that Charles will be able to play on Sunday with his high ankle sprain. Should he play against the Dolphins, remarkable might not be a strong enough word to describe his comeback. Generally that injury is a four to six-week recovery period.

Thomas continues to be sidelined with the hamstring injury suffered on September 3 during practice. On Wednesday, the rookie from the University of Oregon spoke with excitement about getting his first chance to play in a regular-season game. He was listed as a limited participant in Wednesday’s practice but now it’s obvious that he had some sort of setback in trying to return to the field.

Berry will likely be listed as out or doubtful for Sunday against the Dolphins; he hasn’t practiced all week due to the sprained ankle suffered in Denver.

Chiefs Practice Report/Injury Update – September 18

From the Truman Sports Complex

It was good news, bad news day for the Chiefs at practice on Thursday afternoon.

Jamaal Charles with his high ankle sprain was on the practice field, as a limited – it appeared very limited – participant. That was the good news for Andy Reid.

The bad news was that rookie running back/receiver De’Anthony Thomas was not on the field. After missing two weeks due to a hamstring injury, Thomas returned to practice on Wednesday in a limited capacity. No word on whether his non-participation was due to a setback or other reasons.

During the portion of practice open for viewing by the media, Charles ran through position drills with the rest of the backs, although he appeared to be moving at less than full speed. Head trainer Rick Burkholder watched every step Charles took. He remains very questionable for Sunday’s game against Miami, but his participation was a good sign for the Chiefs and his recovery.

Also missing from practice was safety Eric Berry with his sprained ankle.

Here are the practice reports for both teams from Thursday: …Read More!

Tale of the Tape – Chiefs vs. Dolphins

There’s a lot on the line for both the Chiefs and Dolphins in the third game on the 2014 NFL schedule.

Kansas City needs a victory after losing two by a combined score of 50-27. Miami wants to contend in what could be a competitive AFC East, especially after the Fins season opener beat down of the Patriots. They gave some of that back with a 19-point loss to Buffalo last Sunday. They need to protect their home field if they want to have any chance in the division.

As it shakes out, the Chiefs have a very slight advantage over the Dolphins when the teams are matched position-by-position. The Chiefs have a slight offensive edge thanks to Alex Smith, Knile Davis and the tight ends. Miami has the better groups on the line of scrimmage, something that hasn’t been said about south Florida’s team very often in recent seasons.

If both teams play like they did in the season’s first week, the Dolphins will cruise to an easy victory. If both clubs play like they did last week, the Chiefs have a serious chance to win one on the road.

Here is the head-to-head, position-by-position tale of the tape: …Read More!

Snap Judgments/Denver: Living With A Rookie Kicker

Back in the 1980s the Chiefs had a punter named Jim Arnold. He was a Southern boy out of Georgia and he was as down home a character as one could find in an NFL locker room.

Arnold was a pretty good punter for three seasons (1983-85) with the Chiefs and had a 12-year career in the NFL. To last a dozen seasons as a punter/kicker in the league, a leg man must learn to deal with the stress of performance, the highs and the lows of putting foot to ball and the expectations of coaches, teammates and the fans.

“There are three gremlins you can’t let into your head,” Arnold used to say. “You can’t have fear, doubt and worry sitting on your shoulder. It’s no way to kick. You can’t let them in your head.”

Two games into his NFL career Cairo Santos battles Arnold’s gremlins. Fear, doubt and worry have landed on the narrow shoulder pads of the Chiefs rookie kicker. Just check out the agonizing picture with this post, taken in Denver after he missed the second of his two field goal attempts. That’s a young man grabbing his helmet’s facemask as if he’s trying to hold onto his confidence.

Two games, four field goal attempts, two made, a 50 percent success rate and major concern about whether Santos is up to the task.

“Sometimes you get into a funk as a kicker and you’ve got to work your way out of it,” Andy Reid said of his rookie foot. “He hasn’t missed many field goals in his time, so this is a new experience for him. …Read More!

Report Card – Chiefs Vs. Broncos


PASSING OFFENSE:  B – Although he was under pass-rush pressure for most of the game, Alex Smith used his legs to run away from sacks and he was smart throwing the ball. Smith was accurate on safe throws and when there wasn’t anybody open, he threw it away three or four times. In 44 passing plays, Smith was sacked twice, a better average than the Chiefs showed last week in the opener.

RUSHING OFFENSE:  C – Running away from Denver’s pass rush, Smith ran for 42 yards, including a big 25-yard run on a third-and-four play. With Jamaal Charles out early in the first quarter due to injury, Knile Davis stepped in and got the bulk of the carries, 22 of 31 runs and two touchdown runs. He got 25 of those yards on a single run and finished with 79 yards.

PASS DEFENSE: D – Peyton Manning did not light up the stat sheet throwing against the Chiefs, but he posted all the Broncos needed for the victory. He completed 81 percent of his passes for an average of 9.3 yards an attempt with three touchdowns. The K.C. pass rush got him on the ground one time and was credited with just one other hit on the passer.

RUSH DEFENSE: C – Denver tried to use its running game to balance up the offensive attack, but the Chiefs were able to limit the success of Montee Ball and C.J. Anderson, who combined for 17 carries and 91 yards. The Broncos hit only one big run play, with Ball going for 23 of the team’s 88 yards.

SPECIAL TEAMS: D – Andy Reid says he still has confidence in his rookie kicker Cairo Santos, despite another missed field goal, this time from 37 yards. Santos is just two of four on his FGs, a 50 percent success rate that generally spells doom for NFL kickers. The Chiefs gave up a 54-yard kickoff return as well to Andre Caldwell.

COACHING: C – After a disastrous performance from Reid and his staff in the season opener against Tennessee, this veteran group put together plans on offense and defense that allowed the undermanned Chiefs to push the game’s outcome down to the final minute. Reid did not abandon the running game even though his team trailed by 11 points at halftime.

Chiefs Put Up A Fight But Denver Still Wins, 24-17

 

It was an afternoon that was not expected to be pleasant for the Kansas City Chiefs. Seldom is the annual visit to the mile high aura of Denver something to remember as fun.

Over the years, so many were just like what happened Sunday afternoon at Sports Authority Field. The Chiefs put up a fight and with less than 30 seconds to play they had the chance to tie the score, maybe even go for the victory. In the end, it was like so many other trips west on I-70 to the foothills of the Rockies – a loss. The Chiefs dropped to 0-2 on the season with a 24-17 loss to the Broncos.

This was a game with plenty of twists and turns, especially in the second half that the Chiefs dominated on offense and defense. In the end, they couldn’t make up for Peyton Manning’s three touchdown passes.

Here’s our look at another rocky mountain low for the Chiefs:

Reid Has Confidence In His Rookie Kicker – For Now

Two games into the season, does head coach Andy Reid have second thoughts about the Chiefs decision to go with rookie kicker Cairo Santos instead of veteran Ryan Succop?

“No, I don’t,” Reid said after Sunday’s loss to Denver in a game where Santos went just one of two on field goals. “He’s got to kick better . . . we have trust in him.”

On his first opportunity of the game, Santos hit a knuckle ball kick but it was good from 45 yards and put the first Kansas City points on the board. That was late in the first quarter and the field goal moved the scoreboard to 7-3 in favor of the Broncos.

His second chance came with five minutes to play in the third quarter, at the end of what was a 19-play possession that chewed up the clock for 10 minutes. When the drive bogged down on a holding call and a sack of quarterback Alex Smith, Santos was called on to attempt a 37-yard field goal.

But his kick was no good. It was more than long enough, but it went just to the right of the right upright and the Chiefs got nothing out of the long possession. It left Denver with a 21-10 lead in what would become a scoreless third quarter.

That leaves him two of four on the season, and 50 percent on FGs is not going to allow any kicker to survive in the NFL. Questions immediately flow as to where the rookie’s confidence sits. Special teams coordinator Dave Toub said during the week that Santos was “just anxious.

“It was his first game,” added Toub, who said his field goal attempts that hit both uprights were off-line because he was lifting his head trying to watch the kicks rather than following through correctly with his head down. “He was looking up to see the result of the kick. He did it on both kicks and it’s something that he normally doesn’t do.”

Whether he did it again in Denver will be discovered on the film. But the kicker is responsible for more than the field goals. Santos kicked off four times, with his first three kicks going for touchbacks. However, the fourth one came down at the goal line and Broncos returner Andre Caldwell brought it out for a 54-yard return into Chiefs territory. That good field position set up the Denver field goal that set the final score at 24-17.

“When he settles down, he’ll be . . . he’s just got to do that,” said Reid. “He kicks it fine.”

Column: Missed Opportunity Stings Chiefs

It’s one of those questions discussed in academic settings, generally within some philosophy setting or curriculum – what’s worse, never having opportunity, or having opportunity and not achieving with the chance?

The Chiefs had a great opportunity on Sunday in Denver. They put themselves in position to shock the NFL world and pull off the biggest upset of the young 2014 season. They dominated the second half of the game at Sports Authority Field, producing long offensive drives that kept Peyton Manning on the sidelines and with contributions from the Chiefs defense, they were able to crawl back from an 11-point half-time deficit and have the chance to push the game into overtime.

It did not happen. The Chiefs could not take advantage of the opportunity they made for themselves and ended up losing 24-17 to the Broncos. They’ve now stumbled to a 0-2 record to start the season with Miami, New England and San Francisco on the horizon over the next three weeks.

The post-game voices led by head coach Andy Reid and quarterback Alex Smith were quick to discount the idea of “moral victories” coming out of the events of this Sunday. That’s a sentiment that they must believe in and work hard at making sure the rest of the locker room and organization feels the same way. More than a few folks will talk glowingly of the Chiefs performance without mentioning the fact that it was a losing effort, just like the one they suffered in the season opener against Tennessee.

Satisfaction should not be the emotion of these Chiefs. It should be anger bubbling inside this team.

They blew the chance to take the team considered the best in their division and conference into overtime if they had scored a touchdown at the end of the first 60 minutes and tied the score. Or, maybe Reid would have shocked everyone by going for two points after the touchdown and the victory. In any manner, they were in position to win the game. It didn’t happen; a wasted opportunity.

There are many indicators that define the difference between contender and pretender. Being in the position to win a game on the road as a big underdog does not qualify a team as a contender. Being in that position and winning separates the pretenders from the contenders. Pretenders have opportunity and allow it to slip through their fingers.

That’s what the Chiefs did in Denver. There can be plenty of talk about the factors that led to this game being in doubt with seconds to play and the Chiefs knocking on the end zone door. But that chatter bogs down the central lesson that comes from opportunity – a team must take advantage and win.

What should make it sting even more for the Chiefs is that their opportunity on this Sunday was self-made. They were in the position to beat their rival because of what they did and how they handled the Denver defense and kept Manning and the Broncos offense bottled up in the second half.

That scenario seems almost impossible given the fact that Derrick Johnson, Mike DeVito, Jeff Allen, De’Anthony Thomas, Jamaal Charles, Eric Berry and Donald Stephenson were not on the field for the second half. That’s six starters and a rookie that was expected to make big contributions on offense and special teams.

The huddle and the coaches were all on the same page on this afternoon. The game plans on offense and defense were good ones, and exploited some holes in the Broncos despite their status as AFC favorite. Alex Smith had a day that showed why he was worth getting the big money from the Chiefs. Running back Knile Davis did his job – stepping in for Charles who left with a sprained ankle and he became a major part of the offense. Tight ends Anthony Fasano and Travis Kelce showed what’s possible in the Reid passing attack with big guys that can catch.

It’s all just smoke right now because the Chiefs did not win. We are not talking of a 2-14 team trying to battle back to a position of relevance in the league with new players and coaches. They did all of that last year. There’s supposed to be growth from the minor success of 2013, but in two games there are only hints of forward movement.

And, we must remember that it is only two games; there are 14 more to play. If the Chiefs should happen to get themselves in position again to win a game they were expected to lose, they have to win.

That’s what pro football is about – victory. Not moral victory. Just victory.

Strong Chiefs Effort Wasn’t Enough To Beat Denver

As bad as the Chiefs felt last Sunday losing the regular-season opener to Tennessee, it was not nearly as gut wrenching as what happened on this Sunday at Sports Authority Field in Denver.

Down by 11 points at half-time, the Chiefs dominated the ball in the second half, bottled up the Broncos offense and had a chance to push the game into overtime with just seconds left to play and the ball at the Denver 2-yard line.

But a fourth-down throw by Alex Smith to Dwayne Bowe at the goal line was incomplete, tipped by a Denver defensive lineman and spoiling the Chiefs comeback as the Broncos stole away with a 24-17 victory Sunday afternoon.

“It was an intense, physical game, what you expect in a divisional rivalry,” said quarterback Alex Smith. “There are no moral victories; we need to continue to build.”

The Chiefs are now 0-2 and like last Sunday, they face some injury questions involving key players. Running back Jamaal Charles and safety Eric Berry left the game in the first half with ankle injuries and did not return.

“We are not in the business of moral victories; we don’t look at it that way,” said head coach Andy Reid. “But I appreciate the effort. That can take you a long way . . . with that kind of effort we can do some things.”

Denver is 2-0 and headed to Seattle next Sunday to face the defending champion Seahawks. For the second week in a row, they lived in danger of losing a big first-half lead and the victory in the second half. They walked away again against the Chiefs.

Offensively, the Chiefs came alive even without their best player in Charles, as Knile Davis stepped in and handled the duties, touching the ball 28 times for 105 yards and two touchdown runs. Smith was nothing short of sensational as he ran his way out of trouble (five times for 42 yards) and made good decisions in and out of the pocket with 42 passes thrown, none intercepted and 255 passing yards.

But victory escaped them because of poor play in the scoring zone. On four different possessions they got inside the Denver 10-yard line. They scored twice, but got no points out of the other two.

“When you are in the red zone twice you need to make sure you score,” said Reid. “I need to make sure I put guys in position to score and we need to take care of business down there.”

The Chiefs entered the game as a 13-point underdog, the biggest point-spread difference in the league’s second week. Right off the opening kickoff it had the air of a long afternoon. After winning the coin toss the Chiefs deferred their choice to the second half and kicked off to Denver. Normally that’s not the way to go when playing a Peyton Manning-led offense, but Reid made the call and after a touchback, the Broncos started at their 20-yard line.

On the very first play, speedy wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders out ran the coverage of cornerback Marcus Cooper and connected with Manning for a 48-yard play. Six plays later, where Denver mixed the run and pass, Manning hooked up with tight end Julius Thomas in the end zone for a four-yard touchdown pass. The PAT kick by Brandon McManus gave the Broncos the opening 7-0 lead.

Later in the first quarter, the Chiefs moved the ball to the Broncos 27-yard line but had to settle for a 45-yard field goal by Cairo Santos and it was 7-3. On their first possession of the second quarter, Smith led the offense 66 yards on 10 plays as Davis scored on a 2-yard run. Santos’ kick gave the Chiefs a 10-7 lead that shocked everyone but them.

But on his next chance with the ball, Manning directed a 75-yard, seven-play drive where Denver had six first down plays, and only one second-down snap. Manning was five-for- five throwing the ball, including the 4-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jacob Tamme. He had completions of 16, six, 16 and 12 yards before the scoring throw. Running back Montee Ball added a 17-yard run and the Broncos led for good 14-10, halfway through the second quarter.

Right before intermission, Manning threw his third touchdown pass of the first half, connecting with wide receiver Demaryius Thomas on a 12-yard connection with Manning where the quarterback threw a perfect ball that beat cornerback Chris Owens. At half-time it was 21-10.

The Chiefs had the first chance of the second half and they put together one of the best defensive efforts that an offense could provide their teammates. It was a 20-play drive that kept Manning on the sideline for a full 10 minutes, as the Chiefs converted five times on third down plays and moved to the Denver 3-yard line with a first-and-goal situation. But a holding penalty against rookie right guard Zach Fulton and a sack of Smith left them at the 19-yard line.

With a 37-yard field goal attempt, Santos pushed his kick to the right and all that effort produced na-da for the Chiefs.

On the next K.C. possession, Smith drove the offense 90 yards on 14 plays, holding the ball for 7 minutes, 42 seconds and they put points on the with another touchdown from Davis, this time from four yards. The PAT had the scoreboard at 21-17 midway through the fourth quarter.

Denver pushed its lead to seven points on a 20-yard field goal by McManus, after they had a first-and-goal at the Chiefs 10-yard line.

That gave the Chiefs seven points to make up with 3: to play and only one timeout in their pocket, along with the two-minute warning. Twice it looked like the Chiefs had given the ball away on an interception by Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib and what was ruled on the field a Smith fumble. But the interception was wiped out by a Denver offside penalty, and the fumble was overturned on a replay review, as the officials ruled the play an incomplete forward pass by Smith.

The Chiefs sat first-and-goal at the Broncos 9-yard line with to play. Davis ran for two yards and Smith threw three yards to wide receiver Donnie Avery moving the ball to the 4-yard line. On third down, Denver defensive end DeMarcus Ware was flagged for being offside, moving the ball half-the-distance to the 2-yard line.

Davis was held to no gain on a run, and then on fourth down, Smith’s throw to Bowe at the goal line was tipped at the line of scrimmage by Denver defensive tackle Terrance Knighton and the ball fluttered behind Bowe, ending the possession and the Chiefs dreams of pushing the game into overtime.

“It’s a game we can learn from,” said Smith. “We improved in some areas, like third downs (converting 11 of 16); there are other things we did better than we did last week.

“We just have to keep working.”

2014 NFL Roster Numbers

It’s just about impossible with 32 rosters in the NFL to put together a completely accurate picture of all 53 players with each team. That’s 1,696 players, with about 50 of those names in flux every week of the season.

But the league sat down and put together some numbers on the average height, weight, age and experience for the 32 rosters and their players.

When it comes to height and weight there is not a lot of difference from the tallest and heaviest to the shortest and lightest. There are more differences between teams in age, NFL experience and players 30 years and older.

The Chiefs average 6-feet, 1½ inches, making them tied for 23rd among the tallest teams. They average 243.89 pounds, making them one of the league’s lightest squads, ranked at No. 28. The average age of the roster was 25.72 and that tied them at the 11th youngest team in the league. They averaged 3.75 seasons of play in the league, tied for No. 9 in least experienced. They were tied for eighth in rookies and first-year players with 12 and they were No. 17 with the most players that are 30 or older with eight players.

Here are the No. 1 and No. 32 teams in each category.

  • Height: tallest – Arizona, 6-feet, 2 ¼ inches; shortest – Cleveland, 6-feet, 1 ¼ inches.
  • Weight: heaviest – Indianapolis, 252.26 pounds; lightest – Seattle, 242.26 pounds.
  • Age: oldest – Chicago, 27.08 years; youngest – St. Louis, 25.15 years.
  • Experience: most – Chicago, 4.94 seasons; least – St. Louis 3.26 seasons.
  • Rookies/1st-Year: most – Cleveland, 14; least – Tennessee, 6.
  • Players 30 or older: most – Chicago 16; least – St. Louis 3. …Read More!

Officials Preview: Chiefs vs. Broncos

Last week the Chiefs saw an NFL rookie in Ronald Torbert leading the officiating crew onto the field for the season opener against Tennessee. Torbert was handling his first regular-season game as a referee.

This week the Chiefs see a seasoned pro in Gene Steratore and his crew for the game against the Broncos in Denver.

Steratore is in his 12th season as an NFL official and he’s been a referee since 2006. He has not worked a Chiefs game since November 2012 when he led the crew for the game against Cincinnati at Arrowhead Stadium.

Last week, the Steratore crew worked the Cincinnati at Baltimore game, where the road team was able to win. Overall, there were seven penalties walked off in the game for 74 yards. That was the fewest flags and penalty yards in any of the opening weekend games. The group threw eight flags, with one penalty declined, and it was four on the offense, three on defense and once in the kicking game. They showed no obvious tendencies but they flagged offensive holding twice and called unnecessary roughness twice. There was only one penalty involving pass coverage and that was a defensive pass interference against Cincinnati.

In the first weekend of the regular season, home teams won 10 of the 16 games. In seven of those games the team with the fewest penalties walked off against them won. The most penalized team was St. Louis, hit with 13 flags for 121 yards by Ed Hochuli’s crew. The least penalized team was Tampa Bay in its loss to Carolina. The Buccaneers had three penalties for 15 yards. …Read More!

Next Opponent – Denver Broncos


Game – No. 2.

Opponent – Denver Broncos.

Franchise began – in 1960 as one of the original teams in the American Football League established by Lamar Hunt. The founder of the Denver franchise was the Howsam family with father Lee and brothers Bob and Earl. With Bob Howsam in charge, they got the franchise off the ground for the initial AFL season.

OwnershipPatrick Bowlen and family. The Bowlens bought the team in 1984 from Edgar Kaiser for approximately $70 million. Kaiser and his family’s business empire that was founded by his grandfather were facing financial difficulties at the time, so he sold the team that he bought in 1981 for $33 million. Joining Pat Bowlen in ownership were his brothers John and Bill and sister Marybeth. On July 23rd of this year, the 70-year old Bowlen gave up control of the franchise because of the memory issues he was dealing with as a result of Alzheimer’s disease.

General ManagerJohn Elway is following up his Hall of Fame playing career with a very successful stint as the man in charge of the football operations with the Broncos, or the fancy title of executive vice-president/general manager. Elway was named to the job on January 5, 2011 by the team’s managing owner Patrick Bowlen. In Elway’s three full seasons as G.M., the Broncos have a record of 38-17, a .691 winning percentage with three straight AFC West division titles and a trip last February to the Super Bowl. As a starting quarterback with the Broncos from 1983-98, Elway posted a winning percentage of .645 (162-89-1.) …Read More!

Notes: 3rd Down Failures Halt Chiefs Offense

From Arrowhead Stadium

Third downs killed the Chiefs offense all afternoon in their 26-10 loss to Tennessee.

Quarterback Alex Smith talked after the game about the lack of offensive rhythm caused by the inability to convert on third down, moving the chains and earning another set of downs.

On 12 third-down plays the Chiefs converted just once themselves, while getting a first down from Tennessee on a penalty. Here’s the ugly picture of the team’s offensive problems with third down:

  • 3rd-and-1, Smith pass to running back Jamaal Charles for 14 yards. FIRST DOWN.
  • 3rd-and-3, Smith sacked for a three-yard loss. Punt.
  • 3rd-and-9, Smith throws to tight end Anthony Fasano for six yards. Punt.
  • 3rd-and-8, Smith scrambles for three yards. The Chiefs kick a 35-yard field goal.
  • 3rd-and-12, Smith throws incomplete to wide receiver Donnie Avery. Cairo Santos misses a 48-yard FG.
  • 3rd-and-7, Smith runs for three yards and Titans hit with an unnecessary roughness penalty. FIRST DOWN.
  • 3rd-and-5, Titans sack Smith for minus-six yards. Punt.
  • 3rd-and-10, Another Tennessee sack, this time for minus-seven yards.
  • 3rd-and-5, Smith throws incomplete. The Chiefs ran a fake punt but can’t convert for the first down.
  • 3rd-and-7, Incomplete pass to wide receiver Junior Hemingway
  • 3rd-and 15, Charles catches a pass from Smith for no yards. Punt.
  • 3rd-and-4, Smith’s pass to Avery is intercepted.

The Chiefs offense faced an average of seven yards for a first down on third downs. Overall, those 12 plays gained a total of 10 offensive yards. Smith was sacked three times, while throwing seven passes, completing just two throws and finishing up with an interception.

McCluster enjoys his K.C. return

It was hard to believe at the end of Sunday’s game that Tennessee running back Dexter McCluster finished with more offensive yards than former teammate running back Jamaal Charles. McCluster had the ball in his hands 10 times, picking up 46 offensive yards. Charles had 11 touches for only 34 yards.

“I knew the opportunities would be there and I am thankful for it,” McCluster said after his first regular-season game with the Titans.

After four seasons with the Chiefs, McCluster left in free agency back in March, signing with Tennessee and taking his moves and quickness to Nashville. It’s been a complete transition for the 2010 second-round draft choice since Kansas City was all he knew in his short NFL life.

“My family was here; we were very comfortable,” McCluster said. “In this game you have to adjust on the fly. When adversity strikes you have to be ready for change.”

While his address has changed, he’s serving the same role with the Titans that he served with the Chiefs: catching passes out of the backfield, running outside the tackles and returning punts. Against the Chiefs he had one punt return for minus-2 yards.

Arrowhead Atmosphere Report

The Chiefs claimed 73,569 tickets sold for Sunday’s game with approximately 70,000 in house. The crowd was loud in the first half, even drawing a false start penalty from Titans left tackle Michael Roos on Tennessee’s first offensive play. Tennessee head coach Ken Whisenhunt was happy with how his team handled the noise and atmosphere of Arrowhead.

“It’s always tough when you come into a place like this with the noise,” Whisenhunt said. “We had issues with it and we struggled to protect a little bit because of it. We’ll try to learn from it, but I’m happy with the way our team responded. It’s one of the things we talked about during the week. When you come on the road to an environment like this with the noise you going to have to respond to at some point, and we did that.”

By the start of the fourth quarter, the only noise inside the stadium was the booing from Chiefs fans unhappy with their team. Halfway through the final period there were not enough fans remaining in the stands to work up a good chorus of raspberries as 90 percent of the crowd was already in the parking lots or driving home.

Special teams report

Punter Dustin Colquitt kicked five times and averaged 42.6 yards, with a net average of 43 yards. He knocked two punts inside the 20-yard line on kicks of 37, 50, 30, 44 and 52 yards. McCluster had three fair catches and one punt went out of bounds. The only punt returned was for minus-2 yards as McCluster was dropped immediately by Chiefs cornerback Chris Owens in coverage . . . fullback Anthony Sherman had a tackle and forced a fumble on a kickoff return, but Tennessee was able to cover up the ball . . . rookie safety Daniel Sorensen also was credited with a tackle in the kicking game . . . Frank Hammond had four punt returns for 47 yards, including a 30-yard run . . . Knile Davis had two kickoff returns, his longest going for 32 yards . . . a fake punt did not produce a first down as Cyrus Gray ran for four yards on 4th-and-5 play.

Sunday personnel report

Serving as captains for the Chiefs were P Dustin Colquitt, QB Alex Smith, RB Jamaal Charles, S Eric Berry and LB Derrick Johnson. Tennessee won the coin toss when McCluster called tails and that’s how the coin fell. The Titans decided to defer their opportunity to the second-half kickoff.

Of the 46 active players on Sunday for the Chiefs, only No. 2 quarterback Chase Daniel did not play. Running back Joe McKnight saw just one play on special teams. For the Titans No. 2 quarterback Charlie Whitehurst did not see the field.

The inactive players for the Chiefs were QB Aaron Murray, RB De’Anthony Thomas, S Kurt Coleman, CB Marcus Cooper, C Eric Kush, G Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and DE Damion Square. The inactive Tennessee players were QB Zach Mettenberger, WR T.J. Graham, WR Kris Durham, LB Akeem Ayers, OT Byron Stingily, DL Mike Martin and DL DaQuan Jones.

Sixth-round draft choice Zach Fulton started at right guard, becoming the first late-round Chiefs draft choice to start as a rookie since 1984 when seventh-round selection Kevin Ross opened the season at cornerback. Fulton was one of eight players on the K.C. roster playing their first NFL game: kicker Cairo Santos, wide receivers Frankie Hammond and Albert Wilson, defensive backs Phillip Gaines and Daniel Sorensen, outside linebacker Dee Ford and tight end Demetrius Harris.

Along with those eight another seven players made their first appearance in a regular-season game wearing a Chiefs uniform: cornerback Chris Owens, running back  Joe McKnight, safety Kelcie McCray, offensive tackle Ryan Harris, guard Jeff Linkenbach, guard Mike McGlynn and linebacker  Josh Mauga.

Reporting other numbers

Safety Eric Berry led all tacklers with 15 total stops . . . middle linebacker Josh Mauga had eight total tackles . . . the Chiefs four sacks went to outside linebacker Justin Houston (2) and defensive ends Vance Walker and Allen Bailey . . . before he left with his Achilles tendon injury, defensive end Mike DeVito knocked down a pass at the line of scrimmage . . . Berry, Mauga and safety Husain Abdullah all had hits on Titans quarterback Jake Locker . . . wide receiver Donnie Avery was targeted on 13 of the 35 passes thrown by quarterback Alex Smith, or 37 percent of the attempts. Overall the wide guys had 17 targets, catching eight passes . . . tight ends Anthony Fasano and Travis Kelce were targeted 11 times, catching six passes and running backs had five targets with five catches.

4 Keys For A Chiefs Victory / Recap

4

Keep hands off the Titans receivers

Should the NFL have its zebras calling the game as closely as happened during the pre-season will be shown in this first weekend of action. The Chiefs need to approach their season opener against the Titans with the notion that when in coverage, the officials are going to be watching them like a hawk scans a country meadow. Tennessee has weapons among their receivers. There’s a crafty 10-year veteran Nate Washington, along with speedy youngsters Kendall Wright and Justin Hunter. As a rookie last year, Hunter had only 18 catches but he averaged 19.7 yards a reception. The Chiefs defense cannot afford to give them penalty yards and first downs with handsy coverage.

OUTCOME: the Chiefs actually pulled this off, with not a single coverage penalty against them. That should have led to a victory, but the 266 passing yards picked up by Titans quarterback Jake Locker may have been an indication the defense should have been more physical, penalty flags be dammned. PUSH.

3

Win the special teams competition

The kicking game this weekend is about more than just Ryan Succop going against his old team and its new kicker in rookie Cairo Santos. There are talented performers on both teams, especially among the returners. The Chiefs have Knile Davis, the Titans have veteran returner Leon Washington with eight career TDs on kickoffs and former Chiefs returner Dexter McCluster on punts where he has three career touchdowns. Santos should eliminate Washington by knocking his kickoffs out of the back of the end zone. Punter Dustin Colquitt needs to throw a few knuckleballs in McCluster’s direction. And, Santos must complete every opportunity that comes his way on field goals and kickoffs.

OUTCOME: the Chiefs did not win special teams. They didn’t get beat in the kicking game, but they didn’t win either and they could have used that type of boost. FAILED.

2

Take advantage of Jake Locker’s inexperience

Sunday will be Tennessee quarterback Jake Locker’s 19th NFL start, right in the wheelhouse where inexperience can rear its ugly head on decision making in the pocket. It always helps to get the quarterback on the ground when he’s trying to throw, but the Chiefs defense must make sure they keep Locker contained because he can run. This will require edge rushers Tamba Hali, Justin Houston and rookie Dee Ford to proceed with caution. What would help is pressure up the middle of the pocket from Dontari Poe and Allen Bailey, maybe even Derrick Johnson on the blitz. If the defense can make Locker nervous they increase their chances of winning the opener.

OUTCOME: K.C.’s defense completely failed in this area, as Locker was not bothered by anything Bob Sutton was able to do with his defensive schemes or talents. FAILED.

1

Consistent and productive play from the offensive line

The injuries, suspensions and shuffling made it impossible for the Chiefs No. 1 offensive line to develop any continuity through training camp and the four pre-season games. That’s not a good scenario to start the season, as the five-man group that fronts the offense must work in concert if Jamaal Charles is going to be productive and Alex Smith has the time he needs to throw the ball. Expect the Titans to lineup defensive tackle Jurrell Casey head-up across from rookie Zach Fulton. Casey is one of the league’s best performers among interior defensive linemen; his 10.5 sacks led all defensive tackles last season. He’ll certainly get some help from center Rodney Hudson, but Fulton must grow up quickly.

OUTCOME: This did not get done for the Chiefs offense. There were times when they were able to keep the pass rush off quarterback Alex Smith, but they were not consistent and the offense was certainly not productive. FAILED.

Officials Review: Zebras Did Not Bother Chiefs

From Arrowhead Stadium

One thing that can be said for NFL rookie referee Ronald Torbert and his crew that worked Sunday’s game between the Titans and Chiefs: they did not try to take over the game.

Torbert and his guys did that several times during pre-season action, calling 32 penalties in one game. They didn’t throw away their penalty flags, as they walked off 15 penalties for 135 yards. But only three of those were penalties against the Chiefs and none were for any penalties involving pass coverage on defense.

In fact, of the 24 flags that were thrown, two penalties were waved off and among the other 22, only one involved contact in pass coverage. That call came against safety Bernard Pollard and was declined by the Chiefs.

Tennessee got the worst of the officials with 15 flags thrown against them and 10 penalties walked off. The Titans offense was called for offensive holding four different times. Plus, they were hit with a personal foul for a facemask penalty, an unnecessary roughness call and a taunting penalty against cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson. He got in the face of Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce after an incompletion at the goal line.

Here’s the hanky report for the Chiefs against Tennessee:

#

Team

Player

Penalty

Yards

1.

Offense

D. Avery

False start

Minus-5

2.

Offense

A. Fasano

Pass interference

Declined

3.

Defense

A. Bailey

Illegal use of hands

Declined

4.

Punt return

D. Sorensen

Offsides

Minus-5

5.

Offense

R. Hudson

Holding

Offsetting

6.

Defense

J. Mauga

Roughing the Passer

Minus-15

7.

Offense

*

Illegal Formation

Declined

Offense-4, Defense-2, Special teams-1.

Alex Smith Can’t Get The Job Done Against Titans

From Arrowhead Stadium

Last season Alex Smith tied for the league lead in fewest interceptions thrown. It was the fifth game of the 2013 schedule before he threw three interceptions. It was 176 passing attempts without the other team catching a third ball.

Things were much different on Sunday for Smith and the Chiefs offense against Tennessee. To start the 2014 season, Smith threw the ball 35 times and with those attempts came three interceptions. They were the only turnovers in the Titans 26-10 victory over the Chiefs.

Just a week after signing a four-year contract extension for $68 million with $45 million in guaranteed money, Smith had a chance to put the seal of performance on the deal. Instead, Smith had one of the worst performances of his 17 starts since coming over from San Francisco in a trade last year.

The numbers said it all:

  • 19 completions out of 35 attempts.
  • A completion percentage of 54.3 percent.
  • His average yards per attempt was 5.8 yards.
  • His average yards per completion was 10.6 yards.
  • He threw 3 interceptions.
  • A NFL passer rating of 45.2.

That wasn’t the worst passer rating of Smith’s career – in his rookie season he actually finished a game with a 8.5 passer rating when he threw four interceptions in 23 attempts against Indianapolis.

But that didn’t matter on Sunday against Tennessee that made Smith’s life very difficult and unproductive.

“We failed to get any rhythm,” Smith said of the Chiefs offense and the passing game in particular. “We had some chunk plays there early but we failed to sustain a drive. We failed to get any sort of rhythm with the run and pass. Once it became a couple-score game, we were pretty one-dimensional and we still failed to get much going.”

Only a fourth quarter, five-yard touchdown pass to tight end Anthony Fasano kept the Chiefs offense from being shut out of the end zone. After going zero touchdowns in 16 possessions during the pre-season, the No. 1 offense went 10 more chances with the ball and couldn’t score six points. That’s 26 possessions with none and 13 possessions in the regular season with one TD.

The three interceptions were the most glaring examples of the offensive problems the Chiefs had all afternoon. The first one helped set up a late field goal in the first half for the Titans, as cornerback Coty Sensabaugh grabbed a long throw intended for wide receiver Donnie Avery. “It was a miscommunication between me and Donnie as far as where he was going and what I was thinking,” said Smith. “It cost us three points. Those are the little things that add up and all the sudden you look up and the scoreboard looks like that.”

The second interception came in the third quarter and again his target was Avery, who had gotten behind cornerback Jason McCourty. But Smith’s throw was short and the Titans defensive back was able to jump and snatch it away. “When I threw the ball I didn’t see the corner,” said Smith. “I was looking at the safety and I thought Donnie had him. I was just trying to get him a catchable ball.”

The final interception came on the Chiefs last offensive play, as another throw to Avery was tipped in the air and into the hands of safety Michael Griffin.

“He was trying to make something happen and things didn’t work,” said head coach Andy Reid. “Those were opportunities to take shots and they had them covered.”

It was not the way Smith saw his first start after signing the big contract.

“It’s not fun playing football like that,” Smith said. “It’s not fun losing and certainly losing like that.”

Succop Enjoys His K.C. Return; Tough Start For Cairo

 From Arrowhead Stadium

In the span of consecutive Sundays, Ryan Succop experienced a high and low of holding the job of NFL kicker.

On Saturday, August 31st Succop got the first phone call of his football life that said he wasn’t getting the job. After five seasons the Chiefs released him and decided to start the season with undrafted rookie Cairo Santos as their kicker.

Within days, Succop got the chance to get back into the NFL, signing with the Tennessee Titans. Guess who his new team opened the season with – his old team.

That made Sunday, September 7th a special game-day for Succop even before he made all four of his field goal attempts (from 36, 31, 46 and 47 yards), both of his PAT kicks and drilled four touchbacks out of seven kickoffs for the Titans.

Tennessee beat his former Chiefs 26-10 and Succop had a central role in the victory.

“It was an awesome day,” said Succop afterwards, standing for the first time in Arrowhead’s visitors locker room. “This was a special game. It’s something that I don’t think I’ll ever forget. You never know how things are going to go on opening day and to get off to a start like this in Arrowhead, it was special.”

Sunday was a memorable day for Santos as well, but for different reasons. The Brazil-born rookie got his first real taste of regular season NFL action and it was sour. He made his first field goal attempt, as his 35-yard kick clanged off the right upright and bounced through for three points. Later, his 48-yard attempt hit the outside of the left upright and bounced away for his first NFL miss.

Santos said his missed FG could be traced to his inexperience in understanding the swirling winds of Arrowhead.

“I gave the wind too much credit,” Santos said. “I thought the wind was going to be stronger on my 48-yarder; it (ball) stayed pretty much where I was aiming. You just have to get used to Arrowhead and I’ll definitely make some improvements and have a great game next week.”

On kickoffs, Santos had two touchbacks on his three kicks. The only kickoff returned against him landed five yards deep in the end zone, and the Chiefs nearly came up with the ball as returner Leon Washington fumbled. The Titans recovered.

“His kickoffs were decent, so that was good,” said head coach Andy Reid.

Succop had much more work to do on kickoffs, putting foot to ball seven times, with four of those going out the back of the end zone. Two others went deep into the end zone and were brought out by Chiefs returner Knile Davis. He finished off the first half with a dribbler down the middle of the field to chew up the remaining time in the period.

It was a special feeling for the Titans and the decision to bring Succop aboard on a one-year contract.

“The kickoffs, four-for-four on field goals, big field goals; I’m really excited for him because I know how it is when you come back to a team you’ve played for before. Ryan was kicking the ball right down the middle.”

Returning to Arrowhead was a joy for Succop.

“I had a great five years in Kansas City,” said Succop, the final player selected in the 2009 NFL Draft. “The fans here are fantastic. The organization is great. There’s not one bit of bitterness on my end.”

Santos was happy to see again the man he kicked against for the last few months.

“He’s a fantastic kicker and he had a fantastic game,” Santos said. “I’m extremely happy for him. He’s a great guy.”

Across The Board Failure For Chiefs in Opener, 26-10

From Arrowhead Stadium

Last Sunday, the Chiefs and their quarterback Alex Smith agreed on a contract extension that guarantees him $45 million over the next three seasons.

In Sunday’s regular-season opener against Tennessee, Smith was not the money quarterback. On a picture perfect late summer day it was Titans quarterback Jake Locker that was the star. He was on the money with his throws, hitting a pair of touchdown passes and no interceptions in leading his team to a 26-10 victory over the Chiefs.

As good as the Chiefs start was last season beating Jacksonville 28-2, the 2014 opener was bad. None of the qualities Andy Reid’s team showed last year with key offensive plays, a takeaway defense and big-play special teams were visible.

“You’re certainly not going to win doing the opposite of that,’ said Smith, who turned in one of his worst passing performances of his 17 games as the Chiefs starter, capped by throwing three interceptions. “Those things that I think we did last year to win, we didn’t do them today. We didn’t execute in a lot of phases, especially on offense.”

Offensive execution is what Locker got done with the Titans. He was making his first start since a foot injury ended his 2013 season after nine games. He was calm in the pocket, accurate with his throws and Locker kept plays alive with his legs. The Titans’ 2011 first-round draft choice threw for 266 yards and two touchdowns while completing 67 percent of his passes and adding 14 yards on six carries scrambling away from pass-rush pressure. He gave up three rushing yards on two kneel-downs to end the game.

“It’s a nice way to start the season, but there’s a lot of work to do,” said Titans head coach Ken Whisenhunt. “We left a lot of things on the field. It wasn’t as good as we can play. It’s just one game, but the outcome was as good as we wanted.”

Not only did the Chiefs lose their opener at home, they also lost defensive leader, Pro Bowl inside linebacker Derrick Johnson, potentially for the season. Late in the first half, Kansas City’s leading tackler crumbled to the turf without being touched and was taken off the field on a motorized cart. The early diagnosis was an injury to Johnson’s right Achilles tendon.

Adding to the Chiefs’ physical pain was another Achilles tendon injury suffered in the third quarter by starting defensive end Mike DeVito that also appears to be a season-ender.

“We are going to evaluate them overnight and see,” head coach Andy Reid said of the injuries. “They ruptured their Achilles tendon. Normally they are (season ending injuries) but we’ll see what happens.”

Tennessee finished the game with 405 yards in total offense as they were able to throw the ball with Locker and run the ball with Shonn Greene and Dexter McCluster. Those two running backs had 100 of the team’s 162 rushing yards.

The Titans defense intercepted Smith three times and never allowed running back Jamaal Charles any room to run, holding him to 19 yards on seven carries and a total of 34 yards on only 11 touches.

“We failed to get him the ball, absolutely,” Smith said of Charles. “Our biggest playmaker, we need to get him involved more.”

It was a quiet scoreboard until Kansas City grabbed the game’s first lead early in the second quarter with a 35-yard field goal from rookie kicker Cairo Santos.

Locker got hot in the middle of the period and led the Titans on an 11-play, 62-yard drive that ended with a five-yard touchdown pass to tight end Delanie Walker. The Tennessee quarterback was 6 of 7 passing in the possession, including an earlier pass to Walker for 17 yards and a 16-yard completion to wide receiver Nate Washington.

“We didn’t get into the rhythm we wanted to as early as we wanted to,” said Locker. “We found it in the second quarter and we were able to put some points on the board. I was really proud of how the guys responded after the slow start. It gave us something to build on.”

Back-to-back Kansas City mistakes gave the Titans a chance to add a 36-yard field goal from Ryan Succop just before the end of the first half. On a Tennessee punt, Chiefs returner Frankie Hammond caught the ball at the Kansas City 2-yard line and immediately went out of bounds. In terrible field position, the Chiefs went to the air on first down and Smith’s long pass intended for wide receiver Donnie Avery was intercepted by Titans cornerback Jason McCourty.

With possession at the Kansas City 42-yard line, Locker moved his offense 24 yards in four plays, setting up the Succop field goal and a 10-3 halftime lead.

Tennessee opened the second half with a long scoring drive, going 80 yards on nine plays before Locker and wide receiver Kendall Wright connected on a six-yard scoring pass. Succop’s PAT gave the Titans a 17-3 lead. Before the game was over, Succop added field goals of 31, 46 and 47 yards.

The Chiefs tacked on a late touchdown on a 10-play, 80-yard drive with a five-yard pass from Smith to tight end Anthony Fasano.

But Smith threw a pair of interceptions in the second half and other than the 80 yards on the touchdown drive, the Chiefs offense produced only 26 net yards on their five other possessions.

“It’s not fun playing football like that,” said Smith. “It’s not fun losing like that. We’ve got a lot of football ahead of us and we’ve got a big one coming up (in Denver). There’s no time to sulk.”

Chiefs-Titans Pre-Game From Arrowhead

From Arrowhead Stadium

11:30 a.m. – The Chiefs are leaving the field after completing their warm-up drills and headed for the locker room. Check back Sunday afternoon and evening for our post-game coverage. Enjoy the game.

11:20 a.m. – Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton is standing at midfield in conversation with Titans head coach Ken Whisenhunt. They coached together all the way back in 2000 with the New York Jets.

11:15 a.m. – The officiating crew for today’s game is led by referee Ronald Torbert working his first regular-season game in the lead position. Torbert is one of three new referees this year, serving as replacements for three veterans that retired after the 2013 season. In four pre-season outings, Torbert and his crew have been active in throwing their penalty flags.

11:10 a.m. – WRs Frankie Hammond and Albert Wilson were the only returners out early for the Chiefs, as they caught punts and kickoffs from Dustin Colquitt and Cairo Santos. As he hit kickoffs, Santos appeared to be going for hang time more than distance; his kicks were landing within one-yard of the goal line.

11:05 a.m. – Traffic into the Truman Sports Complex has been heavy for the last hour, although the backup on I-70 at the Blue Ridge Cutoff has lessened a bit. The Chiefs say the game is sold out, but there are plenty of tickets available but it looks like the opener is destined for a crowd somewhere close to 75,000.

10:55 a.m. – If watching at home or in Arrowhead, remember the number changes for the Chiefs: #12 WR Albert Wilson, #22 RB Joe McKnight, #24 S Kelcie McCray, #68 OT Ryan Harris, #75 LG Mike McGlynn and #84 TE Demetrius Harris. McGlynn is scheduled to be in the starting lineup on the left side.

10:50 a.m. – In selecting his game-day group of 46, head coach Andy Reid has six rookies active, with G Zach Fulton and K Cairo Santos as the only starters. OLB Dee Ford, CB Phillip Gaines, S Daniel Sorensen and WR Albert Wilson round out the guys getting the chance to dress in their first taste of NFL regular-season football.

10:45 a.m. – Just 75 minutes or so to kickoff of the Chiefs-Titans and just about the only players on the field are the kickers, holders and snappers. A few others doing individual stretching routines, but the rest of the rosters don’t appear to be in any hurry to get warmed up.

10:38 a.m. – The inactive status of CB Marcus Cooper is a surprise. He suffered an ankle injury on Wednesday but was able to work in practice on Friday. Ron Parker steps into the starting role. Plus, Cooper had duties in the kicking game that must be replaced. Otherwise, there were no surprises among the seven inactive players named by head coach Andy Reid.

10:34 a.m. – The inactive players for the Titans today against the Chiefs: QB Zach Mettenberger, WR T.J. Graham, WR Kris Durham, LB Akeem Ayers, OT Byron Stingily, DL Mike Martin and DL DaQuan Jones.

10:32 a.m. – The inactive players for the Chiefs in today’s game: QB Aaron Murray, RB De’Anthony Thomas, S Kurt Coleman CB Marcus Cooper, C Eric Kush, G Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and DE Damion Square.

10:30 a.m. – Good morning and welcome to the 2014 NFL regular season. We should have the Chiefs inactive players here in just moments. Stay tuned for info throughout the morning.

Season Opens With Question Marks For Chiefs

A year ago as the Chiefs prepared for the regular-season opener against Jacksonville, new head coach Andy Reid was asked what he expected to see from his team. Given it was the first game of the Reid Era, the coach said he wasn’t sure how the game would play out.

The second season of the Reid Era kicks off Sunday when the Tennessee Titans visit Arrowhead Stadium for a noon kickoff. Television coverage is on CBS.

So what does Reid expect to see this time?

“I know I’ll see great effort,” Reid said. “This crew here, they play hard and they are tough kids.”

But that try-hard stuff does not fill out the entire picture of the 2014 Chiefs. As many question marks as the Chiefs carried into the Jacksonville game last year, there are as many, maybe more for this year’s opener. …Read More!

Different Faces In The Spotlight Against Tennessee

The spotlight always falls on players like Jamaal Charles and Tamba Hali. They are uniform numbers with career resumes that football fans know.

But as the Chiefs open the regular season on Sunday against Tennessee at Arrowhead Stadium there are a handful of other faces that will be wearing red that will feel some of the heat from attention spotlight. They are not as well-known as Alex Smith and Eric Berry, but for this Sunday they are very important actors in the drama of the 2014.

They are Jeff Allen, Donnie Avery and Anthony Fasano on offense, and Mike DeVito and Josh Mauga on defense. A lot of what happens on Sunday against the Titans will run through those five. …Read More!

NFL Officials: Rookie Ref Leads Crew For KC-TEN

Kicker Cairo Santos will not be the only rookie on the field Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium in a pressure position.

Meet Ronald Torbert (right), the lead dog on the NFL officiating crew for the game between Chiefs and Titans. In just his fifth season working in the NFL as an official, this will be Torbert’s first regular-season game as a referee.

He was promoted coming into the season from his previous post as a side judge. Two veteran referees retired after the 2014 season, and Torbert was named to replace one of them.

Good or bad for the Chiefs and Titans? That’s impossible to predict but this crew’s work in the pre-season provides an indication – they like to throw the yellow hankies.

Boy, do they like to throw the penalty flags:

  • Philadelphia @ Chicago – 23 penalties walked off for 192 yards.
  • Tennessee @ New Orleans – 32 penalties for 293 yards.
  • Jacksonville @ Detroit – 27 penalties for 232 yards.
  • Denver @ Dallas – 16 penalties for 120 yards. …Read More!

4 Keys To Victory For Chiefs vs. Tennessee

4

Keep hands off the Titans receivers

Should the NFL has its zebras calling the game as closely as happened during the pre-season will be shown in this first weekend of action. The Chiefs need to approach their season opener against the Titans with the idea that when in coverage, the officials are going to be watching them like a hawk scans a country meadow. Tennessee has weapons among their receivers. There’s a crafty 10-year veteran Nate Washington, along with speedy youngsters Kendall Wright and Justin Hunter. As a rookie last year, Hunter only had 18 catches but he averaged 19.7 yards a reception. The Chiefs defense cannot afford to give them penalty yards and first downs. …Read More!

Chiefs Friday Practice Report – DAT is Doubtful

From the Truman Sports Complex

Whether he’s listed as questionable or doubtful on the Chiefs injury report to the league on Friday, it sounds like explosive rookie De’Anthony Thomas will not play against Tennessee due to a hamstring injury.

“De’Anthony ran on the treadmill today and he’s making progress,” said head coach Andy Reid. “It would be a stretch for the game; we’ll just see how he does.”

Thomas went down on the last play of Wednesday’s practice and missed on-field work Thursday and Friday. The profile that Reid set last year was that players normally had to get two practices in during the week to be active for the game. If there’s no chance of further injury, there’s Thomas might be able to play and be limited to punt returns.

Everyone else on the active roster was participating in Friday’s session, including cornerback Marcus Cooper (ankle) and center Eric Kush (shoulder). Cooper missed practice on Thursday and Kush missed Wednesday. If they did not aggravate the injuries they should be available for the Titans.

“Our guys have had a great week of preparation,” Reid said. “We’re excited about the opportunity to play.”

Here’s the injury report for both clubs that they turned into the league office: …Read More!

Rookie Kickers Have Spotty Record In NFL

So just how much of a gamble have John Dorsey and Andy Reid taken going with a rookie kicker in Cairo Santos instead of veteran Ryan Succop for the 2014 season?

Recent history tells us that true rookie kickers have produced seasons that put them among the best in the league. They have also stumbled in seasons that ranked them among the NFL’s least productive kickers.

One of the major questions with the 2014 Chiefs will be just where Santos falls in that spectrum.

Special teams coordinator Dave Toub understands that handling a rookie kicker is a different animal from a veteran foot.

“You’re going to manage him a little bit differently,” Toub said. “You kind of got to get his feet wet and get him going and hopefully you have a couple short field goals first and then you go. It doesn’t always work out that way but you hope that that’s the case. It’s definitely in mind, for sure.”

There have been 22 true rookie kickers in the league since the 2000 season. Their success rate was 79.9 percent.

The Chiefs need better than that; in today’s NFL, 80 percent is a mediocre average. Last year only eight of 32 kickers had a season average of less than 80 percent. The league average for field goal kickers was 86.5 percent. There were 11 kickers that finished with a 90 percent or greater success rate. …Read More!

Answer Bob – Volume #3

Randall Webb asked – Bob, what’s your take on the way Reid and Dorsey have overhauled the Chiefs roster? They have really gone young this season. The only major contributors now that may have played their best football are Derrick Johnson and to a lesser extent Jamaal Charles and Alex Smith. Are they going to have the cap room to keep Houston, Berry, and Poe? Next year’s draft with the extra (compensatory) picks will be a key. What needs to happen to make this team a real contender?

Bob says – The Chiefs roster to start the season is just about the same age as it was last year, but there’s no question it’s a young group, one of the youngest in the NFL. I don’t think having one of the youngest or one of the oldest teams in the league is the best way to go. It’s hardly anything to strive for on either end. Rather than being the youngest or oldest, how about being the best team?

With the top 55 players on the roster (including Dwayne Bowe and Donald Stephenson from the suspended list), there are only 14 players left that Dorsey and Reid inherited when they arrived at Arrowhead in January 2013. The only non-starter in that number is wide receiver Junior Hemingway (a Pioli draft choice from 2012.) To repeat two clichés, it’s the NFL – Not for Long League – and the only constant in the NFL is change. That number will continue to dwindle.

Tamba Hali will be in roster danger after this season unless his contract is redone and there’s a drop in the cap charge. Enough room to keep Houston, Berry and Poe? Not unless the salary cap continues to increase by 10 percent each year. Houston is next with his deal done after the 2014 season. Then Hali, Berry and Poe will come up after the 2015 season. I find it hard to believe they will be able to keep all four on the roster for the 2016 season.

As for contender status, to reach that year after year they cannot strike out in the NFL Draft. That’s how they want to build the team, so they must maximize their opportunities with selections that contribute quickly and with impact. Right now, the track record is so-so. They can’t afford so-so. …Read More!

Chiefs Practice Report/DAT Pulls Hammy/September 4

From the Truman Sports Complex

Practice on Wednesday was winding down for the Chiefs when two plays late in the workout caused problems.

On one, starting cornerback Marcus Cooper suffered a sprained ankle. On the other, rookie running back/wide receiver De’Anthony Thomas pulled a hamstring.

Both players did not practice Thursday afternoon as the Chiefs put in their second session in preparation for Sunday’s regular-season opener against Tennessee.

Head coach Andy Reid indicated that Cooper’s injury was not serious and that he should be available to play against the Titans. He wasn’t so positive about DAT’s hammy and whether the explosive runner will be available Sunday afternoon. …Read More!

Answer Bob – Volume #2

Montanachief asked – Bob, can you explain how the Chiefs are so tight against the salary cap? Before Reid and Dorsey showed up the Chiefs were not even close to the cap. The only big contract handed out was Bowe. Can you also give your opinion on Laurent Duvernay-Tardiff play? Didn’t see him play a lot and never really read much about him from the preseason games.

Bob says – the Pioli regime pushed down the road a lot of salary-cap dollars in deals signed by Eric Berry, Brandon Flowers, Tamba Hali, Derrick Johnson, Tyson Jackson and even Jamaal Charles. Before the new labor agreement in 2011 pushed more money to veterans and less to draft choices, Chiefs had top-five selections in Jackson and Berry, so that was going to mean a hit to the cap. Also remember that the Chiefs and all teams not only have a roof on how much they can pay, they now have a cellar as well. They have to spend money; they can’t go low like the Chiefs did in 2008-09-10. Again, I would not have given Bowe the dollars he got; I would have used that money to retain Albert.

…Read More!

Answer Bob – Volume #1

The questions arrived and now here’s the first batch of answers from the latest chapter of Ask Bob. I can only hope my replies are close to as good as the queries I received in the last few days. This is the first of three posts with my answers. Enjoy.

———————————————————-

RW asked – Bob, how would you assess the overall talent level on the team as of today vs. the team at cut-down day 2013?

Bob said – I would say it’s a push. They are stronger at linebacker, running back and tight end. They are marginally improved on the defensive line. The talent level of the offensive line and secondary went backwards. Quarterback and wide receiver don’t appear to be much different. The Chiefs talked about how much the competition for roster spots increased this year, but I’m not sure that I see where that happened. Who pushed Dwayne Bowe or Donnie Avery at wide receiver? Did anyone push any of the three starters on the defensive line? There really wasn’t quality talent pushing the starters for playing time or spots in the starting lineup. So, I would say it’s not that much better, and in the words of the late Chuck Noll that I’ve never forgotten in the NFL a team is either getting better or getting worse, they don’t stay the same. …Read More!

Succop Signs With Titans; Chiefs Fill Practice Squad

There’s always something going on in the world of NFL personnel at this time of the year and that was certainly true on Monday. It was Labor Day, and the pro football world was working and working hard.

Succop signs in Tennessee – After five seasons as the Chiefs kicker, Ryan Succop was released on Saturday. On Monday, he signed a one-year contract with the Titans. And, where does his new team begin its 2014 season? At Arrowhead Stadium, with the Chiefs hosting Succop and his new teammates.

The Titans cut ties with their nine-year veteran kicker Rob Bironas in the spring. In training camp and the pre-season, rookie Travis Coons beat out first-year kicker Maikon Bonani for the job, only to hold it for just three days.

One influence on Tennessee’s interest was the Titans assistant special teams coach Steve Hoffman. He spent three years as the kicking game coach with the Chiefs (2009-11) and campaigned for the club to select Succop in the 2009 NFL Draft.

Chiefs release Kyle Williams – The injury-prone wide receiver went to the injured-reserve list after he suffered a shoulder sprain in the pre-season game against Green Bay last Thursday.

…Read More!

Position-By-Position On Chiefs Roster 2.0/Defense

The defense now has 24 players on the Chiefs roster as of Sunday, along with three special teamers. Here’s how the defenders and kicking game breaks down:

Defensive Line (6)

  • Starters Dontari Poe, Allen Bailey, Mike DeVito. Backups
    – Jaye Howard, Damion Square, Vance Walker.
  • Age – Bailey/25, DeVito/30, Howard/26 in December, Poe/24, Square/25, Walker/27.
  • Contract status/salary-cap number – Bailey/last season on contract/$808,986; DeVito/2nd of 3 years/$4,900,000; Howard/2nd of 3 years/$570,000; Poe/3rd of 4 years/$3,087,274; Square/2nd of 3 years/$495,000; Walker/1st of 3 years/$1,750,000.
  • Cap total$11,611,260/9 percent of Chiefs 2014 cap.
  • Status – Right now besides putting together a new deal for outside linebacker Justin Houston, general manager John Dorsey must have Poe at the top of the to-do list for a new contract. He’s got this year and next on his rookie deal. They need to lock him up for extended years. All the money invested at linebacker makes it tough to sign big-dollar players on the D-Line. Although he’s played good football in his limited role t the Chiefs defense, DeVito’s cap number is too high and he’s unlikely to see the third-year of his deal without an adjustment.

…Read More!

Chiefs Claim D-Lineman; Create Practice Squad

The personnel work continued for the Chiefs on Sunday, as they tinkered with their 53-man roster and started putting together a 10-man practice squad.

Here’s what the team announced:

  • Claimed defensive lineman Damion Square (right) off waivers from the Philadelphia Eagles.
  • To make room for Square, the Chiefs released tight end Richard Gordon.
  • Officially signed eight players with a ninth reportedly signed to the practice squad.
  1. Fullback Jordan Campbell.
  2. Linebacker Jerry Franklin (not official).
  3. C Ben Gottschalk.
  4. Guard Ricky Henry.
  5. Inside linebacker Nico Johnson.
  6. Defensive end Kona Schwenke.
  7. Wide receiver Darryl Surgent.
  8. RB Charcandrick West.
  9. Wide receiver Fred Williams.
  10. .

…Read More!

Postion-By-Position On Chiefs Roster 1.0/Offense

Here’s how the 27 players on offense came together for the initial Chiefs roster of the 2014 season:

Quarterback (3)

  • Starter Alex Smith. Backups – Chase Daniel, Aaron Murray.
  • Injured reserve (1)Tyler Bray.
  • Age – Smith/30, Daniel/28 in October, Murray/24 in November.
  • Contract status/salary-cap number – Smith/last season on contract/$8 million; Daniel/2nd of 3 years/$3.4 million; Murray/1st of 4 years/$465,606.
  • Cap total$11,865,606/9.1 percent of Chiefs 2014 cap.
  • Status – It’s probably the most stable position on the Chiefs roster in this first week of the 2014 season. With the exception of Murray, we have seen the position in action. The difference between this group and last year at this time is that Daniel had a chance to start a game and perform, as he did in the 2013 regular season finale against San Diego. That’s one more start than he previously had in his career.

…Read More!

Chiefs Go With Rookie Kicker, 4 TEs, 6 RBs

There were some surprises in the first-round of decisions for the Chiefs in establishing their initial 53-man roster for the 2014 season.

Call it the Chiefs Roster 1.0. There will be changes, as the Chiefs pick through the waiver wire and more than likely send middle linebacker Joe Mays to the injured-reserve list/designated for return due to his wrist injury/surgery.

But there were some major decisions made by general manager John Dorsey and head coach Andy Reid that were announced Saturday at the NFL 3 p.m. deadline:

– Rookie Cairo Santos won the kicking competition over veteran Ryan Succop. The kickers had nearly identical pre-season performances. So the decision came down to something else, more than likely the salary cap and the $2.7 million number Succop carried over the rookie minimum salary for Santos of $420,000. Although Succop will account for “dead” money under the cap, his release opens up approximately $1 million for the Chiefs.

– The No. 3 quarterback competition saw rookie Aaron Murray get the job over Tyler Bray, who was sent to the injured-reserve list after ankle/knee injuries he suffered in the pre-season finale in Green Bay. Bray’s timely injuries have allowed the Chiefs to keep both young quarterbacks. …Read More!

Pre-Season Comes To An End With A Chiefs Defeat


From Lambeau Field, Green Bay

Andy Reid wasn’t in the mood to make any predictions about how his team will perform in the 2014 NFL season.

But he was of the mind that he was thrilled the pre-season was over after the Chiefs fell 34-14 to the Packers.

“I am not much on predictions,” Reid said. “We are going to work hard and take it one play at a time and crank it. We look forward to getting the season started.”

Thursday night’s performance by the Chiefs was something to quickly forget, especially the 14 penalties for 131 yards walked off. That’s the second game in August where they had 131 yards in penalties.

Here’s our coverage from Green Bay:

Little Action In Kicking Duel Makes Decision Tougher

From Lambeau Field, Green Bay

There has been a feel of golf all summer in the competition to win the kicker’s job with the Chiefs.

From the start of the first kicking sessions that went down at training camp, Ryan Succop (6) and Cairo Santos (5) have been locked in match play. Most golf tournaments played in this country are medal play where the winner is decided by the man that tours the course in the fewest number of shots. It’s really a competition between man and course.

Match play is something we see in international competitions like the Ryder Cup matches that will go down a month from now in Scotland. That’s when two players go head-to-head without concern of any other golfer on the course. One golfer may actually play at a lower score and lose the match because he did not win or tie enough of the 18 holes to top his opponent.

Succop and Santos have been locked in match-play kicking since the first day in St. Joseph and it continued on through Thursday night in Green Bay.

The only problem was there were very few opportunities for either man in the 34-14 loss to the Packers; a kicker was needed just five times in the game for three kickoffs and two PAT kicks.

Succop made his PAT and then sailed a kickoff five yards deep into the end zone that was returned 27 yards, giving Green Bay a drive start at their 22-yard line.

Santos made his PAT and kicked off twice. His first opened the second half and it dribbled to the one-yard line where it was returned 19 yards to the Packers 20-yard line. The rookie’s second kickoff went a yard deep in the end zone, but it was returned for 62 yards and gave Green Bay a drive start at the Chiefs 39-yard line.

So what did Reid see against the Packers that would help him make a decision on who will be his kicker?

“The kid (Santos) had one bad kickoff and I didn’t like that,” Reid said. “But he came back on the next one and did a nice job.”

After four pre-season games, these guys have posted performances that leave them tied when it comes to on-field performance:

  • Succop – 4-for-4 on PAT kicks, made fields goals of 25, 27 and 54 without a miss, and kicked off seven times, with five touchbacks and two returns of 27 and 52 yards.
  • Santos – 5-for-5 on PAT kicks, made field goals of 21, 28 and 44 yards without a miss, and kicked off 11 times, with three touchbacks, an onside kick and seven kickoffs returned, including the 62-yard return Thursday night.

This will not be an easy decision for Reid and general manager John Dorsey. Both players have the talent to kick in the league. Santos would come cheaper under the salary cap, but Succop has the experience. But, Succop’s performance over the last five seasons might be as good as he’ll ever be, while Santos appears to have more room to grow as a kicker.

A Night To Remember & Forget For Rookie Cornerback


From Lambeau Field, Green Bay

The duality of playing cornerback in the NFL is such that Chiefs rookie Phillip Gaines faces a very important intersection at the start of his pro football career.

How he handles the events of Thursday night will go a long way in deciding how long that career may last.

Against the Green Bay Packers, Gaines had about as bad a game as possible playing the cornerback position. The Chiefs third-round draft choice was beaten for touchdowns and he was called for penalties. It happened over and over again. Green Bay quarterbacks had four touchdown passes and it only seemed like every one of them was thrown to the receiver Gaines was attempting to cover.

A 22-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter from Matt Flynn to wide receiver Davante Adams . . . Gaines blew the coverage, allowing the receiver to run wide open in the middle of the defense. A 33-yard scoring toss from quarterback Scott Tolzien to wide receiver Jeff Janis in the second quarter . . . Gaines couldn’t get up with the speedy receiver. A third-down defensive stop is wiped out when . . . Gaines is called for defensive holding
and four plays later, the Packers score a touchdown. Janis runs deep again . . . and Gaines gets called for a defensive pass interference penalty for 39 yards. Two plays later the Packers score another touchdown.

Two touchdowns allowed and four penalties in coverage – it was the type of game every cornerback in the game knows is possible, especially in this age where the league is determined to make life as difficult as possible for defensive backs in coverage. And, it’s the type of game that Gaines needs to forget and forget quickly.

“That’s the biggest thing: how do you respond to things,” Gaines said in the Chiefs locker room after the game. “I just have to come out and keep grinding and keep working.”

As important as it will be to Gaines future to put his performance away, he must watch the tape and analyze his weaknesses and what he did to draw so much attention from the Packers and the officials. Green Bay’s offense with backup quarterbacks Matt Flynn and Scott Tolzien, along with the Packers offensive coaching staff, identified Gaines very quickly as a defender they could exploit in the passing game.

“You have to watch the tape and figure out how you can play better,” Gaines said. “There’s always going to be things that you can get better at, and I’m happy this happened early, so I can focus on the things I need to work on.”

The penalty situation was one of the biggest negatives to Gaines’ play against the Packers. He was called twice for illegal contact, once for defensive holding and the big one, that 39-yard pass interference penalty.

“That’s something you have to work through as a DB and you have to adhere to the refs rules; they are in control,” he said. “You have to find a way to make plays on the ball.”

For most of the game, Gaines was playing in the slot-cornerback position, the so-called nickel back. On 90 percent of the Green Bay offensive snaps, they had three wide receivers on the field. With the team’s No. 1 slot corner Chris Owens not playing in the game the duties there fell to Gaines. While it was not a completely new position, it was a role where he had not had an abundance of snaps.

“That’s a new position for him that he’s learning,” said head coach Andy Reid. “He’ll be alright. He’s a smart kid. He’s a tough kid. Sometimes you get some bumps and bruises as you are learning to play the NFL game. That’s what happened tonight.”

Reid and the defensive coaching staff will be watching closely to see how Gaines handles his bad night. That will be an indication of whether he has the mental toughness to play defensive back in the NFL.

“As a secondary player you have to have a short memory, you have to learn from your mistakes, forget about it and bring it the next play,” Reid said. “You are going to have nights like that when things don’t go the way you want them to go. You’ve got to rally through that.”

Penalty Flags Fly, Most Of Them At Chiefs


From Lambeau Field, Green Bay

It was a night where the guys in the striped shirt decided they were going to take charge of the game.

Referee Terry McAulay and his on-field crew of six officials couldn’t keep their hands out of their pocket as they fished for their penalty flags. In all they threw the flags on 25 penalties, walked off 23 for a total of 212 yards.

But they seemed to have a special eye for the Chiefs, and particularly Andy Reid’s defense. In all, there were eight flags thrown against the defense with seven accepted. The offense had six penalties and special teams finished with one.

The Chiefs head coach is loath to talk about officials in any way, something that 15 years as an NFL coach has taught him well. But there’s no question he was miffed at the number of times the Chiefs had productive plays wiped out by penalties.

“With 14 penalties that’s way too much,” Reid said. “You can cut that in half and that’s way too many. It’s just ridiculous . . . I can’t tell that I agreed with all of them.”

Overall, the penalties cost them yards in field position in each quarter. Plus flags wiped out a sack for the Chiefs defense and a touchdown for the Chiefs offense. Late in the game, the Chiefs had a fourth-and-two play, that became fourth-and-12 with a penalty and then fourth-and-22 with another flag. The offense did not convert that opportunity.

The one flag that irked Reid the most was a personal foul unnecessary roughness call against safety Kelcie McCray. Green Bay running back LaDairus Perkins broke the Chiefs containment on the right side of the defense and was walking a tight rope on the sidelines trying to stay inbounds. As his momentum was about to take him across the white stripe, McCray made sure his run was done with a nice hit.

The flag was immediate, and so was the increase in Reid’s blood pressure. At the next timeout, Reid spent the entire time talking to a huddle of three officials that included McAulay.

“I wouldn’t say I fully agreed with that one,” was Reid’s cryptic reply.

The Chiefs player that was targeted by the Green Bay offense and it seems the officials as well was rookie cornerback Phillip Gaines. He was penalized four times for a total of 54 yards, 39 of those yards coming on a pass interference flag

In all, the officials threw five flags against the K.C. defense on plays involving pass coverage, with three illegal contact calls, one defensive holding and the pass interference call against Gaines. It’s a continuation of what has been a flag happy pre-season by the league zebras as they are committed to cutting down on the downfield contact between defenders and receivers.

The Chiefs finished the four-game August schedule with 36 penalties for 327 yards, or an average of nine flags and 81.7 yards per game. Last year in the regular season they averaged 6.3 penalties and 48.4 yards per game.

There’s no doubt in Reid’s mind that no matter his thoughts on some of the calls Thursday night, his team needs to cut down on the infractions and that must happen soon.

“We just can’t have it and expect to win,” Reid said.

Here are the penalties called against the Chiefs:

# Squad Player Penalty Cost
1. Defense D. Ford Offside 5 yards
2. Defense D. Ford Illegal hands declined
3. Defense P. Gaines Illegal contact 5 yards
4. Offense D. Stephenson Holding 8 yards
5. Defense D. Sorensen Illegal contact 5 yards
6. Kick return F. Zombo Holding 8 yards
7. Offense R. Harris False start 5 yards
8. Defense P. Gaines Holding 5 yards
9. Defense P. Gaines Illegal contact 5 yards
10. Offense D. Stephenson Illegal hands 10 yards
11. Defense P. Gaines Pass interference 39 yards
12. Defense K. McCray Un. Roughness 11 yards
13. Offense J. McKnight Illegal touch 5 yards
14. Offense E. Kush Illegal hands 10 yards
15. Offense D. Harris Pass interference 10 yards

Chiefs Sign Guard That Andy Knows

On Wednesday morning the Chiefs announced the signing of veteran guard Mike McGlynn.

To make room for him, they released rookie free-agent center Ben Gottschalk.

The 6-4, 325-pound NFL journeyman spent training camp and the pre-season with the Washington Redskins. He was released on Tuesday in the team’s cut to reach the NFL roster limit of 75.

The Chiefs will be the fifth team that McGlynn has played for in his career. He entered the NFL as a fourth-round draft choice by Andy Reid with Philadelphia in 2008. He went on to become the Eagles starting center in the 2010 season.

McGlynn later played for Cincinnati (2011) and Indianapolis (2012-13) where he started the past two seasons as the Colts right guard. He was in the starting lineup for Indy’s come-from-behind victory over the Chiefs back in January in a first-round game in the AFC playoffs.

With his signing the 29-year old McGlynn becomes the oldest offensive lineman on the Chiefs roster. He’s three days older than tackle Ryan Harris.

The Ohio native played tackle at the University of Pittsburgh where he started 43 of the 47 games he played over four seasons (2004-07), with most of those starts at right tackle.

Starters Will Watch Chiefs Play Packers

Andy Reid confirmed Tuesday that his starters will not play against the Packers when the Chiefs visit Green Bay on Thursday night.

Essentially that means quarterback Alex Smith, running back Jamaal Charles and most of the starting linemen on offense will not play. Same for nose tackle Dontari Poe, linebackers Tamba Hali, Derrick Johnson and Justin Houston on defense.

Just after last Saturday night’s game, Reid said some of his starters might play against Green Bay, but he did not confirm that on Tuesday. There’s a chance that left guard candidates Jeff Linkenbach and Ricky Henry may play, but it sounds like the rest of the starting offensive line will watch.

Reid said that Chase Daniel will start at quarterback and likely play through the first quarter. Tyler Bray and Aaron Murray will then work the final three quarters.

…Read More!

Chiefs Practice Report – 8/25

From the Truman Sports Complex

On what felt like the hottest, most humid and sultry afternoon of the summer, the Chiefs practiced football Monday afternoon.

Andy Reid had his team scheduled for a nearly three-hour practice session in the heat of the early afternoon. But he eventually ended practice early, much to the pleasure of his players, as they worked for a bit over two hours.

After a dozen personnel moves earlier in the day, there were 78 players on the roster and 71 of them started practice. One did not finish, as wide receiver Mark Harrison was taken off the field on a cart. There was no word from the Chiefs after practice on what Harrison’s problem was, but he may have been overcome by the heat and humidity.

Returning to the practice field was safety Eric Berry, who took part in the entire practice on that sore heel of his for the first time since August 11. Also back on the field was middle linebacker Josh Mauga, who has practices with a groin strain. …Read More!

Offense Finally Produces With Bray At QB


From Arrowhead Stadium

It was an important game for Tyler Bray on Saturday night against the Minnesota Vikings. This was going to be his best opportunity to show where he might fall on the quarterback ladder for the Chiefs in the 2014 season. Is he going to stay as the No. 3 behind Alex Smith and Chase Daniel? Might he be No. 4 and falling behind rookie Aaron Murray? Could he be traded somewhere else as the rosters shrink with NFL cut-down dates coming over the next week? Could he end up being released? Might Bray be claimed by another team on the waiver wire?

On this big evening, things did not start well for Bray. In his first three possessions leading the Chiefs offense they went three plays and out, three plays and out and three plays and out. In those nine plays, Bray did not complete any of his four passes, throwing an interception and being sacked.

“Just bad throws; you really can’t pinpoint sometimes why the throws aren’t happening,” Bray said. “It could go back to footwork. Maybe I was standing up a little too tall in the pocket and not getting a throwing base.”

A fourth possession finally saw some production, as the Chiefs kept the ball for eight plays and Bray was two of four throwing the ball, but it was just for nine yards.

Finally on a fifth chance, Bray got the Chiefs offense rolling. They went 80 yards in nine plays and Bray was seven-of-seven in the drive for 76 yards and ending with a one-yard touchdown throw to rookie wide receiver Albert Wilson.

“We were running the ball great and that always helps,” Bray said. “I finally wasn’t throwing over the receivers heads; that might help too. We just started clicking. We were executing well and we were moving the ball down the field.”

By that fifth possession, the offensive line in front of Bray had changed. When he got his first opportunities after Smith left in the third quarter, Bray had the No. 1 offensive line in front of him. That went nowhere. When the backups came in, that’s when the offense clicked on that final possession.

“We’re still trying to mesh,” Bray said. “We’re moving a lot of guys around on the O-Line so they’re still trying to click. Once they do, we’re going to have a great offense.”

But will Tyler Bray be part of the equation, even if all he does is serve as the club’s scout team quarterback?

“I believe I’m going to play in this league and when that happens I don’t know, but I’m not sitting around worried about what might happen,” Bray said. “I just have to go out every day and get better.”

Here are the numbers for all four Chiefs quarterbacks after three pre-season games:

Player

Att.

Cmp.

%

Yds.

A/A

TD

INT

LG

Sacked

Rating

Tyler Bray

17

11

64.7

122

7.2

1

1

30

4-17

81.0

Chase Daniel

14

11

78.6

161

11.5

1

1

69

3-7

108.6

Aaron Murray

10

5

50.0

81

8.1

1

1

43

1-0

71.3

Alex Smith

51

31

60.8

286

5.6

0

2

21

6-43

59.8

O-Line Remains Work In Progress, Without Progress


From Arrowhead Stadium

In two weeks the Chiefs will face prime-time in the NFL when they open the regular season against the Tennessee Titans. Their offensive line at this time can accurately be called “The Not-Ready for Prime-Time Players.”

At a point where the group of blockers should be developing some consistency and continuity, the starting offensive line is struggling. With personnel changes invoked by head coach Andy Reid for Saturday night’s game against Minnesota, the No. 1 blockers contributed to another poor offensive performance in a 30-12 defeat.

The Chiefs starting offense did not score a touchdown in eight possessions. They turned the ball over twice on interceptions thrown by quarterback Alex Smith. Pass protection was spotty at best, as Smith was sacked three times and took off running on three other plays. The running game without Jamaal Charles was almost invisible, producing just 31 yards on 12 carries by the running backs, with the longest run just eight yards.

It was ugly and it all started upfront.

“Offensively it clearly wasn’t good enough,” said Reid. “Whether it was protection or blocking we’ve got to executive better.”

Friday’s announcement that right tackle Donald Stephenson will serve a four-game NFL suspension starting with the opener had Reid making changes, some that he showed in practice during the week before the game. Left guard Jeff Allen was moved to right tackle, and taking his spot at left guard were Jeff Linkenbach and Ricky Henry, who alternated from possession to possession.

New faces in new places produced old results.

“I need to get the guys who are going to play at the beginning of the season ready to go,” Reid said of why Stephenson did not play against Minnesota. “I wanted to make sure guys get in there and have a chance to work. We have a new right tackle and left guard and they needed the work so I left them in there a little longer so they could get a little bit of that.

“They’re good players and we’ll continue to work and get ourselves ready.”

Reid and his staff may think they are good players, but the new faces struggled to show that against the Vikings, especially Linkenbach and Henry inside. “There were issues,” Reid admitted. “I probably need to look at the tape before I say too much here, but obviously it wasn’t good enough. The quarterback got hit too many times. You can’t do that.”

Pass protection was spotty. With Smith in the game there were 30 passing plays called by Reid. Smith threw 24 passes, was sacked three times, ran on three other plays and was hit after releasing the ball on three plays. That’s contact on nine of the 30 passing calls. At times, Smith was running for his football life as pressure poured in, especially in the middle of the blocking unit where Linkenbach and Henry had their problems. It was also easily the worst performance in practice or games that rookie Zach Fulton has shown at right guard.

With a few exceptions, center Rodney Hudson was solid. At right tackle, Allen actually played better there than he had been playing at left guard. Much maligned left tackle Eric Fisher actually played a pretty good game, with his biggest problems coming on plays where the Vikings did some stunts against the left side of the Chiefs offensive line thanks to the lack of continuity with Fisher, Linkenbach and Henry.

“You can’t just produce the type of teamwork you need up front in just a few days of practice,” said Allen. “But the only way to do that is to play, so I’m sure every one of us learned a lot in this game.”

Reid certainly hopes so because right now, that No. 1 group features what appears to be his five best blockers.

“If they’re guys that we end up keeping then they’re guys that have that much more experience under they belts,” Reid said.

Chiefs Fail To Show Improvement In Loss To Vikings


From Arrowhead Stadium

In the NFL pre-season, coaches seek improvement from one week to the next. The games are not so much about who wins and who loses, but whether individual players and segments of the team are getting better with every game opportunity.

As the Chiefs sit two weeks away from their 2014 regular season opener there is darn little for Andy Reid and his coaching staff to identify as improved production. Certainly, there was no evidence in their 30-12 loss to the Minnesota Vikings on a sultry Saturday evening at Arrowhead Stadium.

Offense, defense and the kicking game all contributed to an ugly night for the Chiefs. They were not able to score a touchdown until there were just 25 seconds to play in the game. They turned the ball over three times and allowed five sacks. Despite providing a safety and forcing a pair of turnovers from Vikings quarterback Matt Cassel; the K.C. defense allowed three touchdowns and gave up five offensive plays of 20-plus yards. Even the special teams failed, allowing a 75-yard punt return in the second half that set up one of the Minnesota touchdowns.

“I’ve got to make sure that I put the guys in a better position to do things,” said head coach Andy Reid. “Then when given the opportunity we’ve got to make sure we execute . . . they got the best of us today.”

Most concerning to the Chiefs has to be the No. 1 offense. Yes, they played without running back Jamaal Charles, wide receiver Dwayne Bowe and right tackle Donald Stephenson. But that does not explain the mistakes and problems they had throughout the game. Quarterback Alex Smith threw a pair of red zone interceptions that snuffed out touchdown opportunities.

“Tonight was disappointing because we treated it like a game-week,” said Smith. “There was more game-planning and preparation. We got down there twice and to walk away with no points because of the turnovers hurts.”

The starting offense under Smith’s direction has 16 possessions in three pre-season games and they’ve not produced a touchdown. The Chiefs had one Smith pass caught in the end zone, but that was an interception by Minnesota cornerback Captain Munnerlyn in the first quarter. On the evening, Smith posted a passer rating of 40.3 thanks to those interceptions and a paltry average of 5.8 yards per attempt.

“Throwing the ball, we just had no rhythm,” said Reid “Offensively it clearly wasn’t good enough.”

Much to the chagrin of Chiefs fans, former K.C. starter Cassel was the best quarterback on the field. He finished with a 78.6 passer rating completing 52.9 percent of his throws with an interception. But he also averaged 8.9 yards per passing attempt and did throw a touchdown pass.

The Vikings offense put up a touchdown on their first opportunity with the ball. Returning to Arrowhead for the first time since he was released in the winter of 2013, he led a five-play, 97-yard drive that was built on a pair of long completions. Cassel first connecting on a pass to running back Matt Asiata for 31 yards and then when wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson got behind Chiefs safety Daniel Sorensen, he connected on a 53-yard touchdown play with a perfect throw. It was just five minutes into the game and Minnesota held the lead, 7-0. They would not surrender the advantage at any point in the night.

After Munnerlyn’s end-zone interception and his return of 14 yards, the Chiefs defense produced two points, as defensive end Jaye Howard was on Cassel in the end zone and knocked the ball out of his hands. The ball went out of the back of the end zone and the Chiefs had a deuce.

Regaining possession after the post-safety free kick from the Vikings, Smith drove the offense inside the Minnesota 11-yard line. But a third-down throw to tight end Travis Kelce was intercepted by linebacker Chad Greenway. The defense was able to hold Minnesota in check and the Chiefs offense got the ball back. That’s when the No. 1 group put together their only scoring drive of the game, holding the ball for 14 plays, while moving 77 yards in 7 minutes, 43 seconds but still they had to settle for a 21-yard field goal from rookie kicker Cairo Santos.

At this point the Chiefs trailed 7-5 and were very much in the game when cornerback Ron Parker intercepted a Cassel pass deep in Kansas City territory. But the teams finished the half trading possessions, with Minnesota grabbing three more points on a 41-yard field goal by Blair Walsh with 67 seconds left in the second quarter that set the intermission score at 10-5.

Walsh added another field goal, this one from 32 yards about 10 minutes into the third quarter, pushing Minnesota’s lead to 13-5. That’s when matters got away from the Chiefs

When Smith left the game and was replaced by Tyler Bray. The second-year quarterback’s first pass was intercepted by Vikings cornerback Shaun Prater on what appeared to be a miscommunication between Bray and wide receiver Kyle Williams.

With rookie Teddy Bridgewater making his first on field appearance of the night, it was just three plays before Minnesota had a touchdown. Bridgewater found tight end Allen Reisner open in the right side of the end zone for an eight-yard touchdown play, with Chiefs safety Jerron McMillian trailing in coverage. The PAT kick gave the Vikings a 20-5 edge.

A few moments later, they pumped up that lead to 22 points on another touchdown pass from Bridgewater to Reisner, this one for five yards. That one-play, five-yard drive was set up on a pretty 75-yard punt return by Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen. He caught the ball at the Minnesota 20-yard line and was not brought down until running back Knile Davis made a hustling rolling block that knocked him out at the Chiefs five-yard line. The Vikes scored on the next play.

That was two touchdowns for Minnesota in the span of 104 seconds, set up by a pair of errors from the Chiefs with the interception and failure to cover the punt.

The rest of the game was a mish-mash of back and forth as neither team got much going in the fourth quarter as they used all those players on the fringe of making the regular-season roster. The Chiefs offense finally produced a touchdown on a nine-play, 87-yard drive with Bray connecting on a one-yard touchdown pass with wide receiver Albert Wilson. The PAT kick from Santos set the final score at 30-12.

Time is not on the Chiefs side as they get ready for the final week of the pre-season. They have a short window to get healthy and prepare just a little for a Thursday night game in Green Bay. The next day, the roster will be slashed to 53 and the focus will turn to the Tennessee Titans.

Chiefs Trade Guard For Safety

It wasn’t a deal close to last year’s pre-season trade that sent a disappointing first-round draft choice (Jon Baldwin) for another team’s disappoint first-round pick (A.J. Jenkins).

But on Thursday, the Chiefs traded a player that wasn’t going to make their team, for another player that wasn’t going to make his team.

They shipped guard Rishaw Johnson to Tampa Bay and in return received safety Kelcie McCray.

The 6-1, 205-pounds McCray played in 15 games last season with Miami (4) and Tampa Bay (11). He entered the NFL in 2012 as an undrafted free agent with the Dolphins, but spent that first year on the injured-reserve list after surgery on a broken foot. He was released early last October and the Buccaneers claimed him off the waiver wire. In 15 NFL games he has seven tackles and a fumble recovery.

He’s 25 years old and comes out of Arkansas State University where he was a three-year starter at safety for the Red Wolves. Over his career, McCray started 37 of the 49 games he played, with 220 total tackles, 10 interceptions, two forced fumbles and three recovered fumbles. He grew up in Columbus, Georgia.

Johnson began the off-season program as the starting right guard, but by the end of the team’s June mini-camp, he lost that status to rookie Zach Fulton. In training camp his slot on the depth chart fell to the third team.

 

Chiefs Position Analysis – Wide Receiver

Over the next few days we’ll look at each position on the Chiefs current 90-man roster and speculate on how John Dorsey and Andy Reid will cut that number to 75 by next Tuesday, and then 53 by next Friday.


Wide receivers

Last season – the Chiefs carried six wide receivers on their first-week roster. Dwayne Bowe, Junior Hemingway and Dexter McCluster were holdovers from the 2012 team. Donnie Avery was added as an unrestricted free agent. A.J. Jenkins came in a trade with San Francisco for receiver Jon Baldwin and Chad Hall was claimed from the waiver wire from the Niners. Undrafted rookie Frankie Hammond was signed to the practice squad and spent all 17 weeks on the developmental team. On November 13, the Chiefs claimed Kyle Williams off the waiver wire from the 49ers, while parting ways with Hall. …Read More!

Chiefs Practice Report – 8/20

From the Truman Sports Complex

Andy Reid juggled his team’s schedule for Wednesday practice, moving up the two-hour, 15-minute workout two hours to escape the hottest part of the day.

It was still a hot and humid workout, as the coaching staff put the team through what would be the schedule for a Thursday practice during the regular season. The pace was quick, although not as fast as Reid wanted at times as he could be heard exhorting his players to pick up the pace.

Blitz, short yardage and goal line segments took up most of the practice, as Reid and his staff put together the most extensive game plan of the pre-season for Saturday’s meeting with Minnesota. It’s also a good chance they worked on some situational stuff for the regular-season opener against Tennessee.

“We changed up practice a bit so we could beat the hit,” said Reid. “It was good work.”

There were 11 players that did not participate, and a handful of others that left during the practice, all because of injury. Leading that group was running back Jamaal Charles with his bruised foot suffered almost a week ago as he moved out of the team’s dorm at Missouri Western State University.

“Jamaal is making progress and we’ll just see how he does here in the next several days,” said Reid. …Read More!

It’s Time For Patience With Eric Fisher

John Alt (l) and Eric Fisher

It’s far too early to construct any type of conclusion to the Eric Fisher story. That hasn’t stopped some fans and media types from pulling the chain and flushing the future of last year’s NFL’s No. 1 draft choice. Declaring Fisher one of the great draft busts in Chiefs and possibly NFL history is very premature and to bring that into focus there are two words Chiefs fans need to remember:

John Alt.

In the history of the Chiefs franchise there have been two outstanding left tackles. Jim Tyrer was the first, selected in the third round of the 1961 AFL Draft by the Texans after an All-America career at Ohio State University. Tyrer started 180 games for the Texans/Chiefs and was a full-time starter for 12 seasons. He earned AFL All-Star and Pro Bowl honors nine times. Tyrer entered the Chiefs Hall of Fame in 1977.

The other left tackle of note was Alt, a first-round selection (No. 15) in the 1984 NFL Draft out of the University of Iowa. He played 13 seasons with the Chiefs, appearing in 179 games with 149 starts. Alt made two Pro Bowls (1992-93) and was the 2002 inductee to the Chiefs Hall of Fame.

That Alt would go to the Pro Bowl and be honored as one of the team’s greatest players would have seemed laughable after his rookie season, or his second, third and fourth seasons. By the time the 1988 season was about to start, he was considered a bust outside the Chiefs facility. In four seasons, he played 44 of 64 games, starting just 16 times. Injuries kept him off the field, especially a back problem that seemed to flare up at least once a season. …Read More!

Chiefs Practice Report – August 19

From the Truman Sports Complex

The Chiefs rolled through a two-hour, 30-minute practice on Tuesday, in the first of what will be close to 60 practices in the 2014 NFL season.

Andy Reid’s team remains in training camp mode, as they worked in full pads under a hot afternoon sun with not a breath of wind and high humidity.

(Note: now that the public cannot view Chiefs practices, the media is more restricted on what it’s allowed to report. That will continue through the end of the season.)

Not visible on the field during the early practice was running back Jamaal Charles, as he tries to recover from the bruised foot suffered moving out of the dorms at Missouri Western State University last week.

Also missing was wide receiver Dwayne Bowe; he came out of the game last Sunday night against Carolina with a quadriceps injury. Safety Eric Berry (heel) did not take part in practice. Middle linebacker Joe Mays (wrist) was also a non-participant.

Rounding out the injured list and off the practice field were offensive tackle Ryan McKee (knee), defensive lineman Jermelle Cudjo (quadriceps), linebacker Josh Martin (quadriceps) and wide receiver Junior Hemingway (hip). …Read More!

Notes: Kicking Battle Continues

From Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte

Ryan Succop made sure that his homecoming to North Carolina had something special for all the friends and relatives there were in Bank of America Stadium on Sunday night.

In doing so, he added another chip to his bank when it comes to keeping his job as the Chiefs kicker.

Succop nailed a 54-yard field goal in the first half. The kick tied his career-long for any game (preseason, regular season or postseason.) His previous 54-yard FG came against Minnesota on October 2, 2011 in a game played at Arrowhead Stadium. On that afternoon he made all five of his attempts.

He later added a 25-yard field goal. Rookie Cairo Santos hit his only attempt from 44 yards in the second quarter.

On kickoffs, Succop sent two kicks out of the end zone completely for touchbacks, and then hit one for a bit of hang-time to the Carolina three-yard line. Santos drilled one kick seven yards deep in the end zone, and another one he placed at the Carolina three-yard line.

Defense

The Chiefs finished the game with four sacks of Carolina quarterbacks. Cornerback Chris Owens, safety Husain Abdullah and middle linebacker Joe Mays each had one take down of the passer, with the other sack shared between outside linebacker Dee Ford and defensive end Vance Walker . . . Inside linebacker Nico Johnson finished the game as the Chiefs leading tackler with six . . . Inside linebacker Derrick Johnson knocked down a throw by Carolina quarterback Cam Newton and almost picked up an interception.

Special teams

Punter Dustin Colquitt kicked five times, for a 39-yard average, with three punts inside the 20-yard line . . . the Chiefs allowed nothing on punt returns, as Carolina had just one return for a single yard . . . on kickoff returns, wide receiver Frankie Hammond got to show his stuff as he had two returns for a 28-yard average. That does not include his 51-yard return that was wiped out by a penalty . . . Punt returner De’Anthony Thomas had two returns for 27 yards.

Rivera clamping down on outbursts

At two different points in the first half, Carolina cornerback Josh Norman displayed some behavior that eventually saw him pulled out of the action by Panthers head coach Ron Rivera. The first was when he launched himself at a sliding Alex Smith when the Chiefs quarterback was flushed out of the pocket. Norman got up and wagged his finger at Smith, in effect indicating he shouldn’t try that again. Then, Norman and wide receiver Dwayne Bowe got into a little dust up. That brought Panthers veteran linebacker Thomas Davis running across the field to confront not Bowe, but his teammate Norman.

That was enough for Rivera, who has been telling his players all through training camp that they need to be more disciplined. His post-game comments on the situation were interesting.

“There’s a point where you have to draw a line and a guy has to understand that if you do this and continue to do this, then I’m going do something,” Rivera said. “We want guys to understand that we have to maintain our composure on the field. That’s why we lost in the playoffs (to San Francisco). It started with me; I made the mistake of getting caught up in that emotion. We have to learn how to control that. We’ve got to do things the right way and we’ve got to be able to handle it. We are going to play smart football.”

Odds & Ends

According to the NFL’s official Gamebook for Sunday night’s contest there were seven Chiefs players dressed that did not play: wide receivers Deon Anthony, Fred Williams and Jerrell Jackson, offensive linemen Ben Gottschalk and J’Marcus Webb, tight end Adam Schiltz and quarterback Tyler Bray.

The Chiefs won the opening coin toss as new daddy fullback Anthony Sherman called for tails. When it came up, the Chiefs deferred until the second half. Representing the Chiefs at midfield for the toss were Sherman, long snapper Thomas Gafford, center Rodney Hudson, linebacker Joe Mays and nose tackle Dontari Poe.

Chiefs Play Poorly In 28-16 Loss To Carolina


From Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte

This was not a performance that will engender a lot of confidence in the improvement of the 2014 Chiefs.

It was Carolina 28, Chiefs 16 in Sunday night pre-season action where Andy Reid’s team sputtered and stuttered before a national television audience with mistakes, penalties and a continued lack of point production from the offense.

The killer was the 13 penalties walked off against them for 131 yards and that’s a direct link to losing any NFL contest. The turn in field position caused by the penalties was devastating to any chance the Chiefs had of winning.

“The tale of this thing was the 13 penalties we had,” said Reid. “Offensively we took big plays away from ourselves. That’s not the way you function and be a successful team in the National Football League. We’ve got to do better there.”

Only once did the Chiefs dent the end zone, and that came in the third quarter when rookie quarterback Aaron Murray threw his first pass in the NFL – it was a 43-yard touchdown toss to tight end Travis Kelce.

Essentially that’s it when it comes to highlights for the Chiefs. Everything else was lowlights, especially the 13 penalties.

“It’s ridiculous, you can’t do that,” said Reid. “Even if you are counting by fives (five-yard penalties), 13 is too many.”

The first quarter was all about the Chiefs defense. The No. 1 unit limited Carolina’s first offense to just one yard on nine plays. Cam Newton struggled to throw the ball, as the Chiefs staff used a variety of pass rushes to get after the Panthers starting quarterback who was playing for the first time since off-season ankle surgery.

Sandwiched between a pair of three plays for six-yard possessions by Carolina, the Chiefs put together a scoring drive, moving 44 yards in eight plays and overcoming an offensive holding call against right guard Zach Fulton. They settled for a 54-yard field goal from Ryan Succop, kicking in his home area for the first time in his career. The kick matched the longest FG of his career, pre-season, regular season or post-season.

The defense got after Newton again on the Panthers third possession, as safety Husain Abdullah went flying up from safety and knocked the quarterback down.

Smith then led the offense in another possession where their momentum was slowed by a penalty, this time a 10-yard offensive pass interference call against tight end Anthony Fasano. The Chiefs settled for a 44-yard field goal from rookie Cairo Santos and they held a 6-0 lead on the first play of the second quarter.

“I think every drive you can point to a penalty or a sack that caused us to fail,” said Smith. “They are a good defense. It was a great challenge for us.”

From that point, the Panthers took over the game on offense and defense, with help from the guys in the striped shirts. After just one yard on nine plays, Newton came out and led the offense to a 4-play, 66-yard drive for a touchdown. Running back Jonathan Stewart scored on a two-yard run, but the biggest play for Carolina was a 32-yard pass interference call against cornerback Ron Parker. The PAT was good and the home team had a 7-6 lead.

They added another touchdown on their next possession, as Newton hit a pair of big passes for 24 yards to rookie wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin and 25 yards to wide receiver Jason Avant. On Avant’s catch, Chiefs cornerback Sean Smith was called for an illegal contact penalty that was declined by Carolina.

The Panthers wrapped up the possession with a three-yard scoring run by Stewart, who went up the middle and was untouched as he cruised into the end zone. The PAT kick gave Carolina a 14-6 lead that they carried into the half-time locker room.

The Chiefs opened the second half with the No. 2 offense and quarterback Chase Daniel moved them 73 yards on 11 plays and inside the scoring zone, before they had to settle for another field goal. This one was 25 yards by Succop, making the score 14-9.

They went up 16-14 on the Murray to Kelce touchdown throw. But Carolina came right back with 70-yard, seven-play drive, as backup quarterback Derek Anderson connected with wide receiver Brenton Bersin on a 16-yard touchdown play.

Murray recorded his first NFL interception as linebacker A.J. Klein stepped in front of pass for tight end Demetrius Harris and he returned it to the Chiefs eight-yard line. Five plays later, with the help of another defensive penalty, Carolina running back Fozzy Whitaker scored on a one-yard touchdown run, making the score 28-16 with just seconds to go in the third quarter.

That was also the final score.

“I expect us to learn from our mistakes,” said Reid. “I expect to see progress, that’s what pre-season games are for. We have to do a better job executing.”

Chiefs No. 1 Offense Remains Missing In Action


From Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte

Going back to the start of the off-season program, the Chiefs offense talked about having one goal heading into the 2014 season. They were not going to start over, or remake their attack. They wanted to pick up where they left off in the last January’s game in the playoffs when they scored five touchdowns.

As the eighth month of the year heads into its final fortnight those scores against Indianapolis remain the only touchdowns the Chiefs offense has registered in the 2014 calendar year.

“We sustained some drives for long periods but you have to be able to finish those off,” said quarterback Alex Smith. “Against a team like that in the regular season, those two field goals don’t do a tone for you and can hurt you. You never know when you are going to get back down there. It was self-inflicted so many times, whether it was a penalty or a sack or something.”

In the pre-season opener against Cincinnati, the No. 1 offense had three possessions that produced only a field goal. Sunday night against Carolina, they had five possessions in the first half that produced two more field goals.

The numbers for the Smith-led group in this pre-season are not good:

  • 8 possessions.
  • 46 plays.
  • 189 yards.
  • 4.1 yards per offensive play.
  • 3 sacks allowed.
  • 1 turnover.
  • 11 first downs.
  • 4 of 11 on third down.

The running game has been very inefficient, and yes Jamaal Charles was not part of Sunday night’s game because of a bruised foot. In two games, the No. 1 offense has 15 carries for 67 yards.

What hurts the evaluation more than anything is the fact that they’ve had marginal prospects to actually score a touchdown. On eight possessions, only once have they been inside the opponent’s 20-yard line. They penetrated to the Cincinnati nine-yard line in a possession that led to a Ryan Succop field goal. They also advanced to the 20 once, but produced only another field goal, this one from rookie Cairo Santos.

Those eight possessions produced nine points.

Against Carolina, the mistakes were plentiful for the offense, but they all seemed to come from the No. 1 offensive line. Protection for Smith was shoddy, including a blown blitz pickup block from Knile Davis that allowed Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly to take the quarterback down on a third-and-nine play. On the next possession, left tackle Eric Fisher was flagged for holding and then left guard Jeff Allen couldn’t handle defensive tackle Star Lotulelei who took Smith down for a nine-yard loss.

“We have a young offensive line and they have to learn,” said Andy Reid. “We’re going to feed them the things they need to get better. We’re not hiding that part of it. We know that they are going to get better with practice.”

Smith started getting the ball out of his hands faster, but that didn’t work either, as one possession ended with two passes that produced minus-four and minus-two yards.

There’s really only one game remaining for the No. 1 offense and that’s this coming Saturday night against Minnesota at Arrowhead Stadium. It makes the coming week an important time for the Chiefs to get their offensive house in order.

“Soon I look for us to take another step,” said Smith. “I felt like we did take a step tonight you know. I’d like to take another one.”

There Was A Bright Spot Sunday Night – Travis Kelce


From Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte

Now, if only Alex Smith can hook up with Travis Kelce – maybe that would jump start the Chiefs offense.

For the second week in a row, Kelce grabbed a touchdown pass. It turned out to be the Chiefs only touchdown in their 28-16 loss to the Carolina Panthers. The play was almost a copy of his touchdown against Cincinnati in the pre-season opener. This time he went for 43 yards on a pass from rookie quarterback Aaron Murray.

Kelce showed speed and power as he broke through the middle of the field and banged his way into the end zone.

“It was a great play call, perfect for the coverage,” said Murray of his first professional TD pass. “Kelce did a great job of pretty much blowing by the linebackers, and then a great job afterwards of getting in the end zone.”

There were three more catches for Kelce, who finished with four for 63 yards, more than any other Chiefs receiver. He averaged 15.8 yards per catch.

“He adds another element at the tight end position,” Smith said of Kelce. “I think we can really stretch some defenses and can do some things with the ball in his hands. It was exciting for me to see.”

Combined with his performance against the Bengals, including the 69-yard touchdown lay on a pass from Chase Daniel, Kelce is the team’s leading pre-season receiver, catching six passes for 136 yards for a healthy 22.7-yard average per catch.

“He just keeps coming with it,” said head coach Andy Reid. “Now, there’s more than just the route running. You have to be able to run block and detail all your work there. You sure have to give him credit for the effort . . . he sure has a nice skill level.”

Succop Returns Home For the First Time

Ryan Succop is very familiar with Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina.

He knows the concession stands, where the restrooms are and can easily pinpoint the nearest exit to get back to the parking lot.

Sunday night Succop will get his first chance to visit the bowels of the stadium that is the home of the Carolina Panthers, as the Chiefs hit the building to play pre-season game No. 2.

It’s the first time in his six years in the NFL that Succop has gone “back home” to kick. He grew up in Hickory, North Carolina, about an hour north of Charlotte. His family had season tickets for the Panthers almost from the expansion team’s first season in 1995. Other kids latched on the stars of those early Carolina teams like quarterback Kerry Collins, wide receiver Muhsin Muhammad and linebacker Sam Mills.

Succop (right) and Cairo Santos (5) will continue their fight for the Chiefs kicking job.

Not Succop. His favorite member of the Panthers was kicker John Kasay, who ended up spending 15 seasons with Carolina among the 20 seasons and 301 games that he kicked in the NFL.

“We had seats down in the lower level, we had seats in the upper deck, we had seats all over the place,” Succop was remembering the other day after the end of the Chiefs training camp in St. Joseph. “John Kasay was my guy. He was a really good kicker, very consistent; just solid.

“I’m really excited about being able to kick there. I think I’ve kicked in every stadium in the league except Bank of America.” …Read More!

Chiefs Young O-Line – Good Or Bad For 2014?

Eric Fisher, Jeff Allen, Rodney Hudson, Zach Fulton, Donald Stephenson – the Chiefs baby blockers

Andy Reid, John Dorsey, Alex Smith – the big three on the football end of the Chiefs franchise have said it more than once, even twice. They say it all the time.

It goes like this: “Blah, blah, blah . . . we have a young offensive line, one of the youngest in the league . . . blah, blah, blah.”

Based on the depth charts of the 32 NFL teams in the second week of the 2014 pre-season, the Chiefs have the youngest starting offensive line in the league. Whether judged by experience or age, they are pro football’s baby blockers, averaging 2.6 years of experience and 23.8 years of age going into the opening game of the regular season against Tennessee. That group includes rookie right guard Zach Fulton; right now he’s one of 10 rookies that teams list as starters. None of the other nine are draft choices selected lower than the fourth round. The Chiefs picked Fulton in the sixth round of the 2014 NFL Draft.

Jacksonville, Indianapolis, Carolina, Dallas, Green Bay, Pittsburgh, Seattle – all have a majority of young blockers in the starting lineup, but none as young as the Chiefs. Third-year right tackle Donald Stephenson is the oldest player in the K.C. starting offensive line; he’s currently 25 years old and will turn 26 at the end of September. The oldest starter on the 31 other teams is at least 27 years old and there are 23 teams with a starter or starters that are 30 years or older. Among those other teams with young lines there are Super Bowl victories in recent seasons, including last year’s championship run by the Seahawks.

So this abundance of youth on the all-important line of scrimmage, is that a good thing for the 2014 Chiefs offense?

“It means I’ve got guys with fresh legs, they are hungry to learn and get better,” said offensive line coach Andy Heck. “It also means they’ve got to grow up fast.

“There are no excuses in this league. We have to get out there and do our thing and do it well.” …Read More!

Chiefs Training Camp Practice #19 – 8/12


Travis Kelce (left) and Sean Smith battle for the ball in Wednesday’s practice

KCChiefs photo

From St. Joseph, Missouri

The momentum of practices during NFL training camps ebb and flow like the daily tide washing through the harbor. One day it’s the defense that leads the way; the next day it’s the offense. Some coaches hope for that up and down because it can indicate strength on both sides of the ball. Of course, it can also mean that neither the offense nor defense is consistent or strong enough to be consistently competitive.

Throughout this year’s camp at Missouri Western State University, the back and forth has been very consistent. One practice the defense dominates, making it difficult for the running backs to find an opening or the quarterbacks to have a safe pocket to throw from. In the next practice suddenly the offense is breaking out with big plays, leaving defenders grasping at air as they run to the end zone.

“It’s a daily deal,” said quarterback Alex Smith. “There’s no question that you have a feeling of who won the day. That’s the goal, that’s the competitiveness we have in this locker room. It’s fun; it’s just daily competition going back and forth with one another. It’s great work for us.”

Wednesday morning it was the Chiefs defense that led the way. …Read More!

Riding The Roster Wave As The Clock Ticks


WR Weston Dressler (L) is trending down; DL Jaye Howard (R) is trending up

From St. Joseph, Missouri

There are 90 players currently on the Chiefs roster. There are 53 slots available for the regular season.

The math is not good for 41 percent of the men that have been sweating in the summer heat.

All of those players arrived at Missouri Western State University facing long odds when it came to making the final roster. Some improved their chances thanks to their play in St. Joe. Others have written their ticket out of town by not being able to consistently produce on the practice field. Here’s one man’s opinion on three players that have improved their chances, followed by three that have put their continued employment in jeopardy. This is based on what’s been seen so far, and with the understanding that a lot can change in the next 18 days. …Read More!

Chiefs Training Camp Practice #18 – 8/12


K.C. Chiefs photo

From St. Joseph, Missouri

It’s one of the oldest practice drills in the sport, and even in this age where throwing the football gets all the headlines, this exercise is still done by every one of the 32 NFL teams. Some do it every day.

The 9-on-7 drill features the offense with players at every position but the wide receivers. The defense traditionally has brought the front seven on the field, defensive line and linebackers. They line up across from each other, and the offense calls running plays and the defense works to stop the run game. It’s the hard and dirty work of practice, a very physical drill where players work on fundamentals, but also on their toughness.

The Chiefs have done the drill every day they’ve been in training camp at Missouri Western State University. They will do it on Wednesday and Thursday of each practice week before regular season games. Even though Andy Reid loves the passing game, he knows where games are won and lost: the line of scrimmage.

“You really get to see fundamentals big time on how you are going to stop the run,” said Reid. “Are the hands tight? Are both guys fighting for position? How’s the balance, how’s the leverage, how high are you? If you are willing to play, do you have enough counter-action in there where it holds the linebackers somewhat honest?

“And, it’s just about the overall toughness and competition against each other that I think is important.” …Read More!

The Best Players On K.C. Defense Are Linebackers


Coaches are working at getting LBs like Dee Ford (55) and James-Michael Johnson (52) into defensive schemes

From St. Joseph, Missouri

It’s a coda frequently voiced by football coaches of all eras and stripes. They chant, “We want to get our best players on the field.”

That apparently is what Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton is up to with some of the packages he has the defense working on in training camp practices at Missouri Western State University.

The Chiefs base defense is the 3-4-4 – three down linemen, four linebackers and four defensive backs. Last season, the Chiefs most often used a sub defense that was a 2-3-6, with defensive backs replacing a lineman and a linebacker.

The roster is different in 2014, and Sutton appears to be working to get as many linebackers on the field as possible in some of his sub-packages. How about a 1-5-5, and what if those five linebackers included four defenders that normally play on the edge? That’s what the Chiefs have shown in the last few practices with Tamba Hali, Justin Houston, Josh Martin and rookie Dee Ford in the huddle, along with inside linebacker Derrick Johnson.

“We call it the dog front,” Hali said of the defense that’s heavy on pass rushing linebackers. “Just a bunch of dogs going after (the quarterback) and barking.

“He’s just using the pieces like its chess, putting all his beset players out there and allowing them to do what they do best. We have five, six guys that can rush the passer.”

Sutton is operating from the idea of getting his most talented players on the field. Part of that goes in finding out the strengths of each player. …Read More!

Chiefs Training Camp Practice #17 – 8/11


On Monday Tamba Hali was busy in practice and afterwards with the fans at training camp

From St. Joseph, Missouri

His voice could be heard several times during the Chiefs practice on Monday morning, even though he was standing at the far end of the Missouri Western State University field, far from where the fans and media were watching.

It’s not the first time that Tamba Hali has been vocal during this training camp. As one of the most tenured players on the Chiefs roster, Hali has stepped forward to add his voice to the leadership by example he’s provided the defense for years.

“These are the grind days,” Hali said after the Monday practice. “At this time in camp, a lot of guys can shut it down . . . we’re talking and screaming and yelling their names, telling them to make plays just to keep their energy up. It gets them going.

“Every day I hear from the guys who say you got me through practice just by doing that.”

The entire roster has been on the field for 14 practices now, 12 of them in full pads, including Monday morning. The Chiefs have three more practices in St. Joe before they take everything back to their facility at the Truman Sports Complex just before they head to Charlotte to play the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.

This week qualifies as the so-called “dog days” of camp, where practices all start to blend together, body parts ache, and the dorm room walls start to close in. As a nine-year veteran, Hali has been there many times. He’s doing what he can to help his teammates through the fog. …Read More!

Henry Moving Up The Depth Chart


From St. Joseph, Missouri

More and more, journeyman guard Ricky Henry is getting important chances to practice with the No. 1 offensive line in training camp at Missouri Western State University.

In Sunday’s morning full pads workout, Henry first spelled Zach Fulton at right guard, and then went to left guard in place of the established starter there in Jeff Allen.

When he thinks of Henry, head coach Andy Reid doesn’t conjure up images of previous blockers that played for his teams.

“He looks like Larry the Cable Guy and plays like Larry the Cable Guy,” Reid said after practice. “He’s kind of a dirt bag type of guy. He gets in there and he’s rough and tough and scrappy and all of that.” …Read More!

Kickers Duel Remains Even; Succop Has A Sore Groin

From St. Joseph, Missouri

The competition between returning kicker Ryan Succop and rookie Cairo Santos continued Saturday. But only Santos took part.

Succop was held out of practice because of what head coach Andy Reid said was “a little bit of inflammation in his groin.” He received treatment Saturday morning and did not show up on the field until the last 15 minutes of practice.

That gave Santos the chance to do all the kicking and he took advantage of the opportunity, going nine of 10 on field goal attempts from that ranged from 33 to 54 yards.

So where does the fight stand at kicker after one round game?

“It’s even right now,” said special teams coordinator Dave Toub. “Succop might’ve shown a little bit stronger leg on the kickoffs. What we were trying to do with the kickoffs was to kick high hang times and just get those guys (Bengals) to return it. We wanted to test our kickoff coverage unit. He was hitting the ball so well, and he was hitting it sweet and the thing was really taking off.”

Sorting Out the Offensive Line Play


The play of the Chiefs offensive line was a subject of much concern as Andy Reid’s team went to training camp last month. With three new starters, including the always important left tackle spot and a very young group trying to fill the holes on the No. 1 unit. The preseason schedule promised to be very important for the integration of the offensive and thus the good health of running back Jamaal Charles and quarterback Alex Smith.

An opening game 41-39 victory over Cincinnati gave Reid and his staff a mixed bag to evaluate on Friday as the team returned to training camp at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph.

The No. 1 group saw action in the first quarter for just 10 plays that produced only 28 yards with one first down courtesy of a Bengals penalty. They could not convert a pair of third-and-two plays and Smith was sacked once, losing the ball on a fumble when he was hit by defensive end Robert Geathers. Left tackle Eric Fisher had the blocking assignment for Geathers.

But Reid was quick to provide some cover for last year’s NFL No. 1 overall draft choice.

“We should have dropped deeper on that play,” Reid said. “It was a three-step drop play and you can’t hold it forever. You have to secure the ball as a quarterback; you have to hang onto it and go somewhere else . . . I really don’t blame Eric on that particularly play.”

In fact, Reid liked how aggressively Fisher played in his first game after offseason surgery on his shoulder and a sports hernia. It’s limited the practice time for Fisher, especially in pass protection drills. …Read More!

Notes: Kicking Competition Remains Hot

From Arrowhead Stadium

The kicking game continues to be one of the most interesting and intense competitions in the Chiefs pre-season. Thursday night’s opening game against Cincinnati did little to help make a decision.

Veteran Ryan Succop and rookie Cairo Santos (right) have been matching each other kick-for-kick in training camp practices. They did the same against the Bengals:

  • Succop kicked a 27-yard field goal and made all three of his PAT kicks.
  • Santos had a 28-yard FG and made two PAT kicks.

The only difference between the two was on kickoffs and that turned out to be a question of coaching. Succop kicked off four times, three were touchbacks and the fourth landed four yards deep and was brought out. Santos kicked off four times, with one touchback, another kick into the end zone, one to the goal line and his first came down at the 4-yard line.

“We were trying to get where guys were returning the ball,” said head coach Andy Reid. “I mean this sounds crazy, but this is the pre-season so we were trying to get where we could get some returns so we could work on that part of it.

“They just traded kicks back and forth and I thought both of them kicked it well. I joke about that. It’s like watching the World Cup . . . it seems to end in a tie every day.”

More from the special teams

Punter Dustin Colquitt only kicked twice, but one of those was a 71-yard punt that went out of bounds at the Bengals seven-yard line . . . rookie Albert Wilson had a 65-yard kickoff return, and overall the Chiefs had five returns for an average of 30.8 yards . . . there were three punt returns for 97 yards, and De’Anthony Thomas’ 80-yard return . . . the kickoff coverage unit gave up an average of 28.3 yards on four returns.

From the defense

The Chiefs had a pair of sacks, one from inside linebacker Joe Mays and the other from defensive end Jaye Howard . . . they had five quarterback hurries, two from first-round draft choice Dee Ford . . . inside linebacker James-Michael Johnson was credited with eight tackles to lead the K.C. defense.

The Injury Report

Coming out of the game, Reid said there were two injuries: wide receiver Albert Wilson has an ankle sprain and defensive lineman Kona Schwenke a shoulder strain.

He also updated the status of defensive end Mike DeVito. “He actually broke a finger in his (left) hand,” Reid said. “It should be OK. We should be able to splint it up and he should be able to work here in the next couple days. For this game, it wasn’t going to work.”

There were nine other players that did not play in the game because of their continuing injuries and medical conditions: wide receiver A.J. Jenkins (hamstring), wide receiver Mark Harrison (hamstring), running back Joe McKnight (knee), wide receiver Junior Hemingway (hamstring), strong safety Eric Berry (heel), safety Sanders Commings (ankle surgery), outside linebacker Dezman Moses (elbow), defensive end Mike Catapano (illness) and defensive tackle Kyle Love (ankle).

The zebras need pre-season too

There were 16 penalties walked off by referee Clete Blakeman and his crew, with seven of those against the Chiefs. The officials threw 11 flags for violations by the Chiefs with three declined and one offsetting.

As expected, the new emphasis on keeping defenders from contacting and restricting wide receivers beyond the five-yard zone at the line of scrimmage made for a busy night against the Chiefs defense. All six flags thrown against Reid’s defense were for holding, illegal use of hands and illegal contact. Cornerbacks Ron Parker and DeMarcus Van Dyke were hit twice each for calls, as were cornerback Sean Smith and defensive end Jaye Howard, who was called for holding a running back trying to get free on a planned screen pass.

“We knew coming in that they were going to make those calls and it’s good for our defense, the corners to see that, to see what they can get away with and see what they can’t,” said Reid. “You get it all figured out in the pre-season as they see the points of emphasis this year.”

The Little Man Says Hello To Arrowhead


From Arrowhead Stadium

There are still moments when De’Anthony Thomas comes out of the offensive huddle and lines up in the wrong place.

But even in the wrong place, he’s still fast.

Sometimes Thomas does not quite run pass routes the way Andy Reid wants them done in his offense.

But even if he’s not quite on top of the routes, he’s still fast.

And, he’s tough little man. Thursday night in the pre-season opener Thomas introduced himself to the Chiefs Nation with an 80-yard punt return touchdown that helped turn the momentum of the game in favor of the Chiefs. It set up what was finally a 41-39 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.

He scored even though the moment he caught the punt, he was hit by Bengals cover man Dre Kirkpatrick.

“I don’t really remember that,” said Thomas of Kirkpatrick running into him. “I was concentrating on making sure I secured the ball and then I just started running.”

One of the advantages of being 5-9, 170 pounds is a low-center of gravity that can absorb contact, but not get knocked over because he stands lower to the ground. Once he bounced off Kirkpatrick, no other Cincinnati player touched him as he ran past and through everyone for the score.

“It was a pretty amazing play right at the catch,” said Reid. “Then, he’s pretty fast. If he gets out there, there are not going to be a whole lot of guys that can catch him. He can scoot pretty good.”

During training camp in St. Joseph, Thomas has left observers with impressions of what he can do on the football field. He’s still just a rookie and sometimes the load of information that’s required in the Reid offense forces him to slow down. But once the ball is in his hands, whether as runner, receiver or returner, it’s a big play waiting to happen.

“He does it every day,” said quarterback Alex Smith. “He kind of only knows one speed. We all kind of joke about that. Even in a walkthrough he’s moving at 100 miles per hour. He’s the type of player that whenever he touches the ball, everyone’s holding their breath.

“I know I was screaming ‘fair catch’ on the sidelines. Then it was like ‘Oh, OK’.”

There were 56 seconds to play in the first quarter and the Chiefs trailed 10-3. After giving up a pair of first downs, the defense finally slowed the Cincinnati offense. With a fourth-and-16 situation at its 37-yard line, Kevin Huber’s punt hung in the air as Thomas circled under it at the 20-yard line.

From that moment came a return to remember. On the night, Thomas had the 80-yard punt return, a 35-yard kickoff return and three yards on a running play. He was not targeted in the passing game. That’s three touches, 118 yards and a touchdown.

“This is one game, the first game and there are a lot more games to play,” Thomas said. “I’m just trying to contribute on special teams and the offense.”

Chiefs Ride Point-Explosion To An Opening Victory


From Arrowhead Stadium

Not since the most legendary pre-season in franchise history have the Chiefs been part of game that twirled the scoreboard knobs as often as what happened Thursday night at Arrowhead Stadium.

Chiefs 41, Bengals 39, as Andy Reid’s team won its pre-season opener.

Those 80 points were the most scored in an exhibition game involving the Chiefs since August 23, 1967. That night at Municipal Stadium the Chicago Bears fell to Hank Stram’s defending AFL champions in a game that totaled 90 points – a 66-24 Kansas City victory.

After two weeks in St. Joseph, the Chiefs returned to Kansas City ready to work against some new faces. It was not a perfect effort and there will be a lot of instruction in the tape rooms and on the practice field next week involving some of the mistakes made against the Bengals. But they overcame those with an explosion of points that featured touchdowns from all three phases, including a big introduction to Arrowhead for rookie De’Anthony Thomas. His 80-yard punt-return touchdown late in the first quarter electrified the crowd.

“We had some good plays, offensively, defensively and special teams from young guys that will contribute this year and help us out,” said head coach Andy Reid. “That was a positive . . . there are a lot of good things and there are some things we need some work on. That’s why we’re doing the pre-season.”

Reid’s defense added a pair of touchdowns on interception returns by cornerback Sean Smith and safety Malcolm Bronson. The offense had two touchdowns as well, including a 69-yard catch and run by tight end Travis Kelce where he showed speed even his teammates had not seen before Thursday night.

Alex Smith and the starting lineup had just a quarter of play and they were not very impressive, putting up no touchdowns and only 28 yards on 10 plays. Failing to convert a pair of third-and-two situations pushed them off the field. Before connecting with Kelce for the long touchdown play, No. 2 quarterback Chase Daniel threw an interception that was returned by Bengals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick for a touchdown.

“This is certainly a teaching tool for everybody,” said Smith. “No matter where you are on the depth chart, certainly we’ll look at this and we have a lot to improve on. Couldn’t convert on the third-and-one, couldn’t convert on third-and-two. You put yourself in good situations and as an offense that’s what you want to be. You have to be able to execute there.”

The touchdown returns helped the defense make up for the 376 offensive yards they allowed Cincinnati, including 180 rushing yards at 5.6 yards per carry. The Bengals No. 1 units were on the field and off so fast, they hardly worked up a sweat. Starting quarterback Andy Dalton was in for eight plays before exiting. One reason for his short stay was a No. 1 offense line that was missing three starters.

It was a 53-yard completion from Dalton to wide receiver A.J. Green that set up the first score of the game, a 30-yard field goal by Cincinnati kicker Mike Nugent. On the next Chiefs possession, defensive end Robert Geathers hit Smith from behind forcing a fumble and it was recovered by teammate Carlos Dunlap at the Chiefs 16-yard line. Geathers beat left tackle Eric Fisher on the pass rush.

With Dalton already out of the game, backup Jason Campbell moved the offense in three plays for a touchdown, hitting wide receiver Brandon Tate on a nine-yard touchdown pass. Tate beat cornerback Ron Parker off the line of scrimmage for the score. The PAT kick gave Cincinnati a 10-0 lead.

The Chiefs needed a spark and they got one from rookie Albert Wilson. He took the ensuing kickoff and rang up a 65-yard return and with 15 yards added on a personal foul penalty against the Bengals that gave Smith and the offense a drive start at the Cincinnati 25-yard line. But five plays later forward movement stalled and Ryan Succop kicked a 27-yard field goal and the Chiefs trailed by seven points.

The defense forced a Bengals punt and that brought a second explosion from the K.C. special teams. Thomas caught the 43-yard punt at the Chiefs 20-yard line, was hit immediately by Kirkpatrick and then took off like a shot. Nobody else touched him as he roared 80 yards for a touchdown. The PAT kick tied the scoreboard at 10-10 with 38 seconds left to play in the first quarter.

And, before the period ended, the Chiefs led 17-10 when Smith intercepted a Campbell pass intended for wide receiver Cobi Hamilton and returned it 36 yards for a pick-six touchdown. The first quarter fell away with the Chiefs holding a 17-10 lead.

The second quarter was just as fast and furious as the first. The Bengals tied the score when Kirkpatrick grabbed an overthrown Daniel pass and returned it 40 yards for Cincinnati’s own pick-six. That tied it up at 17-17.

Rookie Cairo Santos hit a 28-yard field goal and again the Chiefs held the lead. But the Bengals put together a nine-play, 81-yard drive that finished up with Campbell connecting on an 26-yard touchdown pass with wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher. The PAT kick gave Cincinnati a 24-20 lead with just under two minutes to play in the half.

It was a lead that did not last long. Daniel got a first down for the offense, but with 30 seconds to play, faced a 2nd-and-10 play at his own 31-yard line. With good protection, Daniel found Kelce open across the middle and the second-year tight end out ran the Cincinnati defense, scoring on a 69-yard touchdown play that gave the Chiefs a 27-24 lead that they did not relinquish over the rest of the night.

The defense made sure of that early in the second half when Bronson grabbed a Campbell pass and returned it 51 yards for the second Chiefs defensive touchdown of the night and a 34-24 lead.

A fumble by quarterback Tyler Bray as he was being sacked was recovered by the Bengals and early in the fourth quarter they added another touchdown on a nine-yard throw from third quarterback Matt Scott to wide receiver James Wright. The Chiefs offense tacked on another score, with running back Cyrus Gray scoring on a two-yard run.

That proved to be a big score, as the Bengals had eight more points coming, as Scott hit wide receiver Conner Vernon for a 12-yard touchdown pass. Scott then ran for two points and the Chiefs lead was cut to two points, 41-39.

With less than a minute to go, the Chiefs went to the victory formation after recovering an on-side kick and what was left of the Arrowhead crowd went home happy to enjoy such an unexpected evening of points and a victory.

Chiefs Kickoff Pre-Season Against The Bengals

The last time the Chiefs walked off the field of competition was early January and they limped to the locker room at Lucas Oil Stadium stunned by what had just happened.

A 28-point lead over Indianapolis with 28 minutes to play melted away from the heat coming off the right arm of Colts quarterback Andrew Luck. The 2013 season was over in a 45-44 loss.

The 2014 season begins Thursday night when the Chiefs hosting the Cincinnati Bengals at Arrowhead Stadium. Kickoff is 7 p.m. There are plenty of good seats available.

Nothing is forgotten quite as quickly as the NFL pre-season. Who can remember the outcome when the Andy Reid Era opened a year ago in New Orleans with a game against the Saints? The Chiefs lost 17-13.

Almost six months later, the Chiefs scored 44 points and still lost, in a game that had far more meaning then that first outing in New Orleans. The table has a much different setting in August 2014 than it did a year ago. The skills of Reid and his coaching staff showed themselves last season. Same with some of the players on the Chiefs roster.

Points of attention for Chiefs vs. Bengals

But that January afternoon in Indianapolis was evidence enough that there was still a lot of work that needed to be done before the Chiefs can be considered a legitimate Super Bowl contender. That makes every opportunity they have to step on the field of play important in the big scheme of things.

Even if it’s the first game of the pre-season. …Read More!

Points of Attention For Chiefs vs. Bengals

1

Pass protection for all four quarterbacks

The Chiefs offensive line, first, second and third teams, remain far from well-oiled blocking machines. The starters have been inconsistent, and the backups, even those with NFL experience are not challenging the No. 1 guys for playing time. Center Rodney Hudson and rookie guard Zach Fulton have been camp’s best performers – everyone else in the mix must be much more consistent. That starts against Cincinnati.

2

Covering cornerbacks

The Chiefs secondary remains a position group in flux and every pre-season game will provide an opportunity for evaluation of the talent. Marcus Cooper, Ron Parker, Sean Smith, Chris Owens, Phillip Gaines, DeMarcus Van Dyke and others all have flashed at various times during training camp. Consistency has been lacking. The first guys that show the coaching staff they can be counted on will probably get the starting jobs.

3

Bray & Murray, or is it Murray and Bray?

If Reid slices up the quarterback snaps the way it’s gone during practice, Tyler Bray will get the third quarter and Andy Murray the fourth. Neither one will get snaps with offensive first teamers, so it’s any guess as to how this will play out against the Bengals. There are decisions that must be made at the position and Bray and Murray need every opportunity to show they desire a roster spot.

4

The most competitive position on the team: kicker.

Special teams coordinator Dave Toub did not reveal how he plans to split the kicking work load for this game, but for the first time in several years, watching the kickers closely will be important in the pre-season. Rookie Cairo Santos has matched veteran Ryan Succop kick for kick, not only on field goals but kickoffs. Plus, Santos seems to have about five to 10 yards more on every kick. All that has come on practice fields with a few hundred people watching and nobody trying to block the kick. That changes for Santos Thursday night.

5.

Adjusting to rules changes

Contact between defenders and receivers is going to be watched very closely by the officials this season and that will be a point of emphasis even in the games where the outcome matters not. It’s a big factor for the Chiefs because they like to play so much press, man-to-man coverage. They like to get their hands on receivers, and in practice they are prone to holding on too long. Can they stop that habit in the games?

AFC West 2014 Analysis – Kicker

A half-dozen NFL personnel sources helped us with evaluations of the personnel for AFC West teams going into the 2014 season. We are keeping score to decide the most talented team in the division (on paper). The club with the fewest points will be considered the best, as points match the ratings; example, the No. 3 spot means 3 points.

AFC WEST SCOREBOARD (thru K) –Broncos 85, Chiefs 94, Chargers 95, Raiders 96.

Kicker

1. Matt Prater, Denver

5-10, 195 pounds, born 8/10/1984, 8th NFL season, entered the league as an undrafted rookie free agent in ’07 by the Falcons out of the University of Central Florida. He kicked two games in Atlanta, before he was released and signed later that season by the Broncos where he’s kicked since. In 100 games, Prater has made 142 of 174 FG attempts, 81.6 percent.

Prater benefits from the high altitude of Denver and that’s especially noticeable on his kickoffs, as he finished with 81 touchbacks last season with his kickoffs going an average of 71 yards. That’s an impressive tool for the Broncos each week. Last year, he made 25 of 26 attempts, 96.2 percent the best FG average in the league. His only miss was from 52 yards and he established a new NFL record for longest FG when he hit from 64 yards against Tennessee. …Read More!

Crowded Field At Wide Receiver Needs Clarity


Rookies Albert Wilson (8) and De’Anthony Thomas (1) have been making big impressions among the receivers in training camp

The meeting room the wide receivers use at Missouri Western State University has been crowded since the first day of training camp. Very crowded.

As the Chiefs get ready to kick off the 2014 pre-season on Thursday night they have 13 wide receivers on their 90-man roster. No other team in the AFC has as many pass catchers. Seven of those 13 are rookies or first-year players; only Pittsburgh and Jacksonville can match that number when it comes to inexperienced receivers.

Will Andy Reid and his offensive coaching staff have enough plays in practice and four pre-season games to accurately evaluate which five or six receivers will be on the 53-man roster for the regular-season opener?

Reid says the players will sort themselves out before the first weekend in September.

“Yes, as time goes on they will,” said Reid. “You’re seeing it right now. One day it’s one, and then another one shows up. That’s how it works and then you go with who we feel are the best players.

“Just keep playing them. We give them as many reps as we can. Everybody is going to play once we get to the first pre-season game. We’ll evaluate them and play the best guys.” …Read More!

AFC West 2014 Analysis – Punter

A half-dozen NFL personnel sources helped us with evaluations of the personnel for AFC West teams going into the 2014 season. We are keeping score to decide the most talented team in the division (on paper). The club with the fewest points will be considered the best, as points match the ratings; example, the No. 3 spot means 3 points.

AFC WEST SCOREBOARD (thru P) – Broncos 84, Chiefs & Chargers 91, Raiders 94.

Punter

1. Dustin Colquitt, Chiefs

6-3, 210 pounds, born 5/6/1982, 10th NFL season, selected in 3rd-round (#99) of the ’05 NFL Draft by the Chiefs out of the University of Tennessee. Colquitt has punted in 142 regular season games, kicking 744 times for an average of 44.9 yards. He’s had five punts blocked and has a career high punt of 81 yards.

Few punters in the NFL are as versatile as Colquitt, who is equally at home bombing a punt for distance and hang-time, as he is kicking the ball out of bounds in the directional game. He’s been very consistent over the last three seasons, averaging 45.9, 46.8 and 46 yards per punt. In the ’13 regular season he punted 87 times, with 38 of those punts returned by the opponent for an average of just 6.5 yards. Colquitt had one kick blocked and 35 punts inside the 20-yard line with a 40-yard net average. …Read More!

Chiefs Training Camp Practice #14 – 8/4

From St. Joseph, Missouri

Another rookie was the star of the day for the Chiefs practice Monday morning at Missouri Western State University.

Safety Daniel Sorensen seemed to be everywhere as he worked with the Chiefs defense, most of that time with the No. 2 unit, but sometimes finding snaps with the No. 1 guys.

It’s a continuation of what the 6-2, 208-pound product of Brigham Young University has been doing since he was signed after the NFL Draft back in May.

“He did have a good day today,” said head coach Andy Reid. “He had a lot of (pass) break ups and a pick or two. He’s playing good football.”

(Photo right: that’s Sorensen (49) grabbing his first interception of the day covering tight end Demetrius Harris (47).

Reid has always professed his interest in Sorensen, since he’s from his alma mater. But the Utah native has shown throughout camp that he’s able to adapt and learn very quickly in coordinator Bob Sutton’s defensive scheme.

“He’s making progress as we go,” Reid said of Sorensen. “The thing you see with the young guys, the rookies, is you start putting days together. It’s not just one practice, its two, then three practices.” …Read More!

Bengals Do Lengthy Deal With QB Andy Dalton


From St. Joseph, Missouri

The Cincinnati Bengals have agreed to terms with quarterback Andy Dalton on a contract extension. It’s a six-year, $96 million package with the chance for that total payout to jump even higher if Dalton and the Bengals have post-season success.

The agreement leaves one starting quarterback in the league with a first name that starts with A looking for a contract extension or new deal: the Chiefs Alex Smith.

It was the first question Smith was asked when he met with the media horde after Monday morning’s practice.

“To be honest, I had no idea they were even talking or that was happening,” said Smith. “I found out walking off the field, just to give me a heads up because I’d probably get asked it. Other than that, I’ve got nothing for you.”

The deal between the Bengals and Dalton will bring the young quarterback $18 million this year in salary and bonuses and $25 million over the first two years. Almost every penny of that is guaranteed. It’s an average of $16 million per, but would rise to $19 million per year with escalators involving Dalton’s playing time and the team’s success in the playoffs.

Dalton is in his fourth season, and this is the last year of his original rookie contract with the Bengals. The 30-year old Smith is in his 10th season of play. This year is also the last year of a contract he signed while with the 49ers. …Read More!

Chiefs Cut Two, Add One

From St. Joseph, Missouri

The Chiefs cut two players on Sunday that never reached the practice field in training camp and added a defensive lineman.

Rookie cornerback David Van Dyke was released after he finally passed the team’s physical. Van Dyke has been on the sidelines since June when he suffered a

James Baker, a rookie running back was released from the reserve/did not report list. Baker took part in all the off-season work, but did not return for training camp.

The newest face on the Chiefs roster is defensive tackle Jairus Campbell out of Bowling Green University in Ohio. At 6-4, 310 pounds, Campbell was not selected in the 2014 NFL Draft but signed on May 11th with the Baltimore Ravens. He was subsequently released. The 23-year old Ohio native played in 41 games in college, with 82 total tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss and two sacks, along with a pair of forced fumbles.

Campbell missed most of the 2012 season with a severe Lisfranc injury that required surgery and screws implanted in his left foot.

The Chiefs were in need of bodies on the defensive line as they had only seven on the practice field on Sunday, as defensive tackles Jermelle Cudjo (hamstring) and Kyle Love (ankle) joined Mike Catapano (illness) out of action. The only available defensive tackles were Dontari Poe and Jaye Howard.

Chiefs Training Camp Practice #13 – 8/3

From St. Joseph, Missouri

It was a soggy Sunday morning at Missouri Western State University, as thunderstorms forced the Chiefs to move practice inside, there first full pads, indoor workout of this training camp.

And the change in venue didn’t alter what was on the practice plan for the team’s 13th practice. “No, this was going to be our style today,” said offensive coordinator Doug Peterson of what went down during the two-hour and 30-minute session.

But the new wrinkle came from defensive coordinator Bob Sutton. He unveiled a new scheme during Sunday’s practice, a 1-5-5; that was one defensive lineman, nose tackle Dontari Poe and five – that’s right five – linebackers. On Sunday, that group was starters Tamba Hali, Derrick Johnson and Justin Houston, and they were joined by outside linebackers Dee Ford and Josh Martin.

Certainly, that’s a lot of pass rush firepower, as those six players upfront are the best on the Chiefs roster at putting pressure on the quarterback.

“That’s a lot more speed out there at one time,” said Houston. “It’s going to put a lot of pressure on the quarterback.” …Read More!

AFC West 2014 Analysis – Free Safety

A half-dozen NFL personnel sources helped us with evaluations of the personnel for AFC West teams going into the 2014 season. We are keeping score to decide the most talented team in the division (on paper). The club with the fewest points will be considered the best, as points match the ratings; example, the No. 3 spot means 3 points.

AFC WEST SCOREBOARD (thru FS) –Broncos 77, Chargers 81, Raiders 85, Chiefs 87.

Free Safety

1. Eric Weddle, San Diego

5-11, 200 pounds, born 1/4/1985, 8th NFL season, selected in the 2nd-round (#37) by the Chargers in the ’07 NFL Draft out of the University of Utah. Weddle has played 108 games in San Diego, starting 93 times. He has 18 career interceptions and three that he returned for TDs. He has six sacks, five recovered fumbles including one he ran back 86 yards for a TD. He’s been credited with 658 total tackles.

Weddle is coming off the second Pro Bowl season of his career. He has established himself as the heart of the Chargers defense and very definitely the leader of the group. Last year he did not miss a defensive snap in the 18 games played in the regular and post-seasons. That was 1,017 plays where he contributed two interceptions, one sack and 103 total tackles. Weddle was targeted 57 times by opposing passers, as they completed 40 for an average of 9.4 yards. He did not give up a touchdown pass. …Read More!

Chiefs Training Camp Practice #12 – 8/2

From St. Joseph, Missouri

He’s the smallest player on the roster, as long as rookie kicker Cairo Santos isn’t included. Running back/ wide receiver/ returner De’Anthony Thomas is 5-9, 170 pounds.

But he gets bigger and bigger in the Chiefs plans as each training camp practice rolls on at Missouri Western State University.

Thomas was the star of Saturday morning’s practice, showing off his speed in many different ways, whether it was taking a pitch from the quarterback on an option-type play and breaking the edge of the defense, or going up the middle of the offensive line and wiggling past the linebackers, or getting a step on coverage from defensive backs and hauling in passes.

He even broke up an interception in the end zone, when free safety Husain Abdullah had the throw in his hands, but Thomas was able to reach in and got the ball out and on the ground.

The fifth-round draft choice from the University of Oregon has drawn the respect of his defensive teammates. …Read More!

Gregory Trying To Catch Up With Chiefs Defense

From St. Joseph, Missouri

On Wednesday, Steve Gregory was at home in Syracuse, New York, enjoying time with his five-week old daughter Aviana.

On Thursday he was on a plane to Kansas City.

On Friday, he was on the field for practice at Missouri Western State University. Gregory was scrambling to digest and sort through the defensive playbook he was handed by defensive coordinator Bob Sutton.

“He’s been in a lot of different systems,” Sutton said of Gregory. “The biggest transition will be his terminology. What he might’ve been used to calling apples, we call oranges, so that’s going to be his first transition. He’s probably familiar with everything that we’ve done. He’s got to work on terminology and getting his feet under him.

“I know his background and I know it’s a good one. He’ll be fine.” …Read More!

Another Kicking Duel Highlights Friday Practice

From St. Joseph, Missouri

A good one-on-one duel in the sporting world requires several elements. First, the participants must have similar standards of talent. Second, there’s a lot of back and forth, with the competitive edge constantly in flux.

And third, there has to be something on the line, some sort of prize desired by the parties involved in the duel.

Well folks, we have a real competition going on for the job of kicker for the 2014 Chiefs. Veteran Ryan Succop and rookie Cairo Santos were both kicking on Friday morning at practice. At one point while the rest of the team was on the west field, the kickers were on the east field going through 12 field goal attempts each.

After Monday’s practice, they were pretty even, but Succop gained a slight edge from the kicking that went on in Wednesday’s workout. Friday it was Santos that stepped forward and pushed the competition back to even.

“It’s a real battle,” said special teams coordinator Dave Toub. “The pre-season games are going to tell us a lot.”

In more than a week of training camp, Santos has proven that he has the stronger leg of the two kickers; every one of his field goal attempts was a good 10 yards longer at the finish than Succop. …Read More!

Injuries Force Chiefs To Add Veteran Safety

The injury bug that has bitten the Chiefs secondary in training camp practices forced the team back to the street to find an acceptable body to jump in at safety.

Nine-year NFL veteran Steve Gregory was signed on Thursday, after Eric Berry suffered an ankle injury and Sanders Commings underwent surgery on his ankle.

Gregory, 5-10½, 185 pounds has played in 111 games with 54 starts for San Diego and New England. He spent the last two seasons with the Patriots, appearing in 26 games with 23 starts. The New York native entered the NFL with the Chargers as an undrafted free agent out of Syracuse University in 2006.

Over his career, Gregory has 357 total tackles, three sacks, seven interceptions with a touchdown return and two forced fumbles. He played eight games against the Chiefs, picking up 33 total tackles, one sack and one interception. He was released on February 28th by the Patriots in what was largely a salary-cap cut.

To create room for Gregory the Chiefs released rookie inside linebacker Ben Johnson.

AFC West 2014 Analysis – Third Cornerback

A half-dozen NFL personnel sources helped us with evaluations of the personnel for AFC West teams going into the 2014 season. We are keeping score to decide the most talented team in the division (on paper). The club with the fewest points will be considered the best, as points match the ratings; example, the No. 3 spot means 3 points.

AFC WEST SCOREBOARD (thru 3CB) –Broncos 73, Chargers 80, Raiders 83, Chiefs 84.

Third Cornerback

1. Chris Harris, Denver

5-10, 190 pounds, born 6/18/1989, 3rd-NFL season, signed by the Broncos as an undrafted free agent in ’11 out of the University of Kansas. In three seasons, he’s played in 47 games with 31 starts at both left and right cornerback. Harris has seven interceptions, including two that he returned for TDs, along with 203 total tackles and 2.5 sacks.

Harris has just begun to be able to practice as he’s recovering from ACL surgery from back in February; he was injured in Denver’s first game in the post-season against San Diego. He’s been cleared for light practice work and says he’ll be cleared to play by the end of the Broncos pre-season schedule. The question is whether he’ll return to the starting lineup, where he opened 16 of the 17 games he played last year at either left cornerback or slot corner. He did start one game at right cornerback. Overall, he saw 1,086 defensive snaps, was targeted by opposing passers 92 times, and they completed 52 for an average of 10.9 yards a completion. He allowed only one touchdown pass, grabbed three interceptions and posted 65 total tackles. …Read More!

Chiefs Training Camp Practice #10 – 7/31


KC Chiefs photo

Darryl Surgent (#14) is about to make the best catch of Thursday’s practice.

From St. Joseph, Missouri

Andy Reid had his Chiefs offense working in the red zone during a three-hour practice on Thursday morning at Missouri Western State University.

“I thought there were some good things on both sides,” Reid said after practice. “It kind of traded back and forth. We did all ones vs. ones, twos vs. twos, threes vs. threes. Overall there were some good things and there are some things we need to work on for both sides.”

Last season, the Chiefs finished No. 8 in the league in scoring touchdowns during possessions in the red zone/inside the opponent’s 20-yard line. They had 57 chances and scored 33 touchdowns, or 57.9 percent of the time.

However, they finished No. 31 in the league in total scoring off red zone possessions. Along with 33 touchdowns came 13 field goals, of 46 of the 57 opportunities or 80.7 percent. That was better than only the Jacksonville offense.

The 11 trips inside the 20 produced included two fumbles lost, two interceptions, a missed field goal (34 yards), three times they lost possession on downs and there were three times when the half or game ended. …Read More!

AFC West 2014 Analysis – Right Cornerback

A half-dozen NFL personnel sources helped us with evaluations of the personnel for AFC West teams going into the 2014 season. We are keeping score to decide the most talented team in the division (on paper). The club with the fewest points will be considered the best, as points match the ratings; example, the No. 3 spot means 3 points.

AFC WEST SCOREBOARD (thru RCB) –Broncos 72, Chargers 76, Raiders 80, Chiefs 82.

Right Cornerback

1. Carlos Rogers, Oakland

6-0, 192 pounds, born 7/2/1981, 10th-NFL season, 1st-season with the Raiders, who signed him as a street free agent from the 49ers. Rogers was selected in the 1st-round (#9) of the ’05 NFL Draft by the Redskins out of Auburn University. He played six seasons with Washington and the last three with San Francisco, where he signed as a free agent in ’11. He’s played 126 games with 116 starts, collecting 17 interceptions, including two he returned for touchdowns, 445 total tackles, one sack and four forced fumbles.

Rogers has played both left and right cornerback, and earned Pro Bowl honors in ’11 on the left side in his first season with the Niners. Last year he played in 17 regular and post-season games, starting all but the NFC title game against Seattle. He had 1,091 defensive snaps and opponents targeted him 98 times, completing 59 passes for an average gain of 12.3 yards. He allowed three touchdown passes, while he grabbed a pair of interceptions and 50 total tackles. …Read More!

Camp Notes: Physical Play Continues To Increase


KC Chiefs photo

From St. Joseph, Missouri

Andy Reid is old school when it comes to what he wants to see from his players during training camp.

That’s why contrary to the recent trend in the league where head coaches eliminate contact in camp, Reid encourages physical play. He does not call for full-speed, game-like intensity. But he wants players running into each other because football is a collision sport and how better to prepare for banging bodies than to do it on the practice field.

More than a few Chiefs fans held their breath Wednesday morning when All-Pro running back Jamaal Charles went down under a pile of bodies on a running play. The early part of that play is pictured above.

“It’s a physical game and we’ve got to get Jamaal ready to play and he’s got to understand that he’s going to get hit in a lot of these live periods,” said offensive coordinator Doug Pederson. “We don’t keep him in there very long. As coaches we’re smart about that. You’ve got to get them ready to go because this first pre-season game he’s going to get hit.” …Read More!

Tyler Bray Is Showing His Improvement

From St. Joseph, Missouri

The best quarterback on the field was not the starter, the No. 1 backup or the draft choice. It was the second-year undrafted free agent that had a very nice performance on Wednesday morning at Missouri Western State University.

Tyler Bray had his best practice of his week on campus, and that’s saying something because he’s had good sessions before.

But Bray did the little things on Wednesday, things that he couldn’t have fathomed doing last year in his rookie season out of the University of Tennessee.

“I’m a lot more comfortable,” Bray said in comparison to last year’s camp. “You’ve just got to feel it. You have to know your reads and know where everyone’s coming from.”

There is some much nuance to playing the quarterback position at its highest level of competition. Eventually, a quarterback learns the important pieces of his profession, or he ends up selling insurance. There’s never been any doubt about Bray’s physical tools, especially his arm which is the strongest of the four quarterbacks on the roster.

Case in point: the Chiefs were working a lot of goal-line offense in Wednesday’s practice. The action was about as full speed as it can be without all-out hitting like a game. Bray and some backups on offense were facing the Chiefs No. 1 defense. On the play, Bray faked a handoff to the running back and then moved to his left. Defenders had problem locating the ball, because Bray had it on his hip and away from defensive eyes. He pulled it off his hip at the last instant and flipped the ball to tight end Richard Gordon, who was wide open. …Read More!

Chiefs Training Camp Practice #9 – 7/30


From St. Joseph, Missouri

After their day off, the Chiefs got back to practice on Wednesday morning. They also got back some of their injured players.

Right tackle Donald Stephenson, center Eric Kush and safety Sanders Commings joined their teammates in full pads after missing previous practices because of various ankle and foot injuries.

Stephenson had his left ankle rolled up on in Saturday’s practice and missed the workouts on Sunday and Monday. But that does not mean he wasn’t sweating.

“I know my team needs me, so I did double treatment to get back on the field,” Stephenson said. “I got back faster than I thought I would and I’m proud of it.”

Sadly, Commings first practice time of camp was cut short because of a right ankle injury he suffered on the field. He has missed the first five practices because a foot problem he suffered in the days before reporting to Missouri Western State University. It was last year in the second day of camp that he suffered a broken collarbone that kept him out of all but two games during his rookie season.

The practice featured goal line and short yardage offense and defense, along with field goal and kickoff work. The offense, particularly the No. 1 unit, had more apparent busted plays and assignment problems than in any practice so far. Several of quarterback Alex Smith’s passes were thrown to areas downfield where there were no receivers. One was thrown downfield to the right side where running back Jamaal Charles and wide receiver Frankie Hammond were running deep routes. Smith’s throw landed between the two receivers, who did not seem to know the ball was coming. …Read More!

Notes From A Day-Off At Camp Andy


From St. Joseph, Missouri

The Chiefs players have a day off on Tuesday, with no practice, no walkthrough, no lifting and conditioning.

The mini-vacation does not come because Andy Reid wanted to reward his players or was worried about their physical and mental health. In fact, the head coach had nothing to do with the off-day.

It comes courtesy of the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement between owners and players. The contract reads that in camp the players must get a day of rest every five days of practice. The Chiefs worked on the field Thursday-Friday-Saturday-Sunday-Monday, so they were due down time.

Of course it’s not really a day off for 90 percent of the roster. They will remain on campus at Missouri Western State University, where they will sleep, get treatment for bumps and bruises, maybe watch some practice tape and possibly get out and see a bit of St. Joe. I doubt they’ll be at the Pony Express Museum, but more likely they’ll be at the mall or shopping center, maybe at the grocery store, stocking the room for another week.

Here’s what makes training camp such an important physical-psychological laboratory. The flow of training camp naturally goes in an up-and-down motion. Decision makers like general managers and coaches make assessments every day on how the players handle themselves. The first-week All-Pro at training camp can disappear by the third-week of practice. A rookie that jumps to the front in the early sessions can end up at the back of the line long before decisions are made on roster spots. …Read More!

AFC West 2014 Analysis – Inside Linebacker

A half-dozen NFL personnel sources helped us with evaluations of the personnel for AFC West teams going into the 2014 season. We are keeping score to decide the most talented team in the division (on paper). The club with the fewest points will be considered the best, as points match the ratings; example, the No. 3 spot means 3 points.

AFC WEST SCOREBOARD (thru ILB) –Broncos 64, Chargers 68, Raiders 73, Chiefs 75.

Inside Linebacker

1. Derrick Johnson, Chiefs

6-3, 240 pounds, born 11/22/1982, 10th NFL season, selected in the 1st-round (#15) of the ’05 NFL Draft by the Chiefs out of the University of Texas. Over his 137-game career, Johnson started 124 times, posting 981 total tackles, with 22.5 sacks, 11 interceptions and 19 forced fumbles.

Johnson had a solid season ’13, earning another trip to the Pro Bowl with his consistent play in all three areas: run defense, pass rush and pass coverage. He finished the season with four sacks and 19 other plays involving the quarterback. He had 107 total tackles, 4.5 sacks and two interceptions. In pass coverage he was targeted 59 times, giving up 41 completions for an average gain of 10.5 yards. But the great ability that Johnson showed last year was his availability. He played 16 of the 17 games, held out of the regular season finale in San Diego with the other veterans. During the regular season he had 1,105 defensive snaps, missing only 29 plays in the 15 regular-season games that he was on the field. …Read More!

The Most Competitive Position On K.C. Roster – Kicker

From St. Joseph, Missouri

They are only on the field and the focus of attention for a few minutes during a Chiefs training camp workout.

But after five practices kickers Ryan Succop and Cairo Santos are putting on the most competitive battle for a roster spot at Missouri Western State University. Each one has tried 17 field goals, ranging from 30 yards to just over 50 yarders. So far here’s how they breakdown:

  • Santos – he’s made 16 of 17, including all five that he kicked Monday morning.
  • Succop – he’s also made 16 of 17, including all five of his Monday kicks.

They have kicked field goals three different times in five practices; on Thursday, Saturday and Monday. Both were 6-for-6 on Thursday, 5-of-6 on Saturday and then 5-for-5.

“They are challenging each other,” said Chiefs head coach Andy Reid. “Both of them are good kickers. Today was a tie. I told them it was like the World Cup. We practiced for an hour and they were tied.” …Read More!

Chiefs Training Camp Practice #8 – 7/28


Demetrius Harris is set to catch a pass in Monday’s Chiefs practice

From St. Joseph, Missouri

It was a defensive day on the practice fields at Missouri Western State University on Monday, as the full Chiefs squad worked together for the fifth consecutive day.

The difference between the Chiefs this year and last year at the same time could be seen in the offensive script for the practice. Last year, the team was feeling its way with Andy Reid’s offense. Now, the head coach and his staff are confident enough to begin early work on the two-minute drill just five practices into camp.

But the Chiefs offense ran into a few roadblocks that were thrown at them by the Chiefs defense. This was not a stifling effort from the defensive squad, but when it was time to make a play, that stood up and kept the offense out of the end zone. …Read More!

AFC West 2014 Analysis – Middle Linebacker

A half-dozen NFL personnel sources helped us with evaluations of the personnel for AFC West teams going into the 2014 season. We are keeping score to decide the most talented team in the division (on paper). The club with the fewest points will be considered the best, as points match the ratings; example, the No. 3 spot means 3 points.

AFC WEST SCOREBOARD (thru MLB) –Broncos 60, Chargers 66, Raiders 70, Chiefs 74.

Middle Linebacker

1. Nick Roach, Oakland

6-1, 235 pounds, born 6/16/1985, 8th NFL season, 2nd-season with Raiders who signed him in ’13 as an unrestricted free agent from the Bears. Roach entered the NFL as an undrafted rookie free agent in ’07 with the Chargers out of Northwestern University. He was released by San Diego and was signed by the Bears where he spent six seasons. In seven seasons he’s played 96 games with 75 starts, registering 346 total tackles with nine sacks, an interception and eight forced fumbles.

In the ’13 season, Roach played every defensive snap the Raiders had, finishing with 1,105 plays. Although the Raiders struggled last year, his addition in the middle of their defense was an improvement. He started all 16 games, and finished up the season with a career high 5.5 sacks and 112 total tackles along with an interception and four forced fumbles. Roach was stronger in pass coverage and the pass rush than in stopping the run, especially in two games against the Broncos. …Read More!

Long-Shot Tackle Puts Coaching Career On-Hold

From St. Joseph, Missouri

After Sunday morning’s practice at Missouri Western State University backup offensive tackle Ryan McKee trudged up the hill to the players’ locker room.

A year ago, he would have turned not into the players’ quarters, but the coaching locker room. Last football season McKee was out of the NFL, but not out of the game. McKee was a graduate assistant coach working with the offensive line at the University of North Carolina.

Today, he’s a long shot, street free agent trying to earn an NFL roster spot with the Chiefs.

“I thought I was done as a player,” McKee said. “I’m enjoying the chance to try again.”

McKee earned more practice snaps on Sunday when starting right tackle Donald Stephenson went down with a left ankle injury. That forced adjustments on the right side, and left McKee as pretty much the only backup for starting left tackle Eric Fisher. Since last year’s No. 1 choice in the NFL Draft is on restricted snaps because of his surgically repaired shoulder, McKee had multiple chances in the pass protection/pass rush one-on-one drills.

And, he held up his end. Facing off against pass rushers like Tamba Hali, Justin Houston, Mike Catapano and Allen Bailey, there were victories in pass protection and defeats; his ratio of good to bad plays was the same as every other blocker working on Sunday, especially the tackles.

“There a few things I know I’ll see on the tape that I’ll have to correct,” McKee said. “But going up against those guys will get your motor running.” …Read More!

Chiefs Training Camp Practice #6 – 7/26


When camp gets physical, bodies tumble like WR Fred Williams and CB Kevin Rutland

From St. Joseph, Missouri

Real football practices are when players begin to perform against each other in one-on-one and unit-by-unit situations with little in the way of restrictions.

That was the highlight of the first padded practice of the 2014 training camp for the Chiefs. Andy Reid put his team through the two-hour, 30-minute session Saturday morning at Missouri Western State University under cloudy skies and very humid conditions.

It grew more humid when offense and defense started banging against each other in the first steps towards the development and growth of the ’14 Chiefs. It was a day the players looked forward too, understanding that they can’t play successful football unless they practice football.

“It felt good out there,” said second-year linebacker Nico Johnson. “It probably won’t feel so good tonight, but it was another step for us. It was football.”

Here is some of what we observed and heard at the practice:

– Injuries & participation: the Chiefs started with 85 players working with five players off the field just as they were on Thursday and Friday – tight end Sean McGrath (retired), running back Joe McKnight (knee), guard Rokevious Watkins (back), cornerback David Van Dyke (hamstring) and safety Sanders Commings (foot).

During practice, inside linebacker Joe Mays eventually went to the sidelines due to a knee injury he brought with him to camp. Safety Eric Berry suffered a dislocated finger and wide receiver Junior Hemingway had a spasm in one of his hamstrings.

Left tackle Eric Fisher’s snaps were limited and he did not take part in the one-on-one session against the Chiefs pass rushers. …Read More!

AFC West 2014 Analysis – Left Outside Linebacker

A half-dozen NFL personnel sources helped us with evaluations of the personnel for AFC West teams going into the 2014 season. We are keeping score to decide the most talented team in the division (on paper). The club with the fewest points will be considered the best, as points match the ratings; example, the No. 3 spot means 3 points.

AFC WEST SCOREBOARD (thru LOLB) –Broncos 54, Chargers 59, Raiders 66, Chiefs 71.

Left (Strong) Outside Linebacker

1. Justin Houston, Chiefs

6-3, 258 pounds, born 1/12/1989, 4th NFL season, selected in the 3rd-round (#70) by the Chiefs in the ’11 NFL Draft out of Georgia. In 43 games with 37 starts, Houston has 26.5 sacks and 180 total tackles. He also has an interception and a forced fumble.

At some point here in the next six to nine months, Houston is going to score big on a new contract, especially if he continues to perform as he did last year when healthy. He missed five games with an elbow injury that stopped what was one of the best defensive seasons in the league. He had 724 defensive snaps, producing 11 sacks and 61 total plays on the quarterback, with 34 total tackles. The only place he struggled was in coverage, giving up seven completions on seven targets against him, but only allowing 52 total yards. He has the size, strength and speed to be a 10 to 15-sack defender for the next five to seven years. …Read More!

Chiefs Training Camp Practice #5 – 7/25

From St. Joseph, Missouri

The Chiefs got one step closer to actually having a real football practice as they got through a two-hour-plus session Friday morning at Missouri Western State University.

That’s to say it was another training camp practice without full pads, so there was little in the way of physical contact. Such are the labor rules these days that the veterans get three days to acclimate to football before they use their shoulder pads and go about actually practicing in the same manner the game is played.

The defense hasn’t had a chance to show much due to the lack of physical play. The offensive line is still punching at air and practice dummies, not defensive linemen. The running game hasn’t had the opportunity to really show its stuff as the offensive line can only steer the defenders, not hit them. All that will come to an end on Saturday, when the pads go on and the practices look more like football.

But that doesn’t mean there can’t be improvement and goals accomplished in the building of the 2014 Chiefs. Here is what we saw and heard under mostly cloudy skies, with occasional bursts of sunshine that sent the temperature and humidity soaring: …Read More!

Chiefs Training Camp Practice #4 – 7/24

From St. Joseph, Missouri

It was a busy Thursday for the Chiefs players as they had a conditioning session in the morning and then practice on the field and in the heat here at Missouri Western State University in the afternoon.

Since the NFL rules did not allow them to wear full pads, Andy Reid had them in helmets and shorts, and they did not have a normal training camp practice. Reid scheduled one of his 10-10-10 practices, where the No. 1 offense went against the No. 2 defense for 10 plays, followed by the No. 1 defense facing the No. 2 offense for 10 plays, and back and forth as they ran through quite a few rotations.

The pace was fast and there was very little down time during the practice that ran for almost two hours. Here are some of the items and moments that stood out:

– The starting offense lined up with Rishaw Johnson at right guard. The rest of the unit was as expected with receivers Dwayne Bowe, Donnie Avery along with Junior Hemingway, tight end Anthony Fasano, running back Jamaal Charles, fullback Anthony Sherman, quarterback Alex Smith and the offensive line from left to right tackle of Eric Fisher, Jeff Allen, Rodney Hudson, Johnson and Donald Stephenson.

– The No. 1 defense lined up just as it finished the off-season work, with Sean Smith on the sideline and Marcus Cooper and Ron Parker at the cornerback spots; Cooper right, Parker left. At safety it was Eric Berry and Husain Abdullah, with outside linebackers Justin Houston and Tamba Hali, inside linebackers Joe Mays and Derrick Johnson, defensive ends Mike DeVito and Allen Bailey, along with nose tackle Dontari Poe. …Read More!

AFC West 2014 Analysis – Right Defensive End

A half-dozen NFL personnel sources helped us with evaluations of the personnel for AFC West teams going into the 2014 season. We are keeping score to decide the most talented team in the division (on paper). The club with the fewest points will be considered the best, as points match the ratings; example, the No. 3 spot means 3 points.

AFC WEST SCOREBOARD (thru RDE) –Broncos 52, Chargers 55, Raiders 63, Chiefs 70.

Right Defensive End

1. Justin Tuck, Oakland

6-5, 268 pounds, born 3/29/1983, 10th NFL season, 1st-season with the Raiders who signed him in March as a free agent. He entered the NFL as a 3rd-round (#74) selection by the Giants in the ’05 NFL Draft out of Notre Dame University. In 127 games with the Giants, Tuck had 60.5 sacks, along with two interceptions, 18 forced fumbles and 453 total tackles.

The Giants had a bad season last year, but it wasn’t because Tuck went in the tank. He was strong across the board against the run and pass, and had only one or two games that were judged with a negative grade. He played all 16 games, started 15 and had 896 defensive snaps. He had 12 sacks, 12 hits on the passer and 44 quarterback hurries. That’s 68 plays affecting the quarterback. Tuck also had 44 tackles. He did turn 31 earlier this year, but over the last six season he had only one year (’11) where he missed more than one game. He’s been durable and available and he figures to be a huge addition for the Raiders defense. …Read More!

Chiefs Training Camp Practice #3 – 7/23

From St. Joseph, Missouri

The rookies and selected veterans participating in practice the last three days at Missouri Western State University worked hard Wednesday morning, even though everybody on campus was more interested in the team’s arriving veterans, and maybe a few that were not arriving, i.e. Jamaal Charles and Justin Houston.

There were 32 players on the field, as veteran quarterbacks Alex Smith and Chase Daniel were excused from the work. Another four players were on the sideline due to injury, including third-round draft choice Phillip Gaines. He went down late in Tuesday’s practice with a hamstring injury.

Without the top two quarterbacks, that gave all the snaps to Tyler Bray and Aaron Murray and it’s safe to say that neither gained much of an advantage of the other in the passing work.  Andy Reid had his offense working a lot in the red zone, and both Bray and Murray connected on scoring plays, and missed on others.

Reid was very vocal at times in the practice, especially with some of the younger players. The word “details” kept being repeated over and over again. The player who heard it most was rookie running back/receiver De’Anthony Thomas and tight end Demetrius Harris. Reid had one-on-one conversations with both on their footwork in short pass routes. Running backs coach Eric Bieniemy was vocal with Thomas when he cut short a pass route. …Read More!

Busy Chiefs Sign Offensive Tackle, Linebacker

From St. Joseph, Missouri

Among the new faces on campus at Missouri Western State University on Wednesday were a couple of new names for the Chiefs roster.

They have signed offensive tackle Ryan Harris and inside linebacker Josh Mauga. No word yet on what moves will be made to create room on the 90-man pre-season roster. Before the veterans officially arrived, the Chiefs were at 90 players.

The 29-year old Harris has been with Denver, Philadelphia, Denver again, and most recently with Houston.  In the last two seasons he played in all 32 games for the Texans, starting five times at both left and right tackle. Harris, 6-5, 302 pounds, came into the NFL as a third-round (#70) selection in the 2007 NFL Draft by the Broncos out of Notre Dame University.

Harris played four seasons with Denver, appearing in 46 games and starting 34 at right tackle. He signed with the Eagles in 2011, but underwent back surgery before the season started and he was released. Denver signed him in the post-season as an injury replacement, waiving him in August 2012. That’s when he signed with Houston.

The 27-year old Mauga came into the league with the New York Jets as an undrafted rookie free agent out of the University of Nevada. He played there for Chiefs consultant Chris Ault (Nevada head coach) and worked with Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton with the Jets. The 6-1, 245-pound native of Hawaii has spent most of his career battling injuries, the most recent was a torn pectoral muscle that sent him to the injured-reserve list in New York after five games of the 2012 season. Mauga did not play in 2013.

AFC West 2014 Analysis – Left Defensive End

A half-dozen NFL personnel sources helped us with evaluations of the personnel for AFC West teams going into the 2014 season. We are keeping score to decide the most talented team in the division (on paper). The club with the fewest points will be considered the best, as points match the ratings; example, the No. 3 spot means 3 points.

AFC WEST SCOREBOARD (thru LDE) – Broncos 47, Chargers 50, Raiders 58, Chiefs 65.

Left Defensive End

1. Malik Jackson, Denver

6-5, 293 pounds, born 1/11/1990, 3rd NFL season, selected in the 5th-round (#137) of the ’12 NFL Draft by the Broncos out of the University of Tennessee. In two seasons with Denver, Jackson has played 30 games with five starts. He has six career sacks and 65 tackles.

Jackson is a physically gifted California native who did two years at the University of Southern California before transferring to play his last two college seasons for the Volunteers in Tennessee. Going into the ’12 NFL Draft, he was timed at 4.85 seconds in the 40-yard dash while carrying 284 pounds. As a rookie, he had limited defensive snaps, but last year during the Broncos run to the Super Bowl, Jackson saw 601 defensive plays, with six sacks and 43 plays on the quarterback along with 31 total tackles. When starter Derek Wolfe went down with physical problems, Jackson stepped in and handled the position. He’ll likely get the first chance to stay there in ’14. …Read More!

AFC West 2014 Analysis – Defensive Tackle

A half-dozen NFL personnel sources helped us with evaluations of the personnel for AFC West teams going into the 2014 season. We are keeping score to decide the most talented team in the division (on paper). The club with the fewest points will be considered the best, as points match the ratings; example, the No. 3 spot means 3 points.

AFC WEST SCOREBOARD (thru DT) – Chargers 46, Broncos 46, Raiders 56, Chiefs 62.

Defensive Tackle

 1. Antonio Smith, Oakland

6-3, 274 pounds, born 10/21/1981, 11th NFL season, 1st season with Raiders who signed him to a 2-year contract back in March. He was selected in the 5th-round (#135) of the ’04 NFL Draft by the Cardinals out of Oklahoma State. Smith spent five seasons in Arizona, and then signed as an unrestricted free agent with the Texans in ’09. He spent five seasons in Houston. Overall, Smith has played in 140 games over 10 seasons, totaling 41.5 sacks and 282 total tackles. He also has a touchdown on a fumble return.

Most of Smith’s NFL career has been spent playing defensive end, but with today’s hybrid defensive schemes, he’s expected to play more of a defensive tackle position for the Raiders. Last year with the Texans, he started and played 15 games, with 770 offensive snaps. He was penalized five times, had five sacks, a forced fumble and 30 total tackles.

…Read More!

Chiefs Training Camp Practice #2 – 7/22

From St. Joseph, Missouri

The hottest day of the year – so far – greeted the Chiefs rookies and selected veterans for the second practice of training camp here at Missouri Western State University. It was hot, muggy, steamy, broiling . . . otherwise typical training camp weather for the Midwest.

Some would say Eric Fisher’s timing was poor. Last year’s No. 1 NFL draft choice was on the field Tuesday, upping the head count among offensive linemen to four. Fisher is coming off dual surgeries from the off-season, on his shoulder and for a sports hernia.

Hot weather or not, Fisher was very glad to be wearing his red No. 72 and wiping off little rivers of sweat that rolled off his head.

“I had the surgeries and I needed to get out here and get situated before the vets get here,” Fisher said after practice. “I’m glad to be here early. It felt good. It was back to football and that’s what I’ve been doing my whole life.” …Read More!

Chiefs Training Camp Practice #1 – 7/21

From St. Joseph, Missouri

The Chiefs rookies and selected other veterans went through the first practice of training camp Monday morning at Missouri Western State University.

Only, somebody forgot to tell the wide receivers; there were 35 players on the field and 10 of those were receivers, and just about every one of them dropped multiple passes through the one-hour, 45-minute workout. Tight ends had the same problems.

Balls littering the field are never a good sign for a football team. But on July 21st and the first day of training camp, it’s something to note and move on from, just as long as the receivers bounce back.

“We have to shake off a couple of cobwebs,” said Kyle Williams. “A lot of balls on the ground and we have to clean that up.” …Read More!

First Wave of Chiefs Arrives In St. Joe

From St. Joseph, Missouri

In the first afternoon of the Chiefs second Camp Andy here on the Missouri Western State University campus, the head coach got right to the point when asked about goals for the 2014 training camp.

“We weren’t good enough last year,” Reid told the media horde outside the team’s home-away from-home, Scanlon Hall. “Doggone we made some strides but we weren’t good enough. The guys know that and they came into the off-season looking forward to getting better. The coaches, we didn’t do a good enough job there, so we went back and re-evaluated some things.

“Now we get to play. Now we get to see if we can’t be a better football team. That’s exciting; that’s what it is all about.”

Over the next three days quarterbacks, a handful of selected veterans and rookies will be on the practice field at Missouri Western each day. They will have walkthrough practices indoors on two of those days. None of those sessions are open to fans. …Read More!

AFC West 2014 Analysis – O-Line #7

Half-dozen sources in the NFL helped us with our evaluations of the personnel for the AFC West teams going into the 2014 season. We keep score to decide the most talented team in the division (on paper). The club with the fewest points will be considered the best as points match where they are rated. For example, the No. 3 spot means 3 points.

AFC WEST SCOREBOARD (thru OL#7) – Chargers 38, Broncos 41, Raiders 52, Chiefs 59.

Offensive line No. 7

1. Will Montgomery, Denver

6-3, 304 pounds, born 2/13/1983, 9th NFL season, 1st with the Broncos who signed him in ’14 as a street free agent from the Redskins. He entered the NFL as a 7th-round (#234) choice in the ’06 NFL Draft by the Panthers out of Virginia Tech University. He has played with Carolina, the N.Y. Jets and Washington. For the past three seasons, Montgomery has started all 16 games each year for the Redskins at center.

Montgomery was a quiet but potentially big addition for the Broncos. He was released by the Redskins in a salary cap-decision that saved the team $2 million under their limit. Should Denver have trouble inside at center or guard, Montgomery brings 90 games of experience into the situation, with starts at both guard positions and center. Last season, he had 1,172 offensive snaps in 16 starts for the ‘Skins. He was penalized 11 times, but allowed only two sacks and 22 total plays where his man bothered the passer. …Read More!

AFC West 2014 Analysis – O-Line #6

A half-dozen league sources helped us with our evaluations of the personnel for the AFC West teams going into the 2014 season. We are keeping score to decide the most talented division roster (on paper). The team with the fewest points will be considered the best as the points match where the rating. For example, the No. 3 spot means 3 points.

AFC WEST SCOREBOARD (thru OL#6) – Chargers 38, Broncos 43, Raiders 52, Chiefs 57.

Offensive line No. 6

1. Jeff Linkenbach, Chiefs

6-6½, 303 pounds, born 6/9/1987, 5th NFL season, 1st-year with Chiefs who signed him as an ’14 unrestricted free agent from the Colts. Linkenbach entered the league as an undrafted rookie free agent in ’10 signed by Indianapolis out of the University of Cincinnati. Coming into the ’14 season, Linkenbach has played 60 games, with 33 starts at both tackles and guard spots.

The signing of Linkenbach achieved one of the foundation goals set by general manager John Dorsey – increase the competition at every position on the roster. Linkenbach gives the Chiefs that increased talent at four of the five offensive line positions, missing only at center. He has started five times at left tackle, 16 times at right tackle, five starts at left guard and seven at right guard. Last season with the Colts in their season that earned them a trip to the playoffs, Linkenbach played 12 games, starting five times (four at right guard, once at right tackle.) He missed several games because of a quad muscle pull. Overall, he saw 395 offensive snaps, with one penalty against him. He allowed two sacks. Evaluations of him ranked his pass blocking ahead of his run blocking. …Read More!

AFC West 2014 Analysis – Right Tackle

A half-dozen NFL front-office sources helped us with our evaluations of the personnel for the AFC West teams going into the 2014 season. We are keeping score to decide the division’s most talented roster (on paper). The team with the fewest points will have the best group, as the point’s match where they are rated. For example, the No. 3 spot means 3 points.

AFC WEST SCOREBOARD (thru RT) – Chargers 36, Broncos 40, Raiders 48, Chiefs 56.

Right Tackle

1. Chris Clark, Denver

6-5, 315 pounds, born 10/1/1985, 5th NFL season, signed by the Broncos in ’10 as an undrafted rookie free agent out of Southern Mississippi University. In four seasons, he has played in 56 games with 20 starts, most of those coming in the ’13 season.

Clark and his performance stepping in at left tackle for injured starter Ryan Clady was one of the keys to the Broncos successful ’13 season and quarterback Peyton Manning’s record-setting play. Clark was penalized seven times in the regular season and allowed 7 sacks. That’s not a bad ratio given that he did not miss a snap starting from the third game through the Super Bowl. Overall, he played 1,303 snaps in the season. With Clady expected back at his left tackle spot, Denver’s blocking until becomes even better as Clark goes to right tackle and last year’s right tackle Orlando Franklin moves inside to left guard, it’s a formidable front for the Broncos. …Read More!

AFC West 2014 Analysis – Right Guard

We used over a half-dozen sources for our evaluations of the personnel for the four teams in the AFC West going into the 2014 season. We are keeping score to decide the most talented division roster (on paper). Team with the fewest points will be considered the best as point total matches rating. For example, the No. 3 spot means 3 points.

AFC WEST SCOREBOARD (thru RG) – Chargers 29, Broncos 38, Raiders 44, Chiefs 49.

Right Guard

1. Louis Vasquez, Denver

6-4, 330 pounds, born 4/11/1987, 6th NFL season, 2nd-season with the Broncos who signed him in ’13 as an unrestricted free agent from the Chargers. He entered the NFL when he was selected in the 3rd-round (#78) of the ’09 NFL Draft by San Diego out of Texas Tech University. In five seasons he played/started 70 games.

There are NFL scouts that say Vasquez had the best season of any blocker in the league last season. Signed away from a division rival, he was plugged right into the starting lineup. In 20 games for Denver, he graded out by most scouts evaluation positive in 19 of those games. The one he missed was the Super Bowl when he was inconsistent against Seattle. But in those games, he was a machine, playing every snap except 15 plays in the Super Bowl. That was 1,443 snaps on offense and in the regular season he had just two penalties called against him. Vasquez did not allow a sack and his man got near quarterback Peyton Manning just 14 times in 16 regular season games. Consider that he pass blocked on 643 plays last year, the fact Vasquez did not allow a sack of Manning ranks among the season’s top efforts. Only Green Bay left guard Josh Sitton’s performance was close to Vasquez among all NFL blockers. …Read More!

Waiting For Smith & Houston Deals

At a time when the start of Chiefs training camp is so close one can taste it, the chatter has picked up considerably about the contract status of quarterback Alex Smith and outside linebacker Justin Houston.

And, it figures to get only louder in the next week as the first full-team practice of training camp is scheduled for next Thursday afternoon in St. Joseph. The players, the fans and the Chiefs want these contract extensions and/or new contracts done, signed and put into the fulfillment/payout box in the Hunt Family vault.

In the NFL more often than not the big-money deals need a deadline for completion. Right now, there is no deadline for either deal to be done between the players and Chiefs over the next six months. Both Smith and Houston are under contract for the 2014 season and there is not much either player can do to challenge that fact. They could stage a holdout, but that is not an option they should consider for several different reasons.

There’s been no indication that Smith will not show; he was active in all parts of the off-season program. On Wednesday, every media outlet except the Tool & Dye Times was reporting that Houston was “expected” to report next week for camp, but that he “wasn’t happy” about the lack of a new deal. There were no names attached to these “scoops” but it would be unusual at this point in the drama for Houston sources to start talking, even behind closed doors and only identified as “sources close to the situation.”

But it’s just common sense that Houston will show next Wednesday. …Read More!

AFC West 2014 Analysis – Left Guard

In this series of stories we analyze the four teams in the AFC West position-by-position. We used over a half-dozen sources for our evaluations, relying on pro personnel scouts around the league and a few coaches as well. As we go along, we’ll keep score and find out which of the four AFC West teams has the most talented roster (on paper); in this case the team with the fewest points will be considered the best. Points match where they are rated. For example, the No. 3 spot means 3 points.

AFC WEST SCOREBOARD (thru LG) – Chargers 26, Broncos 37, Raiders 42, Chiefs 45.

Left Guard

1. Chad Rinehart, San Diego

6-5, 320 pounds, born 5/4/1985, 7th NFL season, 2nd-season with Chargers who signed him as an unrestricted free agent in ’13 from the Bills. He entered the NFL selected in 3rd-round (#96) of ’08 NFL Draft by the Redskins out of Northern Iowa. Rinehart spent two seasons with the Washington before he was released. He spent time on the practice squads of the Jets and Bills, and Buffalo promoted him to the active roster in December ’10.

The left guard position is not one of the strongest spots in the AFC West and Rinehart must be considered a shaky holder of the No. 1 ranking. Last season with San Diego, he played in 11 games, starting at both left and right guard. Reinhart missed time because of a foot injury and played 684 offensive snaps, committed two penalties and he allowed just one sack of quarterback Philip Rivers. Rinehart was much stronger in pass blocking than in the run game last year, although that didn’t seem to slow down running back Ryan Mathews; he ran for more than 1,000 yards. …Read More!

2014 Training Camps Start Opening On Wednesday

By the end of business on Wednesday, three NFL teams will have players in training camp.

Rookies for Baltimore, Buffalo and San Francisco will be in camp, the first wave of the 32 teams with rookies and veterans reporting for the start of the 2014 season. The last group to report will be the Detroit veterans that will show up on July 27th.

But there’s one team where the players may show up early – that’s the New Orleans Saints. Head coach Sean Payton is taking his club to the mountains of West Virginia for the first weeks of training. It will all go down at The Greenbrier Hotel (pictured above) in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. The Saints veterans may show up early because the resort has five golf courses and Tom Watson is the golf professional emeritus. There’s so much more with 55 different activities including off-road driving, horse riding, falconry, a gun club, archery, paint ball, ice skating, fly fishing, a casino, a spa, shopping and 14 restaurants and bars. All of that is on 10,000 acres. It is posh.

And, it’s almost 900 miles away from the Big Easy and about 20 degrees cooler on a daily basis, with much lower humidity. That was the attraction for Payton in helping his players rebound each day from practice.

“Every year we evaluate all areas of our operations and look for ways to improve,” Payton said. “We all understand the importance of training camp – that’s to get the team ready for the regular season. As far as the time we will spend at The Greenbrier, it offers a tremendous opportunity to our team in a more moderate summer climate.”

The Chiefs rookies will not report to first-class resort. They’ll start arriving at Missouri Western State College on Sunday afternoon and have their first practice on Monday. The three rookie practices next week are closed to the public. The veterans report on Wednesday with the first public practice on Thursday.

Andy Reid and his campers are one of 13 NFL teams that do not hold training camp at their regular season facility. More and more teams have stopped transporting players to a remote setting where they stay in a dormitory or hotel. …Read More!

Time To Tell The Nation About Joe Delaney

Last week I spent over an hour talking on camera with the film crew that is putting together the ESPN 30-for-30 series program on former Chiefs running back Joe Delaney.

Based on the questions I was asked by the producers and the other people that were on the interview list this will be a strong feature that will expose the entire country to Delaney’s story. The questions ranged from his time growing up and living in Haughton, Louisiana, to college at Northwest Louisiana State University and then NFL with the Chiefs. The ending is still a sad one, as Delaney’s died in a construction pond in Monroe, Louisiana where 31 years ago (June 29th) he tried to save three boys that were in trouble. Delaney drowned; he did not know how to swim.

Turns out, the producers behind this project are long-time Chiefs fans, Grant Curtis and Jeremy Wheeler. They are natives to the area; Curtis grew up in Warrensburg, Missouri and was a huge Royals-Chiefs fan over the years. Wheeler is the son of former Chiefs executive Mitch Wheeler the chance to grow up around the team as a child.

Curtis has quite a resume as a producer. Most recently he was one of the executive producers of the 2013 film Oz the Great and Powerful and he served as producer for the three most recent Spiderman movies. He’s worked extensively with director Sam Raimi and has done dozens of documentaries over his career since graduating with from the Central Missouri State University.

This story is one he has wanted to tell for years. …Read More!

AFC West 2014 Analysis – Offensive Surprise

In this series of stories we analyze the four teams in the AFC West position-by-position. We used over a half-dozen sources for our evaluations, relying on pro personnel scouts around the league and a few coaches as well. As we go along, we’ll keep score and find out which of the four AFC West teams has the most talented roster (on paper); in this case the team with the fewest points will be considered the best. Points match where they are rated. For example, the No. 3 spot means 3 points.

AFC WEST SCOREBOARD (thru offensive surprise) – Chargers 25, Broncos 31, Raiders 38, Chiefs 42.

Offensive Surprise

1. Latavius Murray, Oakland

6-3, 230 pounds, born 1/18/1990, 2nd NFL season, selected in 6th-round (#181) of the ’13 NFL Draft by the Raiders out of Central Florida University.

Murray was placed on Oakland’s injured-reserve list on August 27th last season and did not play as a rookie because of a foot injury. At Central Florida, he played in 45 games, running for 2,424 yards on 453 carries and 37 touchdown catches. He also caught 50 passes for 524 yards and six touchdown runs. Murray was not invited to the ’13 NFL Combine, but he was impressive in his pro day, turning in a time of 4.38 seconds in the 40-yard dash, 1.48 seconds in the 10-yard split, with a 36 inch vertical jump and 22 repetitions on the bench press at 225 pounds. In the Raiders off-season work, Murray apparently nailed down the No. 3 RB spot on the Oakland roster. With his size and speed, he will contribute to the Raiders offense. …Read More!

Notes From The Chiefs – July 13

From the highways, byways and flyways of America

A thought or two about a thing or four . . .

A night of nostalgia in San Fran

I’ve been traveling a lot but my itinerary did not get me to the competition I most wanted to attend. No, not the World Cup. Don’t count me as a soccer hater, or soccer lover. All I know is football requires a helmet and a strange oblong ball.

No, the game I missed was Saturday evening in San Francisco at a soon to be demolished Candlestick Park. It was billed as the Legends of Candlestick and was the final event inside the stadium built in the early 1960s for the baseball Giants when they moved to the Bay Area from New York.

This flag-football event drew 25,000 fans and all proceeds were going to police and firemen charities in northern California. The leader of this event was former 49ers-Chiefs quarterback Joe Montana. But he wasn’t the only former player that wore red and gold taking part: quarterback Dave Krieg, quarterback Steve Bono, guard Will Shields, guard Dave Szott, safety Mark Collins and defensive tackle Dan Saleaumua.

Also part of the night was the Chiefs equipment manager Allen Wright. He was asked by Montana to join them and help with the locker room stuff. Montana always bonded with folks that worked behind the scenes and that happened in his two years in K.C. with Wright. That’s Wright posing above with Shields, Montana, Collins, Krieg and Szott.

The game was won by the 49ers alumni 45-40 with Montana connecting with former Niners owner Eddie DeBartolo for the winning score. Eddie D. wandered onto the field from the sidelines and was wide open. …Read More!

AFC West 2014 Analysis – Tight End #3

In this series of stories we analyze the four teams in the AFC West position-by-position. We used over a half-dozen sources for our evaluations, relying on pro personnel scouts around the league and a few coaches as well. As we go along, we’ll keep score and find out which of the four AFC West teams has the most talented roster (on paper); in this case the team with the fewest points will be considered the best. Points match where they are rated. For example, the No. 3 spot means 3 points.

AFC WEST SCOREBOARD (thru TE#3) – Chargers 21, Broncos 28, Raiders 34, Chiefs 37.

Tight End #3

1. Virgil Green, Denver

6-3, 248 pounds, born 8/3/1988, 4th NFL season, selected in the 7th-round (#204) of the ’11 NFL Draft by the Broncos out of the University of Nevada-Reno. In three previous seasons with Denver, he played in 43 games, catching 17 passes for 132 yards. Last year, Green caught nine passes for 45 yards.

Even the third tight end catches passes in Peyton Manning’s offense. Green was on the field for 323 snaps and was targeted 11 times; catching nine and he dropped just one pass of the 11. His playing time will be directly tied to his ability to block, something he did last year as 272 of his 344 total offensive snaps (regular and post-season) were as a blocker for the run and pass. On a team with a lot of offensive threats, Green does not get much of a chance to make a name for himself, but he’s more than adequate as the third tight end. …Read More!

AFC West 2014 Analysis – Tight End #2

In this series of stories we analyze the four teams in the AFC West position-by-position. We used over a half-dozen sources for our evaluations, relying on pro personnel scouts around the league and a few coaches as well. As we go along, we’ll keep score and find out which of the four AFC West teams has the most talented roster (on paper); in this case the team with the fewest points will be considered the best. Points match where they are rated. For example, the No. 3 spot means 3 points.

AFC WEST SCOREBOARD (thru TE#2) – Chargers 19, Broncos 27, Raiders 31, Chiefs 33.

Tight End #2

1. Ladarius Green, San Diego

6-6, 237 pounds, born 5/29/1990, 3rd NFL season, selected in 4th-round (#110) of the ’12 NFL Draft by the Chargers out of the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. In two seasons, Green played in 20 games for San Diego, catching 21 passes for 432 yards and three scores. Last year in 16 games with eight starts he caught 17 passes for 376 yards, including a 60-yarder.

Last year, two of Green’s three touchdown catches came against the Chiefs so they already have an idea of this young man’s growing ability to eventually replace Antonio Gates as San Diego’s No. 1 tight end. One of those scores was a 60-yard TD where Green eluded several Chiefs defenders. He saw 370 offensive snaps and was targeted 28 times with his 17 catches averaging 22.1 yards per reception. Six of his 17 balls went for 20 yards or more. Green has long arms (34½ inches) and big hands (10 1/8 inches) and has been timed in 4.5 seconds in the 40-yard dash. He is far more developed as a receiver than blocker and that’s one area of his game that must improve. But his offensive snaps are sure to go up this season and ’14 could be a breakout year from Green.

…Read More!

AFC West 2014 Analysis – Tight End #1

In this series of stories we analyze the four teams in the AFC West position-by-position. We used over a half-dozen sources for our evaluations, relying on pro personnel scouts around the league and a few coaches as well. As we go along, we’ll keep score and find out which of the four AFC West teams has the most talented roster (on paper); in this case the team with the fewest points will be considered the best. Points match where they are rated. For example, the No. 3 spot means 3 points.

AFC WEST SCOREBOARD (thru TE#1) – Chargers 18, Broncos 24, Raiders 27, Chiefs 31.

Tight End #1

1. Antonio Gates, San Diego

6-4, 260 pounds, born 6/18/1980, 12th NFL season, signed as an undrafted rookie free agent in ’03 by the Chargers out of Kent State University. In his first 11 seasons in San Diego only two other tight ends have caught more passes for more yards than Gates: Tony Gonzalez and Jason Witten. He’s played 163 games (158 starts), made 719 catches for 9,193 yards and 87 touchdown receptions. Gates earned eight trips to the Pro Bowl and two seasons with more than 1,100 receiving yards. After injury-plagued seasons in 2010-11, he missed just one game in the last two seasons. In the Chargers ’13 season, Gates caught 77 passes for 872 yards and four touchdowns.

Gates was the second of the basketball playing tight ends that made a big mark in the NFL, following a few years behind Tony Gonzalez’s entrance into the pros with the Chiefs. When he’s been available, Gates has been productive in all but one season since his rookie year. That was in ’12 when he caught 49 passes for 538 yards, his lowest output since his rookie season. Last year for the first time in four years he was able to play all 16 games and he was on the field for 996 offensive snaps. With Gates out there, quarterback Philip Rivers looked for him, throwing the ball 109 times in his direction. The big man still has his athletic ability as 400 of his 872 receiving yards came after the catch. Last season was a big one for Gates and his future with the Chargers and in the NFL. He has two more seasons to go on his current contract and it’s unlikely he’ll continue with San Diego after this season, especially with the development of backup Ladarius Green. Gates may see his snaps drop this year, but he will not be forgotten, especially by Rivers.

…Read More!

AFC West 2014 Analysis – Wide Receiver #4

In this series of stories we analyze the four teams in the AFC West position-by-position. We used over a half-dozen sources for our evaluations, relying on pro personnel scouts around the league and a few coaches as well. As we go along, we’ll keep score and find out which of the four AFC West teams has the most talented roster (on paper); in this case the team with the fewest points will be considered the best. Points match where they are rated. For example, the No. 3 spot means 3 points.

AFC WEST SCOREBOARD (thru WR#4) – Chargers 17, Broncos 22, Raiders 24, Chiefs 27.

Wide Receiver #4

1. Malcom Floyd, San Diego

6-5, 225 pounds, born 9/8/1981, 10th NFL season, signed as an undrafted rookie free agent in ’04 by the Chargers out of the University of Wyoming. In 90 games with San Diego, Floyd caught 239 passes for 4,133 yards and 25 touchdowns. Last year he played just two games, catching six passes for 11 yards. A neck injury ended his season and put his football future in doubt.

In 2012, Floyd was named the Chargers offensive player of the year and he started strong last year, racking up 100 receiving yards in the first half against the Eagles. But then he took a hit on the neck and the back of his head and he left Lincoln Financial Field in an ambulance with a neck injury/concussion. That ended his season. How much does Floyd have left in his 33-year old tank? He’ll get the chance to show that in training camp. If he can return to his form, the Chargers and Philip Rivers will have a nice group of receivers with Floyd, Keenan Allen, Eddie Royal and Vincent Brown.

…Read More!

AFC West 2014 Analysis – Wide Receiver #2

The NFL is enjoying its pre-training camp vacation and most rosters are set for the start of pre-season. In this series of stories we analyze the four teams in the AFC West position-by-position. We used about a half-dozen sources for our evaluation, relying on pro personnel scouts around the league and a few coaches as well. As we go along, we’ll 1keep score and find out which of the four AFC West teams has the most talented roster (on paper); in this case the team with the fewest points will be considered the best. Points match where they are rated. For example, the No. 3 spot means 3 points.

AFC WEST SCOREBOARD (thru WR#2) – Chargers 13, Broncos 18, Chiefs 19, Raiders 20.

Wide Receiver #2

1. Wes Welker, Denver

5-9, 190 pounds, born 5/1/1981, 11th NFL season, 2nd season with Broncos who signed him as an unrestricted free agent from the Patriots; signed as undrafted rookie free agent in ’04 by the Chargers out of Texas Tech University; released after one game that year in San Diego and joined the Dolphins, spending 46 games in Miami; traded in ’07 to New England and spent six seasons with the Patriots. In 153 games, Welker has caught 841 passes for 9,358 yards and 48 touchdown catches. Last year with the Broncos, he caught 73 passes for 778 yards and 10 scoring receptions.

For a guy that cracked the NFL as an undrafted rookie free agent, Welker has lived a lucky football life, first catching passes from Tom Brady and now Peyton Manning with the Broncos. Last season was his least productive in the last seven seasons. He led the league in catches in ’07, ’09 and ’11 and in five of those seasons he totaled more than 1,000 receiving yards. Where Welker shined for Denver was working in the slot and in the end zone. His 10 TD catches were the most of his career and 84 percent of his 787 snaps last year were in the slot position. He was targeted 109 times by Manning and dropped 10 passes. The 33-year old has a problem however, and that’s his health, specifically his mental health. Welker suffered a pair of concussions last year and missed three games during the season. From his previous NFL stops he accumulated other head injuries that cost him playing time. There a wealth of possible targets in Denver’s passing game, including a pair of additions in Emmanuel Sanders and draft choice Cody Latimer, along with a quickly developing tight end Julius Thomas. Welker is in the second season of the free-agent contract signed in ’13 and his future, including the coming season, remains in some question.

…Read More!

Notes From The Chiefs Off-Season

 

Workers at Missouri Western are moving to make room for the arrival of the Chiefs

They are busy at Chiefs headquarters in the Truman Sports Complex, and they are busy at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph.

The team and MWSU are both getting ready for the start of the Chiefs 2014 training camp. As of Tuesday, it’s a dozen days until the staff and rookies report to campus with a practice on Monday, July 21st that’s not open to the public. The rookies will practice for three days and then the veterans report and the first full-team workout is Thursday, July 24th.

A lot of work must get done before it all comes together. Last week, the folks in St. Joe were moving the school’s equipment out of the workout facility that will be the working home of the Chiefs for three weeks.

“That first Monday after the Fourth of July, we start packing,” said Jay White, the school’s athletic operations director. “This is our fifth year doing it and it’s just standard protocol now.”

As they move out, Chiefs equipment manager Allen Wright and his crew begin moving in and setting up an equipment room, training room and meeting rooms.

Football is almost here! …Read More!

AFC West 2014 Analysis – Wide Receiver #1

The NFL is enjoying its pre-training camp vacation and most rosters are set for the start of pre-season. In this series of stories we analyze the four teams in the AFC West position-by-position. We used about a half-dozen sources for our evaluation, relying on pro personnel scouts around the league and a few coaches as well. As we go along, we’ll 1keep score and find out which of the four AFC West teams has the most talented roster (on paper); in this case the team with the fewest points will be considered the best. Points match where they are rated. For example, the No. 3 spot means 3 points.

AFC WEST SCOREBOARD (thru WR#1) – Chargers 10, Chiefs 15, Broncos 17, Raiders 18.

Wide Receiver #1

1. Demaryius Thomas, Denver

6-3, 229 pounds, born 12/25/1987, 5th NFL season, selected in 1st-round (#22) in ’10 NFL Draft by the Broncos out of Georgia Tech University. In 53 games over four seasons, Thomas has caught 240 passes for 3,698 yards and 30 TD catches. Last season in the Denver offense, he caught 92 passes for 1,430 yards and 14 scores.

His first two seasons in the league were filled with injuries, as Thomas was felled by a bruised forearm, concussion, ankle, Achilles and broken pinkie finger. But it was in the 2011 playoffs that he broke out, catching an 80-yard touchdown pass on the first play of overtime as Denver beat Pittsburgh in the fastest extra-period game in league history. Since then, he’s been one of the most productive receivers in the league. In the 2012-13 seasons, Thomas averaged 89.5 yards per game and only Calvin and Andre Johnson averaged more receiving yards. Only Dez Bryant and Jimmy Graham had more than his 24 touchdown catches in those two years. He was huge in the ’13 playoffs, catching 28 passes in three games for 307 yards and five touchdown catches. With 13 catches against Seattle, Thomas established a new record for receptions in the NFL title game. Over the season, Thomas was on the field for 1,131 offensive snaps, as testimony to his reliability and availability for QB Peyton Manning and the Broncos offense. His combination of size and speed make for matchup problems for opposing defenses. Thomas averaged 7.7 yards after contact, one of the highest averages in the league. Manning and Thomas are a combination that’s been almost impossible to stop. That makes Thomas the division’s best receiver.

…Read More!

AFC West 2014 Analysis – Fullback/Running Back #3

The NFL is enjoying its pre-training camp vacation and most rosters are set for the start of pre-season. In this series of stories we analyze the four teams in the AFC West position-by-position. We used about a half-dozen sources for our evaluation, relying on pro personnel scouts around the league and a few coaches as well. As we go along, we’ll 1keep score and find out which of the four AFC West teams has the most talented roster (on paper); in this case the team with the fewest points will be considered the best. Points match where they are rated. For example, the No. 3 spot means 3 points.

AFC WEST SCOREBOARD (thru FB/RB#3) – Chargers 8, Chiefs 12, Raiders 14, Broncos 16.

Fullback or Running Back #3

1. Marcel Reece, Oakland

6-1, 240 pounds, born 6/23/1985, 6th NFL season, signed as undrafted rookie free agent by the Dolphins in ’09 and released; signed with the Raiders in ’09. Reece became the starting fullback in 2010 and over 62 games in Oakland, he’s started 45 games and run 152 times for 723 yards and caught 138 passes for 1,481 yards. He has 11 offensive touchdowns. Last season for the Raiders, he played all 16 games, with 78 touches for 549 yards and four scores.

Coming out of the University of Washington, NFL teams could not figure out just where Reece fit on the offensive side of the ball. Eventually, he landed with the Raiders and they worked him at fullback. Over his time in Oakland, injuries have also forced him to work as the Raiders running back, something he did last year. Despite that, Reece was selected for his second Pro Bowl appearance. He’s a big man and powerful runner, averaging 3.2 yards after first contact. Where he really made his mark in Oakland catching passes out of the backfield. He was targeted 53 times, catching 32 passes last year, but he dropped four passes.

…Read More!

AFC West 2014 Analysis – Running Back #2

The NFL is enjoying its pre-training camp vacation and most rosters are set for the start of pre-season. In this series of stories we analyze the four teams in the AFC West position-by-position. We used about a half-dozen sources for our evaluation, relying on pro personnel scouts around the league and a few coaches as well. As we go along, we’ll 1keep score and find out which of the four AFC West teams has the most talented roster (on paper); in this case the team with the fewest points will be considered the best. Points match where they are rated. For example, the No. 3 spot means 3 points.

AFC WEST SCOREBOARD (thru RB#2) – Chargers 6, Chiefs 9, Broncos 12, Raiders 13.

Running Back #2

1. Danny Woodhead, San Diego

5-8, 200 pounds, born 1/25/1985, 6th NFL season, signed as UFA in ’13 by Chargers; broke into NFL with Jets, playing 11 games over two seasons (2009-10), before landing with the Patriots and playing 45 games over three seasons (2010-12). In 16 games last year with San Diego he ran 429 yards on 196 carries and caught 76 passes for 605 yards. He scored eight touchdowns for the Chargers. Over his 72-game career, he has 3,366 offensive yards and 22 touchdowns.

Woodhead was a huge addition to the Chargers offense last year, as he produced 1,034 yards from scrimmage while playing in just 45 percent of San Diego’s offensive snaps. Among the division’s running backs, Woodhead has the surest hands as a receiver as he caught 91 percent of the passes thrown his way and in 83 targets, he dropped just three balls. Only Jamaal Charles (693) had more receiving yards out of the backfield than Woodhead’s 605 yards. Because of his size, his workload must be limited and he’ll never produce big numbers after contact; he averaged just 1.9 yards after taking the first hit from the defense. Woodhead is not an elite back like Charles, but he just might be the second most-productive back in the division.

…Read More!

AFC West 2014 Analysis – Running Back #1

The NFL is enjoying its pre-training camp vacation and most rosters are set for the start of pre-season. In this series of stories we analyze the four teams in the AFC West position-by-position. We used about a half-dozen sources for our evaluation, relying on pro personnel scouts around the league and a few coaches as well. As we go along, we’ll 1keep score and find out which of the four AFC West teams has the most talented roster (on paper); in this case the team with the fewest points will be considered the best. Points match where they are rated. For example, the No. 3 spot means 3 points.

AFC WEST SCOREBOARD (thru RB#1) – Chargers 5, Chiefs 6, Broncos 8, Raiders 11.

RUNNING BACK

1. Jamaal Charles, Chiefs

5-11, 199 pounds, born 12/27/1986, 7th NFL season, 3nd-round choice ’08 by Chiefs. Last season, Charles continued his role as one of the most dynamic and productive offensive players in the league last season. He finished with 1,980 offensive yards, with 1,287 rushing and 693 receiving; both totals led the Chiefs. He also had 19 total touchdowns, more than any player in the NFL.

When the Chiefs passing offense had trouble getting started last season, it was Charles that was the K.C. offense. He led the team in rushing, receiving and scoring touchdowns and did it all while taking the worst pounding of his career. But the one thing that Charles has established is his toughness and availability. As much as he needs rest during a 16-game season, it’s tough for Andy Reid and the offensive staff to take him off the field when he’s the best runner, receiver, scorer and skill-position blocker on the team. His performance against the Raiders in Oakland was one of the most impressive in recent Chiefs history, especially his four touchdown catches among eight catches for 195 receiving yards. He added a rushing touchdown, giving him five on the afternoon. He became the only player in NFL history to record four receiving touchdowns and at least one rushing touchdown in the same game. His four touchdown receptions are the most TD catches in a game by a running back in NFL history. In the last two seasons, Charles has had 3,725 yards from scrimmage. That’s more than all but one other player: Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson. The question Reid and staff must ponder is how much tread Charles has left on his tires. Last year he played 78 percent of the offensive snaps and the season before he played 55 percent of the plays. The man himself says he’s got plenty left, and history would say he’s correct for the next three seasons. But the concussion suffered in the post-season game against Indianapolis is one of those plays that can begin to add up for a back.

…Read More!

AFC West 2014 Analysis – Backup QB

The NFL is enjoying its pre-training camp vacation and most rosters are set for the start of pre-season. In this series of stories we analyze the four teams in the AFC West position-by-position. We used about a half-dozen sources for our evaluation, relying on pro personnel scouts around the league and a few coaches as well. As we go along, we’ll keep score and find out which of the four AFC West teams has the most talented roster (on paper); in this case the team with the fewest points will be considered the best. Points match where they are rated. For example, the No. 3 spot means 3 points.

SCOREBOARD (thru backup QB)–Chargers 3, Broncos 4, Chiefs 5, Raiders 8.


1. Kellen Clemens, Chargers

6-2, 225 pounds, born 6/6/1983, 9th NFL season, UFA signed in ’14 by Chargers, acquired in trade ’10 by Seahawks, 2nd-round choice (#49) ’06 by the Jets. Clemens has played for the Jets and Rams, and also on the roster in Houston and Washington. He’s appeared in 41 games, starting 21 times and posting an 8-13 record. Last season with St. Louis, he appeared in 10 games with nine starts. Clemens completed 142 of 242 throws (58.7 percent) for 1,673 yards and eight TD passes with seven interceptions.

Clemens has been the journeyman back-up QB for most of his career. His nine starts last year with the Rams were the most in any one season as he stepped in for injured starter Sam Bradford. St. Louis was 4-5 in those starting assignments. With the exception of touchdown passes, his numbers last year were very similar to Bradford. His only other extensive playing time came in 2007 when he stepped in for the injured Chad Pennington with the Jets. Clemens has been part of four different offensive schemes, so it’s unlikely anything that will come down in San Diego will be a problem for him. …Read More!

AFC West 2014 Analysis – Starting Quarterback

The NFL is enjoying its pre-training camp vacation and most rosters are set for the start of pre-season. In this series of stories that starts with this post we analyze the four teams in the AFC West position-by-position. We used about a half-dozen sources for our evaluation, relying on pro personnel scouts around the league and a few coaches as well. As we go along, we’ll keep score and find out which of the four AFC West teams has the most talented roster (on paper); in this case the team with the fewest points will be considered the best. Points match where they are rated. For example, the No. 3 spot means 3 points.

AFC WEST 2014 SCOREBOARD (thru QB#1) – Broncos 1, Chargers 2, Chiefs 3, Raiders 4.

1. Peyton Manning, Broncos    

6-5, 230 pounds, born 3/24/1976, 16th NFL season, signed as FA in ’12 by Broncos; 1st-round choice in ’98 by Colts and played 13 seasons with Indianapolis and the past two in Denver. His career numbers rank among the most prolific in league history. Last season, he started every week for the Broncos, turning in one of the best single-season performances the NFL has ever seen: 5,477 passing yards, completing 450 of 659 passes, a completion percentage of 68.3 percent, with 55 touchdown passes and 10 interceptions. His career record as a starting QB in regular and post-season play is 178-85.

Another chapter in the Peyton Manning Story was written back in February when the Broncos could not get past the Seahawks and ended up losing the Super Bowl. That makes Manning 1-2 as a starting quarterback in the championship game. His record in the post-season over his career as a starter is now 11-12 and in the last 10 games his team was 4-6 and it’s been eight seasons since he won the Lombardi Trophy with the Colts. At this point, Manning does not rank with Terry Bradshaw, Joe Montana, Tom Brady, Troy Aikman and a few others including his brother Eli, that have more than one winning Super Bowl effort in their careers. Last season was one of the best in his career, especially that plus-45 in his TD-INT ratio. The only negative was the 11 fumbles that he was part of, significantly more than any previous season in his career. He’s no longer has mobility, finishing with minus-31 yards in 32 running attempts. …Read More!

Updating Chiefs Injury Situation Before Camp

Kyle Williams (L), Eric Fisher (C) and Travis Kelce (R) remain physical question marks for Chiefs

Last season, the Chiefs were among the healthiest teams in the NFL.

Now, healthy is a relative term when it comes to pro football. Every player hurts, in time many of those hurts become injuries, and over the course of training camp, pre-season and the 16-game regular season, nobody escapes pain.

In Andy Reid’s first season in charge, the Chiefs lost 24 games from starters and key contributors, or an average of 1.5 players gone per game. There were five games where the Chiefs had all their starters and key contributors. Those games came in week two (Dallas), week seven (at Tennessee), week eight (Cleveland), week nine (at Buffalo) and week 10 (at Denver.) The game where the most starters/contributors missed the action was game 14 in Oakland against the Raiders. That day left tackle Branden Albert, tight end Anthony Fasano, outside linebacker Justin Houston and wide receiver Dexter McCluster were all in active.

Reid will give credit for the relative health of his team to his two leaders in that category: head trainer Rick Burkholder and strength and conditioning coach Barry Rubin. Both have been around football and the NFL for a long time and are known around the league for their expertise. What cannot be ignored, however, is the element of luck. That includes timing of injuries, and what position they play.

The Chiefs did not lose a start at quarterback, running back, nose tackle, safety, one cornerback spot, inside linebackers and one cornerback spot. The offensive line missed the most starts with 10 (Albert 4, right tackle Eric Fisher 3, guard Jon Asamoah 2, and guard Jeff Allen 1.) Only seven games saw the starting offensive line at the time together on the field.

The roster’s off-season rest and work periods are over, and they are now on a month-long build up to the start of training camp. There will not be much in the way of vacation for the players if they are smart. Too much blood and sweat has been shed to give it back by lying on the beach for four weeks.

As they scattered around the country, here’s an update on where injured and previously injured players stand: …Read More!

A Short & Unplanned Answer Bob

Over the weekend I checked my e-mail and found a post from long-time subscriber and contributor KC_Guy. He had some questions about the Chiefs and with no advertised Answer Bob segment on the plate, he couldn’t hold it in.

I have been derelict in having an Answer Bob after the completion of the Chiefs off-season program. I will correct that error in the coming weeks. But I thought I’d answer KC_Guy’s queries because they are on the minds of quite a few Chiefs fans. So, here’s a short edition of Answer Bob.

“Kicker: Ryan Succop or Cairo Santos? I guess Santos has the tie-breaker (money/cap hit) in his favor and quite honestly, I’ve not been all that happy with Succop’s leg for a while.”

There are a lot of people talking about Santos and the strong leg he showed in the off-season program. There are a couple of things to keep in mind on this question: (1.) there was no defensive rush on any of those kicks, (2.) there was no crowd creating distracting noise, (3.) the field and weather conditions were perfect, whether kicking inside or outside, and (4.) there was nothing on the line for the team when Santos brought his foot to ball.

Those factors do not work against him until he shows an inability to handle them, and that won’t come until training camp and pre-season games. There is no question Succop is vulnerable.

…Read More!

Chiefs Wrap-Up Mini-Camp & Off-Season

From the Truman Sports Complex

The New York Giants, Washington Redskins and San Diego Chargers all saw their head coach cancel the third practice of their mini-camps on Thursday.

No such luck for the Chiefs, although Andy Reid did shorten up the final practice of the off-season. It was held indoors because of the wet conditions on the practice fields and other than a lengthy session of the 7-on-7 passing drill, there was not a lot of offense vs. defense in the session.

However, like his head coaching compatriots with the Giants, Redskins and Chargers, Reid was pleased with the work his coaching staff and team got done since the end of March.

“We added a few things on both sides of the ball and on special teams and I thought they handled it well,” Reid said. “There was some recall from (last) season and with the new things, they took it all in and worked hard on it. That’s a good feeling that we were able to add to our packages. All and all it was a good offseason.” …Read More!

Mini-Camp Day #2 Report/DAT Returns To Practice


From the Truman Sports Complex

His first mini-camp practice ended with De’Anthony Thomas staggering off the field with the help of a trainer, overcome by the heat and humidity of a normal June day in the Midwest.

Thomas’ second practice wrapped up in a much better manner, sort of. After he finished practice on Wednesday – the entire practice – the fourth-round draft choice met with the media horde. That’s an event that can make just about any rookie feel sick to his stomach.

But the University of Oregon product handled his brief interrogation quite well, flashing a smile as he talked about how the heat felled him 24 hours earlier.

“It’s just me and getting used to this weather,” Thomas said. “I just have to train with it and get better.”

How will he adapt his training regime in the next five weeks before he lands in the outdoor oven that’s St. Joseph in August? The question stumped Thomas. The Oregon campus in Eugene and his hometown of Los Angeles, California can’t produce the combination of heat and humidity of a normal summer day in the Central Time Zone.

“I’ve just got to keep working hard and keep some fluids in my body,” Thomas said. …Read More!

Mini-Camp Day #1 Report/Houston Absent

From the Truman Sports Complex

The Chiefs kicked off their three-day mandatory mini-camp at their facilities Tuesday and outside linebacker Justin Houston was absent, just as he’s been for the Chiefs entire off-season program.

With one year remaining on his contract, the NFL’s labor rules require Houston to attend the mini-camp. By missing the first day, the Chiefs have the opportunity to fine him $11,575 and more than $69,000 if he misses all three days.

Of the 89 players currently on the roster, 86 took part in Tuesday’s practice. Missing were Houston, cornerback Sean Smith (illness) and wide receiver Weston Dressler (nursing a hamstring injury.)

(Left: rookie wide receiver De’Anthony Thomas was back with the Chiefs Tuesday, but did not finish practice.)

On the same day that No. 50 was boycotting mini-camp, it appeared Houston’s spot in the starting lineup was no longer held by veteran backup Frank Zombo. First-round draft choice Dee Ford was running with the first team Tuesday afternoon.

And, another rookie was in the starting lineup, as sixth-round choice Zach Fulton opened at right guard.

Last week’s release of starting cornerback Brandon Flowers and Smith’s absence due to an illness made for a shuffling at the position. Marcus Cooper moved from left to right and Ron Parker stepped into the starting lineup at left corner.

The Chiefs were excited about seeing another one of their draft choices, fourth-round running back De’Anthony Thomas. Under NFL rules, Thomas was unable to participate in the OTA sessions, after working and impressing coaches in the rookie mini-camp. …Read More!

Shifting, Juggling Dominate Chiefs Offensive Line

As the Chiefs hold their final three practices of the 2014 off-season with the mini-camp starting Tuesday there’s one thing that’s crystal clear after the team’s 10 OTA sessions:

Don’t use ink when listing the offensive line starters.

That’s not entirely true, given that Rodney Hudson has been the No. 1 center in the starting group all through May and June. At the other four spots, matters are not so obvious. That’s especially true at right guard, where Andy Reid and his coaching staff are seeking a starter to replace the departed duo of Jon Asamoah and Geoff Schwartz.

As G.M. John Dorsey and Reid start to look at cutting their current 15 offensive linemen down to a group of seven to 10 for the 53-man regular-season, they are mixing and matching at guard and tackle.

“That’s one group that’s improving,” Reid said of the blockers. “There are guys that have stepped up. The other guys have grasped it pretty well and look like their doing pretty good.

“You need more than five. You need to make sure that you have a good 10 of them ready. You want to find that number, whether it’s eight, nine, 10; you want to see what you’ve got there. …Read More!

Flowers Move Is The First Falling Domino For Chiefs

So you’re not happy that the Chiefs cut Brandon Flowers on Friday. That feeling is understandable; Flowers has been a good to very good player for the Chiefs defense over the last six seasons.

But how would you feel if the Chiefs still had Flowers, but not outside linebacker Justin Houston? What if Flowers was still wearing his No. 24 and the Chiefs were without quarterback Alex Smith?

That’s the situation the Chiefs faced as they attempt to build a consistently successful roster and do it within the limits set by the league’s salary cap. In this day and age, a team can’t keep all its good players and pay them accordingly. Decisions must be made. Sometimes they are distasteful, but it’s part of business in the NFL.

The release of Flowers came when it did so the Chiefs could split the so-called “dead money” on their cap to be used in the 2014 and 2015 seasons. That’s $7 million, divided by two years, so Flowers will still count $3.5 million under the team’s cap in the next two seasons.

Flowers carried a $10.5 million number under this year’s salary cap, so releasing him will free up $7 million cap dollars. According to the NFL Players Association, the Chiefs had $2,632,465 remaining under the cap. Add $7 million and the Hunt Family franchise now has close to $10 million. …Read More!

Chiefs Defense Strikes Back In Wednesday OTA

From the Truman Sports Complex

Day-to-day it’s hard to make chiseled-in-stone pronouncements about a football team and where it stands in June and how that translates to success or failure when playing the regular-season schedule.

Given that reality it would be foolhardy to make conclusive evaluations of the 2014 Chiefs based on what’s happening on the practice field in the final week of OTAs and next week’s full-squad mini-camp. June performances while wearing shorts and no pads often trend up and down on roller coaster tracks.

Still, there are visible early signs of what the Chiefs might be about this coming season. The offense has been efficient and productive, far ahead of the group’s pace last year at this same time. The defense lagged behind, especially when the first group went against the No. 1 offense.

Then, in Wednesday’s OTA at the team’s facility, the defense answered back. Quarterback Alex Smith’s completion percentage dropped as the defenders kept breaking up passes. Linebackers, cornerbacks and safeties all contributed to incompletions. A couple of those throws were intercepted by the defense.

“They say they come in bunches,” inside linebacker Derrick Johnson said of deflections and interceptions by the defense. “We definitely don’t want to get discouraged when we don’t have a lot of picks or don’t knock the ball down. Today, we had a lot of PBUs (passes broken up.) Myself, I had a couple of PBUs. We just have to get on the Jugs (machine) a little bit more so I can catch the ball.” …Read More!

Chiefs Offense Rolling Through OTAs


From the Truman Sports Complex

The progress of the Chiefs offense from last year to this one can be judged by how many times head coach Andy Reid blows his whistle.

The shrill noise signifies the end of the action for each play. Last year, Reid spent a lot of time blowing his whistle before the ball was even snapped. The Chiefs struggled in the early days of learning his version of the west coast offense and at least a half-dozen times per-practice, they were sent back to the huddle to re-group line up correctly and run the play.

During the current OTA sessions that continued Tuesday with an indoor practice at the team’s facility, players running with the first-team offense have given Reid an opportunity to save his breath. Even the No. 2 offense and the new faces on the roster are cruising through practice plan with a minimum amount of pre-snap mental errors involving alignment, movement and motion.

“Everyone is a lot further along in the playbook than we were last year at this time,” said fullback Anthony Sherman. “It makes these practices so much better because everyone is on the same page and knows what to do. We are much improved from last year.”

Sean Smith charged with DUI & careless driving/details at the end of the post

…Read More!

What We Saw In Week #2 Of OTAs

Chiefs defense in the walkthrough portion of a recent OTA practice. (kcchiefs photo)

After the first week of OTAs, we took a look at what the Chiefs offense was getting done in the practices. In the recently completed second week, our attention has turned to the defense. Here are some observations, opinions and information on the work done by the defense:

The Chiefs are not wasting any time in getting first-round draft choice Dee Ford involved in the defense.

Over three OTA practices this past week, Ford got quite a few snaps with the No. 1 defense and the No. 1 sub-defense in the nickel and dime schemes. There are plays available since starting outside linebacker Justin Houston has not taken part in the voluntary sessions. But veteran Frank Zombo has been running in Houston’s spot in the starting defense.

Ford is getting his chances in the No. 1 defense at right or weakside linebacker, in Tamba Hali’s spot. Hali has gotten more plays off than other linebackers, giving Ford a chance to work with the first unit. When his time with the second defense comes up, Ford handles the left or strong side, where Houston has been the starter.

“I think he’s done a great job of jumping in the books and learning the drops and the things that you need to do with the pass coverage,” said head coach Andy Reid. “That’s not an easy thing with all the combination things that we do.” …Read More!

Chiefs Finish Week Throwing The Long Ball

From the Truman Sports Complex

The Chiefs are more than halfway through their allotted 10 OTA practices and improvement is visible in all three phases over a half-dozen sessions, including Thursday’s work that was pushed inside due to the morning rain.

“We are at the halfway point and feel good about the competition,” said Andy Reid. “It’s going back and forth between the offense and the defense, with each one making plays. We are getting good special teams work in. The young guys are improving.”

On Thursday, the practice plan included more plays with the offense looking for the deep ball and all four quarterbacks hit and missed on throws down the field. The two best catches were by tight ends. Anthony Fasano caught a pass on his outstretched finger tips from Alex Smith and Demetrius Harris came back and topped that, stretching for a deep pass thrown by Tyler Bray, grabbing it and keeping his body in bounds for a legal reception. …Read More!

Defense, Special Teams Conversation At OTAs


Coordinator Bob Sutton talks defense with OLB Tamba Hali during OTA. (kcchiefs photo)

From the Truman Sports Complex

As the Chiefs hit the midway point of their 10 OTA practices, the coordinators and assistant coaches were accessible to the media horde to talk about the off-season work. An earlier post came with the words of offensive coaches.

Now, here are the thoughts from the defensive side and special teams:

Defensive coordinator Bob Sutton on what he seeks from his safeties in the Chiefs defense: “We try to play both safeties equally – we don’t really have a strong and a free, so both guys have to know both jobs. But you’re really looking for guys that have a lot of range. Free safeties can do a lot of things, a lot of it goes unnoticed but you can cap off a play. A play that maybe was run or caught for 20 yards but that guy is there to stop it at 20 yards. That’s a big part of being successful, anytime you can limit the explosive players and keep them down the better off you are. You’re asking a lot, you’ve got to be a center fielder and you’ve got to have good knowledge of the defense, like every team is asking out of their safeties. Those would be the main things that we’d be looking for.” …Read More!

Offensive Coaches Talk From Wednesday’s OTA


RB coach Eric Bieniemy works with his players during OTA (kcchiefs photo)

From the Truman Sports Complex

The Chiefs made their coaching staff available to the media after Wednesday’s OTA, and coordinators and assistants on both sides of the football spent time answering questions.

Here are some nuggets from the offensive side. Defensive coaching comments will come later.

Offensive coordinator Doug Pederson on filling the holes left by free agency departures: “We’re rolling people in there right now. This is a time to experiment with different combinations at all positions. As we get closer to camp, things get ironed out a little bit more, and we’ll go into the season that way.”

Quarterbacks coach Matt Nagy on the focus of the offense in this year’s OTA workouts: “Last year it was focused on the details; this year it’s more on detailing the details. We’re really honing in on the details of the game. For instance in a specific play, Alex (Smith) last year might be trying to learn the concept of the play, whereas now this year he’s really focusing in on not the concept of the play so much as maybe his footwork or whether he’s going to take a single hitch versus a double hitch on a five‐step play versus a seven‐step play. It’s really detailing the details more than it is just learning the concept of the play.” …Read More!

What We Saw In This Week’s Chiefs OTAs

From the Truman Sports Complex

A year ago, the Chiefs offense was learning how to walk in Andy Reid’s offense.

This week as the OTA practices started for the 2014 off-season, the offense was light years ahead of where it was a dozen months ago. They aren’t walking now, they are up and running and it showed as quarterback Alex Smith directed the offense in three practices.

“It’s tough to even compare and put into words; you’re learning to crawl last year at this time and for the guys that are back and here, obviously it’s a night and day difference,” Smith said. “The unique thing is that there are new faces and you have to get them caught up and get them in the mix. That’s everybody in the NFL; that’s the name of the game. There is turnover from year-to-year and getting everybody caught up because it takes 11 guys to execute.” …Read More!

Tamba Sweatin’ As An ‘Oldie’

From the Truman Sports Complex

The drops of sweat rolled down Tamba Hali’s face like an early summer rain. His shirt was drenched in the after-effects of a busy OTA practice at the Chiefs facility. Hali was handed a towel, he dried his shaved head, but within seconds little eads of sweat formed on his head.

Hali was working hard in preparation for the 2014 Chiefs season. Reports circulated that Hali had arrived to start the off-season program several weeks ago tipping the scales at 284 pounds.

While not confirming the number, Hali said he enjoyed the speculation.

“I like it, they don’t talk about me; it’s something to talk about,” Hali said. “I like it.

“I always show up for camp out of shape,” Hali added with just a touch of sarcasm.

Asked what he weighed this week, Hali said 275 pounds. He said he plays between 260 and 265 pounds during the season. The Chiefs are just about 60 days away from the first practices in pads for the veterans at training camp in St. Joseph. It won’t take a special diet plan for Hali to drop a pound every six days.

“It’s very important to be out here and around the team,” Hali said of the off-season work that continues on Thursday with the third OTA session of week. “The coaches are putting plays in our systems.” …Read More!

Off-season Practices Start Without Houston, Flowers

From the Truman Sports Complex

It always happens.

When a team gathers for the first time in a season, fans and media end up focusing attention on the players that are not participating, rather than those that are on the practice field.

Such was the case Tuesday as the Chiefs began their OTA practices. Thoughts in the Chiefs Nation were not of the 84 players on the field for the first practice. Instead, the focus was on two absent defensive starters and a starting quarterback that was present but still does not have a new contract with the club.

Missing were two key defenders: left (strong) outside linebacker Justin Houston and left cornerback Brandon Flowers. No explanations were available for their no-show status at the beginning of the voluntary off-season sessions.

Quarterback Alex Smith was there, and ran the first-team offense, but negotiations on a long-expected contract extension with the Chiefs do not appear to be making progress. The club and Smith’s agent Tom Condon have been talking since the first of the year when team chairman Clark Hunt publicly called a new contract for the quarterback an offseason priority. The deal Smith brought with him from San Francisco runs through the 2014 season. …Read More!

Chiefs Make Roster Move on O-Line

Thirty-five players were on a tryout basis with the Chiefs during the three-day rookie mini-camp that ended Monday.

One man remained on Tuesday, as the Chiefs signed offensive tackle Ryan McKee and added him to the 90-man roster. The 6-6, 305-pound native of Pine Bluff, Arkansas came into the league in 2009 as an undrafted college free agent out of Southern Mississippi University. Claimed on waivers by St. Louis near the end of the ’09 season, McKee spent the next three seasons with the Rams, with most of that time spent on the practice squad.

At Southern Miss he was a three-year starter at right tackle. The 27-year old McKee was not in the NFL last season; he worked as a graduate assistant coach with the University of North Carolina football program.

To create room for McKee the Chiefs released offensive lineman Chandler Burden.

Chiefs Wrap Up Rookie Mini-Camp; OTAs Next


From the Truman Sports Complex

The smoke cleared early Monday afternoon for the 65 players taking part in the Chiefs rookie mini-camp.

After three practices over the Memorial Day weekend, Andy Reid and his coaching staff put their camp roster through some quick and intense work that tested them mentally and physically. It wasn’t quite football, but it was as close as the league rules would allow.

With more than five dozen young men trying to grab attention from the coaching staff, it’s impossible to legislate against physical contact. In Monday’s session, a couple of guys wearing No. 48 collided in the end zone; it was tight end Dustin Greenwell and safety Shann Schillinger. Both tryout players walked away, but it caught the head coach’s attention.

“Let’s be smart out here,” Reid loudly told his team. “Smart, smart, smart.”

It turned out to be a very “smart” mini-camp as the Chiefs started with 65 players and went through Monday’s practice with 64 players. Only nose tackle Risean Broussard went down with an injury, tweaking a knee that Reid said was not a serious problem. …Read More!

Rookie Mini-Camp Report – Practice #3

From the Truman Sports Complex

The Chiefs wrapped up a three-day rookie mini-camp with a practice that was largely built on working in the red zone for Andy Reid’s offense and defense.

There were a lot of close-quarter plays that tested the offense and accuracy of the quarterback throws and receiver routes. Defensively, the secondary and inside linebackers had to work through the crisscrossing patterns and some shoving from the receivers.

(Right, that’s Dee Ford (#55) coming up behind Aaron Murray (yellow jersey) on a play where the quarterback was chased out of the pocket.) KC Chiefs photo

In the end, it provided perfect results as the offense won some, the defense won other plays, but the coaches and players all got a lot of tape to analyze in coming days.

“The way you get better in any offense and especially at the quarterback position, is just getting reps, reps, reps,” quarterback Aaron Murray said. “Repping the plays out, seeing new defenses, seeing how certain plays work against certain coverages and blitzes; the more reps you get the better.” …Read More!

Rookie Mini-Camp Report – Practice #2

From the Truman Sports Complex

After working the first practice of the Chiefs rookie mini-camp indoors on Saturday, head coach Andy Reid took his squad outside for work in practice No. 2 on a muggy Sunday afternoon.

On top of that, Reid put them through almost two hours of work at a very brisk pace. Those players who were not in tiptop condition struggled near the end of practice. Given that only a handful of players had actually been in an NFL mini-camp before, it’s not a surprise that the youngsters got an education in just what the pros expect from productive physical condition.

The roster for the three-day mini-camp stands at 65 players, broken down this way:

  • 2014 Chiefs draft choices – 6.
  • 2014 undrafted rookie free agents – 11.
  • Players designated as first-year – 13.
  • Tryout players – 35.

They worked only in helmets, with no other pads and no tackling. That makes it folly to divine any real evaluation of talent. All one can do is see which players get the most practice snaps and how they are used.

Here are observations from Sunday’s practice: …Read More!

Chiefs Sign First-Round Choice

The signing season for 2014 was closed out Saturday when first-round draft choice Dee Ford signed a four-year contract with the Chiefs.

It’s easily the earliest finish to the negotiations on new contracts for a season in club history. That doesn’t mean there won’t be more negotiations and signings, but the to-do list for the 2014 roster is finished before the end of May. That’s unprecedented for the Hunt Family franchise.

Now, general manager John Dorsey and his staff can really zero in on getting deals done for 2015 with quarterback Alex Smith and outside linebacker Justin Houston. Both men are entering the final season of their contracts, and both are headed for big money, certainly bigger than their salary cap numbers for the 2014 season: Smith $8 million and Houston $1.598 million.

For the first practice of the Chiefs rookie mini-camp on Saturday, Ford was wearing No. 55. Since being selected with pick No. 23 in the first round, Ford had been sporting No 90.

Rookie Mini-Camp Kicks Off Saturday

Starting Saturday afternoon the Chiefs will hold the first of three practices of their rookie mini-camp at the Truman Sports Complex.

It’s also the kickoff to the most intense on-field period of the off-season for Andy Reid, his coaches and players. They will have 16 practices in 27 days between Saturday and June 19th when they break until the start of training camp at the end of July in St. Joseph.

The rookies already on the roster have been at the Chiefs facility over the last two weeks since the end of the NFL Draft. They were able to attend meetings and take part in the limited on-field work allowed by the league’s labor agreement. That’s six draft choices and 11 undrafted college free agents signees that they’ve announced to date.

But they’ll be more bodies taking part in the three practices as the Chiefs are allowed to bring in players on a tryout basis for the mini-camp. The Chiefs should have about 30 to 40 players going through the practices.

The meetings and practices give the youngsters a chance to get their feet wet in the ways of Reid and his coaching staff. The work also gives them a running start on Tuesday for the first of 10 scheduled OTA practices that feature the full squad. …Read More!

Answer Bob – Chapter #4 – May 23

Here is the fourth and final set of replies to questions for Ask Bob. Again, thanks for your interest.

——————————————

Ernie Barney says: Hey Bob, your opinion please of the veteran players on this team. Who do think might not be on the 2014 opening day roster? I’m always too optimistic to write off an upcoming season so early but I’ll agree with other opinions here that it appears we are looking at a tough year in 2014 and significant personnel changes for 2015. Of the veteran players on the current roster who will be playing their final year in the Red and Gold in 2014? Thanks Bob!

Bob says: Ernie I don’t think we’ll see that much veteran turnover in the final 53-man roster. In a sense, that’s already happened with the departures of Branden Albert, Dexter McCluster, Tyson Jackson, Jon Asamoah, Geoff Schwartz, Akeem Jordan and Quintin Demps; the free agents that left the roster. But, if there are players that may be facing the final season in red and gold the list would have to include Tamba Hali, Derrick Johnson, Brandon Flowers, Dwayne Bowe, Mike DeVito, Anthony Fasano and Chase Daniel. If Hali was dispatched, it would leave $3 million in dead money on the 2015 salary cap, but would save $9 million. If Johnson was not part of the picture, there would be no dead money and a savings of $5.25 million. Flowers departure would leave $4 million in dead money, while saving $7.5 million. That’s a lot of defensive talent to remove from the roster, but just those three would create $21.75 million in cap savings. …Read More!

Answer Bob – Chapter #2 – May 22

Why not trade up for Brandin Cooks (L)? why draft Aaron Murray (R)?

More of your questions, more of my answers . . . enjoy.

——————————————————————————–

ChuckXX says: Hi Bob, I want to “Thank You” for everything you do for us. I have just a “two-parter”: (1.) Can you give us your unbiased opinion of Dee Ford? It was an “understatement” to say most of us were very surprised with that pick. (2.) Can you give us your unbiased opinion of Aaron Murray? I think he was another surprise pick. Why waste a valuable 5th round pick for a “3rd stringer”? It makes very little sense to most of us. I’m still shocked that they didn’t take the best WR in the first round. They probably should have “leap frogged” over the Saints for Brandin Cooks. When he sets all kinds of records it will be a “woulda, coulda, shoulda”, but didn’t.

Bob says: Chuck, come up for air pal! I understand there might be some confusion on how the Chiefs handled things in this Draft, but the moves made sense in the big picture of where this team sits and where they want to go. Fans and media want draft picks that are going to improve weaknesses and contribute immediately on the field. That’s not always realistic to think a draft choice is going to produce immediately. Come the second and third seasons talented players will work their way onto the field.

With Tamba Hali’s salary cap/contract situation and Justin Houston in the final year of his contract, it was necessary for the Chiefs to prepare for being without one or both pass rushers. Ford was the second best pass rusher in the draft, behind only No. 1 choice Jadeveon Clowney. If what he’s shown so far is his best, then it’s not enough and Ford will not be worthy of his No. 23 spot in the draft. If he can improve and produce, he will be well worth the selection. The concern is injury and how well he can play when he’s hurting. He has unusual athletic skills for rushing the passer and must continue to develop those. …Read More!

Murray Signs, Plus Other Roster Movement

The Chiefs picked up a signature from quarterback Aaron Murray on Wednesday, as he becomes the fifth of six 2014 NFL Draft picks to sign with the club.

The only unsigned Chiefs draft choice is first-round outside linebacker Dee Ford.

Also on the personnel wire for Wednesday was one player coming, another going. Departing the roster was offensive lineman R.J. Dill. He was signed earlier this year as a reserve-futures player.

Added to the roster was undrafted rookie free agent linebacker/safety DeRon Furr out of Division II Fort Valley State in Georgia. He’s 6-2½, 232 pounds and was clocked in the 40-yard dash in times under 4.7 seconds. Furr had 60 total tackles in 13 games during the 2013 season. Coming out of Carver High School in Columbus, Georgia, he originally signed to play at Auburn University. Furr left before he got on the field and transferred to the University of Memphis, where he played two seasons. He finished up his college career with two seasons at Fort Valley.

Chiefs Signing Defensive Tackles

The personnel business is a busy one across the NFL right now and the Chiefs have joined the chorus with near daily comings and goings.

On Tuesday, the club zeroed in on defensive tackles, signing a pair of street free agents, announcing the signing of an undrafted rookie free agent and the release of two players.

Added to the roster were Jermelle Cudjo, Kyle Love and Kona Schwenke. Released were defensive tackle Cory Grissom and outside linebacker Ridge Wilson.

Released last week, the 6-2, 311-pound Cudjo spent the last four NFL seasons with St. Louis. He appeared in 38 games, starting four times and picking up 45 total tackles, 1.5 sacks and three passes knocked down. He missed the 2011 season with a back injury. The 27-year old Oklahoma native grew up in Lawton, and was a Division II All-America selection at Central Oklahoma University.

Love spent two weeks on the Chiefs active roster last season, appearing in a game against San Diego and he was inactive the next week against Denver. The 6-1, 315-pounder spent three seasons in New England (2010-13), playing in 42 regular season games with 25 starts, along with six post-season games with four starts. Love had 80 total tackles, 5.5 sacks and one recovered fumble. Born in South Korea where his father Colonel Anthony Love was stationed, he grew up in Fairburn, Georgia, the same hometown as Chiefs Pro Bowl strong safety Eric Berry. He played college football at Mississippi State University.

The signing of Schwenke, a 6-4, 297-pound Notre Dame product out of Hawaii was covered Monday right here.

Chiefs Add Tackle, College Free Agents – Update

The Chiefs added veteran offensive tackle J’Marcus Webb to the roster, signing the free agent over the weekend.

The 6-7, 333-pound Webb has spent four seasons in the NFL, playing for Chicago and Minnesota. He appeared in 54 games and started 45 at both left and right tackle. The Texas native came into the league as a seventh-round selection of the Bears in the 2010 NFL Draft.

In college, he played at the University of Texas, Navarro (Junior) College and West Texas A&M.

The team also announced the signings of three undrafted college free agents: fullback James Baker (Idaho), center/guard Ben Gottschalk (SMU) and kicker Cairo Santos (Tulane). Plus, the alma mater of another undrafted rookie says he signed with the Chiefs and on the NFL’s daily transaction report, it shows the Chiefs signing another undrafted player.

Here’s a rundown on those five: …Read More!

Time For Another Edition Of Ask Bob

The NFL Draft is now a week old and the Chiefs rookie mini-camp is just ahead over the Memorial Day weekend. It seems an appropriate time to open up the Ask Bob mailbox.

Attach your questions, evaluations and concerns to this post in the comments. The mailbox will stay open until Tuesday at noon.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

De’Anthony De’Signs His De’al

Another day, another Chiefs draft choice putting his John Hancock to an NFL contract.

Fourth-round running back De’Anthony Thomas agreed to terms Friday on a four-year deal. Financial terms were undisclosed. The University of Oregon product figures to have the best chance of making a contribution in his rookie season with the Chiefs offense and special teams.

Thomas brings to four the number of Chiefs draft choices with contracts. Only two remain unsigned – first-round choice outside linebacker Dee Ford and fifth-round pick quarterback Aaron Murray.

At the close of business on Friday, 93 draft choices had signed or agreed to terms on their first NFL contracts.

Chiefs Sign First Draft Choice

Less than a week after the NFL Draft, there are more than a half-dozen choices that have already signed their rookie contracts.

That includes Chiefs sixth-round selection guard Zach Fulton out of the University of Tennessee. He inked his deal on Tuesday, becoming the first of the six Chiefs draft choices to sign.

When the current labor agreement between the owners and players went into effect in 2011, it made formal what had always been the slotting of pay for draft choices. That and limiting the amount of money teams can pay their rookies through the salary cap takes a lot of the guess work and negotiating histrionics out of the picture.

No details on terms of the deal for the 6-5, 323-pound Illinois native.

Chiefs Continue Roster Deletions & Additions

After a busy time with the NFL Draft, the Chiefs have begun the roster juggling process that will go on until the first week of the 2014 regular season.

Released were running back Eric Kettani and wide receiver Rashad Ross. Both players did time on the Chiefs practice squad last season, Kettani for one game, Ross for seven games. Both were signed on January 6 as reserve/futures.

That puts the roster at 73 signed players, giving the Chiefs 17 openings to sign undrafted free agents at this time. Draft choices do not count against the roster limit until they sign a contract.

On Monday they officially announced the signing of six undrafted free agents, names we provided Saturday evening: OLB Ben Johnson, Tennessee-Martin; SS Daniel Sorenson, Brigham Young; WR Darryl Surgent, Louisiana-Lafayette; FS David Van Dyke, Tennessee State; RB Charcandrick West, Abilene Christian; WR Albert Wilson. …Read More!

Undrafted Free Agent List For the Chiefs

The Chiefs were busy once the 2014 NFL Draft was over, signing undrafted free agents to add to the roster. They had 15 spots on the roster where they can sign free agents. They have 75 players with contracts, not counting the six draft choices that are not signed but may participate in offseason work starting on Monday.

Here are the names of the undrafted free agents that we’ve been able to collect through various sources:

RB James Baker, 6-2, 237 pounds, Idaho

A Florida native, Baker spent two years at Independence Community College in the Kansas Jayhawk League before landing at Idaho. In the last two seasons he played 10 games for the Vandals, rushing for 587 yards on 140 carries and six TD runs. He caught 10 passes for 186 yards and three scores. In his Pro-Day workout, he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.55 seconds while weighing 237 pounds. There were six scouts at the workout in Moscow, and afterwards Baker had a private workout with a Chiefs scout.

RB Joey DeMartino, 5-11, 200 pounds, Utah State.

DeMartino received All-Mountain West honors in 2013 as he finished fifth in the league and 31st in the country with 13 rushing touchdowns. He averaged 87.2 rushing yards per game, playing all 14 and starting eight times. He went over 100 rushing yards in five of his final seven games and finished the season with 1,221 rushing yards. The San Diego native earned offensive MVP honors in the Poinsettia Bowl after running 23 times for 143 yards and a touchdown in a victory over Northern Illinois. In his 32 games for the Aggies, DeMartino ran for 1,378 yards on 250 carries with 14 touchdowns. He caught 15 passes for 139 yards and a touchdown catch. …Read More!

Ford Ready To Make Beautiful Music With Chiefs


From the Truman Sports Complex

The musician in Dee Ford started before he was a football player.

“He was about five years old and he would take a spoon and bang on the pots and pans,” said his father James Ford Sr. “Eventually we got him a set of drums.”

The Chiefs first-round selection in the 2014 NFL Draft soon was on the football field, and he worked his way from All-Alabama status in high school to All-Southeastern Conference honors at Auburn University. Thursday, he worked his way into the No. 23 selection in the first round.

“During the whole draft process I told myself it doesn’t matter where I’m drafted because it’s out of my hands and I can’t control that,” Ford said on Friday at the Chiefs facility. “But I can control my work ethic and my craft itself. I’ve just been working on what I do. I said at the top of my mind that I don’t care where I’m drafted, I just need the opportunity.

“So I have goals in my mind that I’ve already set. Until I’m done with the NFL, I won’t cross my finish line.” …Read More!

Chiefs Grab Pass Rusher Dee Ford With 1st-Round Pick


From the Truman Sports Complex

“You can’t have enough pass rushers,” is how Chiefs head coach Andy Reid described Kansas City’s selection of Auburn defensive end/outside linebacker Dee Ford with the 23rd selection of the 2014 NFL Draft. The pick went down Thursday night just before 10 o’clock.

“He has an extremely high motor, he’s intelligent, he’s a concert pianist on top of being a heck of a football player,” Reid said. “We look forward to bringing him in. I’ve said it and John (Dorsey) has said it: you can never have enough of those guys.”

Ford will be worked at outside linebacker in the Chiefs 3-4 scheme, mixing in with returning starters Tamba Hali and Justin Houston. Reid said Ford is viewed as a pass rusher first, but that during his career at Auburn and playing in the Southeastern Conference, he played well against the run and pass.

The 6-2, 252-pound Ford is out of Odenville, Alabama and he spent five years at Auburn, joining the team as a 214-pound defensive end for the 2009 season. He played just three games in the 2011 season then suffered a back injury that ended his participation and gave him a medical redshirt season. In the 2013 preseason camp with the Tigers he sprained his left knee and missed the first two games of the season.

But it was his play at the end of Auburn’s season, against Texas A&M, Missouri in the SEC Championship Game and Florida State in the national championship game that Ford really showed the Chiefs what type of skills he could bring to the K.C. defense. His performance at the Senior Bowl was the clincher, as he earned defensive MVP honors in the all-star game in Mobile, Alabama.

“Go watch the one-on-one tape of him at the Senior Bowl,” said Reid. “He gets low on the ground and he keeps his speed; he doesn’t slow down. He’s a heck of a player.” …Read More!

First Round Goes Tonight; Chiefs Still Holding No. 23

That’s the likely No. 1 selection Jadeveon Clowney visiting NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s office on Wednesday.

Thankfully, the 2014 NFL Draft is finally here, kicking off Thursday night with 32 first round selections.

It goes down at Radio City Music Hall in New York, starting somewhere in the minutes just after 7 o’clock. Television coverage can be found on ESPN and the NFL Network throughout the three-day affair. Teams have 10 minutes to make their choice known to their rivals and the world in the first round.

Owning the No. 23 selection the Chiefs will likely be on the clock sometime between 8:30 and 9:15 p.m. The pace of the first round is always dictated by the number of discussions about trades among the 32 slots. Thursday figures to bring many, many phone calls between teams; those that are in the bottom third are looking to move up, while many of the teams on top of the draft would like to trade down to pick up extra draft choices.

It’s all because of what’s been called a very deep pool of talent, the number of top-rated, first round players ranks somewhere between 20 and 25; a normal year generally has 15 to 20 players rated that high. There are some positions where top-ranked talent rolls into the second and third rounds.

If the Chiefs don’t trade up or trade down they will have the opportunity to add a talented player with their choice. In total, they have six picks in the seven rounds.

“I think that there are good football players to be found in every round,” said Chiefs general manager John Dorsey. …Read More!

Chiefs Have Scored With Players For Draft Pick Trades

So the latest rumor about the Chiefs entering the 2014 NFL Draft is that they are willing to trade Brandon Flowers if he can bring them a decent payback on a draft choice.

Whether it’s true or not doesn’t really matter when the heat gets turned up on the NFL grapevine during the annual selection meeting. There are reasons for the Chiefs to deal Flowers. There are reasons where it would be folly for them to deal their starting left cornerback.

The same can be said for every player wearing a Chiefs uniform – there are no untouchables on the roster. Only two players would even deserve consideration for that status: nose tackle Dontari Poe and outside linebacker Justin Houston. An argument can be made for dealing everyone else because of age, size of contract/salary cap numbers, poor production or declining talent.

There should always be one caveat when dealing away a starter or key reserve for a draft choice – make sure the departing player’s talents and production are replaced on the field.

In their two most recent “major” trades of a starting player for draft choices the Chiefs failed to replace the production. Dealing tight end Tony Gonzalez in 2009 and defensive end Jared Allen in 2008 were done for several different reasons. And trading either one or both would have been fine if the Chiefs had found a productive tight end for the offense and an explosive pass rusher for the defense. Instead, the departure of both players left the offense and defense hamstrung in important facets of the game.

Here are five deals where the Chiefs traded players for draft choices. Some worked out, others did not. Like everything else involving the NFL Draft, there are no sure-things. …Read More!

First Round Trade-Downs Haven’t Helped Chiefs

Trading down worked for Chiefs in adding linebackers Donnie Edwards (L) and Justin Houston

The idea is solid for any NFL team situated in the bottom half of the first round in any NFL Draft. Move down, gain more draft picks and that increases the odds of finding talented players. That’s improved quantity with a slight drop in quality.

It’s good thinking that has not paid big dividends for the Chiefs. Over the last 20 years, they have traded down four times in the first round, all with picks from No. 16 and lower. In those deals they picked up nine extra draft choices, giving the team the chance to add players like current outside linebacker Justin Houston, and former starter on the outside Donnie Edwards. Those trades also added players like cornerback Alphonso Hodge, cornerback Julian Battle, linebacker Troy Dumas and quarterback Steve Stenstrom; those four played a total of 39 games with the Chiefs.

With the 2014 NFL Draft first round scheduled for Thursday night, here’s a look at those four deals: …Read More!

Trade Up/Trade Down, Chiefs Will Need A Draft Partner

Neil Smith (L), Tony Gonzalez (C) and Ryan Sims (R) all came from the Chiefs trading up in the first round.

John Dorsey made it very clear on Friday where he and the Chiefs stand on a possible trade involving their No. 23 selection in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft.

“You call all 31 teams and you let them know that if something happens, you’d like to move up or you’d like to move down,” Dorsey said. “You know, our phones are always open.”

Trading first-round draft picks has become big business in the NFL over the last decade, and the deals don’t go down unless teams partner up and play let’s make a deal.

“Somebody else has to be interested,” former Chiefs general manager Carl Peterson said several years ago. “You may want to move up, but somebody has to want to move down. It’s not quite as easy and people think.”

In a nutshell, a trade of a first-round choice comes for three reasons: (1.) a team sees an available player they must have, (2.) they don’t see any players at their slot that they want or need, or (3.) they just like to wheel and deal, and are constantly shuffling their collection of picks, usually in hopes of setting up the next trade. New England has become the champion of that approach under Bill Belichick – it’s the Patriots way.

“A man told me once never pass up a good player,” Dorsey said when asked if trade is more likely when a player a team wanted was taken earlier. “If I can acquire some additional picks in a draft that could or could not be deep, then I’ll do that. I’m going to do what’s in the best interest of the Kansas City Chiefs future.” …Read More!

A Slice Of Chiefs Draft History Appears Tonight

On Wednesday night the NFL Network features previously unseen video from inside the Chiefs draft room from 20 years ago.

The program is called Caught in the Draft-1994, a one-hour documentary-style look at that year’s NFL Draft and events surrounding those selections. It will be shown at 8 p.m. and then again four hours later.

NFL Films was in Arrowhead Stadium for that draft and captured the build up to the selection of running back Greg Hill with the Chiefs first-round choice.

Familiar faces abound in the film: president-general manager Carl Peterson, head coach Marty Schottenheimer, player personnel director Lynn Stiles, former top scout Terry Bradway and founder-owner the late Lamar Hunt.

The inside look at the Chiefs comes in the minutes just before their chance to draft at No. 25 in the first round. The Chiefs are considering three running backs for the pick: Mario Bates from Arizona State, William Floyd out of Florida State and Hill from Texas A&M. …Read More!

So Just What Does A Team Get At No. 23?

Ozzie Newsome and Dwayne Bowe: a couple of #82s drafted at No. 23

A team owns the 23rd choice in the first round of the NFL Draft. Just what can they expect to find at that spot in the bottom third of the initial round?

There are many possibilities for any team sitting in that spot, given that only 22 names would have been taken out of that year’s pool of talent. Still, whether that player can be a successful contributor for the club remains a roll of the football dice. In most seasons, evaluators generally agree that there are 15 to 20 players with first-round talents. Some years the talent pool is more fallow; other times there’s an abundance of choices.

Would a team be happy taking a tight end like Ozzie Newsome at No. 23? That was a home run pick by the Cleveland Browns in 1978 when they selected Newsome out of the University of Alabama. He went on to a Hall of Fame career with the Browns.

Teams looking for a Hall of Famer at the 23rd slot have not been very successful at finding one over the years. Since the NFL Draft began in 1936, and including the AFL Drafts (1960-66), only three of the 83 players taken at that spot went on to a Hall of Fame careers: Newsome, punter Ray Guy (1973) and linebacker Bill George (1951). …Read More!

Some Easter Egg Notes On The Chiefs

Enjoy the holiday weekend folks and remember the Chiefs off-season program starts on Monday. It’s the first step in the 2014 NFL marathon and comes on the same day when they stage the Boston Marathon.

Now, on to some notes, quotes and informational nibbles from the Chiefs and pro football:

One more step ahead for Bowe

The case of the City of Riverside vs. Dwayne Bowe was walked off the legal agenda this week when the Chiefs wide receiver took a plea bargain, agreeing to guilty charges of defective equipment and littering instead of speeding and marijuana possession.

Bowe wasn’t even in the courtroom when it all went down on Wednesday. He paid $610 in fines and the marijuana charge was dismissed completely. It was all a product of Bowe being stopped on November 10th last year while driving home from the airport with two friends. He was clocked at 48 miles per hour in a 35 mph zone and was stopped by Riverside police, who subsequently found marijuana in the car.

On the legal docket, Bowe has cleaned up the matter, but that does not necessarily clear him when it comes to possible NFL discipline. Commissioner Roger Goodell has wide-ranging powers to fine and suspend players for conduct detrimental to the league. A plea deal does not lessen the possibility of action out of the NFL office. …Read More!

Off-season Program Dates Set For Chiefs

The Chiefs off-season program will begin on the day after Easter and finish up four days after Father’s Day.

So much of the timing and structure of the spring and summer work by NFL players is controlled by the labor agreement between owners and players. Andy Reid put his schedule together for his second Chiefs team under those parameters.

On Monday April 21st, the team’s strength and conditioning program will begin. The players will lift and run for the next five weeks, with classroom work added near the end of that time.

A rookie mini-camp will start on Saturday, May 24th for three days over the Memorial Day weekend. Rookies, first-year players and others in for tryouts can take part.

Tuesday, May 27th begins the OTA portion of the off-season, as the team will be on the field for 10 practices that are scheduled to last just under two hours: May 27-28-29, June 3-4-5 and June 10-11-12-13.

That leads into the team’s mandatory mini-camp that starts on Tuesday, June 17th for the first of three practices that will wrap up the off-season program.

Cooper Scores With League’s Performance Bonus

Part of the labor agreement between NFL owners and the players is a performance-based bonus that’s intended to provide extra compensation for players that outperformed their contract.

Essentially it’s a way to reward late-round draft choices, undrafted rookies and street free agents that received more playing time than expected when they signed their contracts. Most of those deals were for the league minimum. The bonus is not based on production numbers like rushing yards or tackles. Instead, it’s based on how much playing time a player saw during the season.

There’s $110.72 million in the performance pool for the 2013 season, or $3.46 million per team. From last year’s Chiefs there were 61 players that received bonus money topped by rookie cornerback Marcus Cooper. When the league pays out these bonuses in April 2016, Cooper will receive $253,737. That ranked him at No. 15 among all the league players. Offensive tackle Jordan Mills of the Chicago Bears had the biggest bonus at $318,244.

Last season Cooper earned $405,000 in base salary with the Chiefs after he was claimed off the waiver wire from San Francisco the week before regular season game No. 1. According to NFL reckoning, he appeared in nearly 54 percent of the team’s plays in the 2013 regular season. …Read More!

Mays, Linkenbach Excited About K.C. Opportunities

New Chiefs inside linebacker Joe Mays said Thursday that two items punched his ticket to join the team this week as an unrestricted free agent.

“I want to go to a place where my family would love it, and I’ve heard nothing but great things about (Kansas City),” Mays said during a conference call with the KC media. “That was important to me.

“And, getting the chance to link up with Andy Reid, that was important to me too because he’s such a great person and a great coach. Why wouldn’t you want to be around someone like that?”

Mays came into the NFL with Reid and the Philadelphia Eagles through the 2008 NFL Draft. He was the 200th player selected coming out of North Dakota State.

Since then, he’s also played in Denver and Houston, but he’s maintained his connection with Reid. …Read More!

Chiefs Sign A Pair of Free Agents

Inside linebacker Joe Mays (L) and offensive lineman Jeff Linkenbach are the newest Chiefs

The Chiefs reversed the direction of the player flow on their roster Wednesday when they added a pair of unrestricted free agents.

After losing five of their own free agents on Tuesday, the Chiefs signed inside linebacker Joe Mays and offensive lineman Jeff Linkenbach.

The 5-11, 245-pound Mays will turn 29 in July. He entered the NFL out of North Dakota State in the 2008 NFL Draft, selected in the sixth round by Andy Reid when he was in Philadelphia.

Mays played two seasons with the Eagles, three with Denver and last season with Houston. He’s played in 61 games, with 36 starts and had 204 total tackles, 1.5 sacks, a forced fumble and he scored a safety last season.

The 6-6, 303-pound Linkenbach will be 27 years old in June. He entered the NFL as an undrafted rookie free agent out of the University of Cincinnati in 2010 with Indianapolis. In four seasons with the Colts, he played in 60 games, with 33 starts at right tackle and both left and right guard.

First Day of Free Agency Leaves Holes In Chiefs Roster

In the first hours of free agency, the Chiefs lost T Branden Albert (L), guard Geoff Schwartz (C) and guard Jon Asamoah (R)

For a time Tuesday it was like a revolving door was attached to the Chiefs locker room and it just kept spinning as player after player ran away from Kansas City and grabbed the dollars in the first hours of free agency:

  • Branden Albertgone, to the Miami Dolphins for $46 million over five seasons with $25 million guaranteed.
  • Jon Asamoahadios, as he moved on to the Atlanta Falcons on a deal that averages $4.5 million per year.
  • Dexter McClusterarrivederci, as Dex is off to Nashville to join the Tennessee Titans for $12 million over three seasons and $4.5 million guaranteed.
  • Tyson Jacksonsayonara, as he too landed in Hot-lanta for a five-year deal at $25 million.
  • Geoff Schwartzauf Wiedersehen, with the guard coming off his honeymoon to sign with the Giants.

By the end of the first 12 hours of free agency, the Chiefs had lost five, added none and re-signed safety Husain Abdullah. No details yet on his new deal.

In free agency, there are no extra touchdowns that come from scoring big on the first day. The reverse of that is the off-season is not a disaster if a team does not rack up a half-dozen signings in the first moments of free agent shopping. …Read More!

Answer Bob/Pre-Free Agency – Part #2

Here’s the second installment of your questions and my answers. Many thanks.

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Tucson Chiefs fan says: Hi Bob, how much do you think a player’s personality (free agent or draftee) comes into play when Dorsey/Reid look at players? It may seem like an odd question but I believe we had a losing mentality for quite some time and I think that may be the biggest hurdle for us to overcome (although we definitely have started). People are talking about copying Seattle’s blueprint for success with tall press coverage. That’s great but what I see with the Seahawks is a team that consistently expects they will win each week. Same with New England – new players all the time but the “cocky, we are winners” attitude prevails. Is attitude a big or small part of what they look for?

Bob says: Tucson, great question and not odd at all. Personality is a huge part of what they are looking for in players. Both Dorsey and Reid said at the NFL Combine last month that they want to find payers with a passion for the game. That passion shows itself not just on the field during a game, but in practice, the off-season, the locker room, the meetings – every aspect of the job. They want to see and hear that passion when they meet and interview college players. They seek as much information on the history of veteran players as they can dig up. Players with the Chiefs are asked to give a lot, in everything from time, to sweat and blood. If they don’t have a passion for the game, it’s not going to work. The bodies trying to crack NFL rosters all possess outstanding athletic ability. The ones that stick bring something else to the team. That’s what they attempt to find. Last year, Dunta Robinson proved to be over the hill as a cornerback and his signing did not help the Chiefs defense on the field. But Robinson’s presence was not a compete bust – he’s one of those guys that approaches his business with passion. He had a huge influence on the rest of the secondary with his advice and the work ethic he displayed. Robinson did this even when his playing time shrunk and then disappeared. …Read More!

Answer Bob/Pre-Free Agency – Part #1

Thanks for your questions about the Chiefs and free agency. It all begins Tuesday afternoon and we’ll bring you analysis and commentary for moves by the Chiefs and the rest of the NFL.

Here are the first questions and answers.

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R W says: Excellent! Great to have “Ask Bob” back again. My question: Is Dorsey/Reid basking in the glow, treading water, or embarrassed from 2013 free agent/draft picks . . . and WHY once you assign a status on the mentioned choices?

Bob says: R W, it’s nice to be back. As for Dorsey/Reid and how they reacted to their 2013 acquisitions, I would say their emotion was simply, “We’ve got to get back to work.” I can guarantee you that the personnel and coaching staffs are not resting on any laurels from last season. In the NFL, every team starts new again every season – it’s impossible for a team to stay intact in the locker room.

Looking back at 2013, the roster additions were less than scintillating and would fall into your category of treading water. In unrestricted free agency, they hit on defensive end Mike DeVito and guard Geoff Schwartz. Some of the other signees made contributions but they were inconsistent and not always reliable: wide receiver Donnie Avery, cornerback Sean Smith, inside linebacker Akeem Jordan and safety-returner Quintin Demps would be the best examples. On a grading scale of one (horrible) to 10 (outstanding), the UFA class was a four. …Read More!

Charles, Cooper, Holmes Honored By Chiefs

The annual 101 Banquet is a night where Kansas City honors the NFL’s best from the 2013 season. It’s also an evening for celebrating the best Chiefs performances past and present.

That went down Saturday evening at the Westin Crown Center Hotel. During the black-tie affair the Chiefs announced:

  • Running back Jamaal Charles was selected the team’s MVP for the 2013 season, winning the Derrick Thomas Award.
  • Cornerback Marcus Cooper was named the club’s top rookie for last season, winning the Mack Lee Hill Award.
  • Former running back Priest Holmes was chosen as the 44th member of the Chiefs Hall of Fame.

Charles won the MVP title for the fourth time in five years (2009-10-12-13). He had 1,980 offensive yards over the season and led the NFL in scoring touchdowns with 19. Charles also earned his third trip to the Pro Bowl and was named first-team All-Pro for his 2013 performance.

Cooper joined the team in the week before the first regular-season game, claimed off the waiver wire from San Francisco. He ended up playing in 16 games, making six starts, picking off 3 passes and contributing 41 total tackles. Cooper also recovered a muffed punt in the end zone for a touchdown against Tennessee.

Holmes spent seven seasons with the Chiefs (2001-07), earning three trips to the Pro Bowl (2001-03) and two Chiefs MVP awards (2001-02). He finished with 6,070 rushing yards, 76 rushing touchdowns and 83 total scores. He led the NFL in rushing during the 2001 season with 1,555 yards.

More From John Dorsey At The NFL Combine

From Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis

General Manager John Dorsey met the media on Friday afternoon at the NFL Combine and succeeded in replying to questions while providing minimal information. In just one year, Dorsey has already mastered the No. 1 trait for the typical league GM.

He did touch on a couple subjects that provided new information or a different look at the Chiefs players and position groups.

Here’s what Dorsey said about

The rookie season of last year’s No. 1 NFL Draft choice, offensive tackle Eric Fisher: “I think he made great strides as the season went along. You could see a great degree of comfort with him in the second half of the season. I’ve always said that between the first and second year, that’s when those guys make their greatest strides and I expect great things from Eric in his second year.” …Read More!

Recent Events and the course of history


Over the next few days I will post reaction to recent events. They’ll be short and sweet, or in this case, not so sweet.

The Chiefs turnaround from 2-14 to 11-5 was this season’s bounce-back story of the NFL and reconfirms the belief that in the NFL a team can go from worst to almost first very quickly.

It’s really not that easy. When an NFL team has been controlled by bad management, one season is not enough to turn the ship. A team that lacks a creative decision maker can leave a franchise in a very deep hole for some time.

From recent events, here’s an example of how former GM Scott Pioli was devoid of creativity in the personnel business and his cloud still hangs over the roster.

This past Sunday, the Seattle Seahawks won Super Bowl 48, using a stifling and active defense to shutdown Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. The Hawkers did this with an offense that was directed and led by second-year starting QB Russell Wilson.

A sensation since he was selected with the No. 75 choice in the 2012 NFL Draft, Wilson was supposedly too small to be a successful passer in the pros; he’s 5-11. Certainly, Pioli could not see or appreciate the qualities Wilson brought to the NFL. He was wrapped up in numbers when analyzing quarterbacks; he brought from the Patriots a QB template that required a player stand no shorter than 6-3. Thus, Wilson was not even a consideration. …Read More!

Do Chiefs Matchup With Super Bowl Teams? Part #4

As we continue to take a very close look at Super Bowl teams Seattle and Denver, and where the Chiefs land in comparison to those clubs, we’ve looked at the premier positions on offense, defense and special teams.

This time, we look at offensive roster of the three teams; it’s an important comparison of productive talent, and the depth on the roster for each team.

It’s not just that the Seahawks and Broncos are in the title game; they posted the best regular season records in the league. They are experienced, talent-filled rosters and that’s the type of team the Chiefs must match and exceed if they plan to play in next year’s Super Bowl.

The rankings at each position come from discussions with personnel leaders around the league.

Here are the offensive comparisons: …Read More!

Answer Bob/Volume Last – January 17

The final batch from Ask Bob. You guys kept me working. Thanks and enjoy.

cychief24 says: Great questions from my Gretz.com brothers! Almost leaves no stone unturned. Bob, prayers to you and Anita. I have a personal business question for you. How is BobGretz.com doing? I know we all want/need you to succeed. Is there anything we as members can do to help this site be more profitable besides recruiting others? When we click on ads does that help? Can those sponsors tell if we purchased from them off your link? I appreciate being able to use PayPal.

I heard the Alex Smith interview on WHB on my iPhone app. Loved everything I heard! He mentioned how the offense and defense needs to be as consistent as the special teams were all year. I think the offense took a while to learn and get going. The defense sank because of the injuries to Hali and Houston. So my question is: do we need a change at DB coaching? Kendrick Lewis continually looks to the sideline on EVERY play wondering what he should do. Does he ever study game film? I love Emmitt Thomas but he looked disconnected at the last few games on the sideline from my seat both at Arrowhead and at Indy.
From your grades is Albert a cap-eater good enough to sign compared to Stephenson starting?

Bob says: cy thanks for your support and prayers. I’ve got to be honest with you and everyone else that has found this site and supported it: right now bobgretz.com hangs by a thread. I’m not ready to talk about it currently because the last two months have been a roller coaster fighting with that bastard cancer and what it’s done and is doing to the woman I love. Let me just say that coming up in the future, hopefully near future, I will be in touch with a wonderful group of subscribers and let you know the whole story and what the future may hold. I love doing what I do; I don’t want to stop, but at some point we all have to grow up and get a real job, if any of those exist out there anymore. Right now, there are more important matters that demand my time. Stay tuned.

As for Alex Smith – I’m sold on this guy because of what’s in his past. He was bruised and battered both physically and emotionally with the 49ers. Even when he had the chance and grabbed the starting job, they were trying to replace him. I’ll take a quarterback like that any season of the decade. I think he’s also willing to make his feelings known not only in the locker room, but to the coaching staff and the front office. There’s so much respect for him and what he’s been through and the fact it did not destroy him. I’ve talked quite a bit in these segments about the defense, but I’ll add a couple things: 1.) Lewis may have been looking to the sideline to get calls for the defense because he’s one of the guys on the field that relays the defensive call from the coaches. He studies a lot of game film, believe me and all that preparation can help a player, but it can’t make up for a lack of speed and that’s caught up with Lewis. 2.) I did not pay attention to Emmitt Thomas on the sidelines and his demeanor, so I wouldn’t want to speculate. But at his age, maybe Emmitt has had enough. 3.) Tell me how the Chiefs are going to replace Albert and I’ll tell you whether they should sign him, franchise him again, or let him walk. It’s a huge position, one of the three or four premier positions in the NFL – quarterback, left tackle, pass rusher and cornerback. If a team wants to win, it better have those spots filled with talented players and if they have won, they should make sure they keep him.

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Answer Bob/Volume #5 – January 16

Coming down the home stretch here. A couple more after this one and then I’ll catch up to some of the comments to the questions and answers. Enjoy!

Michael D says: Bob, Happy New Year and all my best wishes to you, Anita, and your family. Apology: being old and bitter I must bring some pessimism to the party with my questions. What the he11 do the football gods have against KC and the Chiefs winning a game in the playoffs? Did they have to remove impact-player after impact-player until the team could not even breathe let alone function as a playoff-caliber football team against Indy? Was Alex Smith supposed to throw the ball to himself and score? Does anyone on the planet believe that Gray was going to put on his Jamal Charles superhero outfit and lead the team to a 4th-Q win? When will people drop the “next man up” mentality and realize it’s not valid when you are so far down the depth chart that you are asking asterisks to play? With the exception of the playoff game, it was the same secondary before the bye as after the bye; how did the pass rush mask such a porous, slow, untalented, uncoachable group of players in the first half of the season? Did the scheme change? Did the mentality change? Was there a lack of adaptability? Was there too much ego or maybe not enough of one? Do Bob Sutton and Dunta Robinson have a job with KC next year?

In golf I can handle the Pond Gods that are insatiable and sometimes a player must stand there and feed the Gods one ball at a time over and over until they are satisfied and allow him or her to continue on with their golfing life. What must the Chiefs as an organization and us fans as a kingdom do to appease the Football Gods so they will just leave us in peace? Thanks for the therapy! GO CHIEFS: The 2014 edition.

Bob says: Michael, at a time when I really needed it, reading your questions put a smile on my face. Thanks so much. It wasn’t like I was reveling in your agony, just enjoying your passion. You touched on one thing that really hit home with me and something that I’ve been carrying around for the last few months, this “next man up” mentality. That’s so easy to say and use that line with the players, with the fans, with the media, but when I get an opportunity to talk with Andy Reid, my question is this: what does the coaching staff do to make sure the next man up is prepared to step in? We hear all the time from players that the starters get the bulk of the practice snaps; that would be expected. So how the heck, are these next ups supposed to be ready to play? By their status, most have already proven they aren’t as talented as the starter, or they are a younger, developmental player that does not have a wealth of experience to rely on. I want to know what the coaches are doing to give the next man a fighting chance when it’s his firsts fight.

By the way, I’m quite familiar with the Pond Gods on the links; I’ve left a sleeve or 10 swimming with the fishes. To continue the analogy, the Chiefs and their fans are like Kevin Costner’s character in the movie Tin Cup. They just keep banging away like Roy McAvoy, believing at some point the ball will stay on the green and not roll back into the water.

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NFL Almanac – January 15

AFC/NFC Championship Game practice report

Denver – all players were involved in practice.

New England – LS Danny Aiken (illness), QB Tom Brady (right shoulder, illness) did not practice.

San Francisco – LB Ahmad Brooks (illness), DE Demarcus Dobbs (knee, shoulder), C Jonathan Goodwin (foot), DE Justin Smith (shoulder) did not practice.

Seattle – WR Percy Harvin (concussion), DT Jordan Hill (groin), RB Marshawn Lynch (not injury related) did not practice.

Head coaching news

Minnesota – named Mike Zimmer as the team’s new head coach. Zimmer has been Cincinnati’s defensive coordinator for 6 seasons (2008-13) and before that was coordinator of defenses for Atlanta (2007) and Dallas (2000-06). …Read More!

Answer Bob/Volume 4 – January 15

Here are more answers and questions. You guys are wearing me out!

Kenny says: How much longer will Jamaal Charles need to play and what would he need to do in order to be considered for the Hall of Fame?

Bob says: Interesting question Kenny and tough to reply because the evidence is not final. At this point, Charles would have no chance to get his ticket punched for Canton. Consider former Denver running back Terrell Davis, who finished his 78-game career with 7,607 rushing yards, 8,887 offensive yards and 65 touchdowns, along with a pair of Super Bowl rings with the Broncos (1997-98). Davis couldn’t make the final round for this year’s class of candidates for the Hall and he’s been a Hall of Fame semi-finalist for the last 8 years but hasn’t been able to get to the final 15 candidates.

Charles has played 80 games with the Chiefs, posting 5,823 rushing yards, 7,798 offensive yards and 43 offensive touchdowns. He does not have a victory in the playoffs, let alone two Super Bowl rings. To have a shot, Charles needs to reach 10,000 rushing yards, even going as high as 12,000 yards. At his current average of 72.8 rush yards per game, he’ll need 58 more games to reach 10,000 yards; that’s almost four full seasons. To reach 12,000 yards, he’ll have to play 85 more games or 5 full seasons and part of another. Only 3 of 13 running backs in NFL history have hit the 12,000-yard mark and not earned Hall of Fame induction. …Read More!

Answer Bob/Volume 3 – January 14

The questions kept coming, here are more answers. Enjoy!

j.t. collins says: Bob, wish the best for Anita & you in 2014. Now for my 2cents & this will cause a response from our Chiefs family – I think Derrick Johnson had a bad year (by his standards) & it showed in his Pro Bowl snub. Also, I see others question Sutton’s 2nd-half adjustments (or lack of it) as I do. I was hoping some other team would hire him away … darn. Is it us fans (lack of knowledge) or do you share our pain? Go ahead, I can take it, people laugh at my 10-6 forecast … fire away. Thanks Bob.

Bob says: J.T. your thoughts are appreciated. I agree with you that Derrick Johnson did not have a good year based on his standards. I wouldn’t call it a bad year, just not what D.J. has produced in the past. I think it’s the obvious turn of his career and it’s only to be expected; he’s played a lot of football in the last four seasons, made a lot of tackles, taken a lot of contact. He’s 31 and has played 9 full seasons – that’s a long time for a linebacker. Do not write off Bob Sutton and make him a scapegoat; he’s a very good coach, who can handle the job. The fall of the Chiefs defense was more a matter of performance and execution than Sutton. He doesn’t get absolved of blame, mind you, but there are bigger problems, and the largest of those is the talent level. They have Dontari Poe, Justin Houston and Eric Berry playing at the height of their abilities, and even Poe and Berry have to play better. Everyone else is either trending downward or is a replaceable part. Tamba Hali, Derrick Johnson, Brandon Flowers are not getting any younger, faster, or stronger; they can still contribute and even excel, but the clock is ticking. …Read More!

Answer Bob/Volume 2 – January 13

Here comes chapter two for your questions and my answers. Enjoy!

aPauled says: Awesome year again Bob! My questions: 1) Does the defense have a vocal leader? This group just seems disjointed with no one pulling it together. 2) What’s your assessment of Marcus Cooper? The guy looked good for a while then never seemed to recover from Peyton Manning targeting him. 3) Which guy on the current roster is best poised for a breakout year in 2014?

Bob says: Thanks aPauled for your comments. 1.) If the defense has a vocal leader, it appears to be either OLB Tamba Hali or SS Eric Berry. But the unit doesn’t appear to have a real “vocal” leader like a Ray Lewis was in Baltimore. I think any time a unit performs as poorly as the Chiefs defense did in the second half of the season they are going to look disjointed. It’s something the coaches need to assess and the players need to assess as well. Bill Walsh said about 20 years ago that he knew his 49ers team was capable of winning a championship when the players started to play for each other, rather than the coaches or owner. The Chiefs have not reached that point yet; it’s another step in the process of growing from pretender to contender. 2.) I think overall Cooper was the second best cornerback on the team, behind only Brandon Flowers. What he provided the Chiefs was remarkable given his late arrival and rookie status in the league. I agree – once he got torched by Manning, he lost some confidence. I think that’s where he showed his lack of background at cornerback. He’ll get over that. As long as he gets into the off-season program, I think there’s a chance he’ll start in 2014. 3.) A breakout player for 2014 – that’s a tough one because I’m not sure there’s a player on the current roster that would qualify. I may regret this guess – but I’ll say wide receiver A.J. Jenkins. He showed more in limited time with the Chiefs than he ever did in San Francisco. He needs someone to flip the switch on his motor. If Reid and receivers coach David Culley can get Jenkins to prove that being a great player is important to him, he could help the offense a lot and produce nice numbers in ’14. …Read More!

NFL Almanac – January 13

According to his agent, Canadian Football League All-Pro WR Weston Dressler will work out for the Chiefs on Tuesday. The 5-8, 180-pound Dressler was twice named a CFL All-Star (2012-13) in his six seasons with the Saskatchewan Roughriders. In 106 regular and post-season games, the North Dakota native caught 462 passes for 7,191 yards and 49 touchdowns. Saskatchewan won the league’s Grey Cup championship for the 2013 season with a victory over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 45-23. Coming out of the University of North Dakota, Dressler was not selected in the 2008 NFL Draft and signed with Saskatchewan. He earned CFL Rookie of the Year honors that first season, catching 56 passes for 1,123 yards and 6 scores. In 4 seasons at North Dakota, he set 19 school records with the Fighting Sioux. Dressler will be 29 in June and will become a CFL free agent on February 15th. Coming out of college, he was clocked at 4.4 in the 40-yard dash.

Head coaching hire

Tennessee – the Titans announced on Monday night that they hired former Arizona Cardinals head coach and San Diego Chargers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt as their new head coach. Whisenhunt replaces the fired Mike Munchak. In six seasons with the Cardinals, his record was 49-53 with a trip to the Super Bowl after the 2008 season. …Read More!

Answer Bob/Volume 1 – January 12

As I expected, you guys produced dozens of great questions and comments for the first edition of Ask Bob for 2014. There were so many questions that the answers will come in several posts over the next few days. Again, thanks so much.

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R W says: Bob, glad to see this forum return again. My question: Who needs to go following the meltdown vs Colts in the playoffs? Don’t limit it to coaches; include players and front-office personnel. Plus, who do the Chiefs target for their #1 acquisition in free agency or the draft? Also, if the RB at Auburn is sitting there, do they take him in the 1st round?

Bob says: R W, it would be a major surprise if anybody hit the highway out of Arrowhead solely because they were identified as a scapegoat for the team blowing a 28-point, second-half lead against the Colts. The trip to the post-season was unexpected and came after such a disastrous 2012 that there’s obvious football sacrifice, like Greg Robinson was in 2003 when they lost to the Colts. But there’s no silver lining for the Chiefs after getting the big lead and giving it up this year. There were problems at every level in that second half, from the head coach, staff and players. We can throw in the front office as well because they were the ones that put together the roster. What happened in that second half in Indy should not have surprised anyone; it’s exactly how the Chiefs played in the second half of the season. The two worst players on the field for the Chiefs were DBs Kendrick Lewis and Dunta Robinson. But anyone that watched the defense this year knows Lewis and Robinson were liabilities all season.

Priority spots for additions in this off-season would have to be wide receiver, interior offensive line, tight end, defensive backs and defensive ends. I think they will attack the majority of those deficiencies in the draft and the middle-level free agents. With hopes of signing Branden Albert and working out extensions for Alex Smith and Justin Houston, the Chiefs aren’t going to have a lot of money to throw around in free agency. As for Tre Mason, the gifted running back at Auburn, he announced last week he’ll go into the upcoming NFL Draft. It would be the biggest shock of the 2014 selection meeting if the Chiefs went for Mason or another running back in the first round. There are too many other positions of need and talented personnel people will always find good running backs in the middle rounds.

————————- …Read More!

Chiefs Sign 5 More Players To Reserve/Future Deals

The tally now stands at 20 players that the Chiefs have signed to reserve/future contracts for the 2014 season.

Five more of the signees became public on Saturday when they popped up on the NFL’s daily transaction report. In fact, the players signed by the Chiefs were the only names on Saturday’s personnel update.

The newest 5 players are: …Read More!

New Additions To Chiefs Roster

The Chiefs have added a pair of players to their roster this week through the reserve/future signings – running back Joe McKnight and linebacker-fullback Jordan Campbell.

McKnight brings NFL experience to the team, as he played in 39 games for the New York Jets over 3 seasons. Campbell was in training camp last year with the Cincinnati Bengals.

These additions now give the Chiefs 15 reserve/future contracts. Here’s info on the newest guys. …Read More!

Chiefs 2014 Contract Priorities: Alex, Albert, Houston

For the teams that lost in the wildcard round of the NFL playoffs last weekend, the time for mourning is over. The work for 2014 has already begun.

Reserve/future free agents have been signed or largely retained by the Chiefs from their practice squad. Decisions are currently being discussed on the players on the roster without a contract for 2014. They are also being made on players signed through next season and beyond. The salary cap managers have already massaged the numbers and have drawn the road map for John Dorsey and Andy Reid when it comes to the 2014 roster.

Taking a look at the Chiefs roster and it does not take long to establish some priorities that need to get done:

  1. Sign quarterback Alex Smith to a new contract or an extension. His current contract expires after the 2014 season.
  2. Keep left tackle Branden Albert, whether that’s a new contract, or slapping him with another year under the franchise player designation.
  3. Re-negotiate and extend the contract of outside linebacker Justin Houston. His deal runs through the 2014 season.

That’s going to take a lot of Hunt Family resources to pull off the signing of all three players. They all play at the premier positions in the league: quarterback, QB protector and pass rusher. Teams that have talented players at those three spots do everything they can to keep them. Those that don’t have talent at any of those positions are constantly searching for a quarterback, blind-side blocker and sack artist. …Read More!

Surviving A Wildcard Blizzard With The Hoosiers.


Downtown Indianapolis, Monday morning.

On the Trail of Football Tears

It was Monday morning, and after two hours of driving west on Interstate 70, I was a few miles past the Indianapolis Airport. Normally, it would be a 20-minute drive to reach the airport from downtown.

There was nothing normal about this day, or those that came before. Like others with Kansas and Missouri license plates, a serious snow storm and a blast of Artic air delayed my return to Kansas City from the AFC wildcard round game that finished up around 8 o’clock Saturday evening. I had already extended my hotel stay one night, and spent all day Sunday working and watching the snow pile up in Indy, a total of 12 inches downtown, more north of the city.

I inched along the highway, slipping and sliding, grateful that there was hardly anybody else out there. Less than a mile from an exit, I pondered pulling off and reconsidering my decision to head home. Another hotel room night sounded a lot better than the previous two hours.

But there was a tractor trailer jackknifed on the off ramp, so I pushed on. As I looked down at the cluster of gas stations, mini-markets and truck stops, there were three cars sitting in the parking lot of a Wendy’s. They were the only cars there. Each had one of those Chiefs flags flying on the car and one car had its trunk open. There were three or four people sitting in folding chairs and there appeared to be a small grill between them.

Trapped on the Trail of Football Tears, these Chiefs fans went back to what they know best – party. The temperature was hovering at zero degrees, the wind-chill factor pushed the feel-like even lower, but three guys in big red jackets and wearing winter hats were tailgating. Although I never got close enough to see for sure, the tailgaters had to be men – women are too smart to something ridiculous like tailgating on a Monday morning in a deserted Wendy’s parking lot in the middle of Indiana.

It was an early highlight of what would be a 14-hour drive that in good weather would take 7 hours. Bored to death, trapped with news talk and sports talk radio, I started taking notes. Stay warm and join me on the parking lot that was I-70 as I and many others tried to get back home from post-season disappointment. …Read More!

Luck Overcomes Mistakes In A Legendary Moment

From Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis

Andrew Luck was ticked off. He was mad and he was not making any attempt to hide his anger.

It was the first half of Saturday’s game against the Chiefs in the AFC playoffs and the Colts quarterback was very unhappy.

“I was disappointed in myself,” Luck said. “I was angry, really felt like I was letting the team down.”

In retrospect, Luck beating up himself over his play seems like a cute chuckle. By the time the game was over, Luck had led his team to a come-from-behind victory over the Chiefs with a strong second half performance and a 45-44 victory to advance in the playoffs for the first time in his brief career.

Early in the second half, Luck’s second interception of the game setup a Chiefs touchdowns and a 28-point Kansas City margin.

“There is no 28-point score,” said Luck. “It takes good plays to get down there (end zone) and guys stepped up. Everybody stepped up. Every player on the offense had at least three really big plays that you could say ‘Wow that really turned the game around’.”

None more so that Luck himself. The No. 1 selection in the 2012 NFL Draft has quickly established his credentials as one of the bright young quarterbacks in the league. He directed his team into the playoffs last year as a rookie, and did it again this year.

Here are Luck’s numbers from Saturday’s game, broken down by first and second half performances:

Half

Att

Cmp

%

Yards

A/A

TD

Int

Scoreboard

First

21

12

57.1

129

6.1

1

1

KC 31-10

Second

24

17

70.8

314

13.1

3

2

IND 35-13

“I think we got a little momentum there early with a touchdown, then I go out there and throw a pick and sort of set everything back,” Luck said. “I was angry, but you’ve got to flush it. You’ve got to forget about it. Coach Pep (Hamilton, offensive coordinator), Coach Clyde (Christensen, QB coach) do a great job of sort of getting me back zeroed in. (Matt) Hasselbeck does a great job too. I’m thankful that guys trust me to go out there and right my wrong, per se.”

What made the difference the Colts offense in the second half?

“We stopped throwing interceptions and stopped making stupid mistakes,” Luck said. “We did the stuff we practiced and we realize if we can limit mistakes and limit turnovers and limit penalties, we’ve got a fighting chance.

“I think we chipped away and got back into it and then to make it a one-score game was big.”

So what type of changes did the Colts make at half-time when they were down by 21 points? Luck says they did nothing special, or change anything

“Coach (Chuck Pagano) told us to flush it, that we didn’t have to do anything different,” said Luck. “We’ve been down big before and managed to claw back. Guys didn’t panic. We just sort of stuck to the game plan.”

Luck’s final numbers were outstanding: 443 passing yards was the fifth highest total in post-season history, plus he became the first player in NFL history to throw for a touchdown and recover a fumble for a touchdown in the same game in the playoffs.

The comeback was the 11th of Luck’s career that now spans just 34 regular and post-season games. No other quarterback has been so proficient at leading his team from behind so early in his career as Luck. He’s now won 7 games where he was trailing by double digits. In those 34 games his starting record is now 23-11.

“We hope this is not the highest of highs,” Luck said of the victory. “We don’t want the journey to end next weekend. It’s going to be two phenomenal football teams, whatever one we face. We’re just happy to win.”

Chiefs Report Card: Some Good Grades, Some Bad


From Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis

Here’s the report card for the Chiefs after Saturday’s loss to the Indianapolis Colts in an AFC wildcard round game:

Passing offense B: Alex Smith had one of the best passing days of his NFL career, throwing 4 touchdown passes, completing 65.2 percent of his throws for an average of 8.2 yards per attempt. His 378 passing yards was the most by a Chiefs quarterback in a post-season game, as were his 46 attempts, 30 completions and 4 scoring throws. Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe rose to the occasion with 8 catches for 150 yards. Smith’s pass protection was shaky at times, but he ran out of trouble and was sacked twice, losing a fumble on one of those takedowns.

Running offenseC: Losing Jamaal Charles in the first minutes to a concussion made for a shaky running game performance. His replacement, rookie running back Knile Davis ran for 67 yards before he left with a knee injury, but that was just 3.7 yards per carry. The Chiefs had 150 rushing yards, but 57 of those yards belong to Smith, and of his eight runs, six were scrambles away from heavy pass rush pressure.

Pass defenseF: It’s a failure when any quarterback, even a very good one like Andrew Luck, throws for 443 yards and four touchdown passes. The Chiefs may have had three interceptions, but with the game on the line, they allowed wide receiver T.Y. Hilton to run right through their zone coverage and connect with Luck on the 64-yard touchdown pass that won the game. The Chiefs only had one sack in 46 passing plays and they never found a way to slow down Hilton, who caught 13 for 224 yards and a pair of scores.

Run defense B: The Chiefs did a good job of making the run game a non-factor, largely because they had such a big lead and the Colts went to the passing game in an attempt to catch up. Donald Brown had 55 yards on 11 carries, and Luck scrambled away from the pass rush seven times for 45 yards. Run defense was actually an area where the Chiefs defense got something positive done.

Special teams C: When the Colts began their second-half comeback one thing that would have done a lot for the Chiefs was a big play from the special teams. It never happened from Quintin Demps on kick returns (seven for an average of 26.7 yards) or the one punt return by Dexter McCluster. Overall, coverage was good, Ryan Succop had six touchbacks in nine kickoffs and Dustin Colquitt only punted twice. Nothing bad, but nothing helped the Chiefs win the game.

Coaching D: In the first half, Andy Reid and his staff had an A-plus. Their game plans on offense and defense worked very well. The Chiefs were putting points on the board and their defense was confusing Luck. In the second half, the Chiefs staff gets an F; they were unable to stop the bleeding once it started with their units. Bob Sutton’s defense has yet to cover Hilton in the passing game; while offensively Reid’s group had a more than a 15-minute advantage in time of possession, but did nothing with that time in the second half. What a sad wasted effort.

NFL Almanac – January 2

Wildcard weekend injury report/

Players that did not practice on Thursday

Chiefs – RT Eric Fisher (groin), OLB Tamba Hali (knee).

Cincinnati – OT Anthony Collins (ankle), CB Dre Kirkpatrick (illness), CB Terence Newman (knee).

Green Bay – LB Clay Matthews (thumb).

Indianapolis – DT Fili Moala (knee).

New Orleans – RB Pierre Thomas (chest).

Philadelphia – G Julian Vandervelde (back).

San Diego – RB Ryan Matthews (ankle), WR Eddie Royal (toe).

San Francisco – CB Carlos Rogers (hamstring).

Head coaches

Tampa Bay – the Buccaneers made it official Thursday, as the team announced the hiring of Lovie Smith as the Bucs new head coach. …Read More!

More Of What Andy Said

From the Truman Sports Complex

Head coach Andy Reid had a few things to say on Monday about what happened in San Diego on Sunday, and looking down the road to facing Indianapolis this coming Saturday.

Here are some important and interesting tidbits:

On the Chiefs entrance this week into the AFC playoffs: “It’s another phase of the season, and you have worked very hard as a team to get into this position and now it’s important that you exhaust yourself to make sure that you’re right. It’s single-elimination and you have to make sure you prepare the right way.”

The difference between his team going 9-0 to start the season, and finishing 2-5: “You know, on the offensive side, we probably didn’t have enough big plays and on the defensive side, we gave up too many big plays; if you had to pinpoint one thing in general that would be it.” …Read More!

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