The 1st Quarter Best/Worst … Cup O’Chiefs

Todd Haley almost held a celebration after last Sunday’s game. It wasn’t so much the Chiefs picking up their first victory of the season, but it was the end of the first quarter of the 2011 season.

As most fans know by now, Haley likes to divide the season into four quarters, each one made up of four games. The idea is to not focus on going 16-0, but to go 4-0, 4-0, 4-0 and 4-0. Of course, the baseline idea is to win each game, and by beating the Vikings 22-17, the Chiefs wrapped up the first quarter of the season with a 1-3 record.

It was an ugly quarter of the season and has put the Chiefs in a hole as they look at the last three quarters of the season. They are two games behind the division leading San Diego Chargers, a team that finally found a way to win early in the season. The Chiefs are a game behind Oakland and they are tied with Denver with the Broncos also 1-3.

There was the embarrassment of the opening two games, the tough loss to San Diego and then the victory over Minnesota. A lot of football passed under the bridge in just four weeks, some of it good, most of it bad. Here is a look at both ends of the spectrum with the First Quarter Awards.


OVERALL PERFORMANCE – OLB Tamba Hali continued in the start of this season here he left off last year. Hali wrapped up the 2010 season with 5.5 sacks in the last three games. He’s now added four sacks in this year’s four games. The man with the motor that never stops has been close on another half-dozen passes where he knocked the quarterback to the ground. While the team has struggled in the first quarter, Hali has been on top of his game.

OFFENSIVE PLAYER – WR Dwayne Bowe struggled in the opener and wasn’t much of a factor. But since then, Bowe has picked up the same pace and effort that he showed last year in his career best season. Yes, Bowe drops a pass every game that he should have easily caught and sometimes he still lines up in the wrong spot in the offense. But what he provides the Chiefs attack is so much more than possible subtractions.

DEFENSIVE PLAYER – Hali. There really hasn’t been any other player worthy of consideration. Possibly only CB Brandon Flowers has played close to the standards he established last season. ILB Derrick Johnson leads the team in tackles, but his production does not feature any big plays – no sacks, no fumbles recovered or caused and no sacks.

ROOKIE – OLB Justin Houston had no competition for this designation as the class of 2011 has gotten off to a slow start when it comes to contributing on the field. Houston is in the starting lineup for the base defense and has 16 total tackles, and three for minus yardage. But he doesn’t get many chances to rush the passer and he’s been asked to work in pass coverage and frankly looks lost when he’s in space trying to keep up with a TE or RB. Only DE Allen Bailey and CB Jalil Brown have gotten any type of significant playing time, while Rodney Hudson has been on the field for all PAT and FGs.

ASSISTANT COACH – LB Coach Gary Gibbs gets the nod over a few other coaches like secondary leader Emmitt Thomas. With Hali and Houston playing well, and Johnson improving after a slow start, the linebackers have been the most productive group on the defense that was forced into so many bad positions during the first two games.

PLAY – QB Matt Cassel to Bowe for 52-yard score has been one of the few moments this season where the Chiefs offense provided execution from even before the snap. It was a play inserted into the call sheet in the second half. For the play to work correctly, then Cassel has to have good protection. The quarterback did a nice job pump faking the ball and the reaction of the Vikings corner left Bowe wide open. He finished up the play with a nice run into the end zone, breaking two tackles.


OVERALL PERFORMANCE – TE Leonard Pope moved into the starting lineup when Tony Moeaki went down for the season with a knee injury. The big man is not known for his catching ability and he’s become a non-factor in the passing game. He caught five passes in the first two games, three catches with a TD against San Diego and then one reception against Minnesota. He’s the most penalized player on the Chiefs roster, including a silly 15-yard flag for taking his helmet off after scoring a TD against San Diego. Tight end is no longer key to the Chiefs offense.

OFFENSIVE PLAYER – RB Thomas Jones has reached the end of his wonderful career. That can be seen when he’s running the ball these days, something he’s had the opportunity to do 39 times. Only two of those runs went for more than nine yards. There is no explosion when he tucks the ball in and heads for the point of attack and there have been very few times when he’s been able to change direction and make something out of a run that was stymied from the start.

DEFENSIVE PLAYER – NT Kelly Gregg plays only in the base defense, and in the first three games, the Chiefs went about 50-50 on the base and sub defenses. Against Minnesota, the base defense was on the field about 70 percent of the time. Gregg has three tackles and he’s knocked down a pass. That’s not much to show for four games. The Chiefs run defense is No. 27 in the league. Gregg has provided no power on the inside.

ROOKIE – WR Jonathan Baldwin runs away with this dishonor and there isn’t any other first-year guy close to him. Baldwin has yet to step on the field for a regular season game. Sadly, it’s now seven weeks of not only missed games, but seven weeks of missed practices. It’s hard to see how Baldwin is going to factor in to any significant playing time even when he’s cleared to be on the field. At best, he’ll be the No. 3 receiver based on the early play of Bowe and Steve Breaston. After those two, only six catches went to other receivers, producing just 47 yards.

ASSISTANT COACH – Just about all of them qualify for this dishonor. From Haley, through is coordinators and down to the position coaches, it’s hard to find anybody on the coaching staff who has risen above the others.

PLAY – Cassel’s interception on a screen pass at the end of San Diego game. The Chiefs had a chance to win this game, or at the least, push it into overtime. Cassel’s throw on the play had no chance of being successful and he should have never released the ball given the reaction of the Chargers defense. At no point was RB Dexter McCluster open. It was a bad decision and it was bad execution.

11 Responses to “The 1st Quarter Best/Worst … Cup O’Chiefs”

  • October 5, 2011  - Michael says:

    I know it sounds like whining, but the bad column should include the zebras.

    Bob, please explain the new review rule on TD’s. I’ve heard Mitch and the TV common-taters say they must review everyone, however this dose not seem to be the case. To me they only stop and review the ones they want to. Which gives the hanky-men even more power to control outcomes of game than in the past. For example, touchdown number two for the Viks. Clearly not as conclusive as their first , which was reviewed, fox did not replay it much (imagine that) and the fans sure reacted to it when shown to them. HELP!

    Like the list. I know you were focusing on starters, so I can’t include o’connel and then bash on him. No wait, yes I can. At lease Pope scored before going brain dead, o’connel is just brain dead. My only tweak would be Brandon Flowers moving into the defensive spot. You already gave Hali the overall and knowing how much the team needed him came back from the ankle injury and played. Man that was huge.


  • October 5, 2011  - Tim says:

    I understand the Baldwin “Bad”, but he is injured, Bob. I’m cautiously optimistic about him. You seem to discount him merely out of conventional wisdom. Probably not a good idea. He can be a weapon. Haley knows it & wants the capability he brings.

  • October 5, 2011  - txchief says:

    I’m more than a little concerned that some have already forgiven coach Haley and are now praising his for his inappropriate and obnoxious behavior being a “motivational tool.” There are still alot of games left to be played, and I still have not been convinced that the head coach has been abe to really develop a winning strategy this season.

  • October 5, 2011  - el cid says:

    txchief hit the spot, a wild and angry HC loses the ears and brains of the players. They just roll their eyes and prepare to move on. Haley gets zero marks for the preseason and after 3 games has the team finally ready to play a regular game, some outstanding preparation.

  • October 5, 2011  - harvey says:

    Not sure what is inappropriate or wild about Haley’s effort to motivate a starting qb who is having a sub par game and season. It has been said before and said well by others that Matt needs to lead. He must elevate his game, he cannot make dumb mistakes and he must be on target. Not sure how any of us would handle the personnel losses we have had this year.

  • October 5, 2011  - Justin says:

    El Cid, you are one angry an negative dude. 2 items:

    Funny how Fitzgerald, Warner, Breston, Keyshawn and others all sing the wild and crazy man’s praises. One guy who doesn’t: T.O. point made. case closed.

    To quote Dr Evil: preparations A thru G were complete failures but preparation H feels good on the whole. Now laugh for once. Geez

  • October 5, 2011  - Rick says:

    This business about Haley is nonsense. The average high school coach is rougher on his players. Some of you obviously haven’t spent much time around coaches. Hell, my junior high coach was more of an ogre than Haley is. And I won’t even get into what it was like to play linebacker for Digger Odell in HS. :)

  • October 5, 2011  - jim says:

    txchief, while I appreciate your opinion of Haley’s displeasure with Cassell ( and correctly so) being “inappropriate and obnoxious”, I would disagree. I have seen MANY other coaches lite up players, even QB’s WAY more hostile, or in your words obnoxious and inappropriate. I need to know the extent of the conversation and the ultimate result of the tirade before I can remotely say it was obnoxious or inapproptiate. Heck, it may have been just the exact opposite of that.Not trying to be argumentative, but just another oinion.

    Justin, man you just ain’t right. (I love it!!)

  • October 5, 2011  - napahank says:

    There is one stat you left out that is maybe the most significant-Bad Luck:

    Moeaki gone for the season at the end of the final preseason game. No time to find, develop and start a receiving tight end. (P.S. take away some penalties and Pope has had a good year so far adapting to the receiving TE role)

    Berry gone for the season on the 4th play of the first game puts defense built around him in disarray and outcome was probable. (P.S. can’t replace a Berry but with each game they are trying to and getting closer)

    Charles gone for the season in the 1st quarter of second game puts offense built around him in disarray and outcome was probable. (P.S.Can’t replace a Charles but with each game…)

    I read where a football analyst wrote that KC has been hit harder than any other team in the NFL because of 1)Who is injured 2)Severity of injuries (not coming back) and possibly most important 3) when their injuries occurred in the game and in the season. But we will overcome and build depth because of this in 2011 and then let’s see what happens in 2012.

  • October 5, 2011  - ED J says:

    LMAO really. So you had no problem last yr yelling and screaming when we won 10 games but this season its an issue. Bottom line anytime you’re losing people characteristics are magnified. If you’re laid back head coach and losing you’re not firey enough guys don’t respond to your boring style. If you’re winning he’s calm under pressure and that rubs off on the team. SAme with Haley. When you’re firey he’s got passion and guys feed off when you’re winning. When you’re losing he’s to fiery guys are not responding.

    Bottom line guys is that crap don’t matter. People all of us have different personalities so no one way is right. Haley has taken a team that had 3 straight losing seasons and turn them into division champs. So his style works. Much like it did for Parcells and Bill Cowher who i hear most KC fans want here. He had the spit flying in Pittsburg all the time at players, coaches, refs, etc. Bottom line that stuff don’t matter so please stop bringing it up

  • October 5, 2011  - ED J says:

    Secondly anyone who questions Haley’s methods check the careers of Warner ressurgence in AZ. Fitzgerald. Bowe. Derrick Johnson Glen Dorsey etc. This guys has taken a team full of mostly guys before he got here who were underacheivers and made them into players or ballers as I would like to call them. So please don’t sit here and tell me his style don’t work

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