The Experience Factor … Tuesday Cup O’Chiefs

When it comes to experience in the NFL playoffs among those 12 teams still playing, they Chiefs rank No. 12.

That means no matter who they played in the first round of the 2010 AFC tournament they were going to be a serious underdog when it came to been there, done that.

“We’ve got 21 players or so that have played in post-seasons games and have great, great experience to pass along,” head coach Todd Haley said on Monday.

All well and good, but here’s the kicker – the Baltimore Ravens team that will come in for Sunday’s game has 42 players that have played in at least one post-season game. That’s double the number of Chiefs.

It only gets worse from there. The Chiefs have nine of their 22 starters with experience in the playoffs. There are 21 starts on offense from five players and 20 games on defense from four players. The bulk of those post-season starts belong to OLB Mike Vrabel with 17 of the 20 defensive starts.

The Ravens meanwhile have 19 of 22 starters with post-season experience. There are 54 starts on offense from 11 players and 46 starts on defense from eight players.  

When it comes to having been there and played in big games, the Ravens have it all over the Chiefs and it’s a real edge they carry into Kansas City this weekend. Haley’s team may have the home-field advantage, but the guys from Baltimore have a huge experience advantage.

“I feel like we’ve got a good group of veterans that can help our young guys, this young developing team understand what we need to do,” Haley said. “We have a very good staff with great experience that will also be a big part of that. We need to have our best week of preparation, our best week of practice and then play our best game because this is now our biggest game to date.”

Vrabel along with RG Ryan Lilja (eight starts) and RB Thomas Jones (seven starts) are the grizzled post-season veterans for the Chiefs. That leaves a plenty of major contributors within the team without any time in the playoffs – QB Matt Cassel, RB Jamaal Charles, WR Dwayne Bowe, both OTs Branden Albert and Barry Richardson, TE Tony Moeaki and WR/RB Dexter McCluster on offense. On defense, DE Glenn Dorsey, ILB Jovan Belcher and the entire first five in the secondary will be post-season virgins.

Work on educating those Chiefs who have not tasted from the wine of the playoffs has already begun.

“The message from a lot of the leaders on this team is that this is a football game just like the others we’ve played,” QB Matt Cassel said. “We don’t want to make it bigger than it should be. We just want to go out and execute and play our game, and do what we’ve done all season and we’ll be fine.

“The important part for me is to not change my approach, to stay consistent. I’m excited about it. It will be my first playoff start and for a lot of guys on this team it will be their first playoff game. It will be a lot of fun.”

One thing the Chiefs have going for them is Haley’s coaching staff. The head coach himself has lived the post-season from just about every coaching angle possible. It started in 1998 when he was the offensive quality control coach for the Jets. In 2001, the Chicago Bears made the tournament as Haley was a wide receivers coach. Five years later, he went to the 2006 post-season with the Dallas Cowboys as passing game coordinator. Then, in 2008 he served as offensive coordinator of the Arizona Cardinals in their run to the Super Bowl.

Overall, that’s a 4-4 post-season record.

“There a number of players and coaches on this staff that were in Arizona with me and (there are) probably some similarities,” Haley said. “This is a team that hasn’t been in this situation in a while, hasn’t won a bunch of post-season games in a while, if any in a long time. We were in that situation with a team that didn’t have post-season experience in a team but yet we had some key guys on that team that were able to get that message out there and help a lot of guys that had never been in that situation understand how to function, how to do things and that was a big part of us making the run that we did and almost really, truly shocking the world. I feel good about our group and they’re excited.”

Excitement is universal in the playoffs; understanding what’s important and how to approach the business of playing in the post-season is something the Chiefs must learn. Is it different than the previous games played because of the finality of the outcome, or should a team just look on it as the 17th game of the season?

“I think it is a little bit of both,” said Haley. “Your guys have to understand that if you don’t go out and play your best game and be the best team on Sunday, the season will be over. Anybody that has had that experience understands that it happens quickly and more quickly than you can ever imagine.

“Right now, we could play for one more week or we could play for five more weeks. We need to understand that our entire focus has to be on this week. That’s what I expect from our guys. I know that we are capable and it is just a matter of doing it. At the same time, it’s football and it’s going to be played on our field, this game, and it going to come down to doing the things that we’ve done throughout the year to be the better team on Sunday and it’s as simple as that.”


  • BENGALS – signed reserve/future contracts with DE James Ruffin, CB Cary Harris, FB James Devlin, G Otis Hudson and OT Andrew Gardner.
  • BROWNS – fired head coach Eric Mangini.
  • CHARGERS – fired special teams coach Steve Crosby.
  • COWBOYS – signed reserve/future contracts with OT Robert Brewster, WR Jeff Moturi, WR Troy Bergeron, OLB Alex Daniels, TE Jason Pociask, G Travis Bright, LB Kelvin Smith and CB Ross Weaver.
  • GIANTS – signed reserve/future contracts with RB Charles Scott, CB Woody Turenne, C Jim Cordle, LB Kenny Ingram, WR Samuel Giguere and DT Dwayne Hendricks.
  • PATRIOTS – placed DE Ron Brace on the injured-reserve list (elbow); suspended DE Brandon Deaderick for violating team policy. His actions are unknown.
  • SAINTS – signed RB DeShawn Wynn, last with the 49ers.
  • SEAHAWKS – signed WR Mike Williams to a 3-year contract extension, tying him to the club until 2013.
  • TEXANS – fired defense coordinator Frank Bush.
  • TITANS – signed reserve/future contract with CB Chris Hawkins.
  • VIKINGS – named Leslie Frazier head coach, signing him to a three-year contract.

18 Responses to “The Experience Factor … Tuesday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • January 4, 2011  - Tenand6 says:

    The Ravens will try to force Cassel into a passing game. I hope the Chiefs coaches let Cassel go for it. I’d love to see quick slants, swing passes to Charles and McCluster, lots of Moeaki. Haley opened up AZ’s offense in their Super Bowl run and put on a play-calling clinic the likes of which I’ve never seen. Granted, he had Kurt Warner, but I don’t see the Chiefs beating the Ravens running the ball. I hope the pass sets up the run, but not 5-7 step drops. Or, they could do something smart. Should be very interesting. Our coaches will have to overcome the talent disparity.

  • January 4, 2011  - el cid says:

    Interesting theory. I suspect the Ravens will hit the Chiefs in the mouth, like the AFC West did over and over. I think the Ravens will try to run between the tackles on offense and turn the front 7 loose to abuse the Chiefs offense as much as possible. 2010 Chiefs history says the Chiefs have no answer or adjustment. IF the Chiefs can withstand the first qtr and produce something on offense and some three and outs on defense, we have a chance.

    As for coaching, they are what they are. Crennel will play a bend, don’t break defense. Weis/Haley do a poor job making adjustments, seems to me they put together a plan and that is the game, win or lose. Probably wrong but, seems that way in losses, ie #2 SD game and last raider game.

  • January 4, 2011  - Keith says:

    I can’t wait. I found the offense very bland against the Raiders, and it was probably by design. Cassel should not hesitate to take off decisively and scramble; that made a big difference with this offfense.

  • January 4, 2011  - el cid says:

    When you look at the raiders game, it seemed the Chiefs had no plan. Just throw out some plays and see if they work or the Ravens will have to worry about we did. Bland to say the least. Similarily, the SD game, put 22 guys on the field and hope they do not get hurt. In both cases, I say the coaches “threw” the game. Not for gambling purposes but winning had nothing to do with the game, just get thru it. I expect a real game against the Ravens. But can the Chiefs turn it off and on that easily. Do not know.

  • January 4, 2011  - Anonymous says:

    If we can weather the early storm that the Ravens will hit us with and have some degree of success in the first quarter, then we have a chance. If we come out and let them hit us in the mouth and then we whimper back to the sideline with no apparent adjustments in mind, we’re a screwed pooch and in for a long afternoon. They will absolutely come at us with every possible blitz package they have and Cassell better be ready to get it out of his han quick. They will alo man up on the outside receivers and cut off the quick slants. The O line will be in for a long challenging day.

    el cid said it best.

  • January 4, 2011  - Jimbo says:

    I agree that playoff experience is important especially with a young team like the Chiefs. I also think it’s overrated. All of these young players have won Conference championships and Bowl games in College. Many have won State titles in High School.

    When you get used to winning, especially the games that truly matter. I think character, leadership and teamwork are critical to any teams success. Fortunately the Chiefs have an abundance of those qualities. Especially the 2010 draft class.

    The Ravens are a tough bunch of Birds. Probably the strongest, toughest and best coached team the Chiefs have faced this year. I really hope the Chiefs can pull out a victory on Sunday. God knows what 1 playoff victory can do for the morale of this team and it’s fans.
    Go Chiefs.

  • January 4, 2011  - el cid says:

    I remember the first time I was in a championship level. I was calm, slept well the night before but by the time I got my uniform on, could not breath. It was a struggle thru the national anthem, and stepping on the field, until I got slapped up the side of my head. Then I calmed down some. Would not be surprised if Cassel’s first pass it 20 yard to strong and miss the Wr like he was not aiming at him, just the way it is. We need strong OL play and that can settle things down quickly. Victories (?) the best team on the field usually wins.

  • January 4, 2011  - cychief24 says:

    This coaching staff led by Todd Haley produced 10 wins this year after it took 3 years to win that many. Nobody has accomplished more with less talent than the Chiefs staff.
    To see it otherwise is just very strange and extreme negativity.
    I can’t wait to sit in my season tickets Sunday!

  • January 4, 2011  - Morten says:

    Bob; After the game in Denver you wrote that Haley never seems to do anything without a bigger purpose, which I totally agree on… Seeing him during the Raider game, he just didn’t seem that fired up despite really poor play; Do you think the Chiefs deliberately showed weaknesses to the next opponent? I know he would never admit it but both our lines were so miserable… I guess we’ll see for ourselfes on sunday… I just have this feeling that he’s got something up his sleeve for that game…

  • January 4, 2011  - RW says:

    Teams that are playing consistently well going into the playoffs are the ones that almost always advance to the next round. Those who are inconsistent go home early.

    That said, the Patties, Steel, Falcons and Saints should be the teams to favor. Then again, it’s easier to bet on horses than people.

  • January 4, 2011  - el cid says:

    RW, may be the most accurate post today. If we take a small sample, Chiefs last two games, not much consistancy there. In fact the whole year, ESPN called the a trick or treat team, never know what you will get. Still we are there and just a few positives and watch out.

  • January 4, 2011  - bhive01 says:

    I like the idea that the coaches threw those AFC West games because that means that when we do try we are a very very good team.

    If we do pull out all the stops and get a playoff victory at home then I will be amazed. I am rooting for these Chiefs, but the Ravens are every bit and then some of a physical team. Our O-line couldn’t handle that last week and Cassel was frazzled and our running game was… n’t great.

    All that being said, I’m really happy with this year. 10 wins is amazing and this team has shown that it has teeth and can dominate. We get a few more pieces in the right place and we’ll be making trips to the playoffs more consistently in the coming years.

    I’ll be screaming from my couch in the UK this weekend. Let’s make a run at this!

    CHIEFS WILL (god I want that tshirt)

  • January 4, 2011  - Niblick says:

    I’m not so sure that momemtum is essential to winning in the playoffs. Look at last year. Indy lost their last two games by not playing regulars and New Orleans lost their last three. They both had already clinched home field throughout the playoffs, so they had nothing to play for. They still were were able to regain their momentum and get to the Super Bowl. Our last three 13-3 teams all had won their last several games and lost in the first round of the playoffs. I think it just depends on the team. I certainly hope that’s the case with the Chiefs and that they can regain their momemtum.

  • January 4, 2011  - Michael says:

    The Chiefs have to come out with energy and urgency from the get-go. Hopefully, the fans will help with that. Everything moved way too slow in the Raiders game. Acutally, the defense didn’t start out to bad intially, but kind of lost it as the offense withered.

    You can’t try smash-mouth running against the Ravens any more than you should the Raiders, especailly on first down. It’s not that the OL couldn’t handle the Raiders, they just weren’t running the type of plays that take advantage of the Chiefs OL strengths, or at the right times. The Chiefs need to run plays that take advantage of the Ravens aggressiveness, and use it against them. And, yes, Cassel must pass on first down with confidence and swagger; he has to get the ball out quick, and he has to be ready to take off running. They can go to the smash-mouth stuff when they’re ahead. Someone said it earlier, Weiss has to adjust if and when the situation warrants it. He has been great at it in some games; horrible in others (see SD, Den, and last game against Oakland).

    Defensively, of course, they first must stop the run, then get them in 3rd and pass and pressure the QB. That means Berry, Arenas and the Linebackers will have to come hard and from everywhere. Got to get off the field. And DJ and Berry better be all over Heap, or he will hurt them.

    The coaches and vets have to keep the young guys cool to start the game, but The Chiefs can do this if they play up to their capabilities.

  • January 4, 2011  - el cid says:

    Keyshawn Johnson, espn rpt, thinks the Chiefs will go all the way to the AFC Championship game, mostly due to good coaching.

    Mike, what if we could smash mouth and run over the Ravens. Their defense is good against the run so if we could run….. we win. Got to worry about including Arenas on blitzes, otherwise I agree. TEs seem to give Crennel fits in coverage over the middle.

  • January 4, 2011  - Jonathan says:

    Remember last year when the Chiefs played the Ravens even though the final was 38-24 it wasn’t decided until the last two minutes. Kansas City wasn’t as talented then but was able to keepit close due to a blocked punt and DJ’s long interception return.

    This year we are more talented and have better coaches. Granted the Ravens have won some road games in the playoffs but I think they will have trouble especially on offense at Arrowhead if the crowd is loud. The Chiefs need to control the lines on both offense and defense and win the special teams battle. Also, the other advantage they have is that nobody expects them to win and this years team thrives on being the underdog. They will be fine and will stop the Ravens on Sunday.

  • January 4, 2011  - Michael says:

    I’m not saying abandon the run game. You could give a shot with the smash-mouth stuff, but I don’t see a good reason to beat your head against the wall if it’s not working. I hate that, if it works keep doing it until they stop it and if it doesn’t than stop doing it. I see teams too times don’t know when to give it up. If you think you’re going to keep doing it until it, maybe, starts working in the 3rd quarter when the’re worn down, you better have a serious defense with all kinds of depth becuase you’re going to keep putting them back on the field with all the 3 and outs. If KC is able to run down the Ravens throat from the start, by all means, let Charles and Jones carry it 50 times. This year, though, the KC offense has seemed at it’s best when it’s moving briskly and mixing it up good, passing on first down sometimes, and forcing the D to expand away from the line.

    Somewhere in this game, I’d like to see some trickeration-reverses; maybe a flee-flicker. A fake punt? I don’t know, what’s your favorite gadget play? Whatever can be done to keep the Ravens D off balance.

    I like Arenas and Berry (especially) on blitzes. Arenas in small but well-timed doses.

    Another thing, why not give Berry a few shots at returning kicks? It’s risky, but it is the playoffs, and he just might break it. In any case, it’ll give them a different look from McCluster and Arenas.

  • January 5, 2011  - Gerardo says:

    the Chiefs by quarters as I remember: 3-1, 2-2, 3-1, 2-2… Playoff picture 3-1 Hope the L comes against Atlanta LOL

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