They Were So Complementary … Tuesday Cup O’Chiefs

In the Webster’s-Parcells-Haley New World Football Dictionary what is the definition of complementary football?

“Yesterday,” Todd Haley said on Monday, less than 24 hours after his team handed their AFC West division rival Oakland Raiders a 28-0 drubbing.

Complementary football is a phrase that’s being thrown around a lot these days when it comes to the Chiefs ability to turn around their season with a 3-game winning streak heading into this coming Monday night’s game against San Diego.

Haley is constantly preaching the gospel of complementary football. The players are starting to use the term in discussing their identity. But just what does it mean?

“It means offense, defense, special teams, we all have each other’s back,” said CB Brandon Carr. “It means we are a team, interested in helping other parts of the team and not doing things to put the offense in a bad position and the defense doesn’t get put in a bad spot by the offense.”

What made Sunday’s victory over Oakland so complementary? Let Haley describe and define.

“We didn’t start real well offensively and the defense made a couple of plays,” Haley said. “After the defense made a couple of plays to get us ahead, we got a turnover and the offense went 60 something yards for a score. When we needed field position to change, our punter and special teams came through and got that done.

“It’s the offense not turning the football over and running the ball efficiently and then defensively, it’s limit big plays and take the ball away. We made a lot of big plays against them (Oakland) defensively, while limiting what they were able to do offensively.”

In concept, playing complementary football seems like such a no brainer for coaches and players. At its core a team playing together in concert can be so much more effective. It’s like the individual fingers on a hand coming together to form a much more powerful vision of the fist.

But making that style of play happen isn’t always so each. Often, the follow through is not there on coaching staffs and locker rooms around the league. If a team has one side of the football that dominates the team’s personality, it’s harder for the other parts of the club to feel like they are equal brothers, all contributing to the same goal.

During the years when the Chiefs were a high-flying and productive offense under head coach Dick Vermeil and offensive coordinator Al Saunders the team did not play complementary football. The defense under Greg Robinson and then Gunther Cunningham was the forgotten step-child in the equation. Whether it was in meetings, training camp or practices, the offense had favored-nation status and decisions were made that benefitted that side of the ball.

At times that created an undercurrent of resentment in the coaching meetings and when the players broke up into offense and defense. It was not a team working together. Despite record setting offensive production, those teams did not win a game in the playoffs. In fact, they made the post-season only one time.

That’s not what’s going down with the 2011 Chiefs under Haley and his coaching staff. Decisions in strategy, personnel and use of personnel are done with the eye to the complementary football concept. This is where special teams factor in. They have a group of seven wide receivers on the roster for an offense that’s got no use for seven guys that can catch. But because a couple of those guys can handle life in the kicking game, they remain part of the team, even though their offensive input is minimal and has little upside (see Terrence Copper.)

Playing complementary football means that sometimes an offense punts the ball away instead of going for it in a fourth-down situation if failure leaves the defense in bad field position. Playing complimentary football is a punter more worried about his net average than his gross punting average. Playing complimentary football is when returners understand that the better decision for the team at that moment is calling for a fair catch, rather than trying to pop a big return under heavy coverage where the risk of turnover is great.

That’s the type of game the Chiefs played against Oakland.

“That was the epitome of complementary football,” said Haley. “That’s what we have to do as we continue to develop as a team.”

4 Responses to “They Were So Complementary … Tuesday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • October 25, 2011  - johnfromfairfax says:

    You see it every week on all levels of football. The teams that are constructed with this mindset employ the formula that contributes to winning consistently. Teams concentrating on one aspect or another are unable to do the same week in and week out. That’s why football is the ultimate team sport and one reason why it’s so interesting to watch.

  • October 25, 2011  - Eric Oitker says:

    Complimentary = Conservative

  • October 25, 2011  - jim says:

    Eric, don’t know if I’m necessarily buying the analogy. Complimentary to me is all parts being equally aware of the others importance to the whole and cognizant of helping each other, not just a “me” approach in three “me pieces”. But comp=cons. emmmmm????? I wouldn’t say our special teams or defense were necessarily conservative, and the offense took take care of the ball, manage the game, and the team got a win. All three pieces working together, but clearly with a different mind set. One (defense) very aggressive, and the other (special teams) steady, and the thire (offense) effective without having to be aggressive. Please…..I’m not being critical of your analogy, so don’t be offended.

    But, I would certainly take your analogy as a compliment. No pun intended.

  • October 25, 2011  - rufus says:

    hey haters – did haley get fired yet?


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