Thursday Morning Cup O’Chiefs

We had a great chat/forum Wednesday evening which you can find elsewhere on the site. Good questions, good participation, I hope we provided good answers; we will do it again.

After going through the questions, without a doubt it seems the No. 1 piece of information still unclear in the minds of Chiefs fans is what kind of defense the team is going to run for the 2009 season.

Head coach Todd Haley hasn’t provided much information as to what the team will do under coordinator Clancy Pendergast. What clues do slip out, make it plain that the Chiefs will try to run a system similar to what the Arizona Cardinals used under Pendergast, an under 4-3 defense. It’s a defense that can morph into the 3-4 very quickly and it looks like the 3-4 at times.

Just how deeply the Chiefs can get into the Pendergast defensive playbook is something the coaching staff doesn’t know yet, because they haven’t seen enough of the players in action. If they don’t have the bodies they need to run the under 4-3, then it would be folly to try to play that defense.

This defense figures to be in transition for the next two years as the pieces come together to do what Pendergast wants from his unit.

The under/over term used with defenses comes with the direction the defensive front shifts based on the strong side of the offense, or where the tight end lines up. The under defense shifts towards the strong side of the offense; the over shifts away from the strong side. Most of the time, the defense has five guys on the line of scrimmage. The guys to watch are the weak-side defensive end and linebacker, because they are the guys who make the plays and bring the heat on the pass rush.

The difference between the 4-3 and 3-4 defenses really comes down to the outside linebackers. The offense tries to determine if the OLB in the 3-4 are going to rush the passer or drop in cover. Mixing those OLBs with defensive ends makes it even tougher for the offense to figure out who must be blocked.

Out in Arizona that man at WLB was Karlos Dansby who led the Cardinals defense last year with 128 total tackles and 100 unassisted tackles, along with four sacks. The weakside ends were Bertrand Berry and Travis LaBoy and they frequently lined up in a two-point stance (standing), rather than the three (with their hand on the ground.) They combined for nine sacks.

Do the Chiefs have a Dansby like character on their roster to play WLB? Not really. Derrick Johnson isn’t as big, at a full inch shorter and nearly 10 pounds lighter. Tamba Hali and Turk McBride are both 20 pounds heavier as defensive ends and they’ve spent little or no time in pass coverage, something the WLB has to do occasionally. Do they have guys to play the weakside DE? Berry and LaBoy are the same size as Dansby.

So one does not need to be Vince Lombardi to see that Haley, Pendergast and the defensive staff are going to be searching for a system that fits what they have right now, with the idea of gradually pushing the defense to the under 4-3 or some sort of hybrid that mixes and matches with the talent on hand and the type of offense they face that week.

One thing we know for sure: whatever alignment this defense takes on the field it must get better at stopping the run because that has been the big problem for the Chiefs defense. In fact, the trend line on run defense has been bad since the days of Marty Schottenheimer:

As the chart shows, from Marty to Herm the run defense became twice as bad on average. In seven of 10 seasons under Schottenheimer, the Chiefs were in the top half of the league in stopping the run and three times in the top 10. In the next 10 seasons, only once did they finish in the top 10 against the run, and that was the 2005 defense that was seventh against the run.

In three seasons under Herm Edwards and Gunther Cunningham, the run defense went from No. 18 to No. 28 to last year, No. 30. In the last two seasons, the Chiefs run defense has given up an average of 144.7 yards per game and 4.6 yards per carry. Last year’s defense gave up 25 rushing touchdowns. In 32 games over the last two seasons the Chiefs have allowed 14 rushers to gain over 100 yards.

Whether it’s the 4-3, 3-4, under 4-3, 5-2, the scheme had better be able to stop the run. For more, on this angle, check my piece on


The Bengals finally got around to releasing veteran left tackle Levi Jones (left) on Wednesday and he would seem to be a player the Chiefs would be interested in speaking with, possibly to play right tackle or even as an experienced backup.

Jones will be 30 years old in August and is going into his eighth NFL season. Over his career, he’s played in 94 games. In recent seasons Jones has been bothered by knee and other leg problems. When the Bengals selected Andre Smith with the sixth pick of the first round in the 2009 NFL Draft, Jones became expendable.

Seattle, Denver and St. Louis have apparently expressed an interest in the former first-round draft choice (2002).


BENGALS – signed S Roy Williams (Cowboys); released OT Levi Jones.

BROWNS – promoted offensive quality control assistant George McDonald to wide receivers coach.

BUCCANEERS – released WR Anthony Mix.

LIONS – signed OL Toniu Fonoti.

PATRIOTS – third-round draft choice Tyrone McKenzie suffered torn ACL, out for the season.

RAMS – signed WR Tim Carter.


Born on May 7, 1964 in Little Rock was DE Leslie O’Neal. He played 13 seasons in the NFL, and spent his last two years (1998-99) with the Chiefs. O’Neal appeared in 32 games with 23 starts in the Kansas City defense, producing 10 sacks. He finished his career with 132.5 sacks in 196 games. He appeared in nine seasons with San Diego and two years in St. Louis, along with his stint with the Chiefs.

16 Responses to “Thursday Morning Cup O’Chiefs”

  • May 7, 2009  - Harold C. says:

    Thanks Bob. That was some good thoughts on our defensive situation. Enjoyed the chat.

  • May 7, 2009  - Blake says:


    Why did you say I hope WE provided good answers, in the first paragraph?

  • May 7, 2009  - Rip 'em a new one says:

    Doggone it, I missed the chat but thought the Q&A review posted here since was outstanding so thanks to all of you who posed questions and to Bob for his straight forward and informed replies.

    So much good information revealed but the one item that jumped out to me was Bob’s response as to how well Haley/Pioli will do given they’re both rooks at their respective positions. It confirms something I’ve been thinking in that Clark Hunt is rolling the dice with this pair but fortune does favor the bold.

  • May 7, 2009  - Scott says:

    I also missed the chat last night. So much to do…so little time.

    I enjoyed reading through it all, though. Thanks to Bob for taking the time and effort to do it. You da man! I bet your head was spinning trying to answer those rapid fire questions! And thanks to all who posted some very good questions. Lots of good information and opinions.

    Whether we agree or disagree on a lot of things, we all have one thing in common. WE ARE CHIEFS FANS!!! We all want this team to kick ass…and I believe we will very soon.

  • May 7, 2009  - alex k says:

    Again, great website Bob, as you come up on 1 year with this site, know that we appreciate it, all the information about the chiefs…

    Thank you again.

  • May 7, 2009  - kcfaninaz says:

    Bob, I as well missed the chat, but thanks for posting the Q, and A. Seems like the news coming out of 1 Arrowhead drive is tigher than a nats ass stretched over a rainbarrel! I hope we don’t overlook the O line, or it’s going to be a long season for any QB in K.C. One more thing, I see all the nfl sites posting draft grades, and they never mention the chiefs 2nd round pick-ups as part of our draft. I mean Cassel and Vrabel are certainly worth a better grade. Even if it’s BS grading draft picks 20 minutes after it’s over!

  • May 7, 2009  - Hank says:

    In the last two days I have watched 8 Chiefs games ( from 1990-1994 and noticed that the Chiefs mostly played either the 3-4 defense or the 4-3 over/under. Many teams are moving now to the 3-4 defense. Why did the Chiefs (and I assume other teams) leave it?

  • May 7, 2009  - Stiv says:

    Happy B-day to Leslie O’Neil.

    One of the most vicious hits I’ve seen placed on a QB was the hit O’Neil put on former Titans QB Steve McNair. Leslie tried to put his forehead through McNair’s sternum, he had issues with that the rest of the season and even spent the night in a hospital for observation due to O’Neil’s hit. Brutal.

  • May 7, 2009  - colby says:

    Sorry to have missed the chat last night. Those of you who were there asked some great questions and thanks to Bob for answering so many! Bob, you absolutely HAVE to add your Papap Gretz’s comment “Never bet on people; just animals.” quote to the top of your page. It would go along great with the “kissing your grandma” and “booze, broads etc” quotes!

    The only way I see Levi Jones coming to KC is if he gets to start at LT. Buffalo would seem a more likely place for him to get that opportunity. While I would have had no qualms moving Albert to RT had we drafted Monroe at pick 3, I would feel quite differently moving him to the other side for a 30 year old who has had trouble staying healthy. Also, I’m not sold on the idea that Jones can make the transition to RT. One way or the other, the Chiefs do need to continue to add to that offensive line and if they think Jones fits, I’ll be all for it.

  • May 7, 2009  - KC#9 says:

    Marty switched to a 4-3 to better stop the run. When we signed Joe Phillips he had just what he wanted in the middle with Phillips and Saleamua.

  • May 7, 2009  - Niblick says:

    If I remember, we also changed D-coordinatorsin 1992. Cowher left, who was a 3-4 guy, and Marty brought in Dave Adolph as D-coordinator. He wanted to run a 4-3. We also did bring in Joe Phillips as the other DT for the 4-3.

  • May 7, 2009  - findthedr says:

    Thanks for the chat Mr. Gretz!

    I learned more during that than I have about the chiefs in the last couple months.

  • May 7, 2009  - Kevin B. says:

    The chat was great and while I am thankful Bob did say something a little irritating, which was that McIntosh will likely start at RT. If he does, say goodbye to Cassel. McIntosh was ok as a LT but he is the worst RT in the league at my opinion. “How can we not change him out….take anyone but him as RT

  • May 7, 2009  - Michael says:

    I missed the chat, but read all the questions and comments. It was great. There was one thing from Bob that I found most confusing and disturbing. When talking about holdover players and their chances this year under the new regime, Bob kept indicating that the players’ chances might not be very good (or that they may not even get a chance to shine) BECAUSE they were holdovers from Herm and Carl.
    Seriously, the coaches would overlook talent or not develop it for that sort of reason? I find that hard to believe but, if true, it wouldn’t say much for the new crew.
    What I do hope is true, and so far it seems to be, is that the Chiefs run a mix of def schemes. Obviously, that would be the best usage of the various types of players they now have. I’ve always thought the best coaches and coordinators molded their schemes around the talent available to them, instead of trying to fit square pegs into round holes. Not saying to completely abandon your principles, but use what you got.
    A thought…unless the Chiefs think newly acquired center Eric Ghiaciuc can start, they might look into Hank Fraley from the Browns, who just drafted Alex Mack at center. Then they could move Niswanger to guard. I don’t think Levi Jones would have as much trouble switching to RT as Damion McIntosh did; so I’m all for signing him, even with injury risk. Although, McIntosh did start to play decent as the season went on last year. Kwame Harris is another option at RT. Jon Janssen with the Redskins might be another possibility, but he has had injury problems, too. Can any of the young guys currently on the roster step up-Taylor, Richardson? Will they be given a real shot?

  • May 7, 2009  - arrowhead1978 says:

    I would believe that the new guys would always want there own people, which isn’t always the right way. I would hope that they would give the young guys a chance to see if they can play the position, especially since they have a year under their belt in this offensive scheme. A year can change alot of things..

  • May 7, 2009  - Merwin says:

    I too missed the Q&A session. There was a lot of information to be gleaned by you’re answers. My only suggestion would be if you could do the Q&A like they do on, where the question is followed by the answer. I expect this is something that is over and above what you are capable of doing or can afford. Please continue the pod casts and do a Q&A session when ever possible. Thanks as always for such a great site.

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