Like most everybody else, the Chiefs will return to work on Tuesday after enjoying a three-day Memorial Day holiday.
After going through four OTA sessions last week, the players will get back into the strength and conditioning program for this week. They will not get back on the field as a team until a week from today. Starting with that workout on June 1, the Chiefs are scheduled to have 15 practices in 18 days. It all wraps up on June 18th; that’s when the OTA sessions end.
The Chiefs will then go off on vacation until July 30th, when they are currently scheduled to travel to River Falls, Wisconsin for the start of training camp.
As important as those practice sessions will be, Todd Haley has really been focused on the strength and conditioning program for his team and the gains that his players have made since it began back in March.
“These guys have bought into what we are trying to do and you can see it on some of these guys already,” Haley said. “Bigger, stronger, in better condition, it all helps you play the game and it keeps you healthy.”
It can also help you win in the fourth quarter. Haley hasn’t said so, but more than likely he watched the tape of last year’s Chiefs team and saw fourth quarter performances that were seriously lacking. In the last 10 games of the 2008 season, the Chiefs had the lead, were tied, or trailed by less than a touchdown seven times.
The Chiefs record in those games: 1-6.
Now, when a team goes 2-14 there is more than one reason. The biggest factor for that record was a lack of talent. Another key reason was the lack of experienced players on the roster, as many key performers were getting their first taste of playing 16 games at the pro level. Everything was new and different, including dealing with the long grind of the season.
And there’s no question conditioning has to be considered a factor. In the second half of last season, with a team dominated by young legs, the Chiefs were unable to get anything done in the fourth quarter. On the season, they were outscored 113-88. In the first six games, the difference was just 43-42. In the last 10 games, the difference was 70-46.
Only in Oakland, when they outscored the Raiders 10-3 over the final 15 minutes, were they able to outplay their opponent and win a game in the fourth quarter.
One can only imagine what the scenery at Arrowhead would look like if the Chiefs had been able to win say half of these six games:
- Led the Jets 24-21 in the fourth quarter, until Brett Favre threw a TD pass to win 28-24.
- Led the Bucs 24-13, before being outscored 14-3 in the fourth quarter and then losing in OT 30-27.
- Tied with the Chargers at 13-13, but were outscored 7-6 in fourth quarter, losing 20-19.
- Tied with the Broncos at 17-17, but Denver scored in the fourth and won 24-17.
- Led the Chargers 21-10, but San Diego scored 12 points in the fourth quarter to win 22-21
- All tied up with the Dolphins at 31-31, but Miami scored in the fourth and won 38-31.
Think about what has happened and would it have come down had the Chiefs won half of those six games and finished the season 5-11. It certainly wouldn’t be great improvement, but it would have been one game better than the 2007 season, with another year of talent and rebuilding.
Would Clark Hunt have made the same sorts of decisions?
We’ll never know, but there’s a disturbing trend to what happened last year and conditioning is part of the equation. We saw it in the second half of the ’07 season as well. Over the last nine games in that year, the Chiefs had six situations where at the start of the fourth quarter they held a lead, were tied or trailed by seven points or less.
That was six opportunities to win in the fourth quarter. The Chiefs went 0-6.
That’s 13 opportunities to win in the fourth quarter in the second half of the ’07-08 seasons. The Chiefs went 1-12. They were outscored in those games 103-48 in the final period and overtime.
Bigger, stronger, faster and better conditioned players do not guarantee fourth quarter success. But without those factors, there’s no chance.
REDSKINS FACE TAMPERING CHARGES OVER HAYNESWORTH
Over the weekend, Yahoo! Sports reported that the NFL is conducting a tampering investigation of the Washington Redskins in the team’s signing of DT Albert Haynesworth (right) as a free agent. The charges were filed by Haynesworth’s old team, the Tennessee Titans. Once the complaint becomes formal, the league investigates and can penalize the Redskins with a fine and/or loss of draft choices.
The Titans claim that the Redskins contacted Haynesworth and his agent before he was an official free agent on Feb. 27. About six hours into free agency, Washington and Haynesworth’s agent Chad Speck had agreed on a seven-year, $100 million deal with $41 million in guaranteed payments.
Back in the 2008 draft, the legal took away a fifth-round choice from the San Francisco 49ers for tampering with Chicago LB Lance Briggs during the ’07 season. At the time, the Niners were considering a trade for Briggs.
The Titans claim their ability to re-sign Haynesworth was negatively impacted by the Redskins early involvement. Speck has said there were three finalists for his client: the Redskins, Tampa Bay and the New York Giants, with the Titans’ offer nowhere near the Redskins proposal.
At last week’s NFL meetings, Commissioner Roger Goodell said discussions were held on a change in rules to allow early discussion before free agency. No vote was held.
Just about every team in the league has broken this rule at some time, especially those teams that are serious about signing free agents. Quite frankly, it’s a silly rule. Once the season is over, potential free agents should be able to talk to whoever they want. Why mark an arbitrary day on the calendar for the start of discussions? Nobody can sign until free agency begins, but talks should be able to start with the end of the season. No visits, no trips in the private jets, just discussion between player and his representatives and other teams.
FORMER CHIEFS RECEIVER FINDS HOME IN BASEBALL
Michael Young spent one season with the Chiefs (1994) and is probably better known to fans of the red and gold as a wide receiver for the Denver Broncos (1989-92.) He also played for the Los Angeles Rams and Philadelphia.
Since retiring from the game, Young has worked in the front office of the Denver Broncos, and also done time with the Arena Football League entry the Colorado Crush, which was owned by John Elway.
He’s now moved on to baseball. Late last week, the Los Angeles Dodgers announced that Young has been named the team’s Chief Revenue Officer. In his new position, Young will oversee and direct all major revenue streams with the franchise. He begins his job on June 1.
During his short time with the Chiefs, Young played in just two games before he went to the injured reserve list. That ended his 10-year career.
SAY HAPPY BIRTHDAY …
Born on May 26, 1948 in Spokane was C Mike Oriard. He was selected in the fifth-round of the 1970 NFL Draft out of Notre Dame and ended up playing four seasons with the Chiefs. Oriard appeared in 42 games, starting once. He is currently a Distinguished Professor of American Literature and Culture and Associate Dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Oregon State University.