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Wednesday Cup O’Chiefs

Making assessments about a football team as it runs around in underwear during the month of June can be dangerous.

There is too much that can still happen in the football year, and that’s even before the teams head to training camp at the end of July. Throw in training camp and pre-season and there are a lot of players who will show themselves with an opening day roster spot, but they remain unknowns at this moment to media, fans and even sometimes the coaches. There are injuries, there are holdouts and there will be off-field incidents to come.

Taking all that into account, I’m going to go out on a limb here and predict that Chiefs fans are going to like this new Chiefs defense.

Based on what they’ve shown during the nine practices that have been open to the media, coordinator Clancy Pendergast (left) is loading up the kitchen sink with this defense. Pendergast is experimenting right now with personnel and schemes, but there’s one thing that comes through no matter what type of players are on the field. This defense is going to be an aggressive group that sometimes lines up in ways that have not been seen by Chiefs fans.

Over the weekend at mini-camp, the Chiefs were in a nickel-type defense where only one player had his hand on the ground for the snap of the ball. DE Tyson Jackson was in a two-point stance as he stood over the guard. Five other guys were also standing along the line of scrimmage. That was seven guys in the immediate grill of the quarterback. On one play, only four rushed. On the next it was five.

Before they were done, I swear there was a play where the Chiefs blitzed all 11 guys. Cornerbacks are coming off the corner. Safeties are flying up from the secondary. Linebackers are on pogo sticks, jumping up and back in various combinations.

On 1st-and-10, the Chiefs are lining up in the 3-4 defense but that might be the only play in a possession where they are in that alignment. When they got to a nickel, the nose tackle comes out and a cornerback comes in. That’s when all sorts of things happen.

The premise is simple: limit the pre-snap information for the quarterback. Always have the offense wondering who is coming and who is dropping. Go hard, go fast and arrive in ill humor. There’s nothing revolutionary here. Pendergast and his staff don’t appear to be writing a new book on playing defense.

But if what we are watching right now is the approach, then they are going to go after the quarterback with multiple blitzes.

The big question is will they be blitzing because they want to cause confusion, or will they be blitzing because that’s the only way they can get to the quarterback?

The Chiefs had the most embarrassing pass rush in NFL history last season, pulling the passer down 10 times, a league record for sacking ineptitude. Pioli/Haley have not gone out and sought pass rushers to bulk up the roster. Instead, they are going to rely on a different coaching staff, different scheme and player development from within to improve the rush. That’s a gamble on their part, especially if Pendergast has to generate a pass rush by gambling with the blitz.

With Arizona last year, Pendergast was not blitz crazy. One statistical service estimated the Cardinals blitzed 25 percent of the time in the 993 plays they faced on defense. Most of those came on second and third down plays when the opponent needed four to six yards for a first down.

How often the Chiefs will use the blitz remains to be seen. There’s no question the Chiefs will have a lot of options in their defensive playbook, if they need to use them.

Again, it’s June. It’s a new defensive coaching staff (save DL coach Tim Krumrie). It’s a new scheme. It’s a new head coach. There are a bunch of key new players in Jackson, Alex Magee, Zach Thomas, Mike Vrabel and Monty Beisel.

But there’s a look about this defense that provides hope that negative NFL records will not be set in the 2009 season.

JUSTIN MEDLOCK RESURFACES IN CANADA

His NFL career so far consists of a single game, with two field goal attempts. The first one went wide left from 30 yards. He made the second one from 27 yards. Less than 48 hours later, Justin Medlock was out of work, released by the Chiefs despite his status as a fifth-round choice in the 2007 NFL Draft.

Medlock is trying to make it back into pro football, but this time in the Canadian Football League, where the teams are currently in training camp. He’s with the Toronto Argonauts and he’s chances of making the squad depends on his punting as well as his kicking. His competition is Eddie Johnson, a punter trying to also kick FGs. The Argos will keep just one kicker to kickoff, handle placements and punt.

“The plan is to get one who can do all three,” said Toronto head coach Bart Andrus. “Both of them did kickoffs, so that’s not an issue. And that’s something that is a high priority for us: someone who can put the ball on the goal-line. But we figured we’d get one of each and let it play out.

“One of the things we’re looking at is, when you’re a place-kicker and you’ve gone out and had to win or lose a game, that’s something that becomes a mental thing.”

Oh, oh … “mental thing.” That’s something that Medlock is going to have to overcome. He showed during his time with the Chiefs that mental toughness was not a strong point.

“I just had a mental breakdown,” Medlock said of his time with the Chiefs. “I kicked great in pre-season with Kansas City, but I just never kicked well in games. I’d love to get another shot.”

Last year, Medlock went to camp with the Rams, but was released in the pre-season. He worked on his golf game by joining girlfriend Hannah Jun on the LPGA Tour as her caddy.

“At first, you have to learn to put the relationship to the side, because her money is my money and my money is her money,” he said. “So it’s kind of hard. But it was definitely fun. I read the greens and made sure she was focused. But pretty much, I made sure she had the right club.”

MORE FROM NORTH OF THE BORDER

With the CFL in training camp, we took a quick check of the rosters on the eight teams and saw a few names that will be familiar to Chiefs fans. In Calgary are WR Jabari Arthur and LB E.J. Kuale, who were both with the Chiefs in the pre-season last year.

Over in Winnipeg is QB James Kilian, a Chiefs seventh-round pick in 2005. In Toronto with Medlock is another 2005 draft choice, fifth-round pick CB Alphonso Hodge. Also with the Argos is LB Willie Pile (Chiefs seventh-round choice in 2003) and WR Arland Bruce out of Olathe.

On Hamilton’s pre-season roster are WR LaShaun Ward and DE Brandon Guillory, both pre-season participants with the Chiefs.

CHIEFS ESTABLISH PRE-SEASON TV NETWORK

The Chiefs announced a 10-station television network to carry their pre-season games this year.

Just about every corner of the Chiefs Nation will have an outlet come August. The question will be whether those two home games against Houston and Seattle will be telecast live or on tape delay. There’s no chance that those games will be sold out.

Here are the network stations: Kansas City (KCTV), Topeka (WIBW), St. Joseph (KQTV), Wichita (KWCH), Omaha (KMTV), Joplin/Pittsburg (KODE), Columbia (KMIZ), Springfield (KSFX), Des Moines (KCWI) and Tulsa (KWBT).

SIGNINGS & MOVEMENT AROUND THE LEAGUE

BILLS – signed RB Justise Hairston.

COLTS — signed K Shane Andrus.

EAGLES – signed seventh-round draft choices G Paul Fanaika and LB Moise Fokou.

JETS – released LB Nate Harris and DT Brian Schaefering.

SEAHAWKS – signed sixth-round draft choice QB Mike Teel and seventh-round choice DE Nick Reed.

TITIANS – signed seventh-round draft choice S Nick Schommer.

SAY HAPPY BIRTHDAY …

Born on June 10, 1938 in West Memphis, Arkansas was G Marvin Terrell. He joined the Texans for the 1960 season and played four years with the Texans and Chiefs, appearing in 38 games.

Born on June 10, 1945 in Clinton, Louisiana was LB Billy Andrews. He played 11 seasons in the NFL, the last two years with the Chiefs (1976-77). Andrews started in 28 games over those two seasons and had one interception.

Born on June 10, 1960 in Cleveland was WR Anthony Hancock
(left). He was the Chiefs first-round choice in the 1982 NFL Draft out of Tennessee. Hancock played five seasons with the Chiefs (1982-86), appearing in 59 games with nine starts. He caught 73 passes for 1,266 yards and five touchdowns. He also returned 64 kickoffs for 1,281 yards and 29 punts for 198 yards.


35 Responses to “Wednesday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • June 10, 2009  - Scott says:

    I agree…I think our D will be MUCH improved this year. Not that I think we’ll be contending with the Ravens or Steelers, or anything like that. But, I think we’ll be WAY above the joke we were last year.

    And I’ll settle for “good” any day. We’ll have to be good before we can be great.


  • June 10, 2009  - findthedr says:

    1. having the ‘hand on the ground’ allows a player to get the forward ‘burst’ up field far better then when standing (just look at sprinters for an example). Having only 1 player doing that in 3rd down situations only really helps in covering the pass…not getting to the qb (unless you blitz from a guy in motion).

    2. Clancy ran alot of 3-3-5 looks in arizona along with his hybrid 4-3. The “5″ defensive backs might be a big reason the chiefs drafted another cb (who is also big enough to play the run).

    3. LOL at Medlock being his girlfriends B*TCH…who (according to google images) is a porker. Guess he likes junk in the trunk.


  • June 10, 2009  - Harold C. says:

    If we can bring our offense up to par then the defense may not need to be great….adequate may do. I’m sure this season will be much better than last though. Maybe good enough for 2nd place in the AFC West? On paper the Chargers look like they will be 1st…..but I’m still hopeful it will be us looking down at the rest of the West.


  • June 10, 2009  - anonymous says:

    It would be interesting to see how the front seven (or is it eight?) are lining up (who and where) when they go to the nickle with only two down linemen.


  • June 10, 2009  - Scott says:

    Harold C. says:
    “On paper the Chargers look like they will be 1st…..”

    Yeah, “on paper” the Chargers look good. They looked good “on paper” last year too, though…and went 8-8. Just remember, they have Norv Turner for a Head Coach. So, that’s definitely in our favor.


  • June 10, 2009  - anonymous says:

    Curious how much more time Dorsey and Edwards are going to miss. Sucks for those guys, and the team too, that their not able to go.


  • June 10, 2009  - SG says:

    “And I’ll settle for “good” any day.”

    Pretty mediocre would be an improvement.


  • June 10, 2009  - colby says:

    Glad to hear that Pendergast is doing some innovative things. Gailey was a great hire last year and found a way to make our offense respectable with a 3rd string QB, a disgruntled Gonzalez, and no LJ for a quarter of the season. He pulled it off by thinking outside the box and now it sounds like we have a guy in charge of the D who will do the same thing. Our secondary is pretty solid so we can afford to be a blitz-heavy team. Nothing I like more than to watch a blitz-heavy Chiefs D!

    Thanks for the CFL update Bob! Vermeil and Carl’s drafts may have sucked when it came to producing NFL talent, but they weren’t half bad when it came to getting players for the CFL. Alphonso Hodges, Willie Pile’s, and James Killian’s OH MY!


  • June 10, 2009  - Brian says:

    Thank you for this article Bob. This is one of the most inspiring articles that I have read all year.


  • June 10, 2009  - jimbo says:

    Bob,
    I’m encouraged by your observations of the Chiefs defense. It’s difficult to be optimistic about the Chiefs. Then again, every preseason for over 40 years I have been.
    Perhaps a little deception & hoodwinking is what the Dr. ordered.
    All of a sudden the preseason games sound entertaining, especially with a new look defense.

    Gee Bob, You made my day… Thanks!

    Maybe we might be seeing a few Arrowhead decals appear on some players helmets soon.


  • June 10, 2009  - Scott says:

    jimbo says:

    “Maybe we might be seeing a few Arrowhead decals appear on some players helmets soon.”

    I had forgotten about that. It will be interesting to see who Haley thinks has “earned” it, and when.


  • June 10, 2009  - tm1946 says:

    Better be careful of the adding of logos to helmets, since the Chiefs have this “un-natural” interest in uniforms from Texas, they may put map of Tx in place of arrowhead. Just to lighten the situation.


  • June 10, 2009  - burnsomatic says:

    I don’t care what are D looks like. If all the guys stand up or have there hand on the ground. As long as we can get off the feild on third down. How many times in third and long did the other team convert?


  • June 10, 2009  - B in SC says:

    Bob, you state that Pioli/Haley have chosen to upgrade through coaching and new schemes rather than by improving the roster with pass rushers. True, but good pass rushers have to be available and have a desire to go to a lower tier team. They don’t have the luxury of picking the cream of the crop and signing them to a contract. They did draft to defensive linemen in the draft that will hopefully help our pass rush in the end. I think they addressed it as much as they could with our situation and which players were available. Next year, they may be able to get a premier DE to help. Step by step.


  • June 10, 2009  - ILChiefsFan says:

    Sorry, Denver was also worse than the Chiefs.


  • June 10, 2009  - burnsomatic says:

    Thanks ILCheifsfan. Great info.


  • June 10, 2009  - ILChiefsFan says:

    You know, that stat just floored me. The number seemed impossibly high.

    After a little more reading, it appears that Drive Success Rate means the % of POSSESSIONS on which the opposing team got a first down or score (i.e., didn’t go “3 and out”).

    I’m sure somewhere there’s a stat that simply measures offensive and defensive success on 3rd down.


  • June 10, 2009  - anonymous says:

    I distinctly remember the Chiefs being horrendous on 3rd downs. It was to the point that I was dreading when the Chiefs D had a third and short, you could bet your best silver dollar that they were going to get gashed for a huge gain, if not a TD.

    Can any one recall one time that the Chiefs made a stop on 3rd and short or goal? I can’t!


  • June 10, 2009  - anonymous says:

    I’m sure gonna miss that POS cover two/Tampa…. NOT!!!!!!!!!


  • June 10, 2009  - Rin Tin Tin says:

    Is the new Chiefs defense going to be ‘varied’ or is D-CO Teddy Pender- whoops, ‘Clancy’ Pendergast merely singing a song of sixpence – nee trying to overcome a lack of talent/overabundance of square pegs at his disposal he is forced to place into a round hole or 11?

    “Sing a song of sixpence,
    A pocket full of rye.
    Four and twenty blackbirds,
    Baked in a pie.
    When the pie was opened,
    The birds began to sing;
    Wasn’t that a dainty dish,
    To set before the king?

    The king was in his counting house,
    Counting out his money;
    The queen was in the parlour,
    Eating bread and honey.
    The maid was in the garden,
    Hanging out the clothes;
    When down came a blackbird
    And snapped off her nose

    They send for the king’s doctor,
    who sewed it on again;
    He sewed it on so neatly,
    the seam was never seen.”

    (or this alternate ending) -
    “There was such a commotion,
    that little Jenny wren;
    Flew down into the garden,
    and put it back again.”

    Man, that makes it sound as if the players in the Chiefly new ‘Fancy Clancy’ aka ‘sixpence defense’ may all be busy in different rooms (scheme/pages) and places (all the wrong ones).

    I recall when Gun tried all the exotic schemes… worked great with a Derrick Thomas et al – not so much when the names the back of the jersey became Hali, McBride or even a lesser Johnson, Derrick – et al.

    Oh well not to worry; as ‘check’ said we can find 22 guys (any) so if the new defense(s) don’t come out and dominate & rank 1st in the NFL he’ll have proven himself indubitably errant.

    Wait a minute, ‘check’ that – he already has.

    Cue ABC TV 1965: “The Lonnnnng Hot Summer, slowly moves along…oh so slowly moves along” (into the winter Chiefs discontent.)

    :-)


  • June 10, 2009  - Rin Tin Tin says:

    Or as Eddie Kendrick of the temptin “Temptations” would sing today if he were here to see ‘check’/ the new ‘Fancy Clancy’ ‘sixpence defense(s)’ KC:

    “People moving out, people moving in. Run, run, run but you sure can’t hide. Sayin’ ball of confusion!

    :-)


  • June 10, 2009  - findthedr says:

    nothing like doing your part to kill a meaningful discussion doggie poo.


  • June 10, 2009  - ILChiefsFan says:

    To hear our departed Defensive Coordinator tell it, he didn’t believe in the defense he was coaching last season. Having a DC who actually believes in what he’s doing is at least a step in the right direction.


  • June 10, 2009  - Rin Tin Tin says:

    findthedr says:

    “nothing like doing your part to kill a meaningful discussion doggie poo.”

    - we all play our parts this theatre the absurd, so yes – clean the windshield and check the oil too junior…

    :-)


  • June 10, 2009  - Scott says:

    ILChiefsFan says:
    “To hear our departed Defensive Coordinator tell it, he didn’t believe in the defense he was coaching last season. Having a DC who actually believes in what he’s doing is at least a step in the right direction.”

    (Your) Point #1. And I believed Cunningham when he said that. At first. But then I started to wonder if he really thought that…or if he was just making excuses for having such crappy defenses the last few years. Pretty easy to blame the guy. Especially after you know you won’t have to face him anymore.

    (Your) Point #2. And a good one. It IS a step in the right direction. Having all the coaches on the same page is a MUST.


  • June 10, 2009  - Scott says:

    Meant to say “Pretty easy to blame the OTHER guy” above.


  • June 10, 2009  - ILChiefsFan says:

    Scott,
    I agree somewhat with your take on Point #1. Gunther certainly deserves a good deal of blame for last season’s debacle. I was frankly suprised that he was endorsed so heartily by Schwartz; we’ll see what he can do there this season.

    I think it’s fair to say, though, that Tampa 2 (which was certainly the Chiefs primary scheme) was not really Gun’s choice; and that situation can’t help your defensive performance.


  • June 11, 2009  - True Red & Gold says:

    A blitz happy D is only fun to watch if it is effective, otherwise it can be awful. It doesn’t matter what schemes they run on D if they don’t have the talent. I am much more interested in hearing about the development of these guys than I am about schemes.
    I’m going to go out on a limb here and predict that Chiefs fans are going to like this new Chiefs defense.
    Bob, only if it produces most fans wouldn’t even recognize a scheme change.

    findthedr, I hear you are someone”s bitch too, and he is not nearly as attractive as Hannah Jun or nearly as athletic.


  • June 11, 2009  - Carl Peterson says:

    True Red & Gold is pretty much a douchebag.


  • June 11, 2009  - SG says:

    findthedr, true_red, and cp,

    With the personal attacks, people might wonder if we’re chiefs fans but maybe spent too much time on that vacation to Oakland. I wouldn’t want to sic Tank Tyler on ya…lol.

    Which defensive player that we’ve picked up (free agent or drafted) this off-season are you hoping will make the biggest positive impact this year? Who do you think will actually do so?


  • June 11, 2009  - tm1946 says:

    I do not see a dominate player in current FA’s or draftees, look like a bunch of contributors but no stars. But Allen surprised everyone (including the Chiefs), so anything is possible. What we really need is guys on last years roster to stop getting cut and make an impact, do not see that happening either.

    Anyone in the supplement draft worth the Chief’s consideration??


  • June 11, 2009  - ED says:

    Based on all the reports coming out of training camp it certainly sounds like the defense is going to be much better this season. Of course after last yr u have no where to go but up. But it does sound like that the defense is far ahead of the offense. Which i guess isn’t a bad thing seeing how the defense caused alot of losses last yr.




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