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Rukdafaidas
08-01-2005, 12:32 PM
http://www.kcchiefs.com/news/2005/08/01/qa_gunther_cunningham/

Q&A GUNTHER CUNNINGHAM
Aug 01, 2005, 11:15:36 AM


TRAINING CAMP

Q: You talked in the off-season about assembling all the pieces and now you are putting them together. How is it working?

CUNNINGHAM: “It’s difficult; we’ve only had two days of pads. The school I thought I came from is that you start in pads and you finish in pads. I know in this day and age you can’t do that. The other problem is that we have we have a couple of guys banged upgun coming into camp, in particular the linebacker situation. So we are down in numbers there so sometimes you really don’t get to feel for all your parts as we did in the OTAs when they were all out there.

“I was pretty satisfied with the ending of that project. They all stepped up pretty good and started to understand. We came up here in the first couple practices just weren’t clicking. There are some little things that I tried to implement this year that if you hear me get mad out there that is the thing. We have to become a better tackling team overall. And you’ll hear me yell wrap-up until the cows come home. Getting the ball, the turnovers, the wrap-up to become a better tacking team in the overall attitude we came into camp with. The scheme is being taught well by the coaches, I am real happy about that. We’re lacking in the fundamentals, the fundamentals of the game. That is really disappointing me right now. It’s really in two areas, it’s line and linebackers.

“The second area I am really pretty satisfied with in the first three or four practices. I think that addition of Pat (Surtain) and Sammy (Knight) has really helped. The addition of Ashley Ambrose and Dwayne Washington is real positive, too. Not only does it give you a little more security as a coach in what you try and install, but they are really helping the young guys. The young guys are jumping; they are making a lot of progress back there.”

Q: Sammy and Patrick have chemistry from their years in Miami, how has that helped the transition?

CUNNINGHAM: “A little thing on the side prior to that is that Kawika Mitchell and I had a lot of heart-to-heart talks. And maybe a couple of them weren’t heart and more like I was shooting bullets all during the off season. The other day Kawika turned to me and said, ‘You know, I’d like to be like Sammy Knight.’ As coach you get warm fuzzies hearing things like that. To me that is what Sammy is and Patrick in a much quieter way, is the same way with the rest of the guys. He is a consummate NFL player; weather he is a corner or whatever position he would play. Those two guys have worked so well together at Miami, it’s not often in this league that you get to guys who are pretty good off of a defense that is also pretty good on your team and then that is a carry over for the rest of the players. I watched DBs do their individual drills. That is really fun for me. The same coaches coach. Like somebody said, Steve Williams, the guy that caddies for professional golfers like Tiger Woods, if Steve Williams caddied for me I’d still shoot an 80. Well coaching these guys, you coach Sammy Knight and Pat Surtain you’re going to be a lot better coach.”

Q: When you hear Kawika say something like he wants to be like Sammy and with the way he’s been working out there, is the MLB job his to lose right now?

CUNNINGHAM: “There is no doubt that he has gone through a lot adversity and has not got his just reward out of people that have second-guessed him. He is hurt here, and he is really about a year-and-a-half linebacker because of the injuries and has not had the repetitions that he should have. We talked about it in the off-season and I told him that I didn’t want to hear it, I didn’t want any excuses. You have to be professional and act like you are a three-year linebacker and that you started for three years and carry it over to the practice field. Right now I want to be involved and hear what he has to say and what everyone else has to say. He has taken charge of the huddle to the point that he threw me out of it the other day. It wasn’t an act, he was very sincere and I saw it really fast. He has made a lot of comments, and rightfully so about settling the huddle and do this and anticipate this. He has really come a long was as far as approach to the game. Now there are some detail things that he needs to work hard on. He knows what it is we’ll see where that goes. Right now I am pulling for him, like you do for any player you coach. When he gives you the kind of work he’s given me for the last six months, it excites me.”

Q: How do you improve the tackling do you have to teach them all over again how to tackle?

CUNNINGHAM: “I told the coaches, we just go out of a meeting, there is nobody in this country or any other country that plays this game, coaches this game that is going to tell me how to teach tacking. There is only one way to do it and that is to tackle. The rap that you hear on the field that’s live. Tackle. Don’t take the guy to the ground but wrap. What happens is that you get your feet and you get your angles you get your arms and your body involved and sometimes the offensive guys don’t like it. But we try to make sure that we talk to them about how we do it and that’s what we’re trying to do. I think the coaches are supplementing that with drills. I have been around too long, it’s not about drills, it’s about playing the game and hitting the guy that has the ball in his hands. He is showing up and doing those things right. When he misses we’re on him right away to make sure that he understands why he did.”

Q: There have been some additions to the defense this year. Do you feel added pressure?

CUNNINGHAM: “Well I guess I would feel added pressure if I was in New England. They have six first-round draft choices and ten first-day draft choices overall, first day being top three rounds. That’s a real NFL football team on defense. I think what we’re trying to do at this point is get there. To me the thing that Carl (Peterson) did and Dick (Vermeil) did and Denny Thum and Woody Dixon and Lynn (Stiles), Chuck (Cook) and all the rest of them were involved in this. We had long talks all about what you have to do and the type of people you have to have. When Kendrell Bell walks in the room you are looking at an NFL linebacker. I think last year we started with three linebackers. One was a fourth and the other two were fifth-round choices, the two fifth-round choices who were both projects who played defensive end. You can’t go out there and try and win all the time with projects. The thing that would come up is that Tedy Bruschi – and I love Tedy Bruschi – it took him five years to learn to play the position he was coached by a very good friend of mine named Bill Belichick. The next thing you hear is the New England can take a fourth-round corner and put him in for Ty Law. Well he’s got six number ones and 10 out of the first 11 are first-day draft acquisitions. To me it’s a little bit different ball game.”

“To me personnel is something you have to be really good at and work at all the time. My talks with Carl talking about the past, is that I think you need a cornerstone. I think that is the other big deal. You have to a Kansas City Chief, a guy that is going to lead the team. When I was here and we had Derrick Thomas, Neil Smith and Dale Carter. We lost Neil Smith and Dale Carter we were still pretty good and the rest of the time we always worked to supplement those positions that we lost that we weren’t able to draft in the free agent season. To me that is how it works. So as far as pressure is concerned the pressure is to keep working the roster, and as you in the season that kind of subsides because you do all that work in the off season, but then when the season progresses or as the season ends you re-evaluate where you are. If you go into the derby you better have a thoroughbred not a mule. I tell the guys that, too.”

Q: Do you have cornerstone guys here now?

CUNNINGHAM: “I think that we have the possibility and the cornerstone doesn’t necessarily mean he has to be drafted by the Chiefs. I think Pat (Surtain) could be one of those guys. Sammy Knight as far as what you are looking for is definitely one of those guys. It could be Kawika Mitchell. People laugh when we say that, but it took Bruschi five years to play linebacker. He’s going into his second year really if you count the injury. So you never know who that is going to be, but we have to find that guy in a hurry. I would think. Because everybody else feeds off of that.”

Q: Is your number one priority getting the chemistry right with all these new guys?

CUNNINGHAM: “To me that is the most critical thing we have to do, we have to change the culture of the defense, the attitude we bring on the table and the brotherhood. You know, the respect we have for each other Kawika Mitchell. The point that I made to you earlier. To me that is big time, when you hear that you rise up in your chair and you think here we go. They’re buying in, they’re getting the idea. Because the bottom line is you can coach til you are blue in the face but it’s the men that walk across the line and the coach’s just watch them. Our hearts are with them but there is not much you can do. People say scheme, I’ll go back to New England they’ll play two deep (zone). You can say he does all these fancy things. You look at tape and you look at 60 plays of New England play you’ll see 75 percent of the time it’s two deep zone which has been in football forever, but it’s who is playing the two deep zone and what are they talking about.”

Q: Who are your leaders on this defense?

CUNNINGHAM: “Right now I would say that Sammy Knight is one of them. I think Eric Hicks is in a different way. He’s got a harder time; he’s not an extroverted type guy. He doesn’t just come out and say the right thing all the time. He tries real hard. He has it in his heart, but he doesn’t communicate very well at times. I think Pat is, there is no question about it. I think a lot of these other guys that you don’t know about have leadership qualities in different ways. Like Kendrell Bell. If he is well and ready to go, which I anticipate he will. His leadership will be one of the big collisions you see, because one guy hits somebody everyone else wants to hit. In other words in the next play they want to out hit Kendrell Bell. To me those are leadership qualities and those are unspoken leadership qualities. And those are harder to find than the spoken ones in my mind. ”

Q: How critical is it this year to have a great group?

CUNNINGHAM: Breakthrough is a big time word in my mind. You were talking about (Titans LB) Keith Bulluck he had a breakthrough year in 2002. He stepped up to the Pro Bowl level. To me they just have to become solid players, number one. And do I think that they can do that? I have got a big stick in my hand. I am going force the issue on that to get them to do it. I think they are willing which is the number one obstacle that you have.”

Q: Is the year that DT Ryan Sims has to show you that he was worthy of the sixth overall pick?

CUNNINGHAM: I think one of things we talk to the players about; if you are a free agent it shouldn’t make any difference if the other guy was a number, one, two or three pick in the first round. You have to perform and that is the bottom line. Yeah I think he needs to perform. We need to get some payback from him. He knows that. I think he’s pushing himself to do that.”

Q: How do you react when you hear people say with this offense the defense just needs to be average?

CUNNINGHAM: “A lot of those players and that side of the ball are friends of mine, and I don’t have to coach them so I can talk to them differently. Talking about Tony (Gonzalez), (Brian) Waters, all of them. I love them. It’s a different way that you have to feel about them. What I think I try and do is ignore all those things. I have a job to do and I try and focus on that job and try and rebuild the culture of that defense to what I am used to coaching and the kind of people that I am around are the ones that make me feel good, the ones that look at me on Friday and say ‘Go home, have dinner, we’re going to win this one.’

“When I went down to the Titans it was the same thing. After my first year Keith Bulluck the fourth or fifth game of the season. We were 1-4, and then we went off and won 10 in a row. And he got it; you never know when those things are going to click to takeover your side of the ball. But I think it’s got to be a team.”

Q: But your goal is never to be average defensively?

CUNNINGHAM: “I hope not. I have never been average with anything in my life. I have been in the same situation once in my football career. And that was in San Diego. I went in there as a coach and we were 28th and when I left a few years later we were third and we led the NFL in every sack category that we could with great all pro players. I told the coaches last night that about how I was working for Don Coryell and they called it Black Tuesday and he cut 18 guys. He said, ‘we’re going to do it this way, we’re going to get our kind of guy.’ And really we’re doing a lot of that here with the influx of new players. Carl and I talked in January, I looked him in the eye and I knew what he was going to do. I didn’t think he could pull it off, but he got it done. We’ve been through a lot together. I have tremendous respect for what he does, and how he does it. To me, my communication with him and with Dick Vermeil, Dick and I, the last day prior to coming to camp have had one of the best talks I have ever had. He’s been very supportive so I just got to pay him back and find a way to get it done.”

Q: Do you have enough to get it done?

CUNNINGHAM: “I can’t tell you at this point. I hope I will able to address that later on as we make progress. I have to have all the pieces out there; we still don’t have them out there together. Some of you have been around me off and on, but I guess for those three years I was in (Tennessee) you didn’t see me that much. But when I was here in ‘95 we went to Denver for the fourth or fifth game of the year and I looked down and Marty Schottenheimer and his brother were having a heart attack because (John) Elway had the ball, we were up by 14 and there was 3:56 left on the clock. They were going crazy, and I called them up and said, ‘relax boys, we got this guy right where we want him. We’re going to be really good this year and we were.’ In ‘97 we lost to Elway 17-3 in the first game we gave up 389 yards. I walked into the room on Monday and I said, “guys, we are really going to be good.” And those two defenses were great. And you feel it at different times. It’s just like your marriage; it’s like anything in coaching.”

Q: You’re not feeling it yet?

CUNNINGHAM: “No, it’s too early, it’s too early. That ‘95 team went to Arizona we got killed and Buddy Ryan said we couldn’t stop the run. So the boys and I went back down there during the regular season. I think they got 30 yards rushing and I wanted to chase him into the locker room saying: ‘Who can’t stop the run?’ There are a lot of little things that go into play. And the question about the chemistry, to me that’s what it’s all about. You can throw all the X’s and O’s on the board that you want. You got to have an aura and they have to play together. That’s a non-stop work in progress, and how’s it going to click, and will it click. The difficulty facing our offense is the multitude of things that they do and we have to work around that to teach our basic system. And not take no for an answer and still have some confidence coming off the practice field. Which I think we gain in different situations. The thing I am finding now, last year we didn’t win very much. This year you see the change, so subtle. The other day, yesterday I think it was they didn’t do well in the Red Zone. And they heard it from here to Mexico and then we went right after it again with nine on seven and so on. Yesterday afternoon it was the same. There is an ebb and flow of our success, well when you get to that point there is something going on, you don’t just get lucky. We’re getting the ball in our hands. The turn over ratio is stepped up immensely. I think the tackling is getting better and better.

Q: What did you and Dick talk about in your conversation before camp?

CUNNINGHAM: “It was mostly about his coaching philosophy, and the way we want to approach this season. But the rest of it was real personal. To me one of the best things I have ever had said about how I coach was from a defensive line coach at Tennessee. He said, ‘You know Gun, it took me a while to figure you out when you came here. You’re a solider aren’t you?’ I said, ‘What do you mean?’ He said, ‘You follow protocol.’ To me working for Dick Vermeil, I always want him to know that I am servicing him. And no matter what is done I am going to be loyal to Dick Vermeil. In the discussion it was really neat for me to hear that he felt that way. To me that is always very very important. And the same thing working for Carl.

“This organization works together and Dick and I work together. He is very instrumental in talking about the personnel and trying to be on the same page. We talk constantly, and I enjoy it very much. And when you have these meetings, these philosophical meetings they mean a lot to you when you work for six months where you might not always be on the same agreeable level and it comes down where you do agree at the end and that is important to me.”

Donger
08-01-2005, 12:35 PM
Gawd, that was hard to read. Did a third grader write that?

Rukdafaidas
08-01-2005, 12:37 PM
No crap. I think Nick Athan has been hired by kcchiefs.com as chief editor.

BigChiefFan
08-01-2005, 12:44 PM
That's one of the best interviews I've read in a while. Good stuff. I'd run through a brick wall for Gunther.

dirk digler
08-01-2005, 12:47 PM
Gawd, that was hard to read. Did a third grader write that?

Actually I think it has more to do with Gun. Gun just rambles on and on and on. He changes subjects so many times it is hard to keep up.

el borracho
08-01-2005, 12:48 PM
That crazy f*cking Gunther is my favorite Chief.

"Buddy Ryan said we couldn’t stop the run. So the boys and I went back down there during the regular season. I think they got 30 yards rushing and I wanted to chase him into the locker room saying: ‘Who can’t stop the run?"

I can't wait for this season!

Cormac
08-01-2005, 12:48 PM
Actually I think it has more to do with Gun. Gun just rambles on and on and on. He changes subjects so many times it is hard to keep up.

Exactly. The real Gun is back. Gone is that "nice, straight-thinking" impostor from last year :D

The Rick
08-01-2005, 12:51 PM
I'm not usually one for teenage humor, but I'll admit, this section (the word "Vermeil" omitted for effect) had me snickering:

To me working for Dick, I always want him to know that I am servicing him. And no matter what is done I am going to be loyal to Dick. In the discussion it was really neat for me to hear that he felt that way. To me that is always very very important. And the same thing working for Carl.

This organization works together and Dick and I work together.

ZootedGranny
08-01-2005, 12:53 PM
CUNNINGHAM: “No, it’s too early, it’s too early. That ‘95 team went to Arizona we got killed and Buddy Ryan said we couldn’t stop the run. So the boys and I went back down there during the regular season. I think they got 30 yards rushing and I wanted to chase him into the locker room saying: ‘Who can’t stop the run?’

He should have speared him, scissor kicked him through a plate glass window and pissed in the wounds. I want Gunther to personally punch me in the face.

ENDelt260
08-01-2005, 01:01 PM
That ‘95 team went to Arizona we got killed and Buddy Ryan said we couldn’t stop the run. So the boys and I went back down there during the regular season. I think they got 30 yards rushing and I wanted to chase him into the locker room saying: ‘Who can’t stop the run?’

I'd buy the Gunther Cunningham/Buddy Ryan PPV.

Donger
08-01-2005, 01:03 PM
Actually I think it has more to do with Gun. Gun just rambles on and on and on. He changes subjects so many times it is hard to keep up.

Sorry, but despite how much Gunther rambles, I doubt that has much to do with the author not knowing the difference between 'whether' and 'weather.'

skky man
08-01-2005, 01:29 PM
I'm excited I think that our "D" will be a lot better. I think think this is the year we get the "rep" that Arrowwhead is not some place you want to play!