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ROYC75
08-03-2005, 08:53 AM
http://www.kansas.com/mld/kansas/news/state/12284686.htm


Chiefs defensive coordinator in charge of turnaround
DOUG TUCKER
Associated Press


RIVER FALLS, Wis. - The hard-driving and perpetually sleep-deprived defensive coordinator of the Kansas City Chiefs trudged slowly up the long flight of stairs toward the lunchroom.

Sorry, Gunther Cunningham said through heavy eyelids, no time now to chat. Maybe later. Too many things to think about. Too much to do.

Then he disappeared behind closed doors, but not without permitting one sneak peek into a troubled soul.

"I'd better not mess this up," he said.

In total agreement will be about 80,000 excited fans packed into Arrowhead Stadium for the Sept. 11 season opener.

Also nodding yes are team president Carl Peterson, executive vice president Denny Thum, player personnel director Lynn Stiles, director of scouting Chuck Cook and all their assistants, interns, secretaries and scouts.

All those cogs in the Chiefs machine have done their jobs. They've gotten very high marks for a productive offseason geared toward taking a sorry defense and turning it into an ace.

Through both free agents and trades, they acquired cornerback Patrick Surtain and safety Sammy Knight from the Dolphins, signed linebacker Kendrell Bell off the Steelers and defensive end Carlos Hall from the Titans. They also brought in free agent cornerbacks Ashley Ambrose and Dwayne Washington.

And, hardly able to believe their luck, they grabbed Derrick Johnson with the 15th pick in the first round of the draft after figuring there was no way the Texas All-American would still be left.

That's at least five new starters, all trying to learn a new scheme and get acquainted with each other and create that elusive, hard-to-define substance called team chemistry.

The front office has done its job. The rest is up to the players - and a grizzled old coordinator with a raspy voice and a patch of gray stubble on his weathered, grandfatherly face.

"Sometimes I walk to my car and feel like I need an IV or something," Cunningham said with a grin.

"The scheme is being taught well by the assistant coaches. I'm real happy about that. But where we're lacking is in fundamentals, the fundamentals of the game. That is really disappointing to me right now."

Cunningham is not a man to take his sport lightly. A history buff and student of warfare, he recently read "The War Fighters," a manual provided to U.S. Marines in Iraq, and was inspired to pass its message along.

"It talks about the brotherhood. When you go out there and fight for real like those fine young men and women, you'd better stay together," he said.

"To me, that's the most critical thing we have to do. We have to change the culture of the defense - the attitude we bring on the table, the brotherhood, the respect we have for each other."

Improved tackling would also help.

Teaching such a thing to NFL veterans might seem akin to teaching Tiger Woods about the proper use of the sand wedge. But it has been an Achilles' heel for the Chiefs for more than three years.

"There's only one way to do it, and that's to tackle," Cunningham said.

"The wrap-up you feel on the field, that's live. Tackle! You don't take the guy to the ground, but you wrap. What happens is you get your feet, you get your angles, you get your arms and body involved."

The spirited tackling Cunningham is insisting upon during two-a-day workouts in River Falls is not making a lot of friends on the offense.

"Sometimes the offensive guys don't like it," Cunningham said. "But we try to make sure we talk to them about why we do it. That's what we're trying to do."

A week into camp, things do seem to be coming together.

"I think the defense is getting better," head coach Dick Vermeil said after Tuesday morning's practice. "They were very disruptive today to everything the offense wanted to do. I was pleased with that."

The he players who've been with Cunningham before believe their leader is up to the task.

"Gunther is a master motivator," said defensive end Eric Hicks.

"He takes a lot of responsibility on his shoulders. He thinks it's all his fault when things go wrong. When in all reality, he did the best he can. We're the ones out there running it."

Lzen
08-03-2005, 10:02 AM
Tackling has been an area the Chiefs have been lacking in. Heh, the whole NFL has gone downhill in tackling the past several years. It's good to hear that they're focusing on it this year. I remember reading somewhere last year that the Chiefs didn't even practice tackling at all. I was like WTH, how can a football team not practice something as fundamental to the game as tackling?

Ari Chi3fs
08-03-2005, 10:09 AM
amazing how tackling helps defenses, innit?

htismaqe
08-03-2005, 10:17 AM
I've heard Holthus say on several occasions now that Vermeil asked Gunther to tone it down last year and he realized that it was a mistake. Vermeil is asking Gunther to "take it to" the offense.

It's about time.

Amnorix
08-03-2005, 10:23 AM
Tackling is THE fundamental skill for a defense. Teams SUCK at tackling anymore, on average, compared to the old days.

The Patriots are one of the best tackling teams in the NFL, and it's one of the main reasons for their recent successes.

More than once I've heard Belichick say about what makes a good defensive player "but if he can't tackle, what good is he?"

RedThat
08-03-2005, 10:29 AM
Tackling is THE fundamental skill for a defense. Teams SUCK at tackling anymore, on average, compared to the old days.

The Patriots are one of the best tackling teams in the NFL, and it's one of the main reasons for their recent successes.

More than once I've heard Belichick say about what makes a good defensive player "but if he can't tackle, what good is he?"

I hear ya. It's a basic fundamental bud. Tackling was one of the knocks on our 1st round pick. That's why he fell to us at 15.

ROYC75
08-03-2005, 10:32 AM
I bet I have said thisat least 50 times on this site..... Players in general now days want to see themselves on the highlite reels of SportCenter laying a crushing blow rather than wrapping up the ball carrier.

htismaqe
08-03-2005, 10:36 AM
I hear ya. It's a basic fundamental bud. Tackling was one of the knocks on our 1st round pick. That's why he fell to us at 15.

What?

The knock on Derrick Johnson was that he had trouble taking on offensive linemen.

the Talking Can
08-03-2005, 10:53 AM
"But where we're lacking is in fundamentals, the fundamentals of the game. That is really disappointing to me right now."


So we're going to learn all the fundamentals in a month?

Scary.

RedThat
08-03-2005, 11:00 AM
What?

The knock on Derrick Johnson was that he had trouble taking on offensive linemen.

That too. It was both... bad tackling technique, and trouble shedding blockers.

milkman
08-03-2005, 11:08 AM
"But where we're lacking is in fundamentals, the fundamentals of the game. That is really disappointing to me right now."


So we're going to learn all the fundamentals in a month?

Scary.

I think learning fundamentals in a month might be a bit of a task.

However, refocusing on fundamentals, something that you've already learned but have forgotten to use, is doable.

Dave Lane
08-03-2005, 11:08 AM
That too. It was both... bad tackling technique, and trouble shedding blockers.

Actually it was running around blocks and getting off blocks. Tackling was not an issue with DJ. They thought he wouldn't be able to run around people on the next level.

Dave

skky man
08-03-2005, 11:43 AM
DJ will be fine he'll make mistakes and he make great plays he's a rookie with shit loads of talent. The fact that he has the ability to be a game changer is exciting! When's the last time we drafted someone like that? All you negeative people just give the guy a chance and let him play some games. I personally think he'll raise his level of play the more he gets to play!

milkman
08-03-2005, 11:58 AM
DJ will be fine he'll make mistakes and he make great plays he's a rookie with shit loads of talent. The fact that he has the ability to be a game changer is exciting! When's the last time we drafted someone like that? All you negeative people just give the guy a chance and let him play some games. I personally think he'll raise his level of play the more he gets to play!

I don't think anyone here is making any negative statements about DJ.

Someone posted what he thought was the reasons experts claimed that DJ fell to us at 15.

But I doubt you can find one Chiefs fan on this board that isn't excited about DJ and his potential.

Katie
08-03-2005, 12:04 PM
"But where we're lacking is in fundamentals, the fundamentals of the game. That is really disappointing to me right now."


So we're going to learn all the fundamentals in a month?

Scary.

I'm hoping that Gunthers expectation level is just too high at this point, or that it's not really as bad as he makes out. Either way, if he keeps hammering the fundamentals, there will come a point where everything kicks in.

the Talking Can
08-03-2005, 12:36 PM
I think learning fundamentals in a month might be a bit of a task.

However, refocusing on fundamentals, something that you've already learned but have forgotten to use, is doable.

I'm going to chose to believe your second point is the reality.

el borracho
08-03-2005, 12:37 PM
Sorry. All I take from this article is "Die, Eric Hicks! Die!"

htismaqe
08-03-2005, 12:39 PM
That too. It was both... bad tackling technique, and trouble shedding blockers.

No it most certainly was not.

http://www.fantasyfootballjungle.com/y/2005-nfl-draft/prospects/index.php?id=93

Not much to gripe about, only a few minor things. Needs to add a few pounds but has the frame to do so. Not a lights out hitter but a rock solid tackler, nonetheless. Not an LB who will rack up big sack totals unless a team tries to use him in a different way.

http://www.nfl.com/draft/profiles/2005/johnson_derrick_lb#analysis

penchief
08-03-2005, 06:02 PM
"But where we're lacking is in fundamentals, the fundamentals of the game. That is really disappointing to me right now."


So we're going to learn all the fundamentals in a month?

Scary.

Unlike talent, I believe that fundamentals can be instilled with discipline. At this level, it isn't so much teaching as it is preaching. The players need to have the desire. That's where good coaching comes in, IMHO.

Especially if you are preaching fundamentals to talented players. They've been playing football all of their lives. It seems more like the trick is getting them to buy into the program and dedicate themselves to doing a better job.

gblowfish
08-03-2005, 06:28 PM
I love Gunther. He da man on Defense. Now he's got some bullets, and the remnants of G-Rob "Dr Evil" schemes have been erased. Fly to the ball, wrap up, kill the other team's QB. Stop the run. Smack the other guy in the mouth. You can bet Gun won't have Ryan Sims dropping back in pass coverage.

Go get em Gun.

Deberg_1990
08-03-2005, 06:41 PM
I love Gunther. He da man on Defense. Now he's got some bullets, and the remnants of G-Rob "Dr Evil" schemes have been erased. Fly to the ball, wrap up, kill the other team's QB. Stop the run. Smack the other guy in the mouth. You can bet Gun won't have Ryan Sims dropping back in pass coverage.

Go get em Gun.

Im still not 100% convinced that Gun can turn it around. Hes still working with alot of the same turds that G-Rob worked with (Hicks, Sims, Warfield, etc....) I know we rag on G-Rob alot, and he deserved alot of the blame, but much of it was a lack of talent as well. G-Robs scheme would have worked if we would have had people who knew how to tackle. The Patriots run a read and react scheme. It works just fine for them.

milkman
08-03-2005, 07:00 PM
Im still not 100% convinced that Gun can turn it around. Hes still working with alot of the same turds that G-Rob worked with (Hicks, Sims, Warfield, etc....) I know we rag on G-Rob alot, and he deserved alot of the blame, but much of it was a lack of talent as well. G-Robs scheme would have worked if we would have had people who knew how to tackle. The Patriots run a read and react scheme. It works just fine for them.

I think you're right.
I don't believe that Gun could turn it around, and he is still working with a lot of the same turds.

However, some important ingredients of turning around this D were missing last season, that being leadership and attitude.

With guys like Knight, Surtain, and Bell, those ingredients have been added.

So with Gun and the added ingredients, those turds just might get polished.

htismaqe
08-03-2005, 07:03 PM
Im still not 100% convinced that Gun can turn it around. Hes still working with alot of the same turds that G-Rob worked with (Hicks, Sims, Warfield, etc....) I know we rag on G-Rob alot, and he deserved alot of the blame, but much of it was a lack of talent as well. G-Robs scheme would have worked if we would have had people who knew how to tackle. The Patriots run a read and react scheme. It works just fine for them.

He's got at least 4 new starters in Bell, Surtain, Knight, and DJ.

Hicks and Browning had BY FAR their best years under Gunther.

Warfield was much better last year than at any other point in his career.

In all honesty, I agree with you. I argued this continuously while Robinson was here and right before Gunther was hired. But at the same time, all we have now is hope. Why give up on it?

huskerdooz
08-04-2005, 02:17 PM
What?

The knock on Derrick Johnson was that he had trouble taking on offensive linemen.

The knock on Johnson is that he ran around blockers rather than take them on. No one knew whether he could take on blockers at this level because he had never had to do it before.

htismaqe
08-04-2005, 02:19 PM
The knock on Johnson is that he ran around blockers rather than take them on. No one knew whether he could take on blockers at this level because he had never had to do it before.

6 of one, one half dozen of the other.

Every scouting report I read on the guy said "not as strong at the point of attack as he is in space".

whoman69
08-04-2005, 05:01 PM
Its been too long since we've been exposed to a good, bone crunching D here. Its was a staple during the Stram years and our best years under Marty. Even our less that stellar teams in between had good defenses. Our defense forced 0 QB fumbles last year. Since Vermeil took over its gotten worse. We need for this defense to shine.