View Full Version : Calvisi Previews Chiefs

Tribal Warfare
08-20-2005, 01:29 PM

Last week, in the preseason opener, the Cards lined up against “Big D.” This week, the Cards take on “No D.”

Otherwise known as the Kansas City Chiefs, the K.C. defense doesn’t exactly K.O. opponents. In fact, in 2004, the Chiefs could barely get their gloves up in finishing 31st in the NFL in total defense and dead last in pass defense.

By allowing an average of more than 27 points per game, on average, we figure that an unfiltered email account did a better job last season stopping spam than the Chiefs did in stopping ball-carriers, big plays, and touchdown dances.

Consequently, GM Carl Peterson spent the off-season casting the Chiefs defense in one of those “Extreme Makeover” reality shows. A trio of former Pro Bowlers was added to the roster in cornerback Patrick Surtain (Pro Bowl 2002-03), linebacker Kendrell Bell (Pro Bowl 2001), and safety Sammy Knight (Pro Bowl 2001). The Chiefs also brokered a trade with Tennessee for defensive end Carlos Hall. Then, Kansas City drafted a player already described by Head Coach Dick Vermeil as a “contender for defensive rookie of the year.” A player who cracked the starting lineup just two days into camp. A player who goes by the first name Derrick and, in the local media, is already drawing comparisons to #58, the late Derrick Thomas.

That player is rookie linebacker Derrick Johnson, already anointed by Vermeil as the greatest natural defensive talent he’s ever been around. During his college days at Texas, Johnson once chased down an Oklahoma State running back who doubled as a sprinter on the track team. At the same time, the 6 foot 3, 242 pound Johnson is coming off his own “Welcome to the NFL” moment in trying to chase down Vikings QB Daunte Culpepper.

“Oh man, I didn’t know Culpepper was as big as that,” said Johnson.

Speaking of the Chiefs preseason opener in Minnesota, how did that supposedly new and improved K.C. defense perform? Well, on the Vikes opening possession, Culpepper promptly marched Minnesota 65 yards in 6 plays, scoring a touchdown on a 33 yard catch and run by Nate Burleson. Although, the real lowlight for K.C. was a 50 yard romp against an 8 man front by little known Minnesota running back named Mewelde Moore.

That sort of blunder will cost someone a job. Sure enough, starting defensive lineman Jared Allen, who posted a team-high 9 sacks last year, was demoted to backup the next day. Maybe defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham read Allen’s quote in the Kansas City Star the next morning:

“Personally, I just felt like I was running around out there playing streetball,” said Allen. “We’re so much better than that.”

Indeed, the Chiefs are better than that…on offense.

In 2004, Kansas City led the NFL in total offense by racking up 418.4 yards per game. The Chiefs averaged more than 30 points per game by featuring a potent and balanced attack, with both the rushing and passing offense ranked in the top five.

A half dozen offensive standouts have earned Pro Bowl bids, starting with six-time Pro Bowl tight end Tony Gonzalez, who set an NFL record for tight ends last season with 102 receptions. And he did it with a stress fracture in his foot that still keeps him off the practice field at Chiefs Training Camp in River Falls, Wisconsin.

Running back Priest Holmes missed the second half of 2004 with a knee injury, but on his first carry vs. the Vikings last weekend, Holmes bolted for a 21 yard gainer. Holmes also ripped off a 15 yard run, en route to 42 yards on 4 carries. Between the tackles, opposing defenses must keep an eye out for Penn State great Larry Johnson, not to mention fullback Tony Richardson.

Of course, that’s assuming you can see over or around a K.C. offensive line that features the likes of tackle Willie Roaf, guard Brian Waters, and guard Will Shields, all with Pro Bowls on their resume.

“The challenge is going to be to find a way to get them out of rhythm because if you have any opening at all or you’re not sound, they’ll take advantage of it,” said Cards Head Coach Dennis Green. “They can throw the ball, they have great rhythm passes and the best pass catching tight end in the game, big and physical.”

Then again, with Pro Bowl kick returner Dante Hall, the Chiefs always have the ability to score before ever lining up under center.

In other words, just the kind of test the Cardinals defenders look forward to after keeping the Cowboys out of the endzone last week.

08-20-2005, 01:31 PM
"....after keeping the Cowboys out of the endzone last week."