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tk13
11-13-2005, 01:37 AM
http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/sports/football/nfl/kansas_city_chiefs/13153193.htm

In-your- face football
Gun’s defense ready to bring the blitz

By ELIZABETH MERRILL
The Kansas City Star


Todd Collins thinks it’s funny now. A regular laugh riot. Repetition is one of the most effective coaching methods, but Gunther Cunningham is a defensive coordinator, and Collins is the Chiefs’ backup quarterback.

At least five times a year, Cunningham will walk up to Collins and crack on him about something that happened eight years ago, in a different uniform and a much different time.

Remember when we blitzed you four times in a row near the goal line?

“I’m sure he’s very proud of that,” Collins said.

“I tell him that we threw for almost 300 yards that game and we got robbed at the end. There was a pass interference call that wasn’t called. You can ask Charlie Joiner about that. We had a chance to win it.”

Some stories never die. When Cunningham’s gutsy goal-line blitz stuffed Buffalo in 1997, it was a statement that the Chiefs were going to be an aggressive, attacking defense that played in-your-face football.

Today in Buffalo, the defense will try to establish that headhunter mentality again. Cunningham turned up the heat last weekend on Oakland quarterback Kerry Collins, blitzing more than any game all year. Collins was harassed and ineffective until the fourth quarter of a 27-23 Kansas City win.

Cunningham was quiet last week, plotting through a critical stretch of the Chiefs’ season. Today it’s 3-5 Buffalo with its struggling young offensive line. Next week it’s Houston and the perpetually sacked David Carr. Cunningham knows this is an opportunity for the defense to put together a run and gain some confidence that had been stomped out from years near the bottom of the NFL.

Is today the day Gunther unleashes the blitz?

“If Gun likes to blitz Buffalo, let’s blitz ’em,” defensive end Jared Allen said. “Hit ’em in the mouth. We’re going to hit people, blitz and get in the quarterback’s face. Whatever it takes to get it done.”

There are dozens of theories as to why fans love the blitz. Bodies fly, quarterbacks backpedal, chaos ensues. Quarterbacks are the pretty boys. They get all the face time. And when a grunt linebacker sees fear in that face …

“It’s an all-or-nothing mentality,” defensive end Eric Hicks said. “Fans like it because that’s how a lot of people live their lives, kind of from paycheck to paycheck. Everybody kind of lives on the edge of society. Either you’re going to get there or you’re going to get burned. That’s why people find it entertaining.”

Cunningham’s M.O. has always been to attack, hit hard, be the aggressor. If one play in football described his personality, Hicks said, it would be the blitz. In his first run as Kansas City’s defensive coordinator from 1995 to ’98, his teams produced an AFC-best 30-plus takeaway-giveaway ratio, racking up 127 takeaways and scoring 77 points. They had 172 sacks over those four seasons.

He talks about ’97 to his players, the media, and, of course, to Todd Collins. He tells them that sometimes aggression takes time. The Chiefs’ pass rush had struggled in the first two games in ’97 before Buffalo. Before that season, the rush was generated by Neil Smith and Derrick Thomas coming around the corners and rattling the quarterback. But Smith was gone in ’97, and Thomas was only playing part time because of injury.

Along came Buffalo. Collins, then a first-year starter for the Bills, drove his team to the Chiefs’ 4. He had four chances to get in the end zone. He couldn’t hear anything on the headset. Arrowhead Stadium was too loud.

In his East Coast accent, Collins still gets animated about the scene, the 4-yawd line, the four blitzes, no touchdown.

“It’s just an aggressive action where there’s potential for a big play,” Collins said. “The thing is, if the offense knows what they’re doing, potentially it could be a big play for them, too. If you’re an effective offense, you want them to blitz. If you have your weapons available and you know what you’re doing, you can exploit it.”

When Cunningham came back to Kansas City last year, the only thing being exploited was the Chiefs’ defense. They were thin at linebacker, relying on project players and downtrodden in the secondary. Cunningham always uses this analogy with the players: If you go to the derby, you’d better have a Thoroughbred, not a mule.

The Chiefs went nowhere in a 7-9 season.

The personnel issues prevented the Chiefs from playing Cunningham’s style, but there were still a few glimmers. Allen, a fourth-round draft pick, nearly broke the rookie sack record with nine quarterback drops.

The Chiefs did some offseason shopping and added four starters — two at linebacker, two in the secondary. Cunningham kept things a little closer to the vest in the first part of the season because the new players were still learning the defense. That’s about to change, Allen said.

“We’re playing better base defense now,” he said, “and that allows us to blitz more.”

Two people in the Chiefs’ front office were asked last week to evaluate the team’s biggest victory at the halfway point of a 5-3 season. Both of them had quick, and surprising, responses.

“The thing I’m most pleased with is the progress the defense is making,” coach Dick Vermeil said. “I can see it in practice, I can see it in the practice video, I can see it in game evaluation. It’s blending together, the discipline and the scheme, the tempo at which they’re playing.”

The statistics keepers might not necessarily agree. The Chiefs are ranked 28th in total defense this week and No. 31 against the pass. Denver put 30 on Kansas City; Philadelphia piled on 37 points.

But Carl Peterson, the Chiefs’ president and general manager who did all of the offseason strategizing, said he’s happy with the progress of the defense. He ran his finger down a stat sheet and stopped at the rushing defense numbers. He said Kansas City hasn’t been ranked No. 8 in the NFL in that category for a while.

“I believe, as Gunther does, that the first way you build a defense is to stop the run,” Peterson said. “Then you have to get after the quarterback.

“I can see progress from week to week. Like anything, sometimes there’s a step forward and a step back.”

Peterson told Chiefs fans last week to expect some surprises from the defense, particularly in blitz packages. When they put the heat on Kerry Collins, the Raiders managed just 263 yards for the day.

A few days after the game, Hicks, who’s suffered through rough times in seven years in Kansas City, said, “We’re getting closer.”

Close enough, maybe, to see the fear in a quarterback’s eyes.

“The last eight games, everyone wants to see if we’re going to crack,” Allen said. “This is just another test to see what we’re about. I think we’ve been establishing ourselves all season.”

Count Zarth
11-13-2005, 01:50 AM
Buffalo's offense is the perfect punching bag to get crunk on this week.

Miles
11-13-2005, 01:52 AM
Buffalo's offense is the perfect punching bag to get crunk on this week.

Hell yeah. I made a drunken change to my fantasy team and picked up our D and started them.

beer bacon
11-13-2005, 02:17 AM
Hell yeah. I made a drunken change to my fantasy team and picked up our D and started them.

That is almost as homerific as me starting Trent over Eli Manning every game this season.

Miles
11-13-2005, 02:22 AM
That is almost as homerific as me starting Trent over Eli Manning every game this season.

Definity. Im drunk and my season is done from injuires so i dont have much of anything to lose. My other opton is Miami against NE.

I wish i would have been more of a homer and not traded away LJ the week before Preist got hurt.

SLAG
11-13-2005, 02:22 AM
That is almost as homerific as me starting Trent over Eli Manning every game this season.


I have KC and BUF for Def.

This game I start KC

I have also Started Trent Over Bledsoe Every Game this year

Chiefs Pantalones
11-13-2005, 02:46 AM
Norv Turner said last week that the Chiefs ran some blitzes that they haven't seen on tape before. Blitzes that disrupted the Raider offense. I guess that is a sign that the Chiefs D is getting more comfortable, mentally, with the D.

KcMizzou
11-13-2005, 02:53 AM
I wish i would have been more of a homer and not traded away LJ the week before Preist got hurt.Heh.... ouch.

Miles
11-13-2005, 02:59 AM
Heh.... ouch.

Yeah no shit. Even better was i traded him for Fred Taylor and gave up marvin harrison in the process.

Been a while that i have seen you here on a friday. Hopefully the shakey times have bouced back.

Rausch
11-13-2005, 03:02 AM
Yeah no shit. Even better was i traded him for Fred Taylor and gave up marvin harrison in the process.

You don't EVER pick Fred Taylor in FF.

Even worse to trade for him... :shake:

Miles
11-13-2005, 03:05 AM
You don't EVER pick Fred Taylor in FF.

Even worse to trade for him... :shake:

He had played something like 34 of 36 games before i traded for him. Next year find out who i draft and if you have them trade em. Especially if its a WR. My best ones like the get hurt in the first game of the season.

Rausch
11-13-2005, 03:07 AM
BTW, this article is ****ing music to my ears.

Run the ball with LJ and blitz.

I-........oh......sorry......gimme ten minutes....

Bob Dole
11-13-2005, 04:55 AM
Now, if they can just figure out how to do it so that every person watching doesn't know who's coming from where...

ZootedGranny
11-13-2005, 06:29 AM
LOL @ there being "dozen of theories" as to why fans like the blitz. Are there segments of people that like blitzes for reasons other than disrupting the QB?

Gaz
11-13-2005, 08:01 AM
Whoa.

I got a woody.

xoxo~
Gaz
Smells some QB CRUSHING in the air.

CosmicPal
11-13-2005, 08:06 AM
A good, effective blitz is like a tsunami wave hitting the beach and wiping everything out.

Count Zarth
11-13-2005, 08:10 AM
I mentioned in my Bills observations thread I'd like to see less blitzing this week.

Buffalo never throws the deep ball, especially if Holcomb is starting. Almost everything is quick, quick, quick.

Even when Holcomb has time to throw, he will dump it.

Blitzing would be inviting the big play via a quick pass.

Skip Towne
11-13-2005, 08:15 AM
If we want pressure on the QB, we have to blitz. The front four can't get any.

Count Zarth
11-13-2005, 08:16 AM
If we want pressure on the QB, we have to blitz. The front four can't get any.

We will against Buffalo. Their O-line stinks.

StcChief
11-13-2005, 08:37 AM
No big plays. Let our Run game control clock.

Play D wear them down.

2nd half start changing things up.