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Old 08-03-2005, 07:53 AM  
ROYC75 ROYC75 is offline
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Chiefs defensive coordinator in charge of turnaround

http://www.kansas.com/mld/kansas/new...e/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."
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Old 08-03-2005, 09:02 AM   #2
Lzen Lzen is offline
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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?
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Old 08-03-2005, 09:09 AM   #3
Ari Chi3fs Ari Chi3fs is offline
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amazing how tackling helps defenses, innit?
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Old 08-03-2005, 09:17 AM   #4
htismaqe htismaqe is offline
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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.
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Old 08-03-2005, 09:23 AM   #5
Amnorix Amnorix is offline
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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?"
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Old 08-03-2005, 09:29 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Amnorix
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.
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Old 08-03-2005, 09:32 AM   #7
ROYC75 ROYC75 is offline
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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.
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Old 08-03-2005, 09:36 AM   #8
htismaqe htismaqe is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RedBull
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.
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Old 08-03-2005, 09:53 AM   #9
the Talking Can the Talking Can is offline
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"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.
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Old 08-03-2005, 10:00 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by htismaqe
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.
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Old 08-03-2005, 10:08 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by the Talking Can
"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.
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Old 08-03-2005, 10:08 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RedBull
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
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Old 08-03-2005, 10:43 AM   #13
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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!
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Old 08-03-2005, 10:58 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skky man
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.
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Old 08-03-2005, 11:04 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by the Talking Can
"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.
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