|09-25-2010, 11:18 AM|
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USA Today: Kansas City Chiefs Team Report
Kansas City Chiefs Team Report
It's something heard all the time around losing football teams.
Whether the sentence starts with we or they, the rest of the sentence is the same: ... don't know how to win.
The Chiefs have heard that for three years as they stumbled through the worst period in franchise history with only 10 victories from 2007 through 2009.
Now, they sit 2-0 in the young 2010 season. Have they learned how to win, and if so, how did it happen?
"You are the sum of your experiences," said veteran guard Brian Waters. "The way you learn how to win is to put yourself in position and then make the plays necessary to win. I think eventually everyone understands what it takes. That doesn't mean it happens, but you understand the path that will take you to a victory."
It's the feeling of head coach Todd Haley that the way a team learns how to win, is by winning.
"When you are winning games consistently, you realize real quick that no matter how big that last game was, the next one is bigger, someway, somehow," said Haley. "Even though before you played that game, that there was no way the next game could be bigger, this was the biggest.
"When you are not winning games consistently, you tend to not learn that internal feeling. You tend to look at it is, here's the next game. It can't be the next game, it has to become the biggest game of the season, for that week."
So learning how to win really comes from learning how to deal with winning, putting the success of the previous game or games or even season in the rearview mirror, and moving on to the next opponent. And, doing so with the same focus and energy that came in the week leading into the victory.
"Everybody in this league can win one or two or three games," said linebacker Derrick Johnson. "It's doing what's necessary to get that many wins in a month. That's what we are working on. Last week is gone. Monday night against San Diego is gone."
—The last three Chiefs-49ers games played at Arrowhead Stadium have been showcase games for the Kansas City defense. In 1994, 1997 and 2006 games the Chiefs held a combined 109-26 edge on the scoreboard, including a 41-0 shutout in 2006.
—In 1994, the match-up between these teams was highlighted by Joe Montana playing against his former team and QB Steve Young, who replaced Montana as the San Francisco starting quarterback. The Chiefs' 24-17 victory was keyed by the defense, as the 49ers got close to 400 yards but turned the ball over four times. Young was sacked four times, including once by LB Derrick Thomas for a safety. Montana threw two touchdown passes.
—When the Chiefs and 49ers met in the 1997 season it was another game dominated by the Chiefs defense. In grabbing the 44-9 victory they forced three turnovers and picked up five sacks and held QB Steve Young and his offensive mates to 13 first downs and no touchdowns. Chiefs QB Rich Gannon threw three TD passes and RB Marcus Allen threw another. CB Mark McMillian returned an interception for a touchdown.
—In the last meeting between these teams in 2006, the Chiefs defense harassed young San Francisco QB Alex Smith into a 92-yard passing day and a 41-0 loss. They picked off two passes, sacked Smith four times and forced two fumbles. The 49ers had only 10 first downs and no points.
—Over the last 15 years, the Chiefs have had a strong record of beating NFC teams when they come into Arrowhead. Although they are 1-5 over the last three seasons, their record is 21-9 going back to the 1995 season.
—The coaching staff that Mike Singletary brings into Arrowhead Stadium knows the way to the building quite well. Offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye spent nine seasons with the Chiefs (1992-2000). Defensive coordinator Greg Manusky spent six seasons with the club as a linebacker (1994-99). Special teams coach Kurt Schottenheimer had 12 years in the building (1989-00) handling special teams and the secondary and coordinating the defense. Also offensive line coach Mike Solari spent 11 years (1997-2007) in the same position with the Chiefs.
BY THE NUMBERS: plus-10 — That's the turnover ratio for the Chiefs in their last three games against the 49ers in Arrowhead Stadium.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We're not the 2005 team or the '06, '07, '08 or '09 teams. This is the new Kansas City Chiefs. Nobody's thinking about the previous years, and that's what will take us a long way. Deep down in crunch time nobody is looking like, 'Oh, man, now we're messing up; now it's going the wrong way.' It's a new team, and everybody is looking forward." — Chiefs CB Brandon Flowers.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
There is a transition slowly being made at tight end in the Chiefs' offense, as rookie Tony Moeaki has become one of QB Matt Cassel's favorite receivers.
Moeaki has started the first two games in a two-tight end alignment with last year's starter, Leonard Pope. On the team issued depth chart, Pope is still listed as the starter. But in the games, Moeaki is getting more and more snaps. Against Cleveland, he played more than Pope.
It's one reason he's the team's leading receiver after two games with eight games for 79 yards.
—LDE Tyson Jackson was out of practice again on Thursday and there's little chance his sprained left MCL will allow him to play against San Francisco on Sunday. Jackson said he's day-to-day, but he was listed as doubtful Friday.
—RT Ryan O'Callaghan spent another day off the practice field on Thursday, as he continues to deal with a right groin injury that happened back on Aug. 24. There appears very little chance at this point that O'Callaghan will play against San Francisco, so Barry Richardson will continue at the right tackle spot.
—OLB Tamba Hali was back to full participation in practice on Thursday and that's a good sign that his right foot/ankle injury is healing. Hali has not missed any action in the season's first two games because of the injury, but has been held out of some practices over the last three weeks. He was listed as probable on Friday's report.
—FS Jon McGraw got back to full participation in practice on Thursday, and that's a good sign for his chance to participate in Sunday's game against San Francisco. McGraw has been fighting a hamstring injury for several weeks and was a game-day scratch last Sunday in Cleveland. He, too, is probable.
—DE Wallace Gilberry and his bad back have improved enough that he was able to practice on Thursday. That's a helpful note for the Chiefs' pass rush, where for the past two years Gilberry has been the team's second leading pass rusher behind OLB Tamba Hali.
GAME PLAN: Somehow, some way, the Chiefs have got to find yards and points from their offense. They've struggled in two games to do both, averaging 254.5 yards per game, but only 117 passing yards. The offense has only two touchdowns. It's why they are 30th in offensive yards. The team's defense and special teams is why they are 2-0. As they have against San Diego and Cleveland, they must have the defense and kicking game score points and dominate the field position battle.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Chiefs pass defense vs. 49ers passing game — In two games the Chiefs have given up big pass plays that gave their opponents touchdowns of 65 and 59 yards. It's one reason opponents are averaging 7.53 yards per attempt. San Francisco's passing game with QB Alex Smith, and catchers like TE Vernon Davis, WR Michael Crabtree and even RB Frank Gore are capable to turning any completion into a long one. Rookie safeties Eric Berry and Kendrick Lewis have to improve.
Chiefs offensive line vs. 49ers front seven — Sooner, rather than later the Chiefs offense must become a factor. But they are facing a very tough defense. As always to get something done offensively, the line has to do the job. Overall, they've done a good job in two games, giving up only two sacks and allowing the Chiefs to run the ball for an average of 137.5 yards per game. The 49ers group with pass rushers like DE Justin Smith and OLB Manny Lawson, paired up with run stoppers like NT Aubrayo Franklin and LB Patrick Willis presents the biggest challenge of the year.
INJURY IMPACT: The Chiefs had three starters out of the lineup against Cleveland because of injury — LDE Tyson Jackson, RT Ryan O'Callaghan and FS Jon McGraw. There's a very good chance Jackson and O'Callaghan will not be available to play the 49ers. That puts DL Shaun Smith and RT Barry Richardson back into the starting lineup.
The K.C. pass rush could be affected by the foot/ankle injury that is slowing down OLB Tamba Hali and the back problem that bothers DE Wallace Gilberry.
|09-25-2010, 11:39 AM||#2|
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