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tk13
11-10-2004, 02:12 AM
http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/sports/10140837.htm

SWISS

Something stinks here. KC's defense was horrible in 2003. So how has it gotten worse this year?

By IVAN CARTER
The Kansas City Star


The Chiefs had one of the worst defenses in the NFL in 2003. Who would have thought those were the salad days?

Not even the most optimistic Chiefs fan expected Gunther Cunningham's defense to make anyone forget about the 1985 Chicago Bears. But the hope was that Cunningham, combined with a group of highly motivated veterans, would make for a more respectable defense this season — perhaps even a very good one.

It hasn't even been close.

In fact, the statistics overwhelmingly show that the 2004 Chiefs defense is worse than the 2003 version was through eight games. Ranked 26th in total defense, these Chiefs have allowed more total yards, more passing yards and more yards per play; produced fewer sacks and turnovers; and scored fewer defensive touchdowns than the 2003 version by the season's midway point.

Last season at this time, the defense was tied for fourth in points allowed at 16.3 per game. Now it is 29th, allowing 26.4 points per game.

Of course, the biggest difference can be found where it matters most: in the won/loss column. The Chiefs were 8-0 at the midway point last season with dreams of a Super Bowl dancing through their heads. This year, they are 3-5, knowing that a loss Sunday at New Orleans will pretty much end their season.

The feeling of frustration coursing through the minds and hearts of Chiefs defenders after their 34-31 loss at Tampa Bay was summed up by safety Greg Wesley.

“We can't keep asking our offense to score 30-some points every game,” Wesley said. “We just can't.”

***

The most glaring statistical difference between the Chiefs of this season and last involves the all-important giveaway/takeaway department.

After eight games last season, the Chiefs led the NFL at plus-18; had 27 total takeaways, including an NFL-high 18 interceptions; and even helped the offense by scoring three times on interception returns. Combined with Dante Hall's four touchdown returns and a high-powered offense, that was enough to make the Chiefs look Super.

This season, the Chiefs are minus-two; have nine takeaways, including eight interceptions; and have scored only one defensive touchdown.

Coach Dick Vermeil said the biggest problem, aside from a tougher schedule, has been pass defense. Unlike last season, the Chiefs haven't been playing with big leads. Last season, to counter Hall and the Chiefs' offense, opponents were forced to take chances downfield. That ensured opportunities for the secondary to make big plays — and they often did.

Through eight games last season, Dexter McCleon had five interceptions. This year, he has none. Jerome Woods had three last season, including two returned for touchdowns; this season, he has none.

That glaring shift has the hot spotlight on the linebackers and secondary. Vermeil indicated Tuesday that Wesley and Woods could be in danger of losing playing time to backup safeties Willie Pile and Shaunard Harts if their play does not improve.

“Our safeties have got to get playing better and more consistent,” Vermeil said. “I know that we see Greg Wesley make a Pro Bowl-caliber play, but what we have to get him doing, along with Jerome Woods, is make more consistent plays throughout the 65 snaps that they're in there. We have two good backups who are preparing to play, and if we have to, we'll put them in there as a change of pace.”

Allowing Peyton Manning 472 yards passing and five touchdowns two weeks ago was somewhat overlooked because the Chiefs won the game. But in Sunday's loss to Tampa Bay, the Chiefs were picked apart by Brian Griese and a Buccaneers offense that ranked 24th in the NFL. One game before putting 34 points on the Chiefs, Tampa Bay had managed 19 in a win over the Bears.

Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden and his staff obviously spent a ton of time studying the Chiefs. Griese repeatedly found open men off quarterback bootlegs and play-action passes. Of his first nine pass attempts, only two went to wide receivers.

The remainder involved tight ends and backs, a sure indication that Gruden felt the Buccaneers could find success isolating the Chiefs' linebackers and secondary in coverage situations.

“Just when you feel like you've got this thing going, the Bucs come out with a good attack plan and give us all sorts of problems with misdirection,” said Chiefs defensive end Vonnie Holliday. “We thought they'd come out running, but Griese picked his spots and played great. If you would have told me we'd get 31 points, I would have said we'd win in a blowout.”

***

Such sentiments have been expressed by Chiefs defenders regularly since the 2001 season, Vermeil's first as Chiefs head coach. During that span, the Chiefs have 35 games in which they scored at least 24 points, including five this season.

Why is the 24-point mark important? Consider that in the entire NFL covering the last 16 regular-season weeks, the average point total posted by the winning team is 24.6. The average point total posted by the losing team is 14.1.

Since the beginning of the 2001 season, the Chiefs have averaged 26.9 points per game. They are 30-26 during that span.

Until this season, the biggest culprit hurting the Chiefs defense was an almost comical inability to defend the run. In three seasons under Greg Robinson, the Chiefs allowed 4.7 yards per carry and were torched by running backs who were great (LaDainian Tomlinson) and not so great (Rudi Johnson).

This season, things have improved. Through eight games last season, opponents were averaging 4.8 yards per carry and the Chiefs had registered only 22 tackles for loss. This season, opponents are averaging 4.6 yards per carry and the Chiefs have registered 31 tackles for loss.

After getting ripped by Denver and Carolina in the first two games, the Chiefs shut down Houston's running game, held Baltimore's Jamal Lewis in check, were solid against Jacksonville, completely stopped Atlanta and forced Indianapolis to go exclusively to the pass.

But last week, old problems popped up as Michael Pittman cranked out 128 yards and three touchdowns in 15 carries. Pittman's 78-yard ramble for a touchdown on the second play of the third quarter was the longest run in Tampa Bay history, the longest of Pittman's seven-year career and his first run longer than 21 yards since the 2001 season.

“(Against the Buccaneers), we scored 31 points and didn't win,” Vermeil said. “We gave up too many 20-yard plus plays and the one big run. It's a problem, and it's been a problem for three years. Until we get it corrected against a team that executed as well as Jon Gruden's offense did (Sunday), it's tough to outscore them.”

Hammock Parties
11-10-2004, 02:14 AM
Eh. Last year's 8 game "good defense" span was an illusion created by playing shitty teams.

Maybe we could fire Gunther, re-hire Robinson as the secondary coach, re-hire Gunther as the defensive line/linebackers coach, and hire Wannstedt as the defensive coordinator. ROFL

Taco John
11-10-2004, 02:21 AM
Yeah, you guys weren't playing power houses like the Texans and the Bucs last year...

tk13
11-10-2004, 02:26 AM
I'd like to see the comparison between the first 8 games this year and then the last 8 games last year... I think that'd be a better comparison. All those turnovers in the first half helped us survive some less than stellar defensive performances (Denver and Green Bay come to mind). The defense stopped forcing those turnovers and got shredded regularly in the second half, especially after Maz went down... [/prepares to get clobbered by htismaque]

Hammock Parties
11-10-2004, 02:30 AM
Yeah, you guys weren't playing power houses like the Texans and the Bucs last year...

Nevermind that the game against the Texans this year was one of our defenses better outings.

Rausch
11-10-2004, 02:42 AM
The quotes from this article scream "HELP US!"

There is no stud on this defense. And part of the problem, though not the biggest part, is that there arent' a whole lot of defensive studs in the NFL right now.

How many players in today's NFL would you trade DT for? How many would you trade Holmes or Gonzo for?

Exactly. The NFL is seriously lacking in defense, as a whole. And unfortunately we're at the leaky end of that rusty pipe. We have one probowler and NO stud, all star, knock your azz off defensive player. Not one.

This isn't the 90's where Neil Smith, Reggie White, DT, Atwater, Ronnie Lott, Kevin Greene, Charles Haley, James Hasty, Jr. Seau, and Hardy Nickerson were playing. Even if we had two 1st round draft picks to trade for a stud, what stud is out there?...

Ultra Peanut
11-10-2004, 06:43 AM
How has the defense gotten worse?The answer, of course, is that it hasn't.

Gaz
11-10-2004, 06:56 AM
Yet another example of why statistics cannot be trusted.

xoxo~
Gaz
Knows just enough to be paranoid.

donkhater
11-10-2004, 07:06 AM
More telling is that in the last 16 regular season games, this team is 8-8. Just about right for half a team.