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Chiefs Pantalones
11-11-2010, 05:59 PM
Arrowhead Report: Thursday, November 11th

By Josh Looney

Derrick Johnson: "Last season made me better..."

It’s only fitting that the 20th anniversary of Derrick Thomas’ 7.0 sack game falls on Veterans Day. Twenty years ago today, Thomas displayed perhaps the greatest showing of his on-field dominance by setting an NFL single-game sack record vs. Seattle.

On a day where we honor the veterans of our great country, we also honor Thomas. It was a veteran, after all, that Thomas so often played in honor of. Thomas’ father, Robert James Thomas, was a shot down and killed while serving as a pilot in the Vietnam War. Military flyovers at Arrowhead were always thought to have brought out the best games in D.T.

If you’re a veteran….thank you. If not, be sure to thank a veteran today.

DJ: “Last year made me better…”

A season ago, it was difficult to see a long-term future for Derrick Johnson in Kansas City. The perennial starter began the year unhealthy and never fought his way into a role greater than a sub-package player. It was a trying time for Kansas City’s 2005 first-round draft pick as he adapted to a new way of doing business at Arrowhead.

“It tests your pride, it tests your faith and it tests everything about you,” Johnson said today of his 2009 season. “The good thing about it is that I stayed positive. If you stay positive than you can come out of it.”

Johnson came out of 2009 with no guarantees other than an opportunity to earn back his starting position. He’d have to win over the faith of the Chiefs coaching staff by showing consistency and commitment during off-season and training camp practices, and he also had to upend 2009 tackle-leader Demorrio Williams to gain the position back as well.

We know how the story ends up. Johnson won back the starting role as Kansas City's weak-side inside linebacker and he's rarely left the field in 2010. Johnson’s played in base packages, sub-packages and special packages. He is also putting together the most complete season of his five-year NFL career and he’s pointing to the 2009 season as the cause.

“It made me better, regardless of if it was right or wrong, or if it was inconvenient, I’m better for it,” Johnson said. “I think it was my mindset. I’m more of a consistent player now.”

Not 10 months after the final horn of the 2009 season blew, Johnson has completed the 180-degree turn. His contract extension earlier this week puts the exclamation mark on a difficult and often times uncomfortable climb back to the top.

“I’ve always wanted to be a Chief, at least as many years as I can or that it allowed me too,” Johnson said. “But I wasn’t a starter last year, so I’m not going sit here and say that I knew I would get a long-term deal with the Chiefs. I knew that if I could weather the storm and fight through the hard times that I could come out on top and on the other side. I knew this year was going to be big for me. It’s my last year being tendered and through training camp I just worked hard. Just a bunch of hard work paid off for me.”

Johnson now represents an example inside the locker room of a player buying into and producing inside the Chiefs system. It also shows players that the organization will reward those efforts.

Gauging Gaffney

If there was one bright spot for the Broncos is last seasons’ 44-24 loss to the Chiefs, it had to have been WR Jabar Gaffney. Remember his performance? If you’re like most Chiefs fans, you probably don’t.

Burried underneath the midst of Jamaal Charles’ record-breaking day, Derrick Johnson’s two INT returns for TDs and Kansas City's first win at INVESCO Field was Gaffney so routinely finding soft spots in Kansas City’s zone coverage and methodically torching the Chiefs. He finished with a career-high 14 catches for 213 yards on the afternoon.

“You hate to use the word possession, but looks to me that he has a very good understanding of zone concepts,” Chiefs Coach Todd Haley said. “When zone is begin played, he has a great understanding of how to create space within the defensive coverage to get open. That’s a great trait to have for a receiver.”

Gaffney chunked the Chiefs last season doing just that. He has carried over the momentum from the 2009 finale into 2010 and has already nearly set a single-season career high with 45 catches for 516 yards (numbers that would lead the Chiefs). With the same quarterback throwing him the football and operating under the same general offensive system as last season, Gaffney’s 2009 performance against the Chiefs is part of the cut-up tape for the DBs this week.

“You don’t have to watch much of that game to realize that Gaffney can play,” Haley said.

Ranked third in the league, Denver's passing game rivals that of any team that Kansas City has faced this season. The Broncos' 296.3 yards per game average sits beneath only San Diego (312.4) and Indianapolis (302.5).

Injury Report

WR Dexter McCluster (ankle) continued to workout in a limited capacity on Thursday, but showed notable progress in the portion of practice open to the media. McCluster ran, planted and cut through wide receiver drills for the first time since injuring his ankle against Jacksonville last month. Brian Waters (shoulder) and Kendrick Lewis (hamstring) both went through drills as well, although they were listed as limited participants after practice for the second consecutive day.

The Chiefs also added Jon McGraw to the injury report on Thursday with a knee injury. McGraw practiced with the rest of the defensive backs in a limited capacity and was inside the locker room after practice, but the situation is one worth watching considering that Lewis was inactive last weekend.

Mid-Season Comparisons

The public relations staff at Arrowhead keeps tabs on about any statistic you can think of. Personal bests, last times, series history and season-by-season totals are all part of their game. One of the things that the PR staff also keeps track of is the eight-game statistical reports dating back to the 1995 season.

To refrain from posting overwhelming amounts of statistics, I’ve taken Kansas City’s eight-game report from the past 15 years and highlighted how the 2010 team compares to each of the Chiefs past four playoff squad (2006, 2003, 1997 and 1995). There are a number of things to take away from the comparisons, so have a look.

2010 2006 2003 1997 1995
Record 5-3 5-3 8-0 6-2 7-1
Final Record ?? 9-7 13-3 13-3 13-3
Total Points 183 183 246 181 199
Ave. Pts./Game 22.9 22.9 30.8 22.6 24.9
Pts. On Defense 14 0 21 13 7
Pts. On Special Teams 7 7 28 7 13
Pts. On Offense 162 176 197 161 179
Off. Pts./Game 20.3 22.0 24.6 20.1 22.4
348.5 322.9 350.1 320.0 336.6
Rush Yards/Game 179.6 121.4 128.4 120.0 135.0
Pass Yards/Game 168.9 201.5 221.8 200.0 201.6
First Downs 157 154 153 155 149
First Downs/Game 19.6 19.3 19.1 19.4 18.6
Leading QB Cassel Huard Green Grbac Bono
QB Rating 89.2 105.2 86.7 83.0 88.7
Total TD Passes 12 11 11 11 15
Sacks/Yards 11/61 17/124 10/63 16/120 10/64
Leading WR
Moeaki L. Johnson Holmes Anders Anders
Rec/Yards/TDs 30/344/2 20/268/1 17/184/0 19/175/2 24/139/0
Fumbles/Lost 5/2 9/6 3/1 3/3 6/2
INTs 4 4 7 5 4
Giveaways 6 14 9 9 8
Turnover Ratio 6 2 18 7 11


2010 2006 2003 1997 1995
Record 5-3 5-3 8-0 6-2 7-1
Final Record ?? 9-7 13-3 13-3 13-3
Total Points Allowed 145 169 130 133 138
Ave. Points/Game 18.1 21.1 16.3 16.6 17.3
Points By Opp. Defense 0 7 7 0 21
Points By Opp. Special Teams 7 7 2 0 0
Points By Opp. Offense 138 155 121 133 117
Actual Def. Points/Game 17.3 19.4 15.1 16.6 14.6
Total Yards/Game 331.3 314.4 348.1 348.4 317.5
Rushing Yards/Game 98.4 113.4 128.1 99.6 94.4
Passing Yards/Game 232.9 201.0 220.0 248.8 223.1
Total First Downs 147 146 157 149 159
First Downs/Game 18.4 18.3 19.6 18.6 19.9
Opp. QB Rating 77.8 86.2 62.2 68.9 76.2
TD Passes Allowed 10 11 8 8 8
Sacks/Yards 19/119 18/100 21/147 19/150 26/180
Fumbles Forced/Rec. 15/5 17/9 14/9 11/4 19/11
INTs 7 7 18 12 8
Total Takeaways 12 16 27 16 19
Turnover Ratio 6 2 18 7