Kansas City Chiefs

The Gunther Project

Greg Robinson’s defensive schemes helped the Denver Broncos win two SB’s. Not surprisingly, Denver’s scoring defense was ranked 7th and 8th during that back to back SB run.

Then Denver’s defensive secondary started falling apart – and along with it the overall defensive performance – and Robinson was given the boot. In comes “savior” Ray Rhodes. The Broncos’ defensive ranking jumped, but the secondary remained shaky. Two years of that was enough, and Larry Coyer was promoted to replace the departed Rhodes. Again the overall defensive rankings were impressive, and again the secondary had major breakdowns at critical times.

Somewhere during that long transitional period QB Brian Greise came and went, another sacrificial goat for the defensive secondary’s many failures. But, in the meantime Robinson moved on to KC and his schemes failed utterly and from the start. Robinson lacked the quality of defensive personnel he’d had in Denver. KC ended the `03 season with the 29th ranked defense in the league.

Gifted, intelligent players seem to thrive in Robinson’s schemes. Less gifted and less intelligent players get overwhelmed and overloaded and fail.

So Robinson’s schemes were good, but overly complicated for Denver’s deteriorating secondary and for KC’s entire stock of defensive personnel. Robinson lacked the ability or the willingness to scale things back for these less-able players. Now Robinson is co-defensive coordinator for a college team in Texas and Gunther Cunningham – a gifted coach and a class guy – has arrived as the savior of the moment in KC.

But Gunther is already being set up as KC’s scapegoat. He will fail and it won’t be the front office or the head coach who will suffer for their mismanagement of the defensive personnel. It’ll be Gunther who is wrongly made to look an incompetent fool and shown the door.

Gunther’s simpler schemes will help KC’s untalented, not-especially-bright defensive players to be more effective. But it’s a mistake to call Gunther’s system more aggressive, because fans and pundits will in one breath criticize Robinson’s schemes for being “too cerebral”. In the very next breath they will complain that he was too aggressive and shouldn’t have blitzed Dante Culpepper. Aggression can be found with either man’s schemes. Gunther’s just cuts down on a player’s need to think.

So KC’s D improves from 29th to . . . 25th? . . . 22nd? . . . 20th? Big deal. Gunther can’t even expect much help from his offense, so what difference will such a small improvement make? None of any meaning.

KC played a pathetically weak schedule last year. Their mighty offense beat up such defensive powerhouses as Houston (32), Oakland (30), San Diego (27), and Detroit (24), LOST to mighty Cincinnati (28) and was utterly destroyed by Minnesota (23).

Sure, QB Trent Green had five games of 300+ yds – including one 400 yd performance. But he also had five games where he didn’t even throw for 200 yds.

Priest Holmes was a great player for KC last year, but only a mediocre RB. He topped 100 yds rushing just three times. Four times he rushed for fewer than 75 yds, despite playing against weak defenses for most of the year. He was a great goal line weapon, but only average in his performance on the rest of the field. He’s longest run was only 31 yds.

So Green was inconsistent and Holmes was only serviceable as a rusher and is now 30 yrs old. There were no major changes or additions even on the offensive side of the ball, but KC did have an important loss.

RT Tait left KC, weakening the O line. KC will try to replace Tait with a converted Center (Bober) and a converted Guard (Welbourn). Expect Green to see more sacks and Holmes to get stuffed a lot more often this year.

So there isn’t even reason to believe that KC will be able to duplicate its offensive success from `03. KC is not a reincarnation of Vermeil’s Rams.

The Rams didn’t just bring in a new D coordinator and call it good. They upgraded defensive personnel. They also had much better offensive talent than KC has. KC is a shadow of that Rams team.

Gunther is in for a very tough year. Since coordinators usually take the heat for failings further up the chain of command, he could also experience a very short return to KC. And if the Raiders should surprise this season, KC could have trouble even taking 2nd place in the AFC West.

One reply on “The Gunther Project”

Nice Stats I do agree with SOME of what you say, but they were a top 5 offense the year before as well, so how does that factor in?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *