Chiefs Face Easy Decision with Cunningham

Since Tuesday when the Chiefs defensive coordinator Greg Robinson resigned, Chiefs fans have squarely placed the failure of the 38-31 loss by the Indianapolis Colts last Sunday on Robinson.

It might be a fair analysis but the Chiefs next moves are critical to their success in regaining their swagger and the first should be to hire Gunther Cunningham.

From the players perspective football is about emotion, passion and making plays. From the fans perspective it's about winning and losing. Yes the players want to win every game but the fans, especially in Kansas City, want a team that wins and plays hard on the field.

But more than anything else the fans wanted their defense to stop a god team. It rarely happened in 2003 even though the defense played well through the first nine weeks. But they were exposed against the Cincinnati Bengals, Denver Broncos and Minnesota Vikings.

Dick Vermeil realized after the Broncos whipping that the defense was in trouble. Still he left the defensive duties in the hands of Robinson and it failed. It was a major disappointment by Robinson but also by the defensive players who could not make plays in crucial situations.

You can call it scheme, you can call it personnel but the bottom line is the 11 men on defense couldn't make plays based on their alignment on the field and the coaching on the sidelines. In the NFL, a defense needs to attack. It needs to have an attitude and the Chiefs defense never had one the last eight games of the season.

That was Robinson's fault. No question about it. But it was also Dick Vermeil's fault, who by his own admission took responsibility for the teams failures on defense.

That's why Vermeils next move is so important to the Chiefs future. As of this writing, Vermeil and Gunther Cunningham are scheduled to meet at his home in Tennessee to discuss the Chiefs vacancy at defensive coordinator.

There is little doubt its Cunningham's job to accept or reject. After interviewing for the same position with the New York Jets and Atlanta Falcons earlier this week, coupled with the fact both teams are still searching for a defensive coordinator, Vermeil appears to have his sites set on Cunningham.

Now hiring Cunningham to come back to Kansas City could be a sticky proposition. Cunningham was the teams former defensive coordinator and head football coach. It was Vermeil who succeeded him and if it not were for the character of each man, some could perceive this is a problem.

But neither do. Vermeil is an engaging and intelligent football coach. Cunningham is one of the better defensive minds in the NFL. Outside of New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick, nobody has a team more prepared to play defense on game days than Gunther.

With Robinson's exit and the presumption that Cunningham accepts the job if offered by Vermeil, this move will put the Chiefs defensive players on notice and make them 100% accountable for their success or failures in 2004.

Even without any player additions on defense and also presuming that Eric Hicks and Jerome Woods re-sign to go along with safety Greg Wesley and defensive tackle John Browning who already have done so, Cunningham's presence will automatically make the Chiefs a middle of the pack defense.

Cunningham is an aggressive coach. Back when he was the Chiefs defensive coordinator. In a game against the Buffalo Bills, his team was defending their end zone. The Bills had first and goal inside the ten-yard line.

Current Chiefs back-up quarterback Todd Collins was the Buffalo starter. Cunningham knowing that Collins was young decided to blitz on four consecutive plays. It worked as the Chiefs won the game.

That's what has been missing in Kansas City since Cunningham left. The offense has an attitude, I'd like to see them get more animated at times but knowing they could never relax or enjoy their success because of the defense, it was understandable.

Hiring Cunningham has no negative aspects. Not one. Some say he's upset with the Chiefs CEO/President/GM Carl Peterson for the way he was fired; is not accurate.

When Peterson decided to talk to Vermeil; he told Cunningham that was his intention. He made it very clear to him and despite the media bonanza that surrounded reports on the internet of Cunningham's departure, Peterson kept him in the loop during the entire process.

For Cunningham the decision is easy one because of his admiration for the Chiefs, the city of Kansas City and his respect for team owner Lamar Hunt. Cunningham still carries a torch for the Chiefs and he knows his best chance at getting a Super Bowl ring is in Kansas City.

The old adage says you can never ‘go home again' but in this case you can. Today when Vermeil and Cunningham meet, they should shake hands, agree to a deal and pay Cunningham the kind of money he deserves.

He is the ‘Hired Gun' and the most important off-season move should and will take place this weekend when Cunningham accepts Vermeil's offer to come back home.

For the Chiefs fans and players it will be a welcome move and the proper one. If it happens, then Chiefs fans can only dream of how players like R-Kal Truluck, Vonnie Holliday, Ryan Sims, Jimmy Wilkerson, Shawn Barber, Scott Fujita, Eric Warfield, Dexter McCleon and Greg Wesley will perform under the tutelage of Cunningham.

Fans will be so giddy; they could be part of a Chiefs dynasty the next two years. They have the leagues best offense, special teams performer and the potential for a Top 10 defense.

That would be unprecedented in team history. Nearly impossible in the salary cap era of the 21st Century, but it's all within the Chiefs reach. All they need to do is extend an invitation to Cunningham to return to Kansas City and this team will already be improved on defense.

Cunningham is the fire that will ignite some of the suspect attitudes on defense. He'll hold every man accountable for their mistakes and fire them up when they do a good job. If they need a good swift kick in the rear, Cunningham will be so far up their you know what, they'll have fear in their souls and respect in their hearts to never let the man down.

That's what the defense needs more than anything else. They need a leader and Cunningham is that man.


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