GUNTHER SPEAKS

Gunther Cunningham sat down with the media Wednesday afternoon for a long, in-depth chat about the Chiefs of the past, the Chiefs of the future, and a few other topics. Honestly, the man was so full of information, we couldn't confine all he had to say to three articles. Gunther's cup runneth over. Drink deeply, Chiefs fans.

Gunther...

ON HIS ASSISTANT COACHES

During the year, one of the issues on our defensive staff is to get the coaches home at night early. If I told you the time it'd probably shock you, but I'm going to tell you anyway. I try to get them out at every night at eight ‘o clock, but what that does, it kind of kills the head of the snake, that being me.

It puts me into overdrive cycle to get all the scripts done and all the practice preparation done for the next day. But the positive end is, the way those guys coach, if I don't let them have sleep they'd all be dead. So we made a decision on who was going to die.

Tim [Krumrie] and Don [Blackmon] and David [Gibbs], they work out at like four o' clock in the morning. This morning I came in and I didn't know what time it was, but it was before the sun was up, and I'm parking my car, it's pretty early and the footprints are already going across the snow.

That was one of the reasons why I don't talk very much. The other reason is, as you get a little wiser and you know what you want to do in this league, I think you get this media-coach relationship. The older I got the wiser I got about it. When you're a young coach, my god you want to see your name in the paper. The more you're around and you kind of channel your energy into what you want to do, then you realize your name doesn't have to be in the paper, you just have to be good and keep working.

ON DERRICK THOMAS

As I went through the process of trying to help John Clayton and different people that called me about Derrick for the Hall of Fame, what happened is I did an evaluation, so I had to find the top sackers in history since we took note of that. Deacon Jones rushed when they had to tie their hands on their jersey. Leslie O'Neal used to say "they block me like that, I'd have 500 sacks in two minutes." Well, Derrick Thomas probably would have had 1,000.

When you compare, and I looked at these guys, four of them I had coached, four of those guys are in the top 20 all time with 475 sacks. Neil Smith and Derrick are two of those guys. Greg Townsend and Leslie O'Neal are the other two. Leslie O'Neal has 132.5 sacks and so does the great, great Lawrence Taylor.

Now, you never talk about Leslie O'Neal going to the Hall of Fame. Why are they tied? Lawrence played 13 years, Leslie played 14 years. Derrick Thomas has 126.5 sacks. He played 11 years. You want to percentage it out? I think it's real simple, Derrick Thomas gets more sacks per year than all those other guys.

He's got more turnovers. That part isn't even close. He went to nine Pro Bowls and the other guys went to four and five. Now you tell me why Derrick Thomas is not in the Hall of Fame. We're all from Kansas City and we all take pride in the guy. We have to, he's our guy.

But it amazes me how national writers tell me that the guy never played the run. We talk about the ‘85 Bears and we talk about Baltimore. Well, if you want to stat out the thing, put in the ‘95 Chiefs and compare all the stats to those two teams.

So obviously Derrick Thomas had an impact. They said he couldn't stop the run? You all were watching it. The leader of that team was Derrick Thomas. Derrick Thomas runs through the veins of those teams for 10 years.

ON JIM HASLETT

I talked to Jim Haslett at the airport last week and he said "Good job on third down." We led the NFL in third down defense, which was the best since 1997, or something like that. Jim brings that up and I said "I don't know how we're doing it, we can't play man," and he says "Gun, that young defensive line you've got? You are lowballing me, and you know exactly why you did it." I started laughing, I said "You like them?" He referenced Jared Allen and said "You know what I like about Jared Allen? When he smells blood he goes in to kill. He smelled the guy in Cincinnati and destroyed his life."

ON CHAN GAILEY

When Chan came on the staff – I really like him, he's been a head coach and he understands our only job is to protect the head coach at all costs – he said something about the acquisition of a player, possibly. When he said that, he hit me right between the eyes. Because then, Chan Gailey came back to me. I remembered everything about him. When he mentioned this player's name to help on the offensive line, everything became clear.

The next thing, we're at the Senior Bowl, and I'm trying to give him a rundown on the organization on how we do things. One time we're sitting in the car and he says "Don't expect me, if it's third and 15, to make some exotic play and get you out and keep moving the ball. Gun, you're going to sit next to me in the box, I'm going to nudge you and say get ready, I'm going to run the draw and we're going to punt that ball back down the field."

I was speechless for about the next 10 minutes. For me that's kind of hard sometimes. I looked at him and said son of a gun, finally a real guy showed up.

ON THE COVER 2

The last couple of years I had to do something that's not as much fun. You play Cover 2 for a reason. Think about the way I played the way I did as a defensive coordinator. Think about it. It's not hard to figure out.

Because if you play man to man, you're not going to give up 28 touchdowns. You might have given up 45. So you try to take care of people on the field and get them in the right position. You have to know the speed of certain people and you have to play cautious.

ON PREVIOUS COACHING OFFERS

I was supposed to be on the sideline in the Super Bowl, because Bob Kraft said "Here's a contract, sign it," at midnight in a hotel in Boston. I said "Mr. Kraft, I'm not signing it because I can't do this job for you. I need to do something else." So I went to Tennessee and coached linebackers. As I reflected on everything I had no one to blame except myself for what happened. I'm not a head football coach. I'm a ditch digger.

ON THE INTERNET

One of the great things I've done – maybe the dumbest thing I've ever done – I decided to Google my name because I'm looking for a stat from the old days. That stuff came up and I went, "Oh my God." I never knew I was on youtube that many times in my life.

ON YOUNG CORNERS

Dimitri Patterson and Benny Sapp, we were going to play them a lot. The day I decided to play them a lot, I can't remember, but it was the same play in the same game, they both get hurt. Dimitri misses like five games. Brackenridge stepped in and was magnificent playing nickel, but we had to make sure we only did certain things. We didn't want to overload him.

What we asked him to do he really did well. You saw that in college. He doesn't have top end speed to play outside, but he can play outside in certain defenses. The Patterson and Benny Sapp thing killed us, because we wanted to play them a lot more.

ON BUILDING A DEFENSE

When you looked at what's happened here since 2001, Trent Green cost a one, went to two Pro Bowls, four years, five years here. Willie Roaf cost a fourth, he went to four Pro Bowls, so you can't say that the one and the four you gave up for those guys was bad.

What is bad after three years, you're already getting concerned because the age is growing on the player. Dick Vermeil was a second, so you lost three choices right there. There were some other things done, where you didn't have the draft choices, so what we tried to do was find the right guys.

I've heard talk about Sammy Knight, but Sammy Knight was probably close to the end his career at that time. God bless him with the way that he played this year, and I mean that very sincerely, but he couldn't run anymore when we got him. But he still was a factor and helped a lot of young guys.

Carlos Hall, I knew there probably could be a problem with him physically, but every time he stepped on the field he was pretty good at Tennessee when I was there.

Pat [Surtain] probably ended up being the best of all those guys, but what we needed was to fill, because there was no other way to get guys. When you go out in the UFA market it's tough. It's tough because a lot of things happen fast, and it's just like the draft. Everyone says well draft this guy. You want to draft that guy, but when the ping pong balls come out and everybody starts picking, all hells breaks loose and it's a tough deal.

ON TAMBA HALI

Tamba Hali missed five sacks, clean. He has the guy wrapped and somehow he misses him. He has 7.5 sacks, if he gets those five, then what do people say?

The other thing is, he plays on the left side. Eighty-five percent of the time the tight end with a right-handed quarterback is on your left, offense's right. To rush the passer from a head up position is really, really hard. He had 7.5 sacks this year.

ON HERM EDWARDS

If you build a stopgap deal, you're going to get through maybe a year, a year and a half, but what if you decide you're going to build a real defense and it's going to take time?

That's when Herm showed up. When I sat down to talk to him, I said "Oh boy, he sees this thing the way I see it," and that's why he and I get along. I respect him totally and people always talk about my language? The reason I don't use it around him is because I respect the man. He's made me a better coach in the last two years. He has made me a better person and a better coach.

This isn't about the defense. This is more about what he's trying to do for this team. The thing we've got, we've got a few points where the progress is showing.

We're about to take a sledgehammer to this defense and figure exactly out how we can take the next step. We were 22nd in ‘05, then we crawled a couple yards away from 15th and now we're crawling into 13th. That's yards. That's not a measuring stick. The idea is not to give them touchdowns. Don't let them score.

WarpaintIllustrated.com Top Stories