THE GUNTHER CUNNINGHAM EXPERIENCE
It's fitting that in the last edition of The Gunther Cunningham Experience, we discuss what Gunther Cunningham often oversees at the end of football games – prevent defense.
This afternoon, Cunningham took his linebackers through drills focusing on defensive formations with several defensive backs but only three down linemen. He wanted his linebackers to line up deep off the line of scrimmage, sometimes as far as 12 to 15 yards, especially if it was the last play of the game.
However, Cunningham also instructed his players that they had to worry about conservative calls from the offense in such situations. For example, a screen pass, a draw, or even a quarterback scrambling.
Cunningham continued his lessons later in the team walkthrough, which featured linebacker Derrick Johnson lining up as a pass rusher. That's a clear sign the Chiefs will do everything in their power to replace Jared Allen this year. Here's hoping Gunther Cunningham finds a way. It sure was a treat watching him work tirelessly for two weeks in River Falls this summer, and I don't think it's something I'll ever forget.
Warpaint Illustrated's Mike Nugent made a keen observation this afternoon. The Chiefs' safeties, Jarrad Page and Bernard Pollard, are constantly communicating on the field, deciphering what the offense is doing and responding appropriately. That's important, because with young corners like Brandon Flowers and Brandon Carr, KC's defense will need all the "veteran" savvy it can get. Page and Pollard aren't veterans in the traditional sense, as both are now entering only their third season and second as fulltime starters, but on a team as young as the Chiefs are, that leadership has to come from somewhere.
The Chiefs are nowhere near being decided on a kicker this year. Both Nick Novak and Connor Barth have been neck and neck in the field-goal kicking competition, though Barth has been hitting 100 percent recently while Novak seems to miss one a day. We'll see the battle decided in preseason.
How healthy is linebacker Donnie Edwards? The Chiefs have held him out of practice for almost a week now. Edwards is a veteran and hamstring injuries are nothing to rush, but you wonder when he'll be back on the field.
The Chiefs practiced their trick play again this afternoon. It was successful. Mum's the word, everybody. Sssssh!
PLAYS OF THE DAY
Dwayne Bowe simply cannot be stopped if the ball is in his general vicinity. Today, a Brodie Croyle pass wasn't even intended for Bowe, and yet it still wound up in his hands. Croyle fired a high throw over the middle for Devard Darling, who jumped, only to see the ball skip off his fingertips. Jarrad Page's diving attempt at an interception came up empty handed, but not far behind was "The Bowe Show," which dazzled the Ramer Field crowd with a highlight-reel catch.
Dwayne Bowe was almost as hot as the Wisconsin sun today and doesn't appear to be cooling down. Kansas City's first-team offense only threw about 10 passes today, but Bowe reeled in four, including a great 20-yard catch on an out pattern against a blitz and a short grab on a bubble screen that went for yards after the catch. Later, Bowe caught a short slant that was a little off target, securing the ball with his super-strong fingers, and ended the day with another tough catch over cornerback Will Poole. Get ready, Chicago. "The Bowe Show," is going on the road.
I see something in defensive end Jason Parker. He's not nearly as built as Turk McBride, or even Tamba Hali, but he might be the fastest of the Chiefs defensive ends. Today Parker was spotted working at left defensive end with some of KC's starting defense, and to be frank, he dominated Barry Richardson, who couldn't handle his quickness. Parker lacks ideal size, but he might have skills similar to Indy's Robert Mathis.
I hate to get anyone's hopes up, but I don't think I saw an incomplete pass from Brodie Croyle this afternoon. Dwayne Bowe bailed him out a couple times, but as Herm Edwards might say, "That's ball, now." The Chiefs were sending the blitz after Croyle this afternoon and he didn't appear too fazed by it. I'm leaving River Falls extremely excited about Brodie Croyle.
Tyler Thigpen is a great athlete, but his accuracy may prevent him from reaching his potential. His throws are constantly high, and even when he does make a play, it seems like it's street ball more often than not. Today in the two-minute drill to end practice, Thigpen appeared to underthrow Bobby Sippio, who looked open for a touchdown, in the corner of the end zone. The pass was picked off by rookie safety DaJuan Morgan.
"We don't need all that. Wait ‘til Thursday!"
- Herm Edwards, lamenting the fact that his defensive line dominated on one snap, batting a pass up at the line of scrimmage, almost resulting in an interception by Tank Tyler.
"I've got speed here...and a slow-ass mother here!"
- Gunther Cunningham, illustrating the difference between Tamba Hali and Alfonso Boone, his starting defensive ends.
That concludes Warpaint Illustrated's 2008 Chiefs Training Camp Coverage from River Falls, Wisconsin. So long, and thanks for all the great sound bites, Gunther.
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