If Brees has less than 150 yards passing by halftime, consider Gunther Cunningham a genius.
You win, Gunther. Considering almost nothing else has gone right for Kansas City's defense this year, holding Brees to 129 yards and zero touchdowns in one half with a skeleton crew is a significant accomplishment. You receive the genius label for calling a defense that played competent football for one half.
And speaking of how the Chiefs perform before halftime, Gunther's offensive counterpart, Chan Gailey, can pass me a big, heapin' helpin' of barbecued crow, too. Because there's no sense in pretending I didn't also write the following last week:
Sad but true – in a way, the Chiefs' new offense is worse than the old one. All the opposition has to do is wait until after halftime for the three-and-outs to start.
Not anymore. My assertion that Gailey's new offense is a one-half wonder and easily countered by a few unanswered halftime adjustments was blown to pieces against the Saints. The Chiefs racked up 177 second-half yards against New Orleans, which was easily their most productive half of the game.
Gailey's new wrinkle, the "pistol" formation, featuring Larry Johnson in a traditional I-formation position, with Tyler Thigpen lined up in a truncated shotgun, was one of the most refreshing offensive innovations we've seen in Kansas City in years. In fact, if you believe FOX commentator Brian Billick, Gailey took the Saints and the whole national football league by surprise by running out the pistol for the first time this season.
The pistol spread the Saints out and helped open consistent holes for Johnson, who would have easily had over 100 yards rushing if KC's defense hadn't fallen apart in the second half. Johnson only averaged 3.5 yards per carry Sunday, but that number was slightly skewed by the Chiefs' terrible power blocking down by the goal line – Johnson lost two yards in four goal-line carries against the Saints.
In fact, spreading out the opposition might be the best bet for Kansas City's running game the rest of the year. Johnson had six carries that went for eight yards or better against the Saints, some of the most consistent production we've seen from the Chiefs' ground game this year. There were no big runs, but Johnson missed a few holes. He was obviously rusty after his month-long layoff.
What other tricks does Gailey have in his bag? Though you wonder how far Tyler Thigpen can take it (his inaccuracy cost the Chiefs points Sunday), this offense is legit. It's no longer fair to call it "The Gailey Gimmick." In fact, I feel downright ignorant for labeling it so last week (seriously, Chan, this crow tastes delicious).
In the short span of a month, Kansas City's offense has gone from absolutely dismal to at least average, and at times quite explosive. Considering Herm Edwards and Gunther Cunningham have been trying – and failing - to fix KC's defense for almost three seasons now, they ought to be insanely jealous of the quick turnaround Gailey has effected on the other side of the ball.
So I'll just come right out and say it, there's no sense in tiptoeing around the subject. The way the Chiefs have failed so horribly on defense under Edwards and Cunningham, and the fact that Kansas City's special teams are still terrible, Gailey is only current Chiefs coach who deserves to have a job next year.
Seriously, when do you remember this team doing anything on defense that struck you as innovative or fresh? Even in 2006 and 2007, when the Chiefs were mediocre on defense, there was never a game that made us stand up and shout, "Wow, these coaches are doing a great job! What incredible strategy!" Instead, we marveled at the relentless pressure from Jared Allen, the veteran savvy of Ty Law (for one year, at least), the glimpses of ability from Derrick Johnson, Tamba Hali and Jarrad Page.
In three years, the most innovative defense Edwards and Cunningham have implemented is playing shell coverage, making the opposition work for long drives, and hoping Allen made a big play. We shouldn't be surprised Kansas City's pass rush is currently in the dumpster without Allen, because since he returned, Cunningham's "infamous" blitz schemes have resulted in more big plays for opposing offenses than drive-stalling pressure and sacks (fun fact – over the last five seasons only three NFL teams have allowed more yards than the Chiefs).
Furthermore, the Chiefs haven't been able to identify pass rushers to save their lives. Turk McBride was invisible against the Saints, and even before his shoulder injury opposing offensive tackles weren't losing sleep. Tamba Hali missed another game, is clearly going to spend his career as an injury-prone player, and his move to right end this year was a complete flop, an obvious miscalculation of his abilities. Earlier this season the Chiefs desperately forced DeMorrio Williams into a pass-rushing role. Has he breathed on a quarterback all year? Let's not bring up Carlos Hall or Kendrell Bell, I almost feel like I'm being cruel at this point.
So yeah, we should be absolutely impressed with Chan Gailey, and not surprised he wasn't another retread from the Marty Schottenheimer coaching tree that's dominated the staff at Arrowhead for over a decade. Not only does Gailey deserve a job in Kansas City next year, he might deserve THE job. If Herm Edwards is fired, Clark Hunt might want to give Gailey an interview.
Pass The Crow, Gailey
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