FanPost

Former Chiefs Defensive Coordinator Gunther Cunningham vs. The Patriot Way

From the FanPosts. Nice work.  Edited the title.  -Primetime

Gunther Cunningham was raving about his new defense in Detroit after their recent mini-camp. Some of his statements got me thinking. While most of the blame for our terrible defense was laid on Herm Edwards and as Head Coach he should have had the blame, you have to wonder to what extent Gunther screwed this team up.

When Gunther left Kansas City he immediately blamed Herm's defensive scheme for a majority of our problems.

"I've gone through three years of playing zone defenses because I was loyal to (head coach) Herm Edwards and that's what he wanted,'' Cunningham said. "People here in town knew I was different than that. My idea is to put a lot of pressure on the quarterback, it always has been and always will be.

Lions D Coordinator Philosophy

Joe Posanski turned the light on Gunther's attempt to CYA with the scheme argument.

This was despite the fact that the two years before Herm arrived, Cunningham’s defenses finished 31st and 25th in total defense. They weren’t playing zone then — the head coach was Dick Vermeil. and he would let his defensive coordinators do whatever the heck they wanted. Half the time, Vermeil didn’t even know the Chiefs had a defense (and half the time, he was right).

Herm had to go, but the delay was cruel

So if Gunther's defenses stunk no matter what schemes he was running, could it be that it was his evaluation of talent that caused the problems?

Remember Junior Savii? Gunther loved his size. Remember when Gunther gave Carl his wish list of Free Agents (Kendrell Bell, Carlos Hall, Ty Law, etc.)? Granted Derrick Thomas, Dale Carter, Neil Smith and the mid 90's defenses succeeded with Gunther at the helm and we all loved those defenses but what do the statistics say?

I thought I would compare Gunther's years with KC (Head Coach and DC) versus the Scott Pioli player personnel years in New England.

Year                        Points Rank           Yards Rank             W-L

1995                            1                                  2                        13-3  

1996                            11                              18                        9-7

1997                            1                                11                        13-3

1998                            22                               9                         7-9

1999                            13                              14                        9-7

2000                            19                              18                        7-9

2004                            29                              31                        7-9

2005                            16                              25                       10-6

2006                            11                              16                        9-7

2007                            14                              13                        4-12

2008                            29                              31                        2-14

Average                      15                              17                      90 - 86

Gunther's defenses over his 11 years were middle of the road. Sure they created a lot of pressure and turnovers most of the time but after his first three years as DC (where he would have inherited most of the talent) his defenses became middle of the league.

Compare these numbers with Pioli's numbers in New England. Granted Bill Belichick ran the defenses but Pioli helped provide the talent. At worst, Pioli learned under Belichick and at best was a partner in the process.

Year                      Points Rank              Yards Rand             W-L

2000                          17                               20                         5-11

2001                           6                                24                         11-5

2002                          17                              23                           9-7

2003                           1                                 7                           14-2     

2004                           2                                 9                           14-2

2005                          17                              26                          10-6

2006                           2                                 6                           12-4

2007                           4                                 4                           16-0

2008                           8                               10                           11-5

Average                    8                                14                          102-42

The New England Defenses for those 9 years have been in the top quarter of the league for scoring defenses. "The Patriot Way" of determining roles and finding the best talent for those roles has shown a lot greater success than falling in love with measurables (i.e. Eric Warfield, Junior Savii, William Bartee, etc). I think that once you have some success with these "measurable" types, you begin believing that you can make it happen all the time.

When you are spoiled with a Derrick Thomas, Neil Smith, Dale Carter then you want to start seeing their attributes in your other drafts. That's why Carl and Gun and whoever the head coach was thought they could draft a big safety and move them to corner. 

I guess the question becomes: Would you rather try the Patriot Way of fitting talent to the scheme or go back to the day when Gunther was making these types of statements about Chief's players:

"I'll look at the tape at times and I'll confuse Julian Peterson with Dizon, " Cunningham said.

"Now, one is 6-foot-4, and the other guy is 5-foot-11, but with the way they bend and the way they run, they're very much alike. When you sit in the back of the room watching a tape, if you confuse that, well that shows you what kind of athlete Jordan is."

Gunther Cunningham: I've confused Jordon Dizon with Julian Peterson on tape

I loved the 1995-1997 defenses but now I'm more of the opinion that those defenses were the result of having the right roster for the scheme. When Gunther, Carl and the like had to re-load they didn't have the eye for what would fit. They fell in love with the measurables and that can kill a team.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Arrowhead Pride's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Arrowhead Pride writers or editors.

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