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.
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).
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.