Friday, November 28, 2008

Sleeping With the Enemy: Week 13, Chiefs @ Raiders

Yes, yes. Raiders week indeed and the House of Georges staff is ready for it. With us for this week's installment of "Sleeping with the Enemy" is 67MARQUEZ, who hangs his coat on the hook over at Silver and Black Pride. We sat down for a moment to discuss Al Davis, the Chiefs and Raiders, and the AFC West. Once you've read our engaging conversation, be sure to visit his site, as there's always fresh material being posted. Join is if you please, after the jump.

Bankmeister: 67MARQUEZ -- thanks so much for being with us. Kindly fill us in on your history as a Raider fan. Be as brief or extensive as you please.

67MARQUEZ: I was born and raised a Raider fan. When the team is doing well, I praise my father. When the team is not doing well, I blame my father. It's just how it goes. I've been a season ticket holder since 1997, but attended many games (pre-move to LA) and even went to a couple of games in LA. I was at the AFC Championship Game when we beat Tennessee, my all-time favorite "in-person" moment. Speaking of Dad, he's 76 and still tailgates with us. And now I'm passing my passion on to my son, who is 16 and has been to probably 40 games in his young life.

B: Excellent. I've always been a sucker for tradition. But before we get into the nuts and bolts of this game, let's talk AFC West. I trust we all share the same slice of embarrassment regarding where our once-heralded division finds us in 2008. I've been a Chiefs fan for nearly 30 years. My folks grew up Chiefs fans, and pretty much the very first thing I learned was to hate the Raiders. Now, this was simple when I began watching in the early 80s, as the Raiders -- be they the L.A. or the Oakland variety -- were a good team then, and the Chiefs were not. As the decade wore on, Denver became one tough little nugget of a franchise, so my hatred for the orange and blue grew to match that of the silver and black. By the time the 90s rolled around, however, things didn't look so good for Oakland anymore; more often than not, KC handled them, but failed miserably against the Broncos. So, Oakland kind of took back burner on my range of seethe. During this time, however, I became alarmingly aware of what the fan base, especially in the Black Hole, resembled, and as the team continued to sign, shall we say, lesser-quality character players, my spite for them was re-invigorated. San Diego and (when they resided in our division) Seattle always took a back seat. How about you? Who do you hate more: KC or Denver? Or is there another club that draws your ire even stronger?

67MARQUEZ: I would say Denver has earned my hatred more than Kansas City, but not my much. In fact, switch coaches, and well, there you go. Of course when Marty was there, I hated both the exact same. And it irked me to no end to see Marcus Allen suit up for the Chiefs.

B: Fast forward to the present day, and things look awful. I used to take a certain pride in the tough teams of our division, given that east-coast biases and television networks always favor teams like New England, Indianapolis, and the entire NFC East. Besides the simple answer of having perennial winners in the West, what needs to happen to reclaim our throne as one of the great NFL divisions?

67MARQUEZ: There's always a cycle and it's the AFC West's turn to suck right now. It seems the division is lacking two things that would make people notice: star power (not to be confused with star potential) and a return to what you touched on earlier. That genuine hatred of each other. Marty used to get so worked up over Raider Week, that he'd cry. Gruden's first goal when he got here was to restore the dominance over division opponents.

B: In my estimation, the Raiders have been a sort of league laughing stock for some time given the ridiculous club decisions that always appear to be tied to owner Al Davis. The most frequent answer/gripe I get from Raiders fans is that they just want the man to die already. Morbid as it sounds, there's likely some weight to this opinion. Do you share it? If Davis does pass, who takes over, and how will it be different?

67MARQUEZ: I am too nice of a guy to go that far. Step down? By all means, yes. Croak? No. I wonder if Billy Beane would be interested in taking over (haha). Not sure who takes over, but it would have to be someone who can stay with the times, while not forgetting what it means to represent the Raiders.

B: Let's talk roster. JaMarcus Russell. Give us the top three things this guy needs to accomplish/have to become a top NFL passer. Do you agree with this year's selection of Darren McFadden as your first overall?

67MARQUEZ: Russell needs what many QBs need: a solid line and some time to grow into the role. Many, MANY other great quarterbacks struggled at the dawn of their careers. Lastly, let him get accustomed to one coach, one system. Think Gruden/Gannon. I was pleased with the McFadden pick. I believe he has the make-up to give us that "star power" I alluded to, and he gave us a glimpse of that against the Broncos.

B: How about free-agent signings? The out-for-the-year status of Javon Walker has to hurt given the pile of money he "earned" with his signing. True or false? And Justin Fargas? He seems like a gritty back that could really produce in a good system. Are the ingredients for said system in place in Oakland for Fargas to become a top rusher?

67MARQUEZ: I think some of Davis' signings were out of desperation to bring "names" to Oakland, simply because he saw that this was not the alluring franchise it once was. There was a time that putting on a Raider uniform was football's equivalent to Yankee pinstripes. Not any more.

B: That's fair. I think I hate the Yankees as much as I hate Oakland. The defense has been perhaps the only solid bit of consistency for Oakland in the last season or two. Categorically, your team is in the top half for points scored and pass yards allowed, but nearer the bottom in total yards and rushing yards allowed. In your mind, has the defense stayed on track for this year? Has it stayed the same, improved, or taken a step back?

67MARQUEZ: While it's true the defense has been something you could pretty much hang your hat on the past couple of years, it has had its own issues with consistency this year. And they still seem to give up too many first downs on third and long. But I like what I've seen the last two weeks.

B: Then there's coaching. I'm not necessarily inclined to argue about the carousel that Davis has had going on for some time now, but I will if necessary. In my mind, Jon Gruden was the best coach that Oaktown has had since Tom Flores, and the way that Super Bowl went down had to be about the bitterest pill one could possibly swallow. Mike Shanahan might've been better had he been given the time, but that seems to be the big issue here. I didn't think Bill Callahan, Norv Turner, or a second go with Art Shell were wise decisions then, and I don't think they were now. That said, neither were even given three seasons, if I remember correctly.

I thought Lane Kiffin was a good, if nothing else different, option, but his rug was also prematurely yanked. Now you promote the offensive line coach to the level of interim? Basically, the past 10 years of the head-coaching status has baffled me, and I don't have a question really, but am interested in your thoughts on what has been, what is, and what will be in this regard.

67MARQUEZ: It's hard to tell what behind-the-scenes issues Al and Gruden had. I mention this because Al and John Madden (who was every bit as charismatic as Gruden, though in a completely different way) had, from what I can tell, a warm-and-fuzzy relationship. On the outside it seemed that Al was threatened by Gruden's popularity, but who really knows. I do know, that it has been a mess since he left. Kiffin clearly was cut out of the Gruden mold, but we never got the opportunity to see it blossom. You have to have a plan, and plans take time to develop. Bill Walsh was 2-14 his first season; Jimmy Johnson was 1-15. It helps to draft wisely, but in order for any system to succeed, you have to give it chance to fail, so long as their is progress. A coach needs to set the mood, rid the clubhouse of a losing atmosphere (look at the manager of the Tampa Bay baseball team), and then move forward with his plan. I have said all along, the wins and losses don't mean much right now; just give me a consistent effort, and a little bit of progress along the way.

B: On to the Chiefs. One and 10 says more than anyone really needs to know. As Raiders fans, it must be nice to be out of the basement for a change. How special have the wins at Denver and Kansas City been? Would it have been better, worse, or the same if those games had been against non-division rivals? Do you see any stepping stones or reasons for hope for this Chiefs team to get better? Do you have an opinion on Herm Edwards?

67MARQUEZ: OK, the part I said about wins and losses don't mean much -- well, that only applies to non-division games (and maybe games against SF and New England). Any win against an AFC West rival is special, regardless of circumstances. And on the road? Icing, my friend. I honestly don't have much to add on KC's future, but I have always liked Herman Edwards.

B: And the Thanksgiving-week game. It seems that Chiefs/Raiders games have fallen around one holiday or another frequently in recent years, which is apropos of nothing, really. But how do you see this post-Turkey Day matchup? Do the Raiders have the edge because it's at home? Is there any possibility they overlook the struggling Chiefs? Might they be still high off their win against the Broncos?

67MARQUEZ: I would think there would be some danger of a letdown Sunday, IF we were playing anyone other than the Chiefs. The Raiders actually developed a slight hint of a swagger against Denver. I imagine they liked that feeling of winning. With a post-holiday crowd urging them on, I see the Raiders winning this one.

B: Finally, give us a prediction.

67MARQUEZ: Oakland 24, KC 14.

B: Alright. I'm gonna go out on a limb with this one and say the Chiefs actually steal a road win, 34-27. Thanks, nevertheless, kind sir. It's been fun.
Read more

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

We Are Hot Chicks Wednesday: Givin' Thanks

Oh, sweet Turkey day. What grace and goodness you bestow upon us as American people. The House of Georges would like to bestow upon you and yours the greatest of feasts with the bestest of family and friends, and we'd also like to gently urge you to pitch in and lend a hand. Four score and who knows how long ago, Thanksgiving used to be about the women in the kitchen slaving for hours, frequently days over cornish game hens -- if that's how you roll -- and more side dishes and pies than any city block could shake a drumstick at. This, of course, all occurred, while men gathered in the den, guzzled beer, and pretended to care about the Detroit Lions and the Dallas Cowboys. Given that I'm somewhat of a modern man, and I couldn't feign interest in these two teams if my life depended upon it, I tend to help out. I'll cook, set the table, do the dishes, run an errand. Whatever's needed to make things smoother for those in charge as I've yet to be in charge of my own feast, and for that, I am thankful. If and when I do host, however, I imagine I'll need a hand. And today, naturally, we're graced with some examples of the kind of folk of which I speak.

Alison Waite

Alison Waite is a master of mashed potatoes. Be it chive-and-cheddar, roasted-garlic, or traditional, she can whip up some spuds like no one else.

Ana Hickman

Whether you call it dressing or stuffing, Ana's the lady to call. She can dress your stuffing, or stuff your dressing. However you like.

Angela Jennings

Miss Jennings is all up on the yams. As much as I tried to get persuade her to let me get all up on hers, I had to let her have it her way.

Bianca Gascoigne

Bianca's kind of useless in the kitchen. She does a find job of keeping the men on the couch entertained though, so she gets a perennial invite.

Calli Taylor

Calli's got the cornbread casserole down pat. I told her I had some extras in the cupboard if she needed me to throw something in there. She politely declined.

Candice Cardinele

Candice Cardinele handles all things sweet potatoes. Sweet potato pie, fried sweet potatoes, sweet potato mash -- as you can see, her hands are full.

Carli Banks

Miss Banks handles the pumpkin pie. Whatever you do, don't assume she uses the canned stuff; her ingredients are real, fresh, and real fresh.

Danielle Lloyd

I don't know what Danielle does, but she's around for every holiday. I'm guessing she garnishes the cornucopia.

Diana Kaufmann

Miss Kaufmann takes care of the beans, and she sweats over them as they blanch, then shocks them before adding her secret ingredients. Like the beans, I find myself shocked at her baking attire.

Donna Feldman

Donna acts as a hostess. She makes every guest feel welcome as they arrive.

Georgia Jones

Georgia heads up the cleaning crew. She's been known to take pots and utensils into the shower and just hose them down. Lucky gadgets.

Irina Sheik

While she opts not for the hairnet, Irina puts out one heck of a plate of cranberries. Even though I hate them, I pretend to find them scrumptious, as she's one woman I'd never want to disappoint.

Jana Cova

Jana's on poultry patrol. She has no qualms putting her hands into orifii, and she's good with a baster, too.

Jessica DeCarlo Round

Jessica mans the bread. She makes one mouth-watering dinner roll, and they seldom need buttering, but I ask her to butter mine for me anyway.

Kait Lane

Miss Lane also works the dessert angle, only her specialty is peach, and rest assured, her pie is the sweetest peach you've ever tasted.

Kayden Kross

Kayden's in charge of beverages. She'll keep your wine glass full, as well as her own, and she can always be counted on for smuggling some Jameson into the TV room.

Kim Smith

Kim's another dressing connoisseur. We always have two types, though: one for the vegetarian's, and Kim's, which we always take delight in aiding her to stuff it with sausage.

Kyla Turqueza

Miss Turqueza brings paella. In her country, of which we are uncertain, they don't do the turkey and fixins, but what she brings to the table is delightful, and we always clear a spot for her.

Lindsay Marie

Lindsay's dish is a spectrum of color. It's some take on a cranberry salad, and nobody eats it. Well, nobody but the dogs.

Mirella Grisales

Mirella Grisales makes the pecan pie. We're usually full from stuffing our faces with everyone else's pie, but she be puttin' some whipped cream on it, and we be eatin' it anyway.

Nikki Nova

Nikki stirs the gravy. She doesn't make it; she just works it.

Peta Todd

Peta's the actual lady behind the gravy. Someone once suggested that we combine the two roles and have a less-crowded house. We quickly uninvited that someone.

Sophia Santi

Sophia Santi brings some sort of Spanish beverage. I believe it's called Sangria.

Tori Black

Miss Black brings pudding. No one knows why. No one also says nothing.

Tyran Richard

Tyran contributes a variety of pre-meal appetizers. They're all rather disgusting, but we don't mind.

Ursula Mayes

Miss Mayes knows all about tryptophan, and assists with getting everyone into napping position once we're too full and tired to move on our own.

And that's your take on the House of Georges Thanksgiving meal ensemble. Thanks to Gorilla Mask for the furniture, and DailyNiner for the plateware. Gobble, gobble!
Read more

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tradition Tuesday: Scoping the Choncosphere, 11-25-08

This blog's rough focus? Chiefs/Broncos football? Who in da' game? Banky, Cecil, and Seven? Why two on one? 'Cause that's how them Donkey fans be. Why I keep be puttin' up with it? I's gon' be there when KC gets its first win at the 'Ves'. What, could a fan of a 1-10 team have to say leading up to Raiders and Broncos games, both on the road? Not much. That's why I be readin' what everyone else be writin', and linkin' to it, after the jump.

In all seriousness, we are less than two weeks away from The Tradition 2008, Take II. Cecil and his wife, barring any decisions to take up residence in Ireland, will be there. Seven, and his wife in bloom, have vowed to stop in Colorado Springs to purchase a grill en route. I know not why; they already own 14 of 'em. The wife and I will arrive after a flight consisting of me arguing with her about why she can't "spend Sunday shopping, whatnot since this season is awful and pointless," all of which will occur after I've given the one and only Mayor McVesco instructions on a) how to get to the stadium, b) how to do so with a complete-and-actually-checked-off checklist, c) how to rally his troops so that they may all park and partake together in the same lot, d) how to make ribs, e) the best way to properly estimate how much beer will really be needed, f) how to understand why his team is so entirely gay. I suppose I'll have to, at some point, obtain some shoes that won't leave my feet frostbitten near the famous tamale stand as well. This game will put a wrap on year eight of the Tradition, and I'll make fun of some folks for guaranteeing some stuff later. For now, here's mine: The Chiefs will have won at least one American football contest at InVesCo Field at Mile High Stadium by January 1, 2011. Hey -- they don't call me Risky Business Banky for nothing.

Let's go ahead and introduce the Derrick Thomas-for-Canton debate. Again. I personally won't waste any energy this year on this topic, because everybody else in ChiefsNation will, and then they'll be upset when he doesn't get in again. Chiefs Warpath has the list of semi-finalists for viewing.

They also have a "Top 10 Signs You're a Raiders Fan" list.

My favorite is number three:

"You watch a Chiefs-Broncos game just so you can root for injuries."

Our friend Kim at Predominantly Orange has a breakdown on the division. I don't suppose that's a good read for anyone that's a fan of AFC West teams. But it's there, and portions of the intro sum it up:

"There is a lot of heartache in the AFC West right now...Either way, it’s an ugly division, and whoever makes the playoffs will have no effect on the NFL’s playoff picture after the first round."

Ever the scoopmaster, Chris at Arrowhead Pride has published a piece with tidbits from the San Diego State community/messageboarders discussing the (practically non-existent) possibility of Herman Edwards leaving the Chiefs to coach the football team he played for in college. Oh, if only!

Anytime you make a visit to the casa de Hercules Rockefeller, you're in for some cutthroat, hilariously honest Denver Bronco assessment. After the Chiefs' week two loss at home to the Raiders, I was furious to say the least. His take on Denver's Sunday home loss to the silver and black: no different. Careful, lest you step in a pile of profanity. Or seven.

Chris Kolb drops in for his weekly rant at Arrowhead Addict. His Thanksgiving-week post examines the recent gobblings of a couple turkeys: Al Davis and Carl Peterson.

While the main course is on the table, let's talk side dishes. Ian over at BroncoTalk will contribute to this Thursday's dinner; he's bringing the stuffing:

"Denver will win against the New York Jets next weekend and I will spend this week trying to show you why. The thing is, I don’t call Denver wins, I never guarantee a win, but I promise that Denver will beat the Jets..."

My stepmom always told me not to let my eyes be bigger than my plate when it comes to serving yourself helpings at the table. I think Mr. Henson has tried to fit an entire pumpkin pie on the same plate as his entree fixins:

"When Denver has had the lead in the AFC West following Week 11 (which they do now) they’ve gone to the Super Bowl. Every time (except once) whether they won or lost that Super Bowl is another subject entirely. The only year they didn’t go on to the big game was the 1978 season."

I'm not trying to start a beef with Mr. Henson here; I simply doubt the boldness of either statement. First, no way this team beats the Jets on the road. They were obviously not clicking on all cylinders Sunday at home versus the Raiders, but while that was going on, the Jets were taking care of the then-undefeated Tennessee Titans. Now would be a good time to throw in the "anything can happen"s and the "any given Sunday"s, but I just don't see it happening. Regarding the SB quote, it's an interesting fact, one with little relevance to this season, because you might as well lump 2008 in with 1978; lead or no lead beyond week 11, Denver ain't even sniffin' the conference championship game this year.

And since we've spent a few phrases on the Raiders in this post, we might as well link to this bit on the Chargers. I suppose if you had to write on this division with regard to the entire season, I'd load up the pastry bag with pureed cranberry sauce and pipe "hard to figure out" across my plate.

And that's all I have to say about that.
Read more

Monday, November 24, 2008

Monday Mystification II: How Bad It Is

Why not? Let's just make everything suck. Offer only Milwaukee's Best (red) poured through dirty lines and rotten, frozen-in-the-middle hot dogs. Make the guests provide their own drinking vessel and plop the franks down in their hands, sans condiments, of course. Then, make everyone share one common bathroom, mist the seats with urine before the cold games, and ask each ticket-toting guest to walk an extra quarter of a mile to the stadium entrance. And while you're at it, lose the coordinated, attractive cheerleaders; hire the NFL's only ghettotastic drill team. Oh, and cut the power sources, too. Fans like tabulating scores and stats mentally and by hand. Might as well make the entire package stink.

Former Chiefs Head Coach Dick Vermeil used to enjoy assessing the team by quarter. I always thought that was a smart idea; you can place a grade on four four-week categories and get a better bigger picture of the entire season upon its conclusion. When tonight's contest between the New Orleans Saints and the Green Bay Packers wraps up, three quarters of the 2008 NFL season will be complete. I can confidently say that neither of those clubs will finish the year worse than Kansas City, so, for the purposes of this post, we'll go ahead and put the entire week in the books. Seventy-five percent of the way through Herm Edwards' third year as head coach of the Chiefs, here's how things look across the board.


On a game-average basis, the Chiefs score 17.8 points per game for 28th in the league; they net 308.1 yards per game for a rank of 25th; 192.7 of those yards are through the air, which lands them at 23rd; and 115.4 are on the ground, putting them at 13th. If you average out those ranks, that lands them in the 69th percentile, or a strong D in overall offense. They been flagged 56 times for penalties, which have cost them a total of 434 yards, and have fumbled fifteen times, only recovering it on nine occasions. Their (five) quarterbacks have yielded a 57.5 completion percentage and been sacked 31 times. Eight of those fumbles have come in the ground game, and Chief tailbacks are averaging just over 23 carries per game.


Defensive Coordinator Gunther Cunningham knows a lot about defense. The last time he was DC under a defensive-minded head coach was in the mid- and late-90s with Marty Schottenheimer. On more than one occasion in that era, Kansas City defenses were among the best in the league. Now that Cunningham works again under a defensive-minded head coach, here's how that side of the ball has performed through three quarters. The Chiefs are giving up 29.7 points per game, leaving only the Detroit Lions and St. Louis Rams as worse. They're giving up 406.3 yards per game. That beaut' of a number leaves them at 32 of 32. Two hundred forty point four of those come via opponents' passers, a rank of 27, and 165.9 are courtesy of other clubs' ground games, a mark better only than that of the Lions. I'm not even certain how to crunch those numbers, but suffice it to say that that box gets an F--.

Opposing teams are averaging 6.3 yards per play against the Chiefs defense, while earning 20+ first downs per game. In third-down situations, offenses convert nearly 50 percent of the time, and that average is even higher on fourth-down tries. Passing percentages against the Chiefs are almost at 67, and they've surrendered 35 pass plays of 20 yards or more. And of course there are the six sacks. Ground games feature nearly 33 attempts against Kansas City; they average five yards a carry, and have successfully ripped off 16 rushes of 20 yards or more, five of 40+. While all of those numbers are amazing, it is that last one that kills me. In five specific rushing attempst, opponents have gained more than 200 yards. Five clubs have allowed three; eight have squandered two; 11 defenses have seen it happen once; and seven teams have not allowed one single carry for 40+.

Special Teams

In a word: unspecial.


In sum, Chief opponents are gaining more first downs, including third- and fourth-down attempts, gaining more yards in the ground, air, and total categories, have better passing percentages, fewer interceptions, more sacks, better field goal ratios, more touchdowns, and a larger time-of-possession margin. I'm almost positive that if you plugged all of those words into a Google search bar and pressed "return," you would get results for pages with the words "total" and "domination" in them. And if it were a Web site that popped up, the backslash would read "ineverysingleaspect.asp."

So, where does that leave this team? They're rebuilding with all of this great, young talent that, 12 weeks into a 16-week season, ranks 32 of 32 in total defense and 25th in total offense. And trust me, if it weren't for those rushing yards, they'd be at the bottom of that heap, too. I, therefore, am thoroughly confused. Last year, certain folks wanted Mike Solari fired early and often, claiming that the play-calling was predictable (Editor's Note: It was.) and atrocious. I said it was because Solari was green, hand-cuffed by his head coach. Now, the defense last year looked better in some regards, than it had in some time; they posted a lot of middle-of-the pack statistics, but still gave up the big plays, couldn't get off the field, and therefore contributed to the 12 losses.

Chan Gailey looks to be the hero of the season. His play-calling has been a tremendous improvement, but he's been in many positions not called offensive line coach for a long time. How he has wriggled free of ConservaHerm play-calling escapes me. Well, that would imply that I had it at one point, and I did not. More importantly, though, is how bad this defense is. I get it: they've had 73 guys on the roster so far; they have the youngest team in football, but for Pete's sake, show some freaking improvement. Somewhere. Anywhere. How is it that a once-heralded defensive coordinator gets a defensive-minded coach to oversee the whole operation, and the bottom literally falls out? I'm not interested in seeing a month of "that was much better football." I want to see improvement. I want to see wins, and I want to see them, like four weeks ago, and 11 weeks ago, and 51 weeks ago.

The Kansas City Chiefs have lost 19 of their last 20 football games. I never thought that was possible. Every team rebounds after stretches, right? Well, the only rebound I see possible for this team comes in the form of a changing of the guard, and it's got to happen soon, because I'm rapidly running out of negative writing energy. I guess, though, that there will still be a steady source of it from others.
Read more

Monday Mystification: The Ugly, The Fugly, and the Chris Fuamatu-Ma'alafugly

When attempting to tackle a problem of this magnitude, the angle, the focus, the crux all slip in and out of visibility, like tailbacks in the seams of lines. Yesterday at Arrowhead Stadium, the Kansas City Chiefs had more points scored on them than in any other game in franchise history. There are more parcels of what's wrong with this team than there are gifts under a Mission Hills Christmas tree, but considering that this football club has been around for almost half a century, that simply has to be the beacon in this bog of murk. Both columnists from The Kansas City Star brought up a few good points in today's paper and we'll touch on those later. This drubbing, however, that occurred at the hands of the still-last-place Buffalo Bills yesterday, is a symbol of the gaspingly ugly Kansas City Chiefs of the Herman Edwards era.

To put what this team is or isn't doing into perspective, let's have a look at all 10 head coaches in Kansas City Chiefs history.

1) Hank Stram began as an assistant football coach at Purdue, then held the same positions with Notre Dame, SMU, and Miami. To begin his pro coaching career, he won three AFL championships, 87 contests, had six post-season appearances (with a 5-1 record), all of which will forever be AFL bests. In the NFL, he had two Super Bowl appearances, won one of them, and posted a 131-97 regular-season, a 5-3 post-season, and a 136-100 overall record, netting a winning percentage of .576.

2) Paul Wiggin was his replacement. Prior to becoming the Chiefs second head coach, he was an assistant on the San Francisco 49ers staff. He went 11-24 in less than three years with KC, a .314 percentage of games won attached to his tenure.

3) Tom Bettis, as interim coach, went 1-6, a meager .143. In hindsight, neither were good replacements for Stram.

4) Marv Levy was assistant football coach at Coe College, head coach of the University of New Mexico, Cal, and William & Mary, before becoming the coach of the kicking team of the Philadelphia Eagles in 1969. The following year he was the special teams coach of the L.A. Rams, followed by a head coaching stint in the CFL, which lasted five seasons, and earned his team three Grey Cup appearances and two championships. His runs as head coach in Kansas City and Buffalo combined yielded a 112-70 regular-season, an 11-8 post-season, and a 143-112 overal record, for a winning percentage of .561 and four AFC championships.

5) John Mackovic was the offensive coordinator at San Jose State and at the University of Arizona, then assistant head coach at Purdue. Next he was the head coach at Wake Forest, then the assistant head coach for the Dallas Cowboys before a brief stand as head coach of the Chiefs. Since leaving the NFL, he has returned to coaching in college, where he has a 94-78-3 overall record. His pro record, however was 30-34, a winning percentage of .469.

6) Frank Gansz replaced him and went 8-22-1 in two campaigns with the Chiefs. He had previously been the Chiefs special teams coach. His record produced a .258 winning percentage.

7) Marty Schottenheimer came next. He was a linebackers coach with the Giants and later defensive coordinator. With the Lions, he was also a linebackers coach before becoming the defensive coordinator for the Cleveland Browns. In 1984, he became their head coach, and later coached Kansas City, Washington, and San Diego. His regular-season record is 200-126-1, while going 5-13 in the post-season, making his total 205-139-1, garnering him a .594.

8) Gunther Cunningham replaced him. Prior to his promotion, he was an assistant coach with the Raiders and the Chiefs' defensive coordinator. In two seasons as head coach, he went 16-16 for a .500.

9) Next came Dick Vermeil. He was head coach at Stanford, special teams coach with the L.A. Rams in '69 (replaced of course by Levy) for one season, as he accepted an assistant-coach position with UCLA, but then went back to the Rams until '74. Then he went back to UCLA, where in two seasons, he went 15-5-3, won a conference championship, and a Rose Bowl. His next return to the pros was as head coach of the Eagles, then the St. Louis Rams, and finally the Chiefs. In total he went 126-114, boasting two Super Bowl appearances with two different teams, one of which he won. His winning percentage checks in at a cool .525.

10) Finally, Herm Edwards. Edwards was a defensive assistant at San Jose State, then a scout and defensive backs coach with the Chiefs. Next came another defensive backs/assistant head coach job with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Despite never having previously held a head coach or a coordinator position, the New York Jets hired him in 2001. As head coach of the Jets and Chiefs combined, he has gone 53-70, and 2-4 in the post-season, and 55-74 overall, which earns him a .426.

Now, let's look at those winning percentages from best to worst:

1) Marty Schottenheimer: .594
2) Hank Stram: .576
3) Marv Levy: .561
4) Dick Vermeil: .525
5) Gunther Cunningham: .500
6) John Mackovic: .469
7) Herm Edwards: .426
8) Paul Wiggin: .314
9) Frank Gansz: .258
10) Tom Bettis: .143

Of course each tenure is unique. Some have had greater successes than others; some have been short-lived. But, if we take this set of hard numbers, we ascertain that Herman Edwards doesn't even make it in to the top two-thirds of the winningest head coaches in Chiefs history; he is only better than the the three coaches who were in office on a short-term basis. Wiggin was not given three full seasons. Gansz served one full season and one strike-shortened season and saw his tenure come to an end with the end of Jack Steadman's run as general manager/president of the organization. Tom Bettis was not even given half a season. The man on the list above Edwards never went on to coach in the pros again, but managed to put together a better percentage than Edwards, and a .546 as a collegiate head coach. As it stands today, Gunther Cunningham won more football games as Chiefs head coach in two seasons, than Edwards has in three.

Now, there are various positions of the football team to analyze, but in strictly playing-to-win-the-game discussions, Edwards lands at spot seven of 10 in the books, a spot that clearly lends itself to not winning the game very often.
Read more

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Saturday Studmuffins: Tennessee Titans Head Coach Jeff Fisher

The Big Lead tips us off to this story, which basically says that Jeff Fisher parachuted into practice yesterday. Geez. Must be nice to have a cool coach. Apparently, the jump was "from a helicopter with members of the 101st Airborne Parachute team and landed on the practice field...Players said the coach used the jump to deliver a message to his 10-0 team about overcoming obstacles. One of the parachute team members is Sgt. Max Ramsey, who lost a leg while serving in Iraq.

'He has been able to overcome that adversity and still do what he does,’ Tulloch said. 'It shows us no matter what, we can accomplish what we want. That's what I took from it. ... It is unbelievable.'"

Yeah. I'll say. If Herman Edwards ever did something exciting to motivate his players, something as an obstacle-overcoming example, it was never publicized. Either way, that's some cool stuff.

(photo courtesy of U.S. Army)
Read more

Friday, November 21, 2008

Sleeping With the Enemy: Week 12, Bills @ Chiefs

As the weekend approaches, there's nothing sweeter than discussing your team's upcoming contest with a fan of the club your boys will face. That's just the point of "Sleeping with the Enemy," and this week we're in the huddle with a lifelong Bills fan. We chat about the past, a bit about the present, and of course, Sunday's contest at Arrowhead, which, rest assured, the Chiefs will find another new way to lose. Circle the wagons. It's Bills-thirty, just after the jump.

This evening's guest is Kurtis Kohler, who is one Kool Kat who said to Kall him what we want. My vote is for K5, which obviously places him one notch Kooler than the J5 (Jurassic Five). K5's a busy guy, but he gave us his time and did so in time to catch this evening's Sabres game. As he puts it "another team that hasn't won a championship that we still love."

Bankmeister: Thanks for taking time out of your schedule to sit down with us. I must say that the Buffalo Bills are a fascinating franchise. I've often considered them as a club I'd root for if the frustrations as a Chiefs fan finally drove me beyond insanity. Fill us in on your personal history as a Bills fan, how you became one, some highlights through the years, and of course, the present-day scenario as well.

K5: In my formative years I lived in Grand Island, just minutes outside of Buffalo. My mom and Dad both grew up in Buffalo. Everything on my mom's side was about the Buffalo Bills and Sunday afternoons were about Jim Ferguson and OJ Simpson (the only poster on my wall) and until recently was still innocent. All three of us kids would get to pick something fun and crazy to make for the game, weird canned fish products, mangoes, anything unusual and the older we got the more extravagant our appetizers became. We still carry this tradition on today. My five-year-old Lincoln, Claire - 3, and Charlie put our Bills jerseys on Sunday morning, do a Bills parade with the Bills flag that we hang outside on the house and then go to the grocery store to pick out a "snack." Lately, Claire has favored Oreos or licorice and Lincoln leans toward Pistachio nuts. The biggest highlights through the years have been all the Bills games I have seen all over the country. Home games are the best and we make a pilgrimage every year back to Buffalo to go to a game. Of course that includes a trip to the Anchor Bar for the original Buffalo Wings, Schwabel's for some Beef on Weck, Chef's Restaurant -- best Italian in the world and Dandelion salads and of course the Falls are close by too.

B: Lots of tradition, indeed. And let's not forget the box of Flutie Flakes in your basement. I'm sure those are always a tasty treat. The AFC, in my mind, epitomizes bizarre this year. Over in the West, a once-heralded tough division from top to bottom looks weaker than rusty chains holding up a porch swing. While the North is roughly the same, the South looks odd with the flippin' Titans being the league's only undefeated squad. The East, however, is intriguing. Brett Favre and the Jets are on top with Miami and New England tied, your Bills in last, but at .500. It looks to be a tough quartet of teams, but Buffalo is winless in the division. How frustrating is that?

K5: Starting the year 4-0, everyone was talking playoffs for the first time in nine years. I saw a statistic that 4-0 teams make the playoffs 94 percent of the time. We lose a tough one to Arizona but I didn't expect Favre to reignite the Jets. Nor did I expect Pennington to play as well as he has been playing for the Dolphins, and even without Brady, the Patriots have been great. As a Bills fan I never take a win for granted though, nor the playoffs, and forget about Super Bowls.

B: Yeah. Likewise. Initially, I thought this team would surprise everyone, but in hindsight, all five of your wins have come at the expense of struggling teams, or teams that are just real damn bad. The losses, however, have all been delivered by teams with winning records, save Monday night's debacle against Romeo Crennel, Brady Quinn, and the Browns. On the one hand, there's a positive in losing to good teams; on the other, that loss had to be painful. A lot of sports bloggers wanted to draw comparisons to the infamous Scott Norwood "wide right" miss in Super Bowl XXV. I found that to be a bit exaggerated, to say the least, but the look on Jim Kelly's (sideline) face perhaps suggested otherwise. For my money, Dick Jauron's a much better coach than Crennel; he's proven to some degree anyway, but some suggest that the game has passed him by. Is there any weight to that supposition?

K5: You don't realize how good a coach is and how much it means to the team until your good one is gone and you're stuck for years with garbage. Since Marv Levy left the Bills we have been stuck with some real loser coaches: Greg Williams and Wade Phillips. I wouldn't wish Wade Philips on any team, which is why I hope he stays in Dallas forever. Dick Jauron and Marv Levy coming back to be the GM for the last few years has been the best thing that has happened to this franchise. Getting Marshawn Lynch, Trent Edwards, signing Lee Evans long term, I really think these are the guys to build a great team around and I think Dick Jauron is the guy who can lead us to the Super Bowl again. This is Trent's first full year and he has shown some flashes of Jim Kelly brilliance, and at other times looked like the rookie he really is.

B: Please forgive me, but because I've never waxed pigskin with a Bills fan, I must bring up the four consecutive SB losses. I know it was ages ago, but being a Chiefs fan, I've experienced a lot of post-season (or lack thereof) misery in my day. We have not won a playoff game since two weeks before the Bills' last SB appearance, a game in which your Buffalo squad defeated my Chiefs 30-13 in Buffalo, in the AFC Championship game. We have since then gone 13-3 three times, securing home field and a bye, only to lose in our first contest in each of those seasons. Kansas City has not been to, let alone won, a championship in 40 years. Which would you deem to be worse? Also, give me one-word summations of each of the losses. If I had to guess, they'd look something like ('91) crushed, ('92) exasperated, ('93) humiliated, and ('94) depressed.

K5: (As a side note) I went to that last Chiefs playoff game in Buffalo when Montana was knocked unconscious. There were a ton of Chiefs fans there. It sounds crazy but I think Bills fans, I'm sure, like Chiefs, are a fraternity. I've been in Thailand and talked to a guy in a Bills shirt for an hour about the team. I can't help stopping and saying "Go Bills" to people walking through airports with Bills shirts on. Cold games, beer frozen on top of the plastic glass, losing seasons and people still pack that stadium which can't be said for a lot of other teams out there with much larger populations. We love our Bills!

(But to answer the question) I'll take the four Super Bowl losses as opposed to not making a championship game in 40 years. Definitely it is worse to not be in the race. While not making the playoffs frees up your weekends in January and extends your ski season there just is nothing like the anticipation of the next game, especially a playoff game.

'91: Optimistic: If I were in Buffalo I would have been one of the 40,000 fans that went to the airport to cheer the team for their first Super Bowl game and for a great season. The crowd cheered loudest when Scott Norwood came up to the podium. It was a crazy sight on tv, but it shows the loyalty of all the Western New Yorkers that love that team. We all were confident we'd back the next year.

'92: Shocked: I was absolutely positive we would win this game.

'93: Humiliated: No other word.

'94: Humiliated. And Depressed: Kelly threw for a record six interceptions and Thurman Thomas missed the first offensive series because he left his helmet in the locker room. You knew the run was over.

B: Well, enough about the past. The Bills decided that enough was enough with J.P. Losman, and they went with Trent Edwards. I haven't seen a lot of Bills football this year, but he looked absolutely terrified in passing situations Monday night. I didn't catch the entire game, but it seemed that one could tally the number of times he didn't throw to Marshawn Lynch on one hand. Is it accurate to say that he has very little confidence, and if so, what will it take for him to build it?

In other offensive factors, Lynch has had a decent season thus far, but hasn't been dominant. In your estimation, is he still developing? In the receiving game, Lee Evans has put up admirable numbers, but James Hardy and Roscoe Parrish have done very little. It seems that teams these days are developing offensive schemes that rely heavily on tight ends to be frequent, reliable pass catchers, especially when their receiving corps is not producing a ton. Buffalo's three tight ends have a combined 36 catches, 401 yards, and two scores. Does that seem a little off the mark?

K5: We really haven't had a dependable tight end since the Super Bowl days with Pete Metzallars who caught everything Kelly threw at him, and usually for touchdowns. I like our rookie Derek Fine out of Kansas no less. He has made some clutch catches in games earlier this year. He seems to catch everything but I would guess his yards-after-catch is zero, so he has some room for development. I'd like to see him play more and take over for Robert Royal, who seems to have hands of stone.

B: This club has shown it's ability to play some great defense, though. They're in the top half of most primary statistics, save rushing yards allowed, and even in that, they're right there in the thick of things. Is this D playing as good as it can, or are they still progressing?

K5: Defensive Tackle Marcus Stroud is one of the best free-agent pickups the Bills have ever made. He is our rush defense and filled a gaping whole on our D-Line. Paul Posluzny, linebacker out of Penn State in his second year is awesome. He ought to be from South Buffalo. He reminds me of Chris Speilman; he has that same commitment to the community and team. He was lost for the season in the third game last year with a compound fracture in his arm and instead of leaving town he stayed for every practice and obviously every game, picking up on the defensive plays and is now the defensive play caller. Every team has injury problems but I think the defense could be a lot better if Aaron Schobel and Donte Whitner weren't out. Without Schobel, Buffalo's number of sacks this year is down and we aren't putting pressure on the quarterback.

B: What's your take on the Chiefs? Clearly, a 1-9 mark says very little good and a lot bad about a team. How much KC football have you seen this season, and what, if anything, can you say about their struggles, or perhaps the stepping stones toward some (hopefully) improvement?

K5: I will admit I have not seen a full Chiefs game this year. (From) everything I've read, it sounds like the team has had a revolving door at quarterback and the Chiefs are rebuilding from scratch. I will also admit that other than Buffalo, Arrowhead is one of the greatest places in the country to see a game, win or lose. I have travelled all over to watch the Bills (Foxborough, San Fran, Dallas, Indy and more) and about six years ago I went to Arrowhead with the Buffalo Bills fan club out of Denver and had a blast. The sea of red fans, the giant tailgating parties in the huge parking lots, a blanket of smoke lying in the stadium from all the barbecues, trash cans reserved for hot coals. It was awesome and there are a lot of similarities between Arrowhead and Ralph Wilson Stadium and the tailgating and the fans. I have not been to Lambeau, but of the places I have watched a Bills game, Arrowhead was awesome. Lastly, I am a huge Chiefs fan everytime they play the Broncos.

B: Um, that rules. Remind me to forward you all of this month's revenue for that last statement. Anyway, how does Sunday's game at Arrowhead look from the perspective of a Bill's fan? The nutshell might suggest that this is the game Buffalo needs to get back on track: a road win against a miserable team. Turnovers, however, could be an issue in that Buffalo has turned it over a lot, and KC has produced quite a few.

K5: I think the three-point spread says it all. The teams are closer than their records and if Trent starts off like he did on Monday night in Cleveland, it could be an ugly afternoon. We can't get behind by 13 and still keep the running game on track. I also hope that Josh Reed -- wide receiver -- is back. With Reed back it seems to open things up for Evans in big ways. While he has been out, Parrish, Hardy, and Evans have all struggled. If the Bills lose this one, their playoff hopes are dead in the water. If they right the ship in KC, then follow up with a win in San Fran and beat the Dolphins at Home(?) in Toronto, we have a shot again. This is a big, big game.

B: Before we go, I know I've wondered on many occasions: what, exactly is a Bill?

K5: You know, I'm not positive, but I really think it is for the cowboy Buffalo Bill. Couldn't call them the Buffalo Buffalos.

B: Good point. And I just confirmed via Cha Cha, that "The AFL franchise placed in Buffalo in 1960 named the team the Bills to honor the city's previous team-named for Buffalo Bill Cody." (Editor's Note: Sic) Finally, let's have a prediction.

K5: Bills 22, Chiefs 17.

B: I can go with that. Many thanks for your time, K5.
Read more

Friday Fiction Fix: "Mr. Rubblemeaker's Path"

Time now for another installment of "Friday Ficition Fix," one of the many House of Georges features we labor over all week long to get perfectly right just in time for you to end your work week. Either that or we scramble to get it together Friday afternoon and post it after everyone's left work, only to not see it until Monday, if ever. But either way...

During my last semester of grad school, I was lucky enough to intern for New Letters magazine. New Letters is an internationally renowned magazine of writing and art. The publication has won countless awards throughout its 75 years in press, most recently the National Magazine Award for essay. New Letters publishes quarterly and contains poetry, fiction, photography, art, interviews, reviews, and essays. Last year, in Volume 73, number four, New Letters published a trio of short fiction stories by Sonia Scott-Fleming, one of which was "Mr. Rubblemeaker's Path." She has published a novel, a non-fiction book, and is a member of Linacre College at Oxford, where she serves as president of the Art Society.

"If anybody asked Mr. Rubblemeaker what trade his was,

he would have said he was an honorary member of the Society of Stonemasons. He might have elaborated on his idea of this secret and honorable society of stones if he had been better able to put his thoughts into words. But stones, not words, were Mr. Rubblemeaker's language.

In any case, nobody ever asked Mr. Rubblemeaker what his trade was, because everybody knew.

He was the only man in the whole county who could lay a really fine stone path. There were others with the more common skill of building...

slavishly following some previously drawn plan. Not so Mr. Rubblemeaker. He chose the stones; he shaped the stones to his own specification; and he laid each one into a beautifully conceived design. All this from a master plan in his own head...

...Mr. Rubblemeaker knew each stone as if he and they were members of a large and loving family.

His large, heavy mallet Mr. Rubblemeaker used for breaking up the biggest chunks of stone.

With infinite sensitivity of touch he hit the stone, and knew precisely when to stop the mallet blows before he broke it into fragments too small to use.

With his middle-size mallet Mr. Rubblemeaker broke the stone yet smaller, into just the right sizes to fit the design he was working, his delicate skill telling him exactly when to desist,

before he cracked a beautiful shape and so ruined his inspiration.

His smallest mallet he used gently to tap the trimmed stone into position, coaxing with quiet voice and tender touch.

Everybody praised Mr. Rubblemeaker's work; everybody appreciated Mr. Rubblemeaker's genius. Except Mrs. Rubblemeaker.

She mocked his trade as lowly; she derided his sensitive touch..."

But "...Alone with his stones and inspiration...then was Mr. Rubblemeaker a great master. He knew himself to be a great artist. Admired and trusted by his patrons, and employers, confident in his skill."

It is from here that Scott-Fleming's tale twists down a bizarre path, one of beauty, despair. To find out, order the issue of New Letters with "Mr. Rubblemeaker's Path" in it here, or you can order her previously published work here.
Read more