On Wednesday, in Kansas City for a series with the Royals, a group of eight members of the Red Sox traveling party -- including manager Terry Francona and infielder Kevin Youkilis -- spent a couple of hours at the Kansas City Chiefs' offices and training facility, across the parking lot from Kauffman Stadium. Francona is close to Chiefs GM Scott Pioli from his days in New England, and Pioli visited Francona in the Red Sox clubhouse prior to Tuesday's game. Youkilis and former major-leaguer Sean Casey, now a part-time TV colorman, kept commenting about the pace and fury of the midweek practice. Said coach Todd Haley: "They were very shocked how physical we were and how hard our coaches coached."
Hmm... now, I know Mike Singletary has used a similar approach to make a competitive ballclub out of a crappy 49ers team. But also keep in mind that before he became Kurt Warner's weepy Super Bowl coach, Dick Vermeil ran his St Louis Rams ragged after taking over as their coach, ranting and screaming and nutsing his way through practice... and those teams lost double digit games in each of Vermeil's first couple years.
The saying goes, "Work smarter, not harder," and sometimes, a team that works too hard in practice can find themselves too beaten and gassed to compete on Sunday. This is a clue that maybe the Chiefs are working too hard, but not very smart.
Mike Singletary's team is physical, but a) he doesn't conduct himself like a madman. He is, as he has always been, a fairly reserved man who speaks with impact once he does talk. And b) the Niners follow a fairly simple game plan centered around the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, and a fairly good tailback in Frank Gore: Run the ball, control the clock, hit them in the mush and control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball with force.
Says the Kansas City Star:
Right now, Todd Haley and Scott Egoli are in way over their heads. They’ve taken the scraps Herm Edwards and Carl Peterson left, supported them with spare parts from New England, emasculated them with intimidation tactics that allegedly foster a culture of winning and created a team far worse than anything we’ve seen represent our city.
The Chiefs committed 10 penalties in this week's blowout loss to Philly, while trying and failing to run the football.
The Chiefs admittedly don't have a Frank Gore in the backfield (Larry Johnson's seen better days), but the difference here may be the coaches hanging all over guys all through practice with berating and threats. It's hard enough to go through very physical practices, but another to be constantly jerked around by coaches that may or may not know what they're doing. Treat a guy like a screw-up and... well, guess what? He's probably going to play like one. Niners coaching may jump on guys, but the approach is more positive, and so are the results.