The Kansas City Chiefs have pledged to work on protecting the football. The Ravens are hoping that the Chiefs will wait another week before finding the solution.
Kansas City has committed a NFL-worst 15 turnovers, including a league-worst eight fumbles. The team’s inability to avoid turnovers was highlighted in last Sunday’s 37-20 loss to the San Diego Chargers, who took advantage of three Matt Cassel interceptions, two Jamaal Charles fumbles and a Shaun Draughn fumble.
But several Ravens players said they are expecting a different Chiefs team to take the field at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday than the one that has been so turnover-prone recently.
“As far as what the stats sheets say, we understand what’s happening,” strong safety Bernard Pollard said. “The quarterback’s going to get balls tipped, but for us, we know what we’re going up against and at any given day, a team is capable of going out there and getting a victory. We’re not worried about what they’ve done in the past. We know and understand what they have done, but we’re not worried about it. We’ve just got to go play our game. I think so many times, we get caught up in trying to do so many other things that we get unfocused and we lose sight of what we’re going after.”
Even in Kansas City’s lone win of the season, the team turned the ball over three times, but managed to escape with a 27-24 overtime win against the New Orleans Saints on Sept. 23.
In the aftermath of Sunday’s loss to the Chargers, Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel said the plan was to have the team concentrate on ball protection during every practice this week.
“We can work on them more because usually when you turn the ball over, rather than working on it once a week, you work on it every day,” he said during his conference call with Baltimore media Wednesday. “Not that we haven’t been working on them every day because the defense tries to strip the ball from the offensive players in practice and things like that, but you just have to put more emphasis on it. We are going to put more emphasis on it to make sure that we have their attention and get them to understand the importance of the football.”
Charles may rank second in the NFL in rushing with 411 yards, but he is tied with six other running backs for the league lead in fumbles lost with two. Still, inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe said it would be a mistake for the Ravens to aim for stripping Charles of the ball.
“With stuff like that, you can’t just go in looking for turnovers because if you go in and try to grab the ball, they’re going to break a big one,” he said. “They’re just having bad luck right now, and who’s to say they can’t go against us with no turnovers? So we’ve just got to go out there and play defense and let the chips fall where they may.”
Defensive coordinator Dean Pees pointed out that in last Thursday’s 23-16 win against the Cleveland Browns, the defense missed a tackle while trying to force a fumble.
“That’s not what we want,” he said. “We want the first guy to make the tackle, the second guy to strip the ball. Make sure you have the tackle and the play secure before you try and create the turnover. I don’t think it’s any more of an emphasis than we always have had. I think we are an aggressive defense, and hopefully, if you’re an aggressive defense and you keep getting guys to the ball, you’re going to create turnovers. I don’t think it’s anything where you are deliberately going out and saying, ‘Well, this week they are more turnover prone so we are going to do this and this.’ Hopefully, they stay that way.”
And with the 29th ranking against the pass and the 23rd ranking overall in the NFL, the Ravens have more pressing matters to worry about.
“We have issues within ourselves,” inside linebacker Jameel McClain said. “So I go in there and think we’re going to play our right assignments and try our hardest not to make any mistakes, to play better defense. I don’t go in there any other way on my part.”