Sims’ struggles weigh on Chiefs


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Jan 22, 2006
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Sims’ struggles weigh on Chiefs
The Kansas City Star

All of the anger and resentment over the Chiefs’ recent defensive woes came to a boil during a recent practice when coordinator Gunther Cunningham spied defensive tackle Ryan Sims down on one knee and sucking wind between plays.

Sims is the embodiment of all that’s been wrong with the Chiefs and their defense. The sixth pick of the 2002 draft and the supposed pillar of a rebuilding effort, Sims hasn’t been worth the pick and has been more of a cause than a solution.

Seeing an out-of-shape Sims on the ground while his defensive teammates stood tall was enough to set off the volatile Cunningham. In mocking tones, Cunningham repeatedly hollered, “That’s right, show ’em you’re tired.”

After a reply from Sims about needing a timeout, Cunningham then referred to Sims as a pain in the backside.

The Chiefs have been patiently waiting for Sims to develop into the player they believed he was, but the incident shows they may not be patient much longer. Sims is still starting alongside Lionel Dalton in the middle of the defensive front, but this could be his last chance.

“He’s got to produce,” Cunningham said. “He knows he needs to produce. He came into camp overweight. It’s his job to get into shape. He said he was getting into shape. I wanted him in shape when he got here.

“I want him where he was for the Jets opener last year because he looked in good shape and looked like he was going to produce. Right now, he doesn’t look that way, so we need him on the fast track.”

In that sense, Sims could be Cunningham’s project in much the same way linebacker Kawika Mitchell was last year. Mitchell was another defensive underachiever at this time last year, but after an offseason and training camp spent receiving Cunningham’s wrath, he responded with his best NFL season.

Mitchell said the treatment he received from Cunningham — the coach was in the linebacker’s face at almost every meeting and practice session — helped revive his career, and he believes it will do the same for Sims.

“He has so much talent,” Mitchell said. “He’s had some injuries and things like that, but sometimes you need something to wake you up a little bit. If there’s anybody who can do it, it’s Gun. I think he will respond.

“I think it will be good for him. If he just gives that little bit more, puts that extra push into it …”

Mitchell is a competitive sort with a different personality than Sims, who is more laid-back. He may respond differently than Mitchell — Cunningham’s words may merely roll off his back.

“It doesn’t always work with everybody,” Cunningham said. “But we’ve got to try.”

For his part, Sims said he doesn’t mind getting the treatment from Cunningham.

“You can’t take it personally with Gun,” Sims said. “He wants to see where your heart is. He’s one of those guys where if he doesn’t say anything to you, then he doesn’t like you. If you’re just going to sit there and let him say anything he wants to you, he doesn’t take that in a positive way. He kind of feels you’re feeling sorry for yourself because he’s hollering at you. You’ve got to give it back to him a little bit.

“We’ve always been on good terms. If anybody’s got my back, it’s him.”

Sims won’t just be hearing it from Cunningham but also coach Herm Edwards and defensive-line coach Tim Krumrie.

Krumrie, who also is an intense coach, pulled Cunningham aside after the recent practice incident involving Sims and asked him to lay off, because getting after Sims was his duty.

“When you talk about building blocks and why things are going to get better, it’s not just one guy saying what I said. It’s all of us saying that,” Cunningham said. “I was the most volatile the other day on the field, but I know his position coach and the head coach are also going to be very demanding.”

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