KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Romeo Crennel said the Chiefs work every week in practice on protecting the football. He said that in light of their six turnovers in last week’s loss to San Diego, they will work on it every day in preparation for Sunday’s game against Baltimore at Arrowhead Stadium.
“Normally we work on hanging on to the ball, carrying the ball high and tight,’’ Crennel said. “In practice, the defensive guys try to strip the ball, pull it out. We have a blaster and they run through the blaster.
“Going forward, rather than once a week, we might have to start doing it every day to emphasize that we need to hang on to it and that we need to carry it high and tight.’’
The Chiefs have committed an NFL-high 15 turnovers, no small factor in their 1-3 record. Much of that is on quarterback Matt Cassel, who has thrown seven interceptions.
But the Chiefs have also lost eight fumbles, another league high. Cassel has three of those and the others have been spread around. Jamaal Charles lost two fumbles against San Diego.
The Chiefs hit a low against the Chargers with five of their turnovers coming in the first half as the Chargers built a 27-6 lead.
“I haven’t seen a game like that where you have (five) turnovers in one half,’’ Crennel said. “Usually if you have (five) turnovers in a game, that’s too many. Four in the first 16 plays, that’s tough.’’
Some of the fumbles have been the result of careless play. Peyton Hillis fumbled in Buffalo last month when he overextended trying to score a touchdown. Before he could get into the end zone, the ball came out and went into the end zone, where the Bills recovered.
Dexter McCluster fumbled the next week in New Orleans. He injured his elbow after landing awkwardly while trying to catch a pass.
Without being touched by a New Orleans defender, McCluster in obvious pain put the ball on the ground. The Saints recovered.
But not all of the Chiefs’ fumbles can be traced to carelessness.
“On the first one, Jamaal was running with it and I thought he had pretty good position on it,’’ Crennel said. “But when they stopped him, the linebacker just grabbed it and ripped it out. It wasn’t because he was carrying it loosely or anything like that. The linebacker just ripped it away from him on that one.’’
The issue isn’t limited to fumbles. Cassel had a rough day against the Chargers, but late in the first half delivered a perfect pass to McCluster.
The ball bounced off McCluster’s hands right to a San Diego defender, who made the interception.
“It’s not one thing you can put your finger on and say, ‘This guy caused all the problems.’ ’’ Crennel said. “One play it’s this guy, one play it’s that guy and the next play it’s another guy. As you look at the game, you can see several people had issues as the game went along. That’s why it makes it really tough when things aren’t going well and it’s kind of spread all over, what do you do then? I know everybody wants to make a change and say, ‘Take this guy out.’ But when it’s being spread all over, do you take everybody out?’’