KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Of all the things the Chiefs should be focusing on this time of year, with the season four weeks old and the Baltimore Ravens coming to town on Sunday, something as elementary as protecting the football shouldn't be topping the list.
That's something to work on in training camp, when running backs are told to carry the ball "high and tight," and quarterbacks are told to throw it away if they're under pressure.
Fundamentals, right? Lessons that should have been learned long ago.
Clearly, that hasn't been the case in Kansas City.
The Chiefs lead the NFL with 15 turnovers, their eight fumbles lost are double the next-worst team in the AFC, and their minus-13 differential is a big reason that they've been blown out in three of the four games they've played, and needed a late rally to win the other.
The most sobering display may have been last Sunday, when Kansas City turned it over six times — five in the first half — against San Diego. Matt Cassel tossed three interceptions and Jamaal Charles fumbled twice, allowing the Chargers to race out to a 27-6 halftime lead en route to a 37-20 win.
"We cannot turn the ball over, so we're going to concentrate on the importance of the football and hanging onto it," Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel said Wednesday.
Sounds like it's time for a refresher course, Ball Security 101.
"One thing we do is work on it more," Crennel said, "so all week we're going to put more emphasis on hanging onto the football."
That means running backs plunging into a machine designed to force them into tucking away the ball. It means putting Cassel under duress and making sure he makes the right decision as he drops back to pass, even if it means throwing the ball away or taking a sack.
"I know as the quarterback that I have to do a better job of taking care of the ball," said Cassel, who has been responsible for 10 of the Chiefs' turnovers, more than all but five teams in the NFL. "I'm working each and every day to get better, and I will get better."
The problem is that Cassel isn't the only one to blame.
"Everybody has to start doing a better job," right tackle Eric Winston said. "I've played this game a long time to realize that you guys sit up there and you see an interception, I sit there and I see bad protection, wrong route or a wrong block.