Itís funny, but back in 2000 Elvis Grbac was frustrated about the Kansas City Chiefs not scoring enough points. One of the coaches who interviewed for the job in Ď01 was Herman Edwards. Not so fond memories I have of Ď96 and í98 when the Chiefs struggled to put up points. The last thing I want to see is the Chiefs take a step back in that direction.
Looking ahead at '07 the first question I have is what to expect from Edwards. Marty Schottenheimer won two division titles and finished 14-2 in Ď06 with the San Diego Chargers, but got canned.
Was it fair to want the same thing for Edwards? I havenít been an Edward supporter, but Iíd have to answer no.
To be just Edwards went to the playoffs in his first year. Whether it was luck or otherwise, it happened and thatís something Marty, Cunningham or Dick Vermeil canít claim.
After the dust settled I thought about some things. When you consider what Edwards had to compete with Iím surprised the Chiefs finished as well as they did. Actually, the Chiefs could have done much worse.
Itís not smart to predict a coach based on his first year. Bill Belichick took over the New England Patriots in 2000 and finished 5-11. Offensively his first season was a disaster; he looked like a defensive minded coach. I wonder how many fans were still cheering him on, because the Patriots hadnít done that badly since 1993. After four losing seasons with the Cleveland Browns I didnít expect it, but who wouldnít want Belichick now.
Not everyone can have a Peyton Manning, Edgerrin James and a Marvin Harrison as soon as they step into the job, but Tony Dungy did. Dungy hasnít had fewer than 10 wins with the Indianapolis Colts, but in his first year some might have been questioning what he was doing.
Finishing 10-6 cover things, but the offense that had been top five the previous three seasons dropped to 17th on points scored way far away from the number two ranking they had the year before. Iím sure he had some Colt fans wondering.
What I like about Dungy, and what I hope to see in Edwards, is heís smart. In his second year the Colts went back to being a top five offense and thatís never changed. What changed was his thinking. In the six years Dungy coached the Tamp Bay Buccaneers the defense was always top notch. The Colts hired Dungy for the same reason Carl Peterson hired Edwards, to shore up the defense but not hurt the offense.
In Dungy first season the Colts defense was top ten, but the offense fell.
I think Dungy figured out what worked best for the team. Defense worked in Tampa, but offense was king in Indianapolis. The Colts best year on defense was in Dungy first season. When it counted most the Colts rose to the challenge, but for most of í06 the defense wasnít anything special. Iím sure Dungy could stress it more, but heís riding their strength, which is Manning and company with some average defense thrown in.
Iím not claiming offense is king in Kansas City, I prefer balance, but Iíd like Edwards to be smart about what he has and not rely on too much of a good thing (i.e. Larry Jonson). Thereís more to an offense than running a guy 416 times.
Edwards did manage to make the defense better, best since í99. The offense went from sixth in scoring and first in yards to 15th in both. There was a change in philosophy, which I predicted, but also a sudden aging of some of the Chiefs best. The retirement of Willie Roaf left a big gap. Even though Jordan Black played somewhat better, he still gave up 13.5 sacks. All year long the offensive line struggled.
Damon Huard played admirably, like I said, the Chiefs could have done worse than making the playoffs.
I have to believe Edwards knows that he has to throw the ball, but besides Tony Gonzalez, I know the Chiefs donít have the best receivers.
The one big negative was the sudden drop in offense, but due to age, bad luck and lack of talent you canít pin it all on Edwards.
His positives do shine. In his first draft the Chiefs picked extremely well. I was very satisfied with the play of Tamba Hali, Bernard Pollard and Jarrad Page. Finding a gem like Page in the seventh round shows Edwards has an eye and so do the people working for him. Iím also anxious to see what Brodie Croyle will do. If he can continue to draft talent the Chiefs will be in good shape.
Itís easy to come down on the coach, Iíve done it, but itís more honest to look at a team for what it is and admit the ole gray mare ainít what he used to be.
Edwards likes to talk about Lovie Smith, but how did Chicago fans react when he finished 5-11 and dead last on offense? They stayed the course and waited to see what another year would bring. In his second 11-5 and this year Smith made it to the Super Bowl.
Thereís a chance that Edwards isnít as dumb as some say. Thereís a possibility he just might turn the Chiefs into a winner, but we need to be tolerant and give him that chance.