Edwards putting his stamp on Chiefs


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Jan 22, 2006
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Edwards putting his stamp on Chiefs
May 16, 2006, 4:00:37 AM by Jonathan Rand - FAQ

For Herm Edwards, this is the honeymoon. Every move the new Chiefs coach makes is refreshing. Every change he makes is for the better.

Watching the start of the Edwards regime is like watching a Guinness beer commercial. More emphasis on the defense? Brilliant! Shorter and faster practices? Brilliant? More hands-on coaching by the head coach? Brilliant! Removing the pool table from the locker room? Brilliant!

Every new NFL coach gets to enjoy a honeymoon period, especially when he takes over a team that’s fallen short of expectations. For Edwards, though, this honeymoon carries extra warmth because he’s back with a team he served as a scout and assistant coach.

He’s in familiar surroundings with a lot of familiar people, and Edwards acts with the self-assurance of a guy who’s moved back into his old house.

He’s inherited a tweener team – not a chronic loser but not a regular playoff visitor, either. He takes over a team that won 10 games, yet missed the playoffs. Edwards doesn’t have a tough act to follow, yet will be expected to win right away.

This situation is similar to what he inherited in New York in 2001. Though Al Groh’s resignation wasn’t widely mourned, his lone Jets team finished 9-7 and rebuilding wasn’t an acceptable option for Edwards. His first team made the playoffs.

The first thing you do, it says in the handbook for new football coaches, is change the attitude and put your own stamp on the program. Edwards was already doing this as he conducted his first three days of practices in a rookie mini-camp last weekend.

Though Dick Vermeil treated the Chiefs’ offense as his favorite son, Edwards, an old Eagles defensive back, is quicker to pat his defense on the head. Nobody who’s watched the Chiefs’ defensive woes of recent years would suggest this is a poor idea.

Rookies were impressed by Edwards’ eagerness to step into their midst and correct a technical flaw. He tells his assistant coaches not to think he’s trying to embarrass them. “I’m not the head coach,” he explains, smiling. “I’m the head assistant coach.”

Edwards’ mini-camp practices lasted 90 minutes, about 60 short of a good Dick Vermeil session. Edwards explains he wants to keep practice moving at a fast tempo to simulate the kind of steady pressure his players will face on Sundays. A coach who doesn’t want his players getting too comfy obviously had no use for a locker room pool table, either.

Most of these changes may seem like slaps at Vermeil. But they’re just the inevitable comparisons that come with any new coach.

If the old coach was a martinet, the players rave about the new guy being a human being who treats them like men. If the guy who just left was a players’ coach, players claim he ran too loose a ship and what they really need is more discipline.

Any changes usually are welcome at first just because an organization is ready for some new words after five years of the same message. Change usually brings hope. And if a team’s been losing, it’s tempting for some players to blame the old system rather than look in the mirror.

Most of Edwards’ changes so far are cosmetic — intended to change his team’s look and attitude. His challenge is to see that these skin-deep changes seep into his team’s bloodstream, and that his honeymoon turns into a successful marriage.

He says he’ll achieve this by being the same coach and person, day after day after day.

“I’m consistent in who I am,” he said. “I don’t care what anybody says about me now. I’m past that.”

He learned the hard way in New York that that this brilliant stuff doesn’t go on forever.
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