Edwards shakes things up


Well-Known Member
Jan 22, 2006
Reaction score
Edwards shakes things up

The Kansas City Star

The language was toned down to just above a G rating, the pace was fast, and as the first veteran minicamp under Herm Edwards came to a close Sunday, an unknown guy wearing a No. 79 jersey lined up with the No. 1 defense.

Say this about Kansas City’s new head football coach — he’s full of surprises.

Edwards promised changes before the Chiefs started their three-day, four-practice weekend minicamp, and changes they got. By Saturday, mild-mannered middle linebacker Kawika Mitchell was on a microphone telling Kansas City fans of a badder, better defense. Receivers and cornerbacks were debating whether a meaningless pass was inbounds or incomplete.

And Edwards made good on his plans to turn up the heat on the veterans and give rookies — even unknown, undrafted ones — a fair shot. That’s what happened Sunday afternoon when Steve Williams took reps with the No. 1 unit. Williams didn’t even have a contract a week ago and hadn’t finished the 2005 season at Northwest Missouri State because of injuries.

“That wasn’t by accident,” Edwards said. “That was one of the deals. He’s worked his tail off to the point that hey, we felt he could take reps with the first team. What I told guys around here is that everyone’s going to get an opportunity, and if you do things correctly, you’ll get a chance.

“It’s not a message. It’s just a fact. We’re asking you to do certain things, and if you can transfer them from the classroom to individually on the field … If you don’t do it, we’ll get guys who can do it. It’s that simple.”

Edwards said he wasn’t sending a message to defensive tackle Ryan Sims, whom Edwards said arrived at minicamp a little heavier. Sims, the sixth overall pick in the 2002 draft, showed progress in camp last summer before injuring a foot in the season opener against the New York Jets.

“I’m not worried about him,” Edwards said. “Some big guys in the offseason, they gain a couple of extra pounds. He’s a pro. He knows where he needs to be at, and I know where he needs to be at. And he’ll get down to where he needs to play again.”

Edwards took the Kansas City job in January, replacing Dick Vermeil, his old mentor and coach. Minutes into Edwards’ first news conference, it was clear the coaches are very different. Vermeil was big on offense and long practices; Edwards is a defensive guy who likes his workouts short, fast and sweet.

With no pads, no tackling, and several veterans sitting out because of nagging injuries, the biggest things Edwards wanted to establish over the weekend were tempo and attitude. In one quick sequence Sunday, cornerback Patrick Surtain picked off a Trent Green pass, and linebacker Kendrell Bell almost came up with another interception.

Edwards said again Sunday that the offense will run the ball more in 2006 — in part because it has one of the NFL’s hottest backs in Larry Johnson, but also because it will ultimately help the defense.

“He has a lot of passion,” Mitchell said. “He acts like he’s real young. He’s still running around and stuff. It’s good to have somebody like that. I didn’t mind Dick Vermeil, either. I’ve got a lot of love for Dick. But just to have that kind of characteristic in your head coach, that’s better for us.

“We just have to believe we’re not the stepbrothers on this team. Not to say that we are, but sometimes that happens, whenever you have a great offense like we have. You just have to get that mindset out and play defense.”

One noticeable change is the vocabulary spewed about in practice. Edwards — who told his players in New York that his priorities are God first, family, then football — isn’t big on potty mouths.

The keep-it-clean mentality has seeped onto the practice field in Kansas City, even with fiery defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham, who’s been known to provide a little four-letter motivation.

“They might say a bad word every once in a while, but for the most part, I don’t hear it,” Edwards said. “I just think they know my personality and they know I get excited and I get upset at times, and they know I don’t do it. The more you’re accustomed to being around guys like that, the more accustomed you are to watching what you say.”

■ CHIEFS NOTES : So much for Johnson’s untouchable image. He stuck around the longest after Saturday’s minicamp that was open to the fans, signing autographs for more than 30 minutes. … The veterans are off this week, and offseason workouts will start again in June. Edwards said the Chiefs will have 10 more practices before training camp.

This thread has been closed due to inactivity. You can create a new thread to discuss this topic.