We won't be fooled again.....maybe


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Jan 22, 2006
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We won't be fooled again…maybe
Aug 10, 2006, 2:45:45 AM by Jonathan Rand - FAQ

The key to the Chiefs’ 2006 season will be whether Herm Edwards in just a few months can transform his team’s personality.

In the best-case scenario, the Chiefs’ defense grows teeth and the offense becomes a ball-control steamroller. That’s what it will take for the Chiefs to reach the playoffs. In the worst-case scenario, the defense improves only marginally and a de-emphasized passing game causes the offense to lose its edge.

If enthusiasm and emphasis alone could get the job done, the best-case scenario would be guaranteed. Edwards is so gung ho at exhorting and supporting his defense that he makes it sound as if on many days that’s become the strength of his team.

But let’s be careful here. This is the preseason and it can fool us, no matter how many times we say that we won’t be fooled again. What progress the Chiefs and 31 other teams see now should be tempered by what NFL history tells us to be true.

The defense should be ahead of the offense at this stage of summer.

Any coaching staff can make pre-season progress in any one area it emphasizes.

Everything changes once the regular season starts.

Dallas Cowboys coach Bill Parcells just the other day joined the coaching chorus lamenting that his offense was lagging behind the defense. Well, of course it is.

Because of the precision it needs, an offense takes longer than a defense to get its act together. It’s been said – probably by offensive coaches – that just one missed assignment can wreck an offensive play but one great effort on defense can save the day even if the other 10 players are caught napping.

That’s an oversimplification, but you get the point.

Every NFL team tries to correct its weaknesses in the preseason and usually can point to some encouraging results. Coaches who know they’re strong in an area operate a bit differently. They focus more on evaluating players and trying different combinations in that area than getting results. They have a good idea what to expect once the bell rings. Coaches taking over habitual losers often try to develop a winning attitude during pre-season games. So they keep their regulars on the field into the second half and beat up on third-team players who won’t even be around in September.

During the summer, emphasis is enough to make a weak spot seem stronger. Once the season starts, you need the talent to go along with the emphasis.

The Chiefs should have their most defensive talent since the Derrick Thomas era and seem capable of a breakthrough if they can get a strong push from their defensive interior. The offense that led the NFL in total yardage the last two seasons should still have plenty of firepower if it can get solid play from new starting tackles.

Because the Chiefs are a work in progress, their key questions probably won’t be fully answered even when the Bengals come to Arrowhead Stadium on September 10. Just when the Edwards plan will start paying off is anybody’s guess right now. All that’s certain is that it’s too late for him to turn back now.

The opinions offered in this column do not necessarily reflect those of the Kansas City Chiefs.

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