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tk13
09-10-2006, 02:28 AM
http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/sports/football/nfl/kansas_city_chiefs/15481671.htm

A volatile mix
When you have an explosive offense, it can be dangerous to mess with a proven formula.

By ELIZABETH MERRILL
The Kansas City Star


The joke in New York media circles goes something like this:

How do you stop Kansas City’s offense?

Hire Herm Edwards as head coach. Bada-bing, bada-boom!

In the quiet of an empty stadium, hours before a new Chiefs era starts, maybe Edwards is laughing, too. It has been said over many a truck-stop cup of joe — and a handful of rabid message boards — that the defensive guy was going to choke the life out of this offense, experimenting with something that had worked so well. They took such pride in it. In one of his last news conferences, just before the Chiefs were shut out of the playoffs, Dick Vermeil pointed out that the offense had regained its spot as No. 1 in the NFL.

Now Edwards is the man, and he’s in a hallway, alone, with a sly look and apparently no regard for rankings. He promises he won’t take the air out of the ball when the Chiefs hit the field today against the Bengals. He doesn’t promise much else.

“We’re going to do whatever we need to do to move the ball this way,” he says with his arm extended forward.

“I’ve never been in a place like this, and I’ve been in only four places in 27 years. The first time I was here, the offense was not like this one. In Tampa, it wasn’t like this, and in New York, our offense wasn’t like this. I’m not here to retool this offense. But I’ve got to make the offense understand it has to protect the defense. How do you do that? There’s got to be balance.”

Depending on whom you ask, the changes in the Chiefs’ offense will be anywhere from subtle to a dull smack to the side of the head. The playbook hasn’t changed. All 270-some entries, the players say, are the same. Many of the coaches, minus offensive guru Al Saunders, are still here.

But everybody expects the play calling to change. Whatever gets tweaked, it defies the NFL logic that says you stick with what works and copy when something doesn’t. Edwards would argue that it didn’t totally work, because the Chiefs have been to the playoffs just once in five years of high-falutin’. One thing is certain — Edwards is handling this offense, and change, with care.

And the rest of the league is curiously watching to see how it works out.

“It was the pinnacle, right?” CBS analyst Boomer Esiason says. “Coaches move around. They change. One reason you hire a head coach is you want him to put a stamp on a team. If Herm wants to play it close to the vest, at least he’s got the power running back to justify that strategy.

“Let’s talk on Oct. 9, after their game against the Cardinals, and let’s see where the offense is. I would be shocked if it’s not one of the top 10 rushing offenses in football. It might be a little different from what Chiefs fans are used to the last five years, but at the end of the day, it’s still effective. Larry Johnson could have 1,000 yards by then, and then everybody will forget about their old offense.”

•••

They’re as different as night and day, early-morning red-eye and late-night Cristal. Al Saunders was the risk-taker, the offensive guru who went from the Greatest Show on Turf to scribbling out plays on napkins in Kansas City. Mike Solari was the hard-nosed offensive-line coach who didn’t say much but whose voice resonated through a locker room.

“Mike Solari is like that quiet guy, studious, who sits in the front of the class,” Chiefs receiver Dante Hall says. “Al is that smart guy who sits in the back that lets you know he’s the smart guy who’s in the back.”

If Edwards was going to completely squash all the offensive creativity and start over, he says he wouldn’t have kept Solari on board to be his offensive coordinator, as well as Charlie Joiner, James Saxon and Terry Shea. But he does admit that the old regime took chances that he wouldn’t.

Ball-control offense — it seems to be the buzzword of the offseason, the not-so-fine line between Saunders and Solari. Edwards, a former NFL cornerback, has always had the mentality that the offense has to help the defense, that long, clock-eating drives can do wonders for a linebacker’s legs in the fourth quarter. You throw to score, Edwards says, and run to win.

In other words, if the Chiefs have a late lead, they probably won’t be chucking the ball downfield. And those so-called “trick plays” that were hidden in the old playbook but run in practice? The Chiefs haven’t touched many of those.

Some would call it boring. Former Bronco Mark Schlereth, an ESPN analyst, says it’s in the best interest of the team from a personnel standpoint. The Chiefs lost future Hall of Fame tackle Willie Roaf this summer to retirement, and will play without fullback Tony Richardson and right tackle John Welbourn. Protecting 36-year-old quarterback Trent Green could be a season-long issue.

Johnson was clearly the brightest star in the last half of 2005, running for 100-plus yards in nine straight games and earning his first trip to the Pro Bowl.

“Great coaches don’t necessarily adjust their scheme, but they adjust the way they call plays and fit their scheme based on the personnel they have,” Schlereth says. “I think that’s what Herm is doing.”

•••

The 2006 preseason got off to an ominous start for the offense. The Chiefs’ top unit, led by Green, scored once against the Texans and was shut out at New York. By the time the team came home from its first preseason shutout loss since 1998, the worrywarts surfaced.

Pro Bowl guard Brian Waters says it’s an annual ritual, critics wondering whether the offense is on the decline. He heard the talk last year that Will Shields was too hurt and the offense was too old. By December, they were putting up their typical eye-popping numbers, averaging 387 yards a game for the year.

Did they know that Solari held out most of the playbook? Or that it always takes the offense a while to get going?

“I don’t know what everybody’s worried about,” Waters says. “It’s still the same guys, pretty much. I mean, there are a couple of guys here and there (gone), but that’s part of the NFL. Outside of that, we’re still going to be the same Chiefs. We’re still going to call the same plays and run them the best we can.

“If we have to score 40 points, then that’s what we’re going to try to do. If we need only 17 to win, then that’s what we’ll do. That’s the only difference between this offense and the past. We’re not going to go out there and try to break records or try to put scores up just to try to get some kind of stats. We’re trying to win football games.”

When coaches found pride in the statistics, Waters says, it was just a way of digging out a silver lining in a 10-6 season that didn’t end in the playoffs. And when the Chiefs kept piling up the numbers, inside they knew that at some point, their only way to go was down.

“You can’t keep doing that,” Edwards says. “That’s hard to do year after year after year. They’ve done a great job of scoring and moving the ball, and we want to continue to do that. There just might be a different way we manage the game a little bit. We’ve got to manage the clock a little bit better, in my estimation.”

•••

You can keep the playbook and the faces, but Hall knew by January that things were going to change in the offense. He knew Edwards’ defensive-minded approach. He’s being honest when he says that the prospect of a somewhat tamer offense left the receiver in him “bummed out.”

“If we’re winning, I don’t care,” Hall says. “As a player, as a receiver, as an offensive guy, of course you want the ball. But I have never been a guy in my career who puts stats over wins.”

Green took the same mentality when Edwards was hired, even though he was coming off another 4,000-yard season. For much of the offseason, Green was Edwards’ ear in the locker room and quickly developed a bond with his new coach.

But even Green knows he’ll have to be somewhat retrained. For five years, the goal, every snap, was to score, no matter where they were. In three minutes, two, or 30 seconds.

“Yeah, it’s great to score that fast,” Green says, “but you also need to give your defense rest and give them time to make adjustments on the sidelines.”

From his first days in the large fourth-floor office at Arrowhead, Edwards has been big on a team-first, stats-second mentality. But if things go awry …

“I will say there is this kind of a hidden competition amongst players in this league with their numbers,” Esiason says. “When you start messing with their abilities to put up numbers, it’s an issue, especially if they’re losing.

“If they get off to a bad start and start losing and the offense is averaging 14 points a game, the change was at the top, and that’s who will bear the brunt of the criticism, unfortunately.”

Edwards says he can’t worry about the ifs now. He sensed an unspoken division when he came to Kansas City, a feeling that the defense was an afterthought lost in the glow of the offense. Strange thing is, the offense felt it, too.

In the middle of all the painting this spring, when Edwards splashed the place with arrowheads and NFL logos, he rearranged the locker room, stuck the offense and defense together, and spruced up the dining area. He wanted them to feel at home. Late last week, a collection of players, offense and defense, were hanging out in the second home, sitting at a table together.

They didn’t talk about touchdowns or rankings. They razzed each other during a heated game of dominos.

“The only difference, I think, that you’re going to see,” offensive lineman Chris Bober says, “is that this is going to be more of a team concept rather than offense or defense. I still think we have the ability to go out there and score a lot of points, and if we do that and the defense shuts them down, you might see a big difference.

“But it’s going to be more of a team effort rather than just, ‘Hey, this offense is great.’ ”

SPchief
09-10-2006, 02:40 AM
http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/sports/football/nfl/kansas_city_chiefs/15481671.htm

We’re going to do whatever we need to do to move the ball this way,” he says with his arm extended forward.

“I’ve never been in a place like this, and I’ve been in only four places in 27 years. The first time I was here, the offense was not like this one. In Tampa, it wasn’t like this, and in New York, our offense wasn’t like this. I’m not here to retool this offense. But I’ve got to make the offense understand it has to protect the defense. How do you do that? There’s got to be balance.”

 ”


Good quote

greg63
09-10-2006, 04:04 AM
Merrill: Herm looking for balance

…Being sober helps.

CupidStunt
09-10-2006, 04:59 AM
People are too naive to realize that, should the offense "fail", it'll have more to do with Turley and Black at the tackle positions and Mike Solari replacing Al Saunders than it will Herm Edwards being on the sidelines.

CupidStunt
09-10-2006, 05:03 AM
Oh, and T-Rich, too.

But, then again, given how I completely forgot about him and how I feel his loss won't be massive, you could pretty much ignore that one.

KCFalcon59
09-10-2006, 05:44 AM
“Let’s talk on Oct. 9, after their game against the Cardinals, and let’s see where the offense is. I would be shocked if it’s not one of the top 10 rushing offenses in football. It might be a little different from what Chiefs fans are used to the last five years, but at the end of the day, it’s still effective. Larry Johnson could have 1,000 yards by then, and then everybody will forget about their old offense.”


Hey Boomer, your and idiot!! I can't remember in the last 5 years where we weren't in the top 5 rushing the ball.

milkman
09-10-2006, 05:44 AM
People are too naive to realize that, should the offense "fail", it'll have more to do with Turley and Black at the tackle positions and Mike Solari replacing Al Saunders than it will Herm Edwards being on the sidelines.

I think you have to wait and see the approach that is taken by this offense, and the results, before you can place blame, or credit, to a change in coach or personnel.

milkman
09-10-2006, 05:46 AM
Has anyone ever played, or witnessed, a "heated" game of Dominos?

CupidStunt
09-10-2006, 06:01 AM
I think you have to wait and see the approach that is taken by this offense, and the results, before you can place blame, or credit, to a change in coach or personnel.

Alright. Re-word it: people are too naive to entertain the idea that it'll have more to do with the loss of key personnel and coaches than the addition of "Martyherm".

htismaqe
09-10-2006, 06:21 AM
It has been said over many a truck-stop cup of joe — and a handful of rabid message boards — that the defensive guy was going to choke the life out of this offense, experimenting with something that had worked so well. They took such pride in it. In one of his last news conferences, just before the Chiefs were shut out of the playoffs, Dick Vermeil pointed out that the offense had regained its spot as No. 1 in the NFL.

You'd think Elizabeth Merrill would have more important things to do than hang out here and see what everyone's bitching about this week...

milkman
09-10-2006, 06:23 AM
Alright. Re-word it: people are too naive to entertain the idea that it'll have more to do with the loss of key personnel and coaches than the addition of "Martyherm".

Now, of course the question is this;

Is it that they are too naive, or close minded?

milkman
09-10-2006, 06:25 AM
You'd think Elizabeth Merrill would have more important things to do than hang out here and see what everyone's bitching about this week...

Like what?

I mean she's a writer.
Where else is she going to steal material from?

htismaqe
09-10-2006, 06:27 AM
Now, of course the question is this;

Is it that they are too naive, or close minded?

They're not naive or narrow-minded. They're prescient.

This has nothing to do with what MIGHT be, but rather with what WILL be.

htismaqe
09-10-2006, 06:28 AM
Like what?

I mean she's a writer.
Where else is she going to steal material from?

She could start by stealing material from a GOOD source...

milkman
09-10-2006, 06:33 AM
She could start by stealing material from a GOOD source...

And she will find one of those in KC, where?

htismaqe
09-10-2006, 06:35 AM
And she will find one of those in KC, where?

Warpaint would be a start... :D