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blueballs
05-31-2007, 07:11 PM
RAND: "Pretty good" isn't good enough for Edwards
May 31, 2007, 3:52:39 AM by Jonathan Rand - FAQ


It’s a picture that Chiefs coach Herm Edwards hopes will be worth several thousand words.

It hangs in the Chiefs’ indoor practice facility in a spot that every player passes as he walks off the field. The large photo sits inside a bright red frame that looks as if it should house a fire extinguisher. But this display is meant to light a fire, not put one out.

The photo shows the Colts celebrating in the end zone during last season’s playoff game at Indianapolis. The caption reads: “Remember Our Last Game? AFC Wild Card Game. Colts 23 Chiefs 8. It’s Time to Go to Work!”

This photo isn’t just a motivational gimmick. It represents Edwards’ approach to assembling, as well as inspiring, his 53-man roster for this season.

“This team has been together six years,” Edwards said, going back to the start of Dick Vermeil’s regime. “They made two playoff appearances and lost both times, one at home and one on the road.

“We’ve had a good football team, but when we got in the playoffs, we haven’t done well. Those are things you have to look at. You just don’t talk about it.”

Expect Edwards to wear that message out this year. He’s saying that he won’t settle for a team merely talented enough to make the playoffs, then be one and done. He’s saying that even the Chiefs’ best recent performances haven’t met his standards.

If you keep Edwards’ message in mind, every major move that he makes will become easily understood. He’ll take calculated risks to upgrade a 9-7 team to a much higher level.

Why draft a place kicker, Justin Medlock? The incumbent, Lawrence Tynes, was competent enough that the Giants traded a draft choice for him and NFL kickers are notorious for failing with their first teams. Edwards, it’s fair to infer, was willing to draft a kicker who might help win a playoff game rather than one who missed a chip shot at Indianapolis.

Why is Edwards willing to give untested second-year quarterback Brodie Croyle a chance to play as soon as possible? That’s partly because none of his veterans has won a playoff game. Trent Green stands 0-2 for the Chiefs in the playoffs and performed well below his Pro Bowl form last season.

A 38-31 home loss to the Colts in the 2003 playoffs, obviously, couldn’t be pinned on Green or any other offensive player. But to fans who bemoan the disappearance of the offense that led the NFL for two straight years before Edwards arrived, the head coach implies: “Where did the league-leading offense get you?”

That’s why Edwards continues to build mainly from the defensive side. There’s little question that his defense is a season or two away from becoming one of the league’s best.

While Edwards is usually conservative on Sundays, his eagerness to shoot high and play youngsters carries plenty of risk.

There’s a risk that Medlock won’t match Tynes’ 78 percent career accuracy; a chance that Croyle will make so many mistakes when he’s ready to play that fans will be screaming for Green or Damon Huard; and a chance that the Chiefs will lose so many 17-16 games that fans will be screaming for the head coach’s swift departure.

But it’s obvious that Edwards considers the potential reward of a championship worth these risks. Coaches often say that once you make the playoffs, anything can happen, and that certainly was the case when Bill Cowher’s Steelers went from sixth seeds to Super Bowl champions two seasons ago. But a team that merely squeezes into the playoffs more often than not will make the kind of quick exit the Chiefs made in January.

For Edwards, that was proof positive that “pretty good” isn’t good enough for him.