Here I am stuck with that damn Semisonic song in my head again–”Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” When Seneca said it first, 2000 years ago, I’m pretty sure he didn’t whine it over a droning piano. Seneca was a manly man. When Nero ordered him and his wife to kill themselves, legend has it that Seneca’s preferred diet of red meat with a side of red meat had clogged his arteries so severely that it took him twice as long to bleed out. Furthermore, he wouldn’t have written a line like “I know who I want to take me home,” because the list would have been too long–Seneca’s wife wasn’t the only married woman he liked to get down with.
But that’s exactly where we’re at right now–at a new beginning, which is coming from some other beginning’s end. The latter beginning, three years in the making, was one that was lauded by most. Herm Edwards took over the Jets the same year Dick Vermeil took over the Chiefs. He took the Jets to the playoffs three times. Vermeil took the Chiefs only once. Furthermore, Herm Edwards had thoroughly beaten the crap out of Peyton Manning and his Colts. That weighed heavily in his favor in the minds of many Chiefs fans, to whom the sting of that loss to Indianapolis two years prior still felt like a fresh wound.
There were dissenters. Their ranks included a small but vocal minority of Chiefs fans, a groundswell of Jets fans flooding Kansas City message boards and forums to spread a tale of impending doom, and, of course, Al Saunders. The fanbase as a whole ignored the first, belittled the second, and briefly lamented the third. Few actually wanted Vermeil gone, but Herm, with his Kansas City roots, playoff experience, defense-first mindset, and his 1-0 postseason record against Peyton Manning, seemed like a reasonable substitute.
Shortly after the hire, an acquaintance of mine said this to me: “with Herm Edwards as the coach, I’ll bet you Trent Green will be injured by the end of the season.” That seemed like a safe bet. After all, Trent was playing behind Will Shields, Casey Wiegmann, Brian Waters, John Welbourn, and Willie Roaf. Humpty Dumpty would be safe behind those guys.
The moral of the story is this: don’t ask me for the winning lottery numbers.
A few weeks back I wrote about how Chiefs fans will view Carl Peterson after we’re a few years removed from his reign. I stated that I think most of us will come to show a degree of admiration for the guy. His latter day errors won’t be forgotten or forgiven, but he will be acknowledged as the guy who turned around a franchise in the dumps and got Kansas Citians interested in a team other than the Royals (and not a moment too soon, as it turns out).
Herm will never get that. Even if the entire 2008 Kansas City draft class goes to the Pro Bowl in 2009, Herm will receive little to no credit. In three years he presided over two of the three worst teams in franchise history. I understand his proposed direction and I even agree in large part with his methodology, but enough is enough. At some point there has to be some expectation that a coach will win, regardless of whatever obstacles he encounters. Herm doesn’t have that. His teams crumble at the first sign of adversity. That kind of mentality is contagious, and by the ends of the last two seasons the entire locker room was infected. Much as it was with Victor Riley or as it is now with Larry Johnson, Herm’s future success is inconsequential. Even if he develops into an elite coach and a perennial Super Bowl contender, that won’t change the simple fact that in 2009 he should not be the head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs.
Given that there is no real conclusion to this story as of yet, and given that the rumor mill has provided me and my journalistic brethren a seemingly endless supply of topics on which to pontificate, I am choosing to forego an ending and instead offer my brief thoughts on some of the fodder we are being fed.
On the subject of Mike Shanahan. I won’t lie. If he comes here, that’s going to be a tough pill for me to swallow. I’m not too proud to say that a big part of my objection to him comes from being conditioned for nearly two decades to dislike everything about the man, but I have a statistical beef to back up my gut. Since John Elway’s retirement, Shanahan is a 9-7 coach with limited postseason appearances and only one playoff win. I don’t believe he can win a big one without John Elway.
The retort to that position, of course, is that Elway couldn’t win a big one without Shanahan. That might be true, but Elway got a lot closer without Shanahan than Shanahan did without Elway–he had been there three times already, but never sealed the deal. Maybe Shanahan’s influence is what finally put him over the edge, but that says little about Elway and a lot about Shanahan–namely, that he’s a better coach than Dan Reeves.
I don’t want that to be the measure by which we judge our new head coach.
On the subject of Bill Cowher. Bill is the guy I want. I wanted him as a General Manager before the Scott Pioli hire. Now I want him as a coach. I want him because he was one of the architects of the great defense Gunther Cunningham inherited. I want him because he had only three losing seasons in 16 years with Pittsburgh. I want him because he was always a contender, even when his quarterback was Tommy Maddox. I want him because his teams were always physical, even when they were bad. I want him because he had the balls to bench Jerome Bettis as well as the humility to put him back in when it was best for the team. I want him because he’ll keep Chan Gailey, the first Chiefs coordinator I’ve been excited about since…. well…. Bill Cowher.
I want him because he won a Super Bowl and didn’t need a Hall of Fame quarterback to get him there.
On the subject of Todd Haley. I smell another Mike Martz. He could be fun to watch for a couple of seasons, but my gut tells me that the flavor of the week will leave us with a sour taste in our mouths.
On the subject of waiting 10 days to be fired. In terms of employment, Herm Edwards has led a charmed life. The last time he was fired was in 1986. He was fired three times that year: first by Buddy Ryan, then Dan Henning, then John Robinson. Three times in one year is rough, even by football standards, but he’s had 22 years to mentally prepare himself for the fourth.
To the handful of reporters who feel that the 10-day waiting period Herm suffered at the hands of Scott Pioli was cruel, let me ask you this: do you honestly believe Herm was waiting? I’ve questioned Herm’s common sense frequently in the last few months, but I’m quite positive he isn’t so dense as to not have seen this coming. His only meaningful connection to the front office ‘resigned’ before the season was over. His assistants were allowed to walk without the slightest resistance. Unnamed representatives were sent in his stead to Senior Bowl. Ray Charles could read the writing on that wall.
Besides, Clark Hunt hired Scott Pioli. Pioli’s two best friends in football are Bill Belichick and Bill Parcells. Belichick hasn’t had back to back losing seasons since 1992 and ’93, when he and Pioli were in Cleveland. Parcells never had back to back losing seasons. In fact, only once in his career did he have two losing seasons in a four year stretch (1993 and ’95). To these men, a rebuilding year means 8-8. 26 losses in two seasons would be unconscionable.
Therefore, my final word on the subject is this: If Herm Edwards was genuinely surprised by his termination, I’ll feel a lot better about that punt against the Saints.
On the subject of taking potshots. Greg Robinson took a shot at Gunther Cunningham. Cunningham took a shot at Herm Edwards. Edwards took a shot at Clark Hunt. So did Tony Gonzalez. As a writer, I’m all for it. It’s good for business. As a fan, I’m all for it too. Emotions are raw right now, and people need to vent. I prefer it. Let them get it off their chests.
Just make sure it’s done before OTA’s. This team can and should be successful in short order, but that can only happen if everyone is on the same page. All must put the team first, and those who won’t must be dismissed. So #88, if you’re reading this, say your peace now, but be done with it. Don’t turn yourself into a cancer the way Larry Johnson did. It’s time for you to take off the diapers and get over it.