With the retirement of Dick Vermeil, the Chiefs needed a new leader. In hiring Herm Edwards they got just that, a leader. Leaders step into a room or situation and take control. Leaders make difficult decisions with conviction and without wavering. Leaders put people around them that believe in them and will follow them.
Leaders study their subordinates, instill confidence in them and motivate them by pushing the appropriate buttons. Within his first two weeks on the job, Edwards had done all three and made it very clear who was the leader of the Kansas City Chiefs.
The day Edwards was announced as head coach he stepped to the podium and took control of the room. After the obigatory thank yous to the New York Jets management and organization and to Lamar Hunt, Carl Peterson and Dick Vermeil Edwards said this, "Again, it's good to be back home, it's good to be here. I will open it up to questions, but before I do I will tell you this I believe in family and what happened in New York it stays in New York. If you have any questions about what happened I am going to tell you right now it stays in the family. I learned a lesson a long time ago what stays in your house stays in your house. When you ask questions please ask about the Kansas City Chiefs because I am the head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs and that is all that matters."
In that one statement it changed the first half of the question and answers a portion of the press conference. He dictated what topics would be talked about and which ones would be. Having dealt with the often difficult New York media for the last five years, Edwards set the tone for his relationship with the Kansas City media. He let be known from the beginning that he would be in control of the room, not the media. Without a doubt the Kansas City media has seen the leadership of Herm Edwards.
Ten days into the job Edwards told running back Larry Johnson that he would be the starting running back heading into training camp next year. Not only the starter but a team leader. "He'd better be," Edwards said. "Because that's part of the deal. He has to learn how to do that. Hopefully, I can help him do that. He has the potential in him. I really don't know if anyone's ever asked him to do that. But he's got to do it a lot of ways, not only on the field but off the field."
During his three years with the Kansas City Chiefs Larry Johnson has been begging for somebody to believe in him. When Dick Vermeil put the ball in hands for a game winning touchdown against the Oakland Raiders, foregoing a gimme field goal that would have sent the game into overtime, Johnson spoke of how grateful he was that Vermeil believed in him enough to give him the ball. It's a belief Johnson has been longing for since the day he was drafted. Just ten days as the head coach of the Chiefs, Edwards the Leader pushed that button.
By naming him the starter and challenging him to be a leader himself, Edwards conveyed a deep belief beyond Johnson's expectations. Edwards pushing of the belief button could drive Johnson to maintain his hunger, to work that much harder this offseason, to improve his blocking, and to stay clear of legal trouble. Larry Johnson has seen the leadership of Herman Edwards.
On January 20th, Edwards named former offensive line coach Mike Solari offensive coordinator, opting to not pursue keeping Al Saunders. Edwards was chosen over Saunders for the head coaching position. In building his staff Edwards decided to opt for people who be undeniably committed to him and the Chiefs. It's difficult to garner that kind of commitment from a person who believes he should have your job.
At the same time Edwards solidified that level of commitment from Solari. It is not very often that an offensive line coach gets tapped for an offensive coordinator position. Edwards again pushed the belief button. He placed the reigns of one of the NFL's most prolific offenses into the hands of Solari. He proved to Solari that he felt that Solari deserved this opportunity. "I just felt at this point in time it was time for him to get an opportunity to do this. He's got a great mind and a great feel for this football team and the players," Edwards said.
Edwards showed similar belief in retaining running backs coach James Saxon, wide receivers coach Charlie Joiner, and quarterbacks coach Terry Shea. Edwards has been able to garner that commitment by retaining defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham despite Cunningham leading the Chiefs defense to a ranking of 31st and 25th the past two years. Mike Solari and the Chiefs coaching staff have seen the leadership of Herman Edwards.
The common denominator of great coaches in the NFL is great leadership. Carl Peterson did not go looking for a defensive minded coach or an offensive minded coach. He went looking for a football coach, a man who could lead both sides of the ball effectively. Herm Edwards was the first choice. "Very candidly, when … Herman Edwards became a guy I could possibly get, that is absolutely and unquestionably my first choice.
Herman is a guy that in my opinion can bridge both offense and defense and an entire football team. It was an easy decision for me when I could work out the compensation with the New York Jets for his services," said Peterson.
Under New Management: Herman Edwards
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