Second Time's The Charm

There's a large contingent of Jets fans who were thrilled to see Herman Edwards leave New York this off-season. "The destruction of KC begins," says one Jets fan online. "Herm's gameday decisions are responsible for two losses a year," says another. "HE IS ALL TALK AND ALL EXCUSES," screams another into the depths of cyberspace.

Reason for concern? Hardly.

I'll admit, that when Edwards was hired, I was not one of his biggest fans. He reminded me way too much of Marty Schottenheimer. He had a bad track record in the playoffs (just like Marty), and his hiring decisions left a lot to be desired (he hired both Paul Hackett and Jimmy Raye in New York).

Despite all of that, I think Edwards is going to do well in Kansas City. I'm not concerned about his mediocre career in New York in the least.

NFL history is full of head coaches who started their careers in one city, produced unremarkable results, and moved on, only to succeed in their second go-around.

NFL head coaches are no different than their players in the sense that they are learning on the job. Tony Gonzalez is clearly not the same player he was during his 1997 rookie season. But he had to run a lot of wrong routes, drop a lot of passes and miss a lot of blocks to become the player he is today.

We all learn from our mistakes. Why should head coaches be any different? If anything, it counts double in their case. They've got a much tougher and more complicated job than any of their players. The hours are draining.

This may not be a shocking revelation to some of you, but you might still be surprised by some of the names I dug up.

Sid Gillman spent five dismal years with the Rams in the late 50's during his first stint as a head coach. He won only 28 games in Los Angeles before moving onto the AFL and the Chargers.

As San Diego's head coach, Gillman posted a winning record during eight of the next nine seasons. The Chargers won five division championships during that time.

Marv Levy's first head coaching gig was right here in Kansas City. The Chiefs did nothing during that time. Levy then moved onto Buffalo and went to four straight Super Bowls. Now, he's in the Hall of Fame.

Denver's Mike Shanahan has been one of the most consistent head coaches in the league over the last decade. Denver's been a perennial contender under his leadership. But Shanahan's first job was in Oakland, and he didn't even last two full seasons. He was fired.

One of the best examples is Bill Belichick. He's been glorified above his peers to no end by the national media for winning three championships. But in Cleveland, he had only one winning season in five years, and Browns fans hated him for dumping quarterback Bernie Kosar. He's probably headed to the Hall of Fame, too.

But the best example of them all is probably Tony Dungy. His coaching record in Tampa Bay is remarkably similar to Edwards' in New York. Dungy won about half his games and posted a 2-4 playoff record. In New York, Edwards won about half his games and posted a 2-3 playoff record.

Dungy moved on to Indianapolis, and the Colts have been one of the NFL's elite teams ever since, averaging 12 wins per year.

Dungy and Edwards, of course, are two peas in a pod. They're both defensive-oriented coaches with conservative labels. They've coached together in two different towns.

And now Edwards is stepping into the same situation that Dungy stepped into four years ago. There's an established offense in Kansas City, one of the NFL's finest. All Edwards has to do is take care of the defense.

Dungy managed to do that in Indianapolis.

Is it such a stretch to think that Edwards could do the same in Kansas City?

He's off to a great start with the off-season the Chiefs have had. Perhaps he's learned enough from his first head-coaching job to silence those Jets fans.

This article originally appeared in Warpaint Illustrated the Magazine.

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