Edwards Time To Shine

Nobody was more upset about the Chiefs devastating 31-28 loss in overtime to the Cleveland Browns than head coach Herm Edwards. Though he was calm and showed the same demeanor to the media that he had all year, this game hit him hard. After the game he had to be beside himself. Now Edwards has to take charge and somehow rally his troops.

"This shows what kind of team we have," said Edwards. "When we play on all cylinders and don't get caught up in everything else, we can play."

That sums up the sentiment of his football team. This loss was critical to the physical state of the Chiefs. They entered the game with a 7-4 record after 10 days off and time to prepare a gameplan to easily and handily defeat the Cleveland Browns.

They left the game 7-5 with doubts that they have the defensive personnel, heart and probably the coaching staff to win the games they should win in December.

Edwards was weary over this game. It was probably similar to how he felt after the Miami game, also a devastating loss.

The problem is that the Chiefs have played six games on the road and won only two of them. That won't cut it, and that has to drive Edwards crazy.

It's not like he didn't see this coming. When he took the job he talked about winning games in December on the road.

Now he's seeing first hand the effects of the franchise making bad defensive personnel decisions under the Vermeil. He's stuck with players who aren't buying into what he's been preaching to them since OTAs.

This loss is not on Edwards. He couldn't force Ty Law to make an open-field tackle that would have prevented a touchdown late in the second quarter.

He couldn't make Kris Wilson catch a critical pass on second down late in the game.

But he's the man at the top, and the buck stops with him. He's entering the final four games of the season that will determine what he does in the off-season.

Edwards told me after the Steelers game that he's learned a lot about his players and they have learned a lot about him as their head coach.

That learning will be escalated this week. It's no longer about the playoffs. It's about jobs and, to some, careers.

There is no doubt in my mind that Edwards is capable of turning the Chiefs into a team that can win crucial games on the road, but that might not change until 2007. He needs to infuse more of his own free agents and draft choices into the mix. He's also likely going to have to revaluate some of his coaches.

My guess is that will happen. On the flight home Sunday night from Cleveland he probably pulled out a roster and already made some cuts.

After that, he circled the names of the players he believes can get the job done down the stretch this year and next year.

This week his job is to try and salvage the season, but that won't be easy. Going 4-0 will help, but that's not likely. If Edwards wants to avoid similar disappointments next season, he needs to start planning ahead now.

Losing games on the road is a habit, and Edwards may have to reprogram some of his players who have accepted losing games like the one they lost collectively on Sunday in Cleveland.

Edwards knew the job in Kansas City wouldn't be easy, but I imagine he never thought winning games on the road would be this hard.

All he can do is find a way to change the lapses in focus his players suffer on the road. The Chiefs should only have two losses to date: at home to Cincinnati and on the road to Pittsburgh.

In road losses to Denver, Miami and Cleveland they were the better team. I know Edwards believed it, but his players didn't, and that's why they stand at 7-5 with only a glimmer of hope for the playoffs.

Even if they do make the playoffs, they'll have to go back on the road, and that has generally spelled disaster for the Chiefs.

It's all about mindset and attitude for the players. For Edwards, he'll have to use his will to turn the season around. That might be enough for some, but not likely for all.

And that's too bad for the players who gave their all on Sunday. For those who didn't, they'll likely take that attitude to another team in 2007.

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