Herm Returns to his Roots

One day after the worst run defense in the NFL humiliated KC's offense, Herm Edwards pledged to make changes in 2007. He promised to simplify the offense.

Simplify? How much more simple can you get? Instead of "Run, Larry, Run," will the new playbook simply read "RUN" in block capital letters?

I believe, however, there was a little more going on behind Herm's comments. Immediately after the game, tight end Tony Gonzalez blasted the team's predictable play calling. Team workhorse Larry Johnson grumbled, "We acted like we were playing a bunch of dumdums." Trent Green and Brian Waters indicated the offense was called very differently than in the past.

Clearly, much of the veteran leadership wasn't particularly happy with how they were employed in Indianapolis.

The next day, Edwards said he would change the offense. He pointed out that a simplified system would enable young players to come in and play. Edwards questioned whether his team had the talent to execute the current system and noted they had problems handling the Colts' speed.

It seems to me that not only was Edwards addressing the problems that plagued his offense in the playoff loss to the Colts, he was also delivering a warning to his restless offensive leaders. In no uncertain terms, he was telling them, "Shut up and play my way, or I'll replace you."

This attitude is a far cry from last January when Edwards was first hired. Back then, he said, "I'm not an idiot," when asked if he would change the offense. He said he liked the idea of a unit that averaged 27 points per game.

Edwards then proceeded to use that unit in a way that fit his vision of power football, but did not fit the concept behind the system. He took a passing game that produced 4,000 yards in 2005 and reduced its production to 3,000 yards in 2006.

He cut back on outside sweeps and stretch plays and relied on draws and runs between the guards. Edwards went from a wide-open offense that passed when opponents expected the run and ran when opponents expected the pass, to very predictable play calling.

In Saturday's loss to Colts, the Chiefs failed to produce a first down in their first seven possessions. They ran four times on first down and on all seven of those second downs.

To be honest, the majority of NFL head coaches attempt to build a team that fits their philosophy. Yet, there are a select few who are able to adapt to their personnel, even when those talents are diametrically opposed to their preferences.

In 2000, Brian Billick learned to win with a dominant defense after making his reputation coordinating a record-setting offense in Minnesota. The Ravens won the Super Bowl due to his flexibility. Going farther back, Don Shula won two Super Bowls in a row with a power running game and dominant defense in the 70's before transforming to a wide open attack in the 80's after drafting Dan Marino.

While the Dolphins never won a championship with Marino, Shula did get back to the big game after the 1984 season. This year, conservative Marty Schottenheimer seems likely to end his long streak of playoff futility with a San Diego team that features the highest scoring offense in the NFL.

Perhaps, the Chiefs will be more successful in future seasons because they will better reflect the philosophy of their head coach. But one wonders how many opportunities they will waste along the way.

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