Herm's Discipline

There are many reasons to appreciate Herm Edwards as the head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs. Defensive expertise, a positive outlook and the ability to draft are all traits of Edwards that have served the Chiefs well during his first 18 months on the job.

But there is one attribute Edwards possesses that I believe to be the most important of all. It has changed his team more than anything else he brings to the table.


Bob Gretz of KcChiefs.com delivered an insightful article in June outlining the transformation of the Chiefs from a moderately-penalized team under Dick Vermeil to one of the five least-penalized teams in the NFL under Edwards.

Today I'll take it one step further, and compare the present-day Chiefs to the Marty Schottenheimer and Gunther Cunningham-led teams of the 1990's. But this isn't just about penalties – it's about the overall behavior of a team, on and off the field.

First – what most of you probably already know.

The Chiefs were one of the most heavily penalized teams in the NFL during the Schottenheimer era. From 1989 to 1998, Marty's teams averaged almost 117 penalties per season – that works out to an average of better than seven flags a game.

Even under Cunningham, a coach who is oft-characterized as a whip-cracking disciplinarian, the Chiefs still averaged better than 120 penalties a year.

These on-field transgressions were part of a larger issue. Schottenheimer, and especially Cunningham, didn't have full control of their teams. It was never more apparent than during the 1998 season, when the Chiefs led the league in penalties with a whopping 158 and put the crowning finish on their "season of sin" during a Monday Night Football-brouhaha with the Denver Broncos, featuring Derrick Thomas and Wayne Simmons as personal foul artists.

Marty never really cared about character. That's why he felt justified in signing players like Andre Rison and Bam Morris and why Kansas City Star columnist Jason Whitlock would eventually characterize the 1998 Chiefs as "Bone, Thugs ‘N Marty."

And Gunther? His team completely quit on him to finish the 2000 season, leaving fans to wonder who exactly was in control of that circus.

Does anyone honestly see these things happening in Kansas City under Edwards? The answer is no.

Herm's discipline manifests itself on the field. That's why the Chiefs ranked fifth in the NFL a year ago with only 76 penalties and had only three personal fouls all season long.

Herm's discipline translates away from NFL stadiums, too. No one on this current Chiefs team has ever orchestrated a car-theft ring (Tamarick Vanover) or been caught selling a mountain of drugs (Bam Morris). Yes, Jared Allen has had his problems, but Herm appears to have corrected them. Allen has been sober for months.

There are no fights breaking out in training camp. No one's spitting on police officers in Minnesota. Herm even tossed out the coaching staff's complimentary Wisconsin beer.

And most importantly, no one's nose is getting broken.

The Chiefs are the good guys for the first time in a long time. They're choir boys compared to the men of low moral fiber who made up Marty's rosters.

But these guys weren't born this way. Everyone knows Larry Johnson has had his problems. John Welbourn hasn't exactly been a saint in the past, and Kyle Turley was one only because of the logo on his helmet.

Did any of these players have issues last season? Sure, maybe Johnson whined about the playcalling once, but that was the end of it. It would have been easy for Johnson to rip the coaching staff in the media again after the playoff loss to the Colts, but he didn't.

Give Edwards some credit. The Chiefs are a well-behaved bunch who respect their head coach. Call ‘em "Herm, Hugs and Larry."

Expect this trend to continue as long as Edwards is in Kansas City. In New York, his Jets teams averaged just 80 penalties per season over five years.

This is Herm's show, and it's a clean one the whole family can enjoy.

What else would you expect from the son of a Master Sergeant?

"Discipline is the refining fire by which talent becomes ability."

- Roy L. Smith

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