Cliff Notes: Lay Down The Pitchforks

When a team goes 4-12 one year, and starts out 1-4 the next, the mob begins to assemble. Right now, there are legions of angry Chiefs fans calling for numerous heads at One Arrowhead Drive.

The mobs usually start at the top. You know, kill the head and the snake will die with it? Well, that's where most of these angry Chiefs fans started, with Carl Peterson. He's the President, the General Manager, the king, the sovereign.

The anti-Carl sentiment is nothing new. It's been brewing in Kansas City for several years now. In the old days, angry mobs would revolt against their king by charging the castle with pitchforks and torches. Nowadays, the mobsters are wielding keyboards.

The mob that lurks on message boards, chat rooms, forums, and the letter-to-the-editor-page in newspapers has been unsuccessful in their attempt to unseat the king, so they're settling by working their way down the chain of command to Head Coach Herm Edwards. Put down the pitchforks, I say, and give Edwards the chance he deserves.

Edwards is a proven head coach. The only active head coaches with more playoff appearances since 2001 are Indianapolis' Tony Dungy and New England's Bill Belichick. Edwards has 29 years of NFL experience, and 16 as a coach. He was in Kansas City during the glory years, when defense ruled the land and wins far outnumbered losses.

But despite Edwards' credentials, he's not being measured by the same stick as his predecessor. Chiefs fans look back fondly on the Dick Vermeil years in Kansas City, but Vermeil only mustered two winning seasons. In fact, his tenure started pretty poorly as well, with a 14-18 record over his first two seasons.

Take away Vermeil's two Super Bowl appearances, and he only led a team to the playoffs seven times in 15 years as a head coach. Edwards has reached the tourney five times in eight years. Of course, when evaluating Vermeil's career you can't take away his two Super Bowl appearances, but you also can't take away the 5-11 and 4-12 seasons in St. Louis that directly preceded his second championship.

The point is, Edwards is a qualified coach, and just like the chance Vermeil got to turn the Rams franchise around, Edwards deserves a fair chance to turn this team and franchise around. When Edwards returned to Kansas City in 2006 (He spent five years with the Chiefs as a scout and position coach), he inherited a rapidly and severely aging team. Edwards rode into town with the reputation of a defensive coach, and Kansas City fans and media were wary of him, worried that he might toy with the high-octane offense that won the Chiefs exactly zero playoff games during the Vermeil era.

So, in lieu of alienating a fan base and angering his boss (Peterson), Edwards agreed to try and keep the aging offense intact. He promoted offensive line coach Mike Solari to offensive coordinator, hoping to keep the departed Al Saunders' offense productive. The offense started to wilt slowly in 2006, and the Chiefs put together a respectable 9-7 season, losing to the Colts in the wildcard round of the playoffs.

Last season, the wheels fell off the offensive wagon, and the Chiefs skid their way to a 4-12 season. Then, with no semblance of the once-mighty offense remaining, Edwards was able to do what he knew needed to be done since he first arrived - clean house. He needed to revamp the entire team, not just the old offense or the feeble defense, but both.

Edwards needed to make trades that would bring in draft picks instead of send them away. He needed to use those draft picks on young talent, and not rely on overpaid, underproductive free agents. The entire organization needed a change in philosophy, and now, just one year into the youth movement, Edwards' constituents are turning on him.

Right here in the inner nucleus of Chiefs Kingdom are two shining examples of what happens when a football program sticks with a head coach, letting them implement and carry out their plan. What would happen if Missouri athletic director Mike Alden had fired Gary Pinkel after he finished 5-6 in his fourth season? Chase Daniel would probably be leading the Heisman race as a Texas Longhorn, the Tigers would have never graced the cover of Sports Illustrated, and they'd probably be unranked.

What if Kansas athletic director Lew Perkins had fired Mark Mangino after he finished 4-7 in his third season? There'd be no Orange Bowl victory, there'd be no Coach of the Year honors, and the buffet industry in Lawrence wouldn't be in a relapse.

Sure, college football and professional football aren't the same, but the NFL coaching carousel seems to be moving at a faster and faster pace than it used to. Take Jeff Fisher for example - he didn't put together a winning season for the Titans/Oilers during his first five seasons, but the organization stuck with him, and he led them to a Super Bowl appearance in his sixth year.

More recently, Fisher went 17-31 between 2004 and 2006, and angry Titans fans were calling for his head full of finely groomed hair. The organization stuck with him, and he went 10-6 last season and is off to a 5-0 start this year. Would Fisher have survived the early, trying years if they had started in 04' instead of 1994? The moral of the story is perseverance pays off.

Don't let your emotions overwhelm you. The losing hurts, but it hurts Edwards just as much, if not more than the average Chiefs fan. He has this ship in mid U-turn, and if he's kicked out of the car now, there's no telling what direction it'll head.

Edwards has an eye for talent, and he's bringing it into Kansas City by the truckload. He's already got five rookies starting this season, and numerous others contributing. Give the man another draft and another season to prove his mettle.

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