Edwards, Huard see a well-prepared team

Kansas City head coach Herm Edwards knows a thing or two about playing in the Black Hole and he gives head coach Lane Kiffin credit for preparing his team. We discussed that and other topics while catching up with quarterback Damon Huard to get his thoughts on the Oakland Raiders.

The Raiders-Chiefs series has been one that's known to have some skirmishes.

Herm Edwards: "There is going to be chippiness, there is no doubt about it. The officials know this and they are going to be quick to throw the flag. They'll be quick to eject guys too and if they do, they do."

How are the Raiders with penalties?

Herm Edwards: "They are at 35 through five games, so they are a lot like us. Thirty five is not very good. If you get about four or less penalties per game, you're pretty good and you'll be in the top five."

How do you feel right now going against a 32-year old coach (Oakland's Lane Kiffin) that you knew as a youngster?

Herm Edwards: "Lane Kiffin's dad (Tampa Bay defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin) is a coach and Lane was always around. You knew that he was going to get into coaching; there was no doubt about it. He's playing a little bit of Buc ball. He's running the football and he's playing good defense. He learned that in Tampa sitting around and watching the Bucs play. He brought that to the Raiders and they are running the ball consistently. They are running the football and playing good defense and they are keeping themselves in football games. That's what you have to do in your first year. You have to figure out who your team is. They got their first-round pick signed late, so I think he's done a great job in that situation. The players are believing in what's he's doing and they are playing well. They've been in most of the ballgames that they've played in."

Could being such a young head coach create some problems?

Herm Edwards: "Yeah, but the thing that he's done is that he's communicated with the players. He's got one guy that has known him since he was young and that's DT Warren Sapp. Warren was in Tampa. Lane has come in there and he's earned the respect of the players and that's what you have to do. He was a college coach and he was at a college where a lot of their players are pro football players. He's been in that environment all of his life, he understands that. I think that coach Dick Vermeil was 32 when he got his first job. At UCLA when he came to Philadelphia he was one of the youngest coaches, so he was kind of in that mold like that. Lane has done a good job up there."

How remarkable of a stat is it that you have beaten a team within your division eight straight times?

Herm Edwards: "You obviously have to be fortunate and as that thing goes on it's tougher to accomplish it. It's like anything else the more you do it. Nothing lasts forever in life, but we've been very fortunate. These guys have played in this division for a long time, it's a rivalry game and there have been a lot of tight games. Both of them were tight last year and they had a chance to win both of them. S Jarrad Page made a play at the end here and then we made another one in Oakland to win the game. It's been a tight game and I anticipate that again when we go to Oakland."

Can you talk about the home environment in Oakland?

Herm Edwards: "The (Raider) Nation? I grew up in the Bay Area, so I know a lot about it and I also went to that school up the street at Cal - Berkeley. Growing up you are either a 49ers fan or a Raiders fan and you either go to Cal or you go to Stanford. You figure it out. I went to Cal. Was I a Raider fan or was I a 49ers fan? Obviously I was a Raiders fan. They had some great teams back then and a lot of those players would come to the Cal campus at times when I was playing up there, so you kind of followed the Raiders. You knew about their fans and how hard it was going in there to play. It's a great environment to go in. When I come out, I generally make an effort to go over to the Black Hole and say hello to everybody. I did that in New York because a lot of those guys that are in there dressed up in those costumes; I know them. I know who they are. It's amazing. These guys are business guys and they enjoy dressing up. I go out there and I speak to them and it's a fun deal. I think the players enjoy it and you just know what you're walking into when you go there. It's the Nation."

What's your opinion of this rivalry with the Raiders?

Herm Edwards: "The AFC West goes way back historically. I can remember growing up watching the Raiders and the Chiefs games. I was a west coast guy. The Raiders press asked me yesterday if I was a 49er fan or a Raiders fan growing up in the bay area. I said you figure this out when I ask you this question: I could have gone to Stanford or Cal. I went to Cal, so if you went to Cal are you 49er fan or a Raiders fan? They answered the question. You were a Raiders fan.

"I grew up watching the Raiders and Lamonica, Warren Wells, Dixon, those guys. The Kansas City Chiefs had a bunch of guys: Otis Taylor, Lenny Dawson. I followed them.

"When you were young the thing you learned about the old AFL was that the difference with the NFL was they had more black players. A lot of the players in the old AFL wore white shoes. In the other league they didn't do that.

"The other thing you noticed about this league was there were a lot of formations. They threw the ball all over the ballpark. That was kind of like, to me, the old NBA and the ABA. The ABA came in with the red, white and blue ball. The guys had long hair and it didn't matter. You looked at those guys and you thought those guys look like they had a lot of fun.

"The Chiefs were dynamic in the fact that they had the three backs, had all these shifts and motions. It was, wow, look at these guys. Coach Stram was always dressed nicely with the vest on and the tie. I watched that and on Saturdays you mimicked all that stuff. You mimicked all the coaches and the players and the teams. Those were the two teams I followed. I saw it all. I know something about the history of it."

But these are two teams that are so different from last year.

Herm Edwards: "No doubt about that. They've got a new head coach, a little different philosophy than they've had in the past. I think Lane has done a good job with them. They're running the ball more consistently. Defensively they were a very good defense last year. They still are playing good defense this year. One thing you always know about the Raiders: they're always big and they're always athletic. They're very fast. They've always been that way. That's Mr. Davis' way.

"They're 2-3 and a lot of people thought with a new young head coach they weren't going to be very good. Well, he's got them going in the right direction and they're playing at home."

Does it boggle you that they've lost 16 straight in their division?

Herm Edwards: "It's tough, but it's a tough division, too. You look at the division: San Diego has been pretty good the last couple of years; Denver's been very good and the Chiefs have been good. They've gone through a lot of changes there and that's tough when you change head coaches and philosophies. It's tough on any team and when you play in a good division it's even tougher."

How do you feel about going to play in the black hole?

Damon Huard: "It will be fun. I started a game there as a Dolphin in ‘99, so I've been there before. It's a fun place to play, but I would probably not bring my family with me (laughs)."

Can you talk about winning eight straight against the Raiders?

Damon Huard: "I don't know anything about that streak, really. Every year it's different and every team is different. We have a lot of new faces and they have a lot of new faces with a new head coach. Throw out the records in this rivalry, because every game is close and a 60-minute fight."

You don't want to be the team that lets that streak go away.

Damon Huard: "Certainly you are going to go out there and try to win a football game. It's going to be tough because they are playing really good defense and we have our work cut out for us."

What are the Raiders linebackers showing you on film, especially Thomas Howard and Kirk Morrison?

Damon Huard: "Right. Just a lot of great team speed. They're ball hawks too—they've got great hands. They kind of remind me of one of our players here, Donnie Edwards. So they're just…overall great team speed, and that defense flies around for sure."

Do you have to be more aware of these Raider linebackers than you normally are of other teams' linebackers?

Damon Huard: "Yeah, I mean you have to. They've got a number of picks this year, and they fly around and do such a great job of dropping back and getting into coverage. And they're aware of where people are, so it's a great group. It's something that as a quarterback you have to be aware of."


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