Monday, September 15, 2008

Rush Limbaugh, Herman Edwards: Somebody Please Tell Me the Difference

From 2000-2001, I managed and closed a restaurant at night, and worked with my father in the morning. He'd pick me up around seven a.m., and I'd wearily shower and work my way out to his truck, where he'd always have coffee and the sports page waiting for me. In those two years I got to know my father better than the previous 26 had done for me combined. Our morning routine always consisted of local sports talk radio, followed by Rush Limbaugh. It was also at this time that I discovered what a hard-core Republican my father was, and that burns me to this day. The point though, is that when Al Franken published Rush Limbaugh Is A Big Fat Idiot and Other Observations, I couldn't have been happier.

This is because Rush Limbaugh is a big fat idiot. Though the two events are unrelated, Limbaugh, after Franken's book was published, underwent heavy scrutiny for things he said and did, and his career was ruined. That's the way it seems to work in America. Sometimes. In the Herman Edwards era in Kansas City, his teams have won 13 games, and lost 22. That includes one fluke playoff appearance -- prior to which the Chiefs benched their hot quarterback, then went deep into the third quarter before getting a first down, and totaled eight points -- a (current) 11-game losing streak, and yesterday. Yesterday was the worst display of professional football I have ever seen in my life.

Let's back up a moment. I've been watching football (mostly Chiefs) since 1980. It's no secret that the early 80s was stacked with a lot of bad Chiefs football, and it's no secret that franchises like the Detroit Lions, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Arizona Cardinals, and even the Oakland Raiders have fielded a lot of terrible teams in the history of pro football. I would argue that each of those teams, however, were good at something. Anything. I don't know what it was they were good at, but I know that the Kansas City Chiefs I watched yesterday were good at nothing shy of sucking down a crate of bitter, moldy lemons. They were awful in every sense of the word. I was embarrassed as a fan, and the pain of their horridness went deeper than I have ever felt, and I have felt it pretty deep (Editor's Note: Sure. Take that opportunity to make some joke about sodomy; I ain't changin' my verbage.).

Lane Kiffin has been in charge of the Oakland Raiders for exactly 18 games. His club went 4-12 last year, and got schooled in their home/season opener against the Denver Broncos. There were allegations that Kiffin was on the proverbial hot seat yesterday, and on the surface that makes no sense. This is his first gig coaching at the pro level, it's only his second season, and he inherited a really crummy team. Lane Kiffin, however, works for Al Davis, so he's got that goin' for him, which isn't really nice at all. Herm Edwards works for Clark Hunt and Carl Peterson, most certainly in that order. Yesterday's display of football, if you want to call it that, was Limbaugh's pill addiction, racial slurs, and overall buffoonery all wrapped into one, yet Herm Edwards still has a job today.

I'm not going to start linking to (Note: But feel free to visit the site), or jump on the long-since crowded Peterson-must-go bandwagon. I'm not. It's a tired topic, and I want to keep my naysaying precise and focused: Something has got to change. I still believe that Peterson has done a more-than-respectable job of running the Kansas City franchise since 1989. Would I have liked a Super Bowl championship or seven? Damn skippy. Marty Schottenheimer was a home run of a first hire. He did great things with the Chiefs, but we all know about Marty and the post-season. Gunther Cunningham as his replacement was shocking, but hey -- try something innovative. Dick Vermeil? Another home run. His decision to hire Greg Robinson as defensive coordinator tarnished his stint with disaster. That and Vermeil was 70 years old, a bit tired to say the least.

Then there's Herm Edwards. I've said both of these things before but I'll say them again:

1) Herman Edwards went from a specially created talent scout position with the Chiefs to a defensive backs/linebackers coach with the Bucs to head coach of the New York Jets. That never freaking happens. He easily skipped three, if not four steps in the tenure department along the way. Why? Because he played football and made some crazy interception/touchdown? Big. Deal.

2) Herman Edwards is a smart man. He's a good football coach. He is not a smart football coach. Period.

On the other wing of the House of Georges, there's a guy named Mike Shanahan running the Denver Broncos, and by "running" I mean his title is Executive Vice President of Football Operations/Head Coach. His team was bad in 2007, but only one game below .500 football, which barely qualifies it as bad. Shanahan has an Executive Assistant and an Associate Head Coach. Herman Edwards has a small fleet of assistants, associates, and decision-makers to help him get through four quarters of football every Sunday. I can confidently say "Sunday" too because the Chiefs will at least be a couple of years into a new United States presidency before they see their team televised on a Monday, Thursday, or Saturday. They are that bad.

I'm sad to say that the new "in" thing in the AFC West is Chargers-Broncos. Now, last year, the Chargers owned the Broncos, but those games were somehow exciting to watch because San Diego was really hot on both of those days, and the Broncos were only barely bad. The Broncos then took out their aggressions on the Chiefs, and squashed them both in Denver and Kansas City. And somehow, the Chiefs managed a split with the Chargers. The San Diego/Denver game yesterday was pretty awesome, and I only saw the last four minutes with the sound off. Denver scored 24 points in the second quarter and was dominating, but let San Diego back in, and the game went down to the wire. Shanahan, while executively vice presidenting his football operations, had the gusto and the wherewithal (Note: Cliche, I know. Sue me.) to go for the two-point conversion and the win in regulation, which was of course successful.

And now, the Broncos are 2-0, in first place in the West, and they have two conference and division wins under their belt. The Chiefs are 0-2, and have two conference losses under their belt. This is actually exactly how things started last year. Thing was, even if the Chiefs hadn't crapped their season away and lost nine straight, they opened up with a bundle of conference losses, making even the stubbiest splinter of a playoff picture fuzzy and jagged.

I have never played organized football. I have never been employed in football in any sense, either. I am not, however, an idiot. Tyler Thigpen is not a good NFL quarterback. Not now anyway. There's a reason the Minnesota Vikings cut him, and tried to squeeze him onto their practice squad. One of those reasons is that Tarvaris Jackson was way better than Thigpen, and Tarvaris Jackson is not a good NFL quarterback. Not now anyway. I'm guessing the same is true for Ingle Martin. Marques Hagans, though, is clearly a great choice. According to The Kansas City Star, Hagans is on the roster as a wide reciever, and "was promoted to this past week from the Chiefs' practice squad and took five snaps Sunday at quarterback."

Seldom do NFL teams have success running the football with a committee in the backfield. Some teams try it, and few have success. No teams try quarterbacking by committee like the Chiefs did yesterday. They had three different guys under center, and they didn't succeed one another due to injury or poor performance; they came in for various reasons of mystery. Okay. The Chiefs claim Huard was injured, thus Thigpen came in. I ain't buyin' it. My belief is that Herman Edwards and Offensive Coordinator Chan Gailey thought they could fool the Raiders somehow, and that didn't even come close to happening. As a trio, Chiefs quarterbacks went 17-38 for 135 yards, and a solid 110 of those came with less than five minutes left in the game. My estimation is that part of this, sickening as it seems, was the game plan.

Herm Edwards likes to play defensive, conservative football by running the ball, stopping the run, and controlling the clock and time of possession. The Chiefs tried to run the ball 19 times yesterday, and gained 55 yards in doing so. I'm no math whiz, but I think that's less than three yards per carry. Thigpen made many a poor throw, looked textbook confused, and never once demonstrated leadership. Brodie Croyle is hurt, and allegedly so is Damon Huard now, so Kansas City wants to go with a trio of guys that either weren't good enough in the eyes of other clubs, or don't actually play football at that position. Go ahead. Re-read that sentence.

At some point in recent months, amidst all of the speculation that the Chiefs would be a really terrible team this year, I felt bad for Tony Gonzalez and Larry Johnson. Gonzalez will enter Canton as the best tight end to every play the game, and Larry Johnson had to backup Priest Holmes for a few years. He's back from injury and not being featured in the Kansas City backfield. These are two tremendous talents that deserve a shot at a championship, and with yesterday as a specimen, it's clear to me that a Lombardi trophy is not even on a prepped slide, far from ready to place under the Chiefs' microscope. The Chiefs are supposed to be strong on the defensive side of the ball, but yesterday they gave up 355 yards of total offense to Oakland. They did nothing right.

Rush Limbaugh still has a show, and he still floats around in the venues of broadcast and politics. The same can be true for Herm Edwards. The fact remains, though, that Herm Edwards is not going to win any awards, future jobs, and certainly not any championship trophies with this approach to winning football games. Trust me when I say that I call it an approach, because my brain cannot uncover any other type of word to describe the "product" being put on the Kansas City field.


old no. 7 said...

Not to pick nits, but I have a hard time seeing how Rush Limbaugh's career was ruined by Al Franken or anyone else. Even though he is in fact a big fat idiot and a confessed drug addict, he's still the most succesful radio personality of all time. Five per cent of all radio listeners listen to his show. 13.5 million people a week. It's been reported that earlier this year he signed an 8-year, $400 million contract extension. If that's a ruined career I hope Al Franken writes a book about me.

As to your other point, the Chiefs are indeed awful. That was very accurate.

bankmeister said...

Thus the disclaimer: "Though the two events are unrelated..."

bankmeister said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Limbaugh is a genius, albeit a blowhard. Edwards is a gentleman, and too softspoken to be a winning head coach. Franken, on the other hand, is a half-wit, and a loudmouth.
You would've done well to listen to your dad.