Monday, November 24, 2008

Monday Mystification: The Ugly, The Fugly, and the Chris Fuamatu-Ma'alafugly

When attempting to tackle a problem of this magnitude, the angle, the focus, the crux all slip in and out of visibility, like tailbacks in the seams of lines. Yesterday at Arrowhead Stadium, the Kansas City Chiefs had more points scored on them than in any other game in franchise history. There are more parcels of what's wrong with this team than there are gifts under a Mission Hills Christmas tree, but considering that this football club has been around for almost half a century, that simply has to be the beacon in this bog of murk. Both columnists from The Kansas City Star brought up a few good points in today's paper and we'll touch on those later. This drubbing, however, that occurred at the hands of the still-last-place Buffalo Bills yesterday, is a symbol of the gaspingly ugly Kansas City Chiefs of the Herman Edwards era.

To put what this team is or isn't doing into perspective, let's have a look at all 10 head coaches in Kansas City Chiefs history.

1) Hank Stram began as an assistant football coach at Purdue, then held the same positions with Notre Dame, SMU, and Miami. To begin his pro coaching career, he won three AFL championships, 87 contests, had six post-season appearances (with a 5-1 record), all of which will forever be AFL bests. In the NFL, he had two Super Bowl appearances, won one of them, and posted a 131-97 regular-season, a 5-3 post-season, and a 136-100 overall record, netting a winning percentage of .576.

2) Paul Wiggin was his replacement. Prior to becoming the Chiefs second head coach, he was an assistant on the San Francisco 49ers staff. He went 11-24 in less than three years with KC, a .314 percentage of games won attached to his tenure.

3) Tom Bettis, as interim coach, went 1-6, a meager .143. In hindsight, neither were good replacements for Stram.

4) Marv Levy was assistant football coach at Coe College, head coach of the University of New Mexico, Cal, and William & Mary, before becoming the coach of the kicking team of the Philadelphia Eagles in 1969. The following year he was the special teams coach of the L.A. Rams, followed by a head coaching stint in the CFL, which lasted five seasons, and earned his team three Grey Cup appearances and two championships. His runs as head coach in Kansas City and Buffalo combined yielded a 112-70 regular-season, an 11-8 post-season, and a 143-112 overal record, for a winning percentage of .561 and four AFC championships.

5) John Mackovic was the offensive coordinator at San Jose State and at the University of Arizona, then assistant head coach at Purdue. Next he was the head coach at Wake Forest, then the assistant head coach for the Dallas Cowboys before a brief stand as head coach of the Chiefs. Since leaving the NFL, he has returned to coaching in college, where he has a 94-78-3 overall record. His pro record, however was 30-34, a winning percentage of .469.

6) Frank Gansz replaced him and went 8-22-1 in two campaigns with the Chiefs. He had previously been the Chiefs special teams coach. His record produced a .258 winning percentage.

7) Marty Schottenheimer came next. He was a linebackers coach with the Giants and later defensive coordinator. With the Lions, he was also a linebackers coach before becoming the defensive coordinator for the Cleveland Browns. In 1984, he became their head coach, and later coached Kansas City, Washington, and San Diego. His regular-season record is 200-126-1, while going 5-13 in the post-season, making his total 205-139-1, garnering him a .594.

8) Gunther Cunningham replaced him. Prior to his promotion, he was an assistant coach with the Raiders and the Chiefs' defensive coordinator. In two seasons as head coach, he went 16-16 for a .500.

9) Next came Dick Vermeil. He was head coach at Stanford, special teams coach with the L.A. Rams in '69 (replaced of course by Levy) for one season, as he accepted an assistant-coach position with UCLA, but then went back to the Rams until '74. Then he went back to UCLA, where in two seasons, he went 15-5-3, won a conference championship, and a Rose Bowl. His next return to the pros was as head coach of the Eagles, then the St. Louis Rams, and finally the Chiefs. In total he went 126-114, boasting two Super Bowl appearances with two different teams, one of which he won. His winning percentage checks in at a cool .525.

10) Finally, Herm Edwards. Edwards was a defensive assistant at San Jose State, then a scout and defensive backs coach with the Chiefs. Next came another defensive backs/assistant head coach job with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Despite never having previously held a head coach or a coordinator position, the New York Jets hired him in 2001. As head coach of the Jets and Chiefs combined, he has gone 53-70, and 2-4 in the post-season, and 55-74 overall, which earns him a .426.

Now, let's look at those winning percentages from best to worst:

1) Marty Schottenheimer: .594
2) Hank Stram: .576
3) Marv Levy: .561
4) Dick Vermeil: .525
5) Gunther Cunningham: .500
6) John Mackovic: .469
7) Herm Edwards: .426
8) Paul Wiggin: .314
9) Frank Gansz: .258
10) Tom Bettis: .143

Of course each tenure is unique. Some have had greater successes than others; some have been short-lived. But, if we take this set of hard numbers, we ascertain that Herman Edwards doesn't even make it in to the top two-thirds of the winningest head coaches in Chiefs history; he is only better than the the three coaches who were in office on a short-term basis. Wiggin was not given three full seasons. Gansz served one full season and one strike-shortened season and saw his tenure come to an end with the end of Jack Steadman's run as general manager/president of the organization. Tom Bettis was not even given half a season. The man on the list above Edwards never went on to coach in the pros again, but managed to put together a better percentage than Edwards, and a .546 as a collegiate head coach. As it stands today, Gunther Cunningham won more football games as Chiefs head coach in two seasons, than Edwards has in three.

Now, there are various positions of the football team to analyze, but in strictly playing-to-win-the-game discussions, Edwards lands at spot seven of 10 in the books, a spot that clearly lends itself to not winning the game very often.