|Herm Edwards returns to Meadowlands as Chiefs take on Jets in regular-season finale|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 27 December 2007 14:24|
The Kansas City Chiefs coach also insists he hasn't thought much about how the fans will react to seeing him on the opposing sideline in his first game there since leaving the New York Jets two years ago.
``It's not about the reception I'm going to get, it's more about playing a football game,'' Edwards said. ``That's the most important thing.''
Predictably, Edwards has downplayed the chance to go up against the team he took to the playoffs three times from 2001-05.
``I don't know about excited, but it's the last stop of our season and it's been a tough one,'' Edwards said. ``We're looking forward to going in there and playing and trying to win a football game.''
The victories have been few and far between for Edwards' Chiefs, who have lost eight straight after a 4-3 start. The season has been marked by a season-ending injury to Larry Johnson, a career-ending injury to Priest Holmes and inconsistent play by quarterbacks Brodie Croyle and Damon Huard.
``It would be great to go out on a winning note,'' rookie defensive tackle Tank McBride said. ``That would make everybody in this locker room feel a lot better than we do right now. You don't want to go into the offseason on a long losing streak.''
The Jets and coach Eric Mangini know the feeling. New York, like Kansas City, was a playoff team a year ago, but has struggled to find consistency on offense and defense while going 3-12.
``It's always important to end on a good note, even though we're not in a situation where it really matters,'' safety Kerry Rhodes said.
Edwards' return adds a little extra juice to a game between teams that have combined for seven wins.
``A lot of guys on the team I know are going to be excited to see him,'' Jets wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery said. ``I know I will be because he drafted me and I'm very appreciative of him for that because he's the guy that had a big impact on a lot of guys in this locker room, including myself.''
Edwards' departure has always been a bit of a mystery, one the coach won't address even to this day. After a rash of injuries sabotaged the 2005 season and the Jets finished 4-12, Edwards told the team he would be back. A few days later, he was gone - replacing mentor Dick Vermeil as Chiefs head coach.
``There were a lot of stories written without getting all the information,'' Edwards said. ``Obviously, you don't know what really happened. I wouldn't talk about it and the Jets haven't talked about it, which was the right thing to do because it was an in-house situation where both parties understood where it was going.''
There were reports Edwards wanted a new contract and that his relationship with owner Woody Johnson soured because of the request.
``At the end, it took a turn, and that's OK,'' said Edwards, who insists things are fine between him and Johnson. ``You never worry about that because there's going to be perception out there and the reality is I know the truth. That's all that matters. I know the truth and I know what happened and I can live with that.''
When Edwards departed, the Jets turned to Mangini, who is sort of the anti-Herm. While Edwards was often excitable and animated, Mangini is always steady and even-keeled.
``He was with Bill so long that there are certain nuances and intangibles that you see in Eric that Bill has,'' said Chiefs cornerback Ty Law, whose position coach in New England was Mangini. ``He was like a Mini Me. We used to joke about it, but you knew that he was going to be a head coach at some point, or a coordinator.''
Mangini took Edwards' 4-12 team and melded it into a 10-6 playoff team last season. Some credited Edwards for putting that team together and Mangini just being lucky to be the coach at the time. Others praised Mangini for turning things around.
``I didn't really look at it in terms of his stamp or anything else,'' Mangini said of taking over for Edwards. ``I was looking at it in terms of the things that we were trying to do and the things that he brought, not really in relationship to him or if anybody else was here.''
After a season of success in their new positions, both coaches have experienced setbacks. They both also have uncertainty at the quarterback position.
Croyle has looked good at times while carrying the label of the Chiefs' quarterback of the future, but he has also been inconsistent. He hopes to play Sunday after missing most of the loss in Detroit with a bruised throwing hand.
Mangini isn't sure if Kellen Clemens, who has also struggled, will return after being sidelined last week with a rib injury. He has looked good in practice this week, but Mangini also will likely wait until before the game to decide between Clemens and Chad Pennington.
``It's still a process of making sure that he gets enough reps to try to get him ready to play, but also not so many that he has a setback,'' Mangini said. ``We're taking that day to day and evaluating after practice and moving into the next day.''
One day at a time is exactly how both teams have taken things as the season draws to a disappointing end.
``Everybody's got something to play for,'' Chiefs fullback Boomer Grigsby said. ``Heck, we just want to win. That's enough.''