Chiefs’ Edwards fires offensive coordinator Solari, three others


The Kansas City Star

The Chiefs had their worst season rushing the ball in a non-strike year under Mike Solari (center), who was promoted to offensive coordinator by Herm Edwards in 2006.

The first casualties of the Chiefs’ 4-12 season came Tuesday, when four assistant coaches, including offensive coordinator Mike Solari, were fired.The others fired were John Matsko (offensive line), Charlie Joiner (wide receivers) and James Saxon (running backs). Solari, Joiner and Saxon were remnants from the staff of former coach Dick Vermeil. Vermeil’s quarterback coach, Terry Shea, was fired last year.

Dick Curl (quarterbacks) and Jon Embree (tight ends) were the only main offensive assistant coaches retained. Each joined the Chiefs two years ago when Herm Edwards was hired as head coach.

“Herm did what he had to do,” Solari said. “We just didn’t get it done offensively. It just didn’t work out.”
Edwards wasn’t available to comment, so it wasn’t immediately clear which way he would proceed with the offense. But Paul Hackett could become a candidate to be the coordinator.

Hackett served as Chiefs’ offensive coordinator from 1993-97, when he left to become head coach at Southern California. The Chiefs made the playoffs in all but one of Hackett’s five seasons, but they scored only 47 points in his final four postseason games, all losses.

Since leaving the Chiefs, Hackett also served four seasons as Edwards’ offensive coordinator for the New York Jets. He has been quarterbacks coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the past three seasons.

The Chiefs scored only 226 points this season, the worst for a 16-game schedule in their history. They scored more than 20 points only once in their nine-game, season-ending losing streak, and that happened back on Nov. 4 against Green Bay.

Solari joined the Chiefs as their offensive line coach in 1997 and served in that capacity under three different head coaches. He gained a reputation as one of the best line coaches in the NFL and was promoted to coordinator when Edwards joined the Chiefs in 2006.

But the Chiefs, who had one of the NFL’s highest-scoring offensive teams for several seasons while Al Saunders was their coordinator, couldn’t continue the pace with Solari calling the plays. Scoring and yardage dropped dramatically in Solari’s first year and even more precipitously this season.

Solari had never been an NFL offensive coordinator until Edwards took a chance on him. Solari indicated he would return to coach the line for another team next season.

“If the opportunity arises to be a coordinator again someday, I might look at it,” he said. “But for the time being, I’m going to be an offensive line coach.”

Joiner, a Hall of Fame wide receiver, and Saxon, who once played for the Chiefs, joined the Chiefs in 2001 as Vermeil was becoming their head coach. Matsko, a veteran line coach, joined the Chiefs when Edwards arrived.

He presided over the decline of what was once one of the league’s best offensive lines. But this season, the Chiefs allowed 55 sacks, second in team history, and rushed for just 1,248 yards, lowest in team history other than the strike-shortened 1982 season.