CINCINNATI | The Chiefs could have made the decision on Herm Edwards’ future more difficult for Clark Hunt and the next general manager had they simply been more competitive Sunday against an opponent almost as down and almost as out.
Instead, the Chiefs barely showed up for their season finale, losing to Cincinnati 16-6 and ensuring a 2-14 record, worst in franchise history.
That promises to make an already uncomfortable interlude for Edwards even more agonizing as he waits on word whether he will coach the Chiefs again next season. Until then, it’s business as usual, or as usual as it can get under some strange circumstances.
“It’s real simple,” he said afterward Sunday, maintaining his even keel. “I’ll go back to work. Unless I’m told something different, that’s what I’m going to do.
“We’ll evaluate the players Monday and Tuesday. We’ll kind of go from there. I’ll set the calendar as far as offseason program goes and free-agency goes.”
All busy work, perhaps. Chairman Clark Hunt will hire a general manager to replace the outgoing Carl Peterson. The two will then decide whether Edwards, who lost 23 of his last 25 games, stays.
Edwards, it would seem, is standing on ground that would be far less than firm. But he said the feedback he’s received from Hunt has been nothing but positive and he won’t make any pleas, publicly or privately to Hunt and the new general manager, to keep his job.
“I’m not looking to defend myself,” Edwards said. “Going into a situation like we went into, a rebuilding mode, you never know what’s going to happen. You anticipate the best, but it didn’t turn out like we’d like for a lot of different reasons. I’m not going to state the reasons. I don’t need to do that.
“Since the Jets game, we’ve improved tremendously. We played a lot of young guys and they gained experience. That’s going to help this football team next year. That was key. We wanted to make sure we did that. A lot of players improved. You wish the record was better You hate to go through this to get that done, but there is a silver lining. A lot of good will come from this.
“We’ve lost a lot of close games. We lost seven games by seven points or less. We’ll figure out a way to win those games next year.”
Edwards said the Chiefs’ decision might ultimately be more about whether he’s a good fit with the new general manager and less about whether he’s a good coach or he’s doing a good job.
Hunt has indicated he will be responsible for the decision on Edwards, but he also said he wouldn’t want to saddle a new general manager with a coach he wasn’t comfortable with.
There’s also a business aspect to the decision. The firing of Edwards could energize a fan base that is rapidly becoming apathetic. Season tickets, once stopped at about 70,000, topped out at about 60,000 this year.
Either way, Edwards said the developments of the last two seasons haven’t shaken his confidence in his ability to coach. Edwards took the New York Jets to the playoffs three times in five years and guided the Chiefs to the postseason in the first of his three Kansas City seasons.
“I think I’m a good football coach,” he said. “I don’t doubt myself. What I’ve had to go through the last two years was for a reason. The first year you come in and take a team to the playoffs and you know that’s probably as far as that team can go. It took two years to get to this.
“You wish your record was better. There’s no doubt about it. You’ve got to win games. I understand that part of it. We fell short too many times. If you win those games, there aren’t a lot of questions.”
The Chiefs never came close to winning Sunday. The game wasn’t as close as the 10-point margin would indicate. Cincinnati, 4-11-1 and last in the league in scoring going into Sunday’s game, had 239 yards in the first half. The Chiefs scored with just more than 2 minutes left to avoid the shutout.
That wasn’t the type of closing statement Edwards was hoping to make.