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Herman Edwards Interview – 09/05/05

Courtesy Of The New York Jets

COACH EDWARDS

COACH EDWARDS: Obviously, we made the final cut downs. We still have one more practice squad guy that we can bring in. We only have seven. We don’t have eight at this point.

I thought for the most part we got some of the guys that we wanted to get back and put them on the practice squad, so that’s good. Today, obviously, was a little introduction of Kansas City, what they present. I mean, obviously they had the No. 1 offense last year in the league. They averaged around 33 points at home. During the season, I guess they averaged about 30 points a game. They’re a very, very potent offense.

They made some changes on their defense this year. They have a real aggressive defense. They have an outstanding returner in Dante Hall. It’s a great atmosphere to play a football game in. I was fortunate enough to coach there in my early career. Their fans are great. They’re like college football fans. They come dressed in red. It’s a great scene if you’re on their side. If you’re a visiting opponent, it’s not so good. I think we’re going to have to be ready for that.

We’re just kind of plugging away at it. Obviously, today was Monday. You get an extra day by playing on Thursday. Wednesday we’ll get back at it and obviously we’ll leave Friday and go down there on Saturday.

Questions.

Q. Talk about Kerry Rhodes getting the first nod.
COACH EDWARDS: Yeah, that was kind of really the thing that sealed the deal for him. He made a lot of plays. Obviously, he’s a rookie. We had a rookie last year that played back there, ended up playing pretty well. We’ll go through some growing pains with him, no doubt about it. We just felt he was a guy that we wanted to put in the game and see what happens.

Oliver (Celestin) obviously will play some, too, and Wash (Rashad Washington). We felt we wanted to start him off, see what he can do. He’s a very, very instinctive guy. He has the ability to make plays on the football. He’s got a large body. He can cover a lot of ground with his range. We’ll see what happens on opening day.

Q. Any trepidation at all with going against a team like Kansas City?
COACH EDWARDS: No, not really, because this will be our third time playing Kansas City. We’ve played them twice here.

Q. With Kerry Rhodes.
COACH EDWARDS: Pretty hard spot last year when we started a rookie at safety against Cincinnati. They had a pretty good offense, too.

I just think you just try to put what you feel are the best players on the football field to help you win. We felt at this point he won the job. There was competition at the job. He was the guy that we felt should get the start. He’s a rookie, so that’s okay. We’re okay with that. We started a couple of them last year.

Q. By having him (Kerry Rhodes) work with the second team through the camp, what does that benefit you? What was the design of that?
COACH EDWARDS: He was on the second team, and he had to beat the other guy out. The last two weeks, he was actually going with the first team in practice, making all the calls, him and Oliver. We had Erik Coleman, on second team. Everybody thought we were mad at Erik Coleman. There’s certain things you do, especially in the secondary, that was really to see who was going to talk and get guys lined up.

There are so many different things you have to do in our secondary. We just wanted to make sure those guys knew what to do to get guys lined up, check the coverages. It was good for him. It’s just a process. He just kind of went through it. Now we decided to play.

How we play our safety is interchangeable. The free and strong safety really could just be a safety position. We should just call it a safety position, not so much strong and free because of the way these guys seesaw so much. In our mind, we just have a safety. We have two safeties, and they interchange. They can play both strong or weak, just according to formations, what we want to do with them that week.

Q. When do you expect to name an eighth player to the practice squad? Why did you name seven?
COACH EDWARDS: Obviously, you go through a claim. If you’re slotted, you’re lower than some of the other teams, they obviously get the best choice. With this, we can maybe go out and sign a guy on the 53. There are a couple guys on our 53 that we can put on the practice squad.

Q. You don’t know when that will be?
COACH EDWARDS: No. It will come when it comes. It will be okay. We still have another spot. We can do it a couple of ways. Put another guy on our practice squad, put a guy on the 53 if we like. We can do that. I think it gives us the good ability to talk to more guys that are out there and see what happens.


Q. (Steve) Morley, third tackle, what do you see in him?
COACH EDWARDS: He’s from Green Bay, played for a while there. Obviously, there’s still some guys out there, veteran guys out there, too. We’re not done with that yet, I don’t think, at this point. He’s the guy we brought in, we’ll see how it goes.

Q. What kind of practice did you have today?
COACH EDWARDS: Like we did last year, we had the same situation. We’ve been fortunate enough to play Philly on Thursday, so we always get this Monday practice in. It’s kind of an introduction of them a little bit, even more for our offense and defense. So it was a light practice, spiders. It was just to get guys’ mindset on running the cards for both teams, getting the players adjusted. I told them today, it’s important you run the cards. Brandon Moore and James Reed used to be card players, now they’re starters. Don’t take the cards lightly. Don’t think all of the sudden if I’m running these cards, it’s nothing. You got a job to do. Right now your job is if you’re running the cards, we’re asking you to be Tony Gonzales, that’s hard to do.

But you got to run the routs that he runs. If we’re asking you to be one of their players, don’t get mad. Just make sure you’re doing it in a fashion where we get a good look. I think they kind of understood that today. It always helps when guys understand how important the cards are to give us a good look.

Q. Who is doing that?
COACH EDWARDS: (Joel) Dreesen, tight end from Colorado State, he was Tony Gonzales. He had No. 88. There were a bunch of guys. Our whole second offensive line, obviously their offensive line, same way with the defense. That’s what the cards are about. It’s about getting a good picture from both sides of the football.

Q. Do you know how much John Abraham will play?
COACH EDWARDS: No, we know he’s going to play. You mean, is he going to start?

Q. How much will he play?
COACH EDWARDS: That will be determined during the game. You go by the game. If can he play 40 plays, that would be great. Right now we’ll just get him into the game, let him play. When he needs to rest, we’ll get him out. We’ll platoon those guys, especially on a hot day, especially in Kansas City.

They’re averaging almost 80 plays a game. You can imagine. You need some defensive line because it gets hot. Those guys will be running all over the place. We want to make sure those guys stay fresh.

Q. How do you feel about Ty Law playing 40-some plays the other day?
COACH EDWARDS: If he needs a blow, we’ll put Justin in there, give him a blow, if he needs a blow. Hopefully, we don’t have to play that many snaps. Hopefully, we don’t have to play 80, that’s a lot of plays.

Q. Chad was talking today about trying to still work through the things he’s trying to learn with this offense, but that he doesn’t want things pared down so much that it will hurt what Mike wants to do. Can you talk about that balancing act?
COACH EDWARDS: I think it’s a balance act. I think every time you go into your first game, you always have to really be aware of that. You don’t want to do too much either, especially on opening day, in the fact that you want guys that play relaxed and know what to do, have them play fast. You put a lot of stuff in, and guys start thinking too much. You don’t want to do that on opening day because guys’ nerves are going, everything else is going. Sometimes you have to simplify things even for pro players on opening day. You don’t want to give them too much. We are going to do what we do. As the game goes on, if we want to add something, we can add it on.

I never want to go into opening day with guys who are thinking too much and you’re starting to create things because that’s what happens to you if you don’t look at it at first. You’ve had all the off?season to think about who you’re going to play opening day, all coaches do this. You start looking at film on those guys on the off?season. You’ve got all this information. But the players don’t have that much time to digest all this information. So, you don’t want to give them too much.

I think sometimes you have to be very careful of that, that you don’t just mentally mess them up. You want them to be able to play fast. There’s going to be a lot of excitement a lot of high energy. They’re going to be out of breath probably after the first three or four minutes of the game because that’s how opening day is.

Q. Where do you think Chad Pennington is at in terms of things that he’s wanting to get better at, being more decisive? Have you seen him becoming more comfortable in the last week or so?
COACH EDWARDS: He’s starting to become more comfortable. But he’s still thinking. You can see him at times, certain things he has to do, he’s thinking a little bit. When the game starts, I just think what he’s going to have to do, and we’ll help him, just go back and throw it. Just drop back as fast as you can, when you got to throw it, throw it. It will all take care of itself.

Q. They’ve made some significant changes on defense. Can you talk about that.
COACH EDWARDS: Yeah, they have. They went out, I know I spoke with Dick Vermeil when the year was over last year, and they felt that they wanted to build up on their defense. They went out and obviously got a corner, got some linebackers, defensive linemen, whatever. That’s what they felt they needed to do.

Now, you got to pull all that together. I think Gunther Cunningham is a good defensive coordinator. They’ve got some speed over there. They’re a very aggressive defense, that’s how Gunther plays, he’s an aggressive type of coach. He’s going to put pressure on you. That’s how they play.

It’s a new defense going into the second year with some new players. But I think they’ve gotten some good players. They feel good about the guys they got.

Q. Have you spoken with Coach Vermeil?
COACH EDWARDS: We’ll talk this week, I’m pretty sure. He’s either going to call me or I’m going to call him. But after Friday, we’re not going to talk. We’ll probably talk tomorrow. Tuesday is probably the talk day. See how he’s doing, you know, all that kind of stuff. Then after Tuesday, we won’t talk again until Sunday.

Q. Any emotion? I know you’ve played him before.
COACH EDWARDS: Yeah, there will be. This is the first time I’m ever going back to Kansas City playing a regular?season game. They came up here twice. I’ve been there in the pre?season before, but never as a head coach going back there. That’s kind of where I started, my pro career coaching?wise, was at Kansas City. That organization is a class organization.

Lamar Hunt is the owner. He’s a great man, he really is. He gets it. He understands it. He has passion for the game of football. That whole organization has been very, very good to me my whole career, even here. Every year I get a nice letter from Lamar. He’s a good man. Carl Peterson was at out last two games, is the president, watching our last two games, came to the Giant game, was in Philly, too.

I talk to those guys a lot on the off?season, I really do. I have a great relationship with that organization. Obviously, Dick, enough can’t be said about that, enough has been written about all that. I owe a lot to those folks in that organization.

When it goes down to Dick and Carl, you’re talking about meeting two guys when you were 17, you didn’t know where you were going in life. They recruited me to go to UCLA. Obviously, I didn’t go, I went to Cal. We ended up hooking up in Philly, had some great years there.

It’s a family deal. But come Sunday at noon, it will be a shootout, now. It will be both teams trying to win, there’s no doubt about that.

Q. Was 2002 when you played Kansas City here?
COACH EDWARDS: Yeah, uh?huh.

Q. Looking back on it now, was it difficult going against them?
COACH EDWARDS: It was kind of difficult, but it was fun. I think he was very, very proud of me, kind of watching my career. He helped me become a coach. It’s also tough when you go against good friends. Like I’ve said, I’ve known Dick since I was 17. Every year at the owner’s meeting, we’re always together. He was out of football, we would always talk. We had a great relationship.

I had a great relationship with Dick Vermeil when I was a player and it never really ended. It never ended. We’ve always had that. His wife, Carol. I mean, you know, he kind of watched me grow up as a young player, as a young man, young teenager coming out of college, then going to play pro football. He watched me develop as a coach, an assistant coach and obviously as a head coach.

You know, I called him a lot in the off?season, ask him questions. He’s been around. I mean, he’s a fantastic football coach, there’s no doubt about it.

Q. That game, if I remember correctly, that was Chad’s first start.
COACH EDWARDS: Yes, it was.

Q. Do you have specific recollections about that time, going into that game?
COACH EDWARDS: That was ?? was that the second time we played them? We beat them once and they beat us once, I do believe. Is that correct or not? We played them twice.

Q. James Darling chasing the three split.
COACH EDWARDS: That was the second one. First one we won. Second time they beat us.

But I think, you know, Chad had a good game, I believe. Yeah, he did. It was ?? it was in the high 20s. At the end they got the ball and drove it down and won the game, yeah. But Chad threw the ball well that game. Scored a lot of points. I know that. I can remember that, yeah.

Q. Any concern at all with Chad going back to the decisions he made in the Giants game or do you think that was an aberration?
COACH EDWARDS: He just tried to fit the ball in spots that he generally didn’t ?? you know, he normally doesn’t think about doing. And he did. They picked it off twice.

Q. You don’t think that’s system related or him getting used to it?
COACH EDWARDS: No, I think those plays, I mean, that one play he threw it, the second one he threw, ran that play here before. I don’t think that was the system. The other one, he wanted to try to get ?? I think he was throwing it to it Laveranues Coles. Just forced in it there. In a cover?two situation, where the guy was covered. He threw it up there. Generally doesn’t do that.

Q. He was talking afterwards about just wanting to get out there and have fun.
COACH EDWARDS: Yeah. Last week we knew what we were going to do. We were going to three?step, drop, run the ball, get him out. That’s basically what we were going to do. It wasn’t like he had a whole bunch of time last week, weren’t going to go back and throw the ball a bunch. We were going to try to run the ball with our first group a bit and then get out of the game. That’s what he did.

We left on a good note. Offense left on a good note. Went down the field and scored.

Q. What kind of role do you see with (Derrick) Blaylock?
COACH EDWARDS: Obviously, Dinger (Coach Heimerdinger) uses different packages. We’ll get to those packages every week according to who we play. Obviously, he’s a guy we trust running the ball, we can split him out, throw the ball to him. It’s just a matter of how he wants to orchestrate the offense that week, who we play. There’s certain guys every week you know you got to get the ball to. Obviously, Curtis (Martin) is one of them. Obviously, Laveranues (Coles) is one of them. Those are guys that they got to touch the ball them. You know that. I think everyone else kind of feeds off that. Those are the two guys that can get it going for you.

Q. Are there some things that Chad has adapted to in this offense that he didn’t do before?
COACH EDWARDS: Yeah. That’s why you got to be careful when you play there. You got to be careful what you’re doing and how you do it. If you’re going to have some checks, what type of checks they’ll be. It is very difficult in the back of those end zones to call audibles because it’s so loud. Their crowd, they’re very knowledgeable of football. They really are. It’s a good crowd. I can remember when I was there coaching, in the two?minute, when you would get somebody backed up, I can remember like it was yesterday, you know, Derek Thomas, he couldn’t wait for that now because the quarterback couldn’t hear, left tackle couldn’t hear, couldn’t get off on the ball. He comes rolling around there many a time, hit the quarterback, fumble. It’s one of those deals. But it’s very, very loud.

You have to be careful of what you’re doing when you’re backed up on both ends. They get loud in there now. They can get very, very loud. Hopefully we can quiet them down. All right.

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