Vermeil, Green catch heat from impatient Chiefs fans

Wednesday, October 31, 2001

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Cracks are beginning to appear in the unquestioning faith Kansas City fans placed in Dick Vermeil.

In his weekly radio show this week after the Chiefs fell to 1-6, one caller went so far as to accuse him of misleading them.

"I think most of you heard me say many times, two wins ago I was in a Super Bowl game," Vermeil said Tuesday at his weekly media luncheon.

"That doesn't guarantee anything."

When he was talked out of retirement last winter by Chiefs president Carl Peterson, Vermeil's credentials could hardly have been more impeccable. He had built the Philadelphia Eagles into a Super Bowl team two decades ago and had coached St. Louis to the Super Bowl title in the 1999 season.

But Trent Green, the 31-year-old quarterback Vermeil gave up a first-round draft pick for, has played poorly. The offensive and defensive lines, beset by injury, have not fared well. There have been problems in the secondary.

And Kansas City's wide receiver corps has been exposed as almost utterly lacking in the speed and talent Vermeil enjoyed in St. Louis when Kurt Warner ran the same offense so well.

"There's a process you go through to get (to the Super Bowl)," Vermeil said. "Hopefully, we can repeat that kind of thing. But there aren't any guarantees. Everybody in this league is striving to do the same thing. We're in a high performance business. That's all there is to it."

In addition to talent and hard work, Vermeil said, other things beyond the control of any coach must also fall in line.

"If we're very fortunate and lucky and do a good enough job then you end up being successful," he said. "If not, you don't. And there have been some very fine people who were very skilled at what they were doing end up not being successful. One variable or another they were not able to control."

What has made fans most unhappy is the shoddy play of Green.

Actually compared with Dan Fouts and Joe Montana when the Chiefs brought him over from St. Louis the day before the draft, Green has had one good game -- a 45-13 victory over Washington.

Altogether, the former backup has completed less than 54 percent of his passes. He's thrown only eight touchdown passes and been intercepted 12 times.

"I think our players respect him," Vermeil said. "The best time to evaluate a guy is when things are not going well. You want to find out what a guy's made of, go 1-6. Throw some interceptions. I've been around some who don't handle it very well at all.

"Trent Green is a leader."

Green has often been the victim of other players' mistakes. He's thrown perfectly timed passes that were dropped and been intercepted when receivers turned the wrong route.

"He's the right guy and he will get better within our scheme as everyone else gets better," Vermeil said.

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