Vermeil in unusual position of not having to rebuild
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- For the first time in his illustrious NFL career, nobody is asking Dick Vermeil to be a miracle worker.
Philadelphia and St. Louis were both sad sacks when the quick-to-cry Californian grabbed them by the proverbial throat and built them into Super Bowl teams.
But the Kansas City Chiefs already are fairly decent. They were 16-16 the past two seasons under Gunther Cunningham. They boast established stars like tight end Tony Gonzalez and emerging stars like left tackle John Tait.
Maybe -- just maybe -- a few position upgrades, a dash of luck and the fierce crusader's attitude Vermeil is famous for creating will put Kansas City right back on the contender's map.
"It's my job now, with the help of a newly organized coaching staff, to go to the next level," Vermeil said Friday during an era-launching introduction at Arrowhead Stadium that seemed part news conference and part coronation.
"To guarantee that we'll do that," he quickly added, "would be a really, really ridiculous statement. I know some great football coaches and great ownerships that never have got there."
"There," as defined by Vermeil and his old friend and new colleague Carl Peterson, means only one thing -- the Super Bowl.
The 78,000 fans who pack Arrowhead while making the Chiefs the NFL's home attendance leader for six straight years aren't going to be satisfied with anything less, either.
All he asks of those fans, Vermeil said, is patience.
"Be patient and believe in everything that we do," he said. "Be patient and understand that we won't go undefeated. Understand that we will probably lose two or even three games that we should win and understand that we'll win a couple that we should have lost."
Vermeil steadfastly declined to offer any opinion about specific players or what he plans to do with the Chiefs' roster.
"In all honesty, I just have not had time to make any analysis of that yet," he said.
But the most important decision facing him and Peterson is at quarterback, and fans might be in for a big surprise.
Elvis Grbac was the AFC's fourth-rated passer this past season while throwing for 4,169 yards and 28 touchdowns. But he is due a cap-busting $10 million bonus if he's on the roster as of March 2.
If Grbac agrees, the contract could be reworked to provide cap relief. But another possibility would be to trade for Trent Green.
Green was a Vermeil favorite in St. Louis until he got hurt and Kurt Warner won an opportunity to show the latent brilliance that led to his being named league and Super Bowl MVP.
While saying that signing Grbac would be his 'first thought,' Vermeil also went out of his way to compliment Green, who is still under contract to the Rams but might be had in a trade.
"It all starts with the quarterback," Vermeil said. "You can do things with him that you just can't do with any other position and you can have more variation. When you have a person at that position that can absorb information and then execute upon it, you've got something special."
Beyond quarterback, Vermeil seemed to sound a warning for the underachievers who appeared to populate certain positions on the Kansas City roster.
"If they don't want to be coached and they don't want to be worked, they probably will not stay here," he said.
"Nine players on the world championship St. Louis Rams were on that roster when we took it over three years ago. Nine players."