Q: How much of the blueprint you used to build the Rams and the Eagles have you taken to Kansas City?
Vermeil: I think every experience you go through, you make mistakes. You may end up doing a little better the next time. That is what you hope to get out of experience. Hopefully, we're doing it better now than I did it my first couple years at either place. First off, when I did it with the Eagles, I had never been a head coach in the NFL before. Then the next time I did it, I was out of the league for 14 years, out of coaching for 14 years. This time coming back, I was only out of it for one season. I think that it has made me more efficient in the utilization of the process. Hopefully it will pay off in the future. To some extent, it has payed off already. The AFC Player of the Month was not here when I came here. Our quarterback was not here when we came here and he has also been AFC Player of the Week. So, we have done some things correctly, but we still have some gaps. I am pleased with the progress.
Q: Speaking of your AFC Player of the Month, how big was your acquisition of Priest Holmes, particularly in terms of your coaching philosophy?
Vermeil: If you are going to win the AFC Championship, you better have a guy in the backfield that is touching the ball enough to help you win. It's the caliber of player that can make a difference in tight games. Priest Holmes has proven to be that. I didn't think that he had been given the opportunity to prove his worth. I didn't think he was going to win the NFL rushing championship, but I thought he would be one of the top six or seven backs in the league if given the opportunity. When we brought him here, he has exceeded our expectations. But at the same time, we expected him to be good enough to lead us to an AFC Championship.
Q: How important has the emergence of Trent Green been in the assimilation in what you are doing here to your success?
Vermeil: Well, nobody can do it without a quarterback. If he doesn't do it well, then we don't win. It is just like last week. If Garcia doesn't do it well, then you don't win. In fact, he did it beyond well. He did it spectacularly. In this league today, you are just kidding yourself if you think you are going to win, and win big, without a guy that can make the plays behind the center.
Q: What impresses you the most about Garcia?
Vermeil: Number one, his competitiveness. Number two, his instincts…when he's in the pocket, how he bounces around and attacks the line of scrimmage. I saw him play four or five games in Canada. What they've done, which is a good job in coaching, is that they have honed his skills, but at the same time, haven't tied him up in a knot. They still let him be Jeff Garcia. He has the uncanny ability to bounce around and throw the ball accurately. He has great ability to move out of the pocket and throw the ball accurately. He has a great sense of when to run and when not to run. The game that he played last week goes down as special. There are not many guys who could play the game that he played because he has all the weapons. He can run and all these other things.
Q: How well timed was this bye week for you guys?
Vermeil: It was super. To be able to beat the Raiders like we did was super. We turned the ball over twice in the red zone. We hadn't turned the ball over in the red zone once all year. Then we turned it over inside the 15-yard line twice. It's tough to win when you do that. Our defense stepped up and only gave up 10 points…that is the first time they have done that. Then to be able to have a three-day week, practice-wise … Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and let them go and have the coaches take Friday, Saturday, and Sunday off was a real benefit. It has to be and advantage.
Q: Did you bring your playbook with you from St? Do you guys do a lot of the same stuff?
Vermeil: Yeah. Al Saunders coordinates the offense and does a very good job. He was with me in '99 with the Rams. He had coached this same offense with…the originator of our offense…at the San Diego Chargers with Don Coryell. He was with them for a number of years. Al has been in the offense for a number of years and then away from it and then back into it with the Rams, then here. But it is "Kansas-City-ized." It's not the Rams offense, it's the Chiefs offense. We can't do everything the Rams do because they have different people at the receivers' positions and those kinds of things. We have a different tight end than they do, in terms of receiving ability. So there is a different emphasis.
Q: Do game conditions, playing outdoors compared to indoors, change your offensive philosophy?
Vermeil: No. I really appreciated the dome in St. Louis because it was a place we could play fast and we were a very fast team. It was a place we never had to worry about the wind or the weather or what direction we were going to go. Also, when to go deep or when not to go deep. It was a heaven for the Rams in '99.
Q: How do you contain Terrell Owens?
Vermeil: I don't think that you could contain him. I think the big thing that you have to do with him is make sure you tackle him. You got to get under his straight arm when you try to get after him. He is truly a gifted player. He is a dominator at the wide receiver position…there are not a lot of those people around. His physical stature and how they use him allow him to take advantage of his talents. I think the big thing you've got to do is if he does catch it, you've got to get him on the ground.
Q: There was some discussion regarding the wisdom of coming back at your age last year. How are you feeling and do you anticipate hanging around after this season?
Vermeil: Oh yeah, I have a three-year contract so I anticipate being here for three years. After that, if they want me, then it will be a decision. If I don't win, they won't want me regardless of how close my relationships are here. My wife gets mad at me when we lose. I plan on being here. I get down. I get tired. I can't work until five and six in the morning like I did in Philadelphia. I have a midnight curfew and I get back in here by seven. I sneak a nap from time to time during the day if I can. I manage what I have to do to be efficient in my responsibilities.
Q: What are your thoughts about where you stand in the AFC playoff picture with the new playoff format this year?
Vermeil: It is very seldom that somebody gets to take over a winning football team. You take one over that is losing. There is something wrong. They hire you to come in and straighten it out. It takes time. It takes more time when you are in a tough division. This division is a grinder. You just look at the win-loss records within this division. When you step outside our division, we play teams like the 49ers, we play the Rams, we play New England, the world champions. Our division plus our outside schedule I think is tougher than most. It makes it tougher to make quick turnarounds. In fact, I think it makes it impossible. But I do believe that we are a better football team than we were last year. We still got a way to go. I believe the second eight games of the season we will be better than we have been in the first eight games. Will we win more games, I don't know. Everybody we play is winning except for Seattle and the Rams and the Rams are coming back. So it makes it tough. If you are in a division where 4-4 is leading the division, you can look a lot smarter earlier.