Vermeil Rewards Players With a Vacation

Dick Vermeil the man who worked his way into coaching burnout before walking away from the Philadelphia Eagles in 1982 -- has given his undefeated Kansas City Chiefs a full week off during their bye.

"It's the first time I've done it, but I've enjoyed doing a lot of things for the first time this year," said Vermeil, who also is enjoying the first 8-0 start for of his coaching career.

"Our (different) work schedule for the (Monday night) Raider game worked out well," he noted. "Then last week we practiced only Thursday and Friday in a short week but played fresh and quick and with a lot of enthusiasm. Now I'm hoping we can approach the second half of the season even fresher.

"I'm learning, and I think it's helping our team."

After giving his players an almost unprecedented Wednesday off following a Monday night win over Oakland, Vermeil's reduced workload was rewarded with a convincing 38-5 Chiefs victory over Buffalo in ESPN's Sunday night game.

Now with his Chiefs positioned well for the playoffs at the midpoint -- with a three-game lead over 5-3 Denver in the AFC West, and a 1 1/2-game lead over 6-1 Indianapolis in the chase for home-field advantage in the playoffs -- Vermeil figures his players have earned the extra time off.

"We came in here having played four out of our last (six) games on the road and we're still undefeated," Vermeil said after the Buffalo rout. "We've done a lot of things good football teams do.

"Does that mean we're going to be a playoff team? Chances are we're a playoff team, but it doesn't mean we're going to be a Super Bowl team. We have to be better in the second half to be a Super Bowl team."

The Chiefs were in a celebratory mood after scoring on four of their last five first-half possessions to take a 28-5 halftime lead, then recording seven turnovers in the game's final 30:10. Five different Chiefs forced turnovers, with CB Eric Warfield leading the way with two interceptions and a forced fumble.

"Everybody wanted to get involved in the party," said safety Jerome Woods, who had one of the five interceptions. "I've never been involved in a game like that."

The danger for the Chiefs now is that they don't get intoxicated by the euphoria of being the league's only unbeaten team and being rewarded by some extended time off.

Quarterback Trent Green, at least, thinks his teammates will come away from their Sunday night party without a hangover.

"I think the best illustration of that was in the conversations people were having on the sidelines in the fourth quarter," Green said.

"Nobody was talking about what they'd do on their vacation or where they were going. The starters I talked to were saying, 'It's great to start 8-0, but we still got a lot of work to do. We're 0-0 when we come off the bye week.'

"We've set ourselves up in a good position with our first half, but there's a lot more this team wants to accomplish in the second half," Green added. "I thought it was great from a character standpoint to hear guys talking like that on the sidelines. The focus was on getting ready and healthy for the second half of the season instead of 'What plane are you catching?' "


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