Tackling the Pros & Cons

There is little doubt that Chiefs Head Coach Dick Vermeil is wavering back and forth about returning next season.

There is definite sentiment growing that Vermeil might not return. Two weeks ago I thought he'd stay but now I'm not sure.

Dick Vermeil is under an immense amount of pressure these days. His team just capped off a wonderful 13-3 season. They won the AFC West Title for the first time since the 1997 season and they are ready to play their first playoff game a week from Sunday in more than six years at home.

As the players are resting their battle wounds and scars from the grueling season, Vermeil is preparing to play one of three teams and fielding questions about his coaching future.

On Monday, Vermeil gave speculation that he was indeed getting weary. The season is a long drain on the 67-year old coach. The long hours, long days, intense workouts, adjustments and the energy it takes to keep his team together takes a huge toll. Not to mention trying to get his team to win two more games to reach the Super Bowl.

It's hard enough to get to the Super Bowl. It's even harder when you have to deal with questions about your coaching future. It takes away from your preparation and concentration for the task at hand. To win the next two playoff games.

But Vermeil said ten days ago on his weekly radio show that he wanted to make a decision before the season ended. That deadline passed. When he addressed the media on Monday, he reiterated that he told his coaches he wouldn't keep them in limbo. That led to more speculation that a decision was imminent.

Now if Vermeil is going to stay then the perfect time to tell his team would be on Saturday when they return to practice after getting four days off. If he was not coming back, then he'll simply wait until the end of the playoffs to let everyone in on his decision.

I think Vermeil wants to come back regardless if the Chiefs make the Super Bowl or not. His wife Carol loves it in Kansas City and her charitable work is first rate. She is a true ‘First Lady' of Kansas City. Both Carol and her husband represent the city with class.

That being said Vermeil still may decide he's had enough coaching. He could become the first Head Coach in NFL history to take three separate teams to the Super Bowl. That's legendary to say the least. He already has led three separate teams to division titles and he's insured his legacy as one of the greatest coaches in NFL history for rebuilding three separate franchises in the last thirty plus years.

The problem for Vermeil is two fold. One if he stays, then he'll probably have to make some coaching changes. Defensive coordinator Greg Robinson has been the subject of most of the blame for the teams defensive misfortunes in 2003. After a terrible 2002 season, Vermeil stuck his neck out in support of Robinson and brought him back for the 2003 season.

The other issue is offensive coordinator Al Saunders. He is rumored to be on the short list of coaches for the Nebraska Cornhusker job and he could be a hot commodity for one of several NFL head coaching vacancies.

Vermeil has made it very clear that he wants Saunders to succeed him as the Chiefs head coach but that decision is up to President and General Manager Carl Peterson and Clark and Lamar Hunt. Peterson might want to go a new direction and though Vermeil will certainly be allowed to give input, should he resign, Peterson will certainly look around if for no other reason but to be thorough in his decision.

Vermeil understands that his coaching staff needs to know of his decision as each of them have families of their own and I'm sure the fact that Vermeil has put them in limbo is a concern to the Chiefs head coach.

I don't subscribe to the theory that Vermeil should resign if the Chiefs win the Super Bowl and I don't see that being an issue to him. If he stays, he'll coach because he still has the energy and the desire.

Vermeil is a confident self assured man who understands that his decision effects, his family, his coaching staff, the Chiefs organization and the players in the locker room. His decision also impacts the continued growth of the team overall. The Chiefs face the possibility of major free agent defections.

Vermeil was at the forefront in recruiting free agents Shawn Barber, Dexter McCleon and Vonnie Holliday. Not to mention helping retain Trent Green, Priest Holmes, Mike Maslowski, Eddie Kennison, Dante Hall and Gary Stills. Each of them might have signed elsewhere if not for Vermeil.

Yes they all wanted to stay in Kansas City and remain Chiefs. Vermeil scoffed at that question in his weekly radio show. He claimed and he's correct that the players chose to stay or come to Kansas City because they wanted to win.

But say what you want. Part of the players desire to play in Kansas City is because of the tremendous respect they have for Vermeil.

In my gut, I can't see Vermeil telling his players that he's not coming back anytime before the season ended. It's logical that if he's going to stay then he'll let his team know before the first playoff game to give the team more incentive to work harder for the man they so openly love.

Saturday should be a big day for Vermeil. His silence could say volumes about his future. If his decision goes past Saturday, then the chances of Vermeil staying beyond the playoffs logically suggest he's not coming back.

But nobody gave Carl Peterson a shot in the dark to get Vermeil to comeback three years ago. Whether or not he can pull of the same trick this time around has yet to be determined. Regardless, this won't turn into a long drawn out nightmare.

Chiefs fans hope we get the answer soon from Vermeil. The players would like nothing more than to have Vermeil coach another season or two. Any extra motivation they can get going into their first playoff game can do nothing but help. The last thing the Chiefs players need is any distractions.

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