Dick Vermeil Press Conference

Chiefs Head Coach Dick Vermeil talks about Sunday's loss at the hands of the Carolina Panthers. In this weeks media session he updates the injuires to running back Priest Holmes and wide receiver Eddie Kennison.

Opening Comments

"Defensively, it's still the big run: the big 47-yard run by Denver and the 71 yarder by Carolina. Also, we have to improve our third down conversion ratios. The other thing is the tackling. We had 10 missed tackles in the ball game. Granted, he's a pretty good running back, very elusive, different style. We've got to reduce it. You're always going to have a few missed tackles, but you've got to reduce it.

From a defensive standpoint we're creating more negative running plays. Positively, from a defensive standpoint we're creating more negative running plays by far than we ever had here. For example, we lead the National Football League in negative rushes against our defense with 18. That's a good sign, but we have to be more consistent so that we don't throw them for a negative play on the line of scrimmage one or two yards and then have the breakout-type plays. But the other day we had seven hits on the quarterback. So, the pressure philosophy of the front seven is working.

When you stop and think that last year we had 43 negative rushing plays the entire season. We go into the third game right now with 18. So, we'd like to believe that process is working. But we have to be as fundamentally correct and sound more consistently to prevent that big run. And, if it does break, make the big tackle right there.

When you're in our situation and you're 0-2 you search for small wins. It is a small win to be talking about negative rushing plays. We made a nice move in defensive line play from one week to the next. We've got to get the ball more in his hands in the passing game"

Running the football offensively we're ahead of the game. We're averaging one yard per rush more right now than we did at the same time last year. That's excluding getting a 41-yard run called back for almost no reason. Priest Holmes is averaging more per carry right now than he did last year after two games. We've got to get the ball in his hands more in the passing game. He had nine receptions more last year this time for 11 yards per reception. That increases the quarterback completion ratio because it's a shorter, more direct throw. It also gives the person a little better opportunity to run after the catch.

We like the fact that we're averaging 5.4 yards per rush. If you add that 41 yard run to it, it would be even more impressive. Priest has had two of his longest runs in the first two games. What did Priest tell us he wanted to do? He wanted to rush for 2,000 yards and make more long runs. He's a man of his word. Now, we've got to get him healthy so he can keep doing it. It's also a reflection that the offensive line is still blocking the run pretty good.

We've played two more teams that were more successful coming into the year than we played last year at this same time.

I think if we get our offensive pass completion percentage up we'll be better. I don't know how astute you are but if you noticed the other day the ball was going downfield quite a bit last week because we felt the strength of Carolina's defense was in their front seven and they were not quite as strong downfield with two young corners and safeties. I think you'll see a blend of that as we mature offensively within these next few games.

(Houston) leads the AFC in turnovers. Houston's 0-2 record is a little more misleading than ours. The most significant reason they are 0-2 is they're minus six (in giveaways). They lead the AFC in turnovers. They were minus four at San Diego and still had a chance to win. They were minus two last week in Detroit and dominated the game statistically. They're in the top 15 offensively and defensively and we are not.

We are aware of this Houston football team, aware that they are improved, and also aware that they probably shouldn't be 0-2. They self-destructed. Now, that's because the defense has taken away, maybe, that does happen. They've lost four fumbles and thrown three interceptions. We've got to keep them in that mode, especially here in this stadium.

They're a different kind of team than we've played. They're three down linemen and four linebacker defense and come at you from all kinds of packages. We beat them soundly last year but we had to score on the last play of the half to take the lead. It was a very tight football game that first half and they are a better team right now. Sooner or later they'll prove it.

I thought that our squad was as disappointed as anybody. But they were very receptive in their film studies and in evaluation of what we have to do to keep getting better. I thought the overall team feeling was good. These guys have been through adversity before and most of them have been on the roster when we only won six games and eight games. The overall team morale is good and they certainly don't consider themselves out of the race.

It's my job to let them know we're not the only team that's started out 0-2 and ended up being successful or would like to be. We keep thinking positive and give them some information that can reinforce their efforts and keep their minds straight and not get down early in the season. A lot of teams are in the same boat and there are some teams that are 2-0 that will fold and some 0-2 that will come on strong. I'd like to believe we can make the biggest move offensively."

Injury Comments:
"I saw Eddie Kennison this morning. He was in for treatment. I think Eddie at best is questionable for this week. There's a little lower hamstring swelling there. They don't think it's a severe tear or pull or anything like that. But when you're a sprinter and run as fast as he does and you have a hamstring problem it usually takes a little while to mend. It just depends. He has injured his leg once since he's been here and only missed two days and come back and played fine that Sunday. So, we're going to hold off about where he stands until later.

Priest Holmes went to the doctor's office last night. The doctor was very pleased following the examination. What it really amounts to is how long it takes for the ankle to feel comfortable to go to back to work. It's not a severe sprain. They felt good about it. I think we'd have to list him as questionable. But if he wasn't able to go, then Derrick Blaylock would start and Larry Johnson would be ready to go. Two fine young backs. Right now, we're preparing as if Priest Holmes is going to play. That's our thinking."


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