Chiefs Skinny: Vermeil at a Loss with Defense

The number in question is 542. It represents A) the total yardage yielded by the Chiefs in their zany Monday night victory over Tennessee, and B) the number of questions Dick Vermeil has had to answer regarding his horrid defense in nearly four seasons in Kansas City.

The ever-patient Vermeil may have finally reached a point of resignation on the never-ending subject. For this week, after watching his team give up 10 points in a span of 2:49 in the fourth quarter of a nip-and-tuck game with the Titans, Vermeil sounded like a coach with no answers whatsoever to the woes of his 31st-ranked defense -- a unit that finished 32nd and 29th over the previous two seasons.

"Obviously we have the same problems on defense," Vermeil said wearily. "They're glaring and I don't know if they're solvable."

The venerable Vermeil, an offensive-minded coach for most of his career, was just warming in his weariness.

Asked if the four-year problems on defense were related to scheme, coaching or lack of personnel, Vermeil pointed to the only constant in four years of lowly ranked defenses.

"We've done it since I've been here, so maybe I'm the common denominator," he said. "We've had two different coordinators and we're still doing the same things.

"When you're doing what we're doing, everything's wrong and everybody's at fault."

Later Tuesday evening on his weekly radio show, Vermeil sounded like a man who had just been mugged.

"I think our defense will get better, but I thought it would last year and it didn't," he said. "So, I'm not sure I know what I'm talking about right now."

Kansas City, even though raising its record to 5-8 by scoring 14 points in the final 1:39 of its 49-38 Monday night win in Nashville, will hardly be operating from a position of strength when playoff contender Denver comes to Arrowhead on Sunday.

The Broncos are a top five team in total offense and rushing offense and are No. 7 in passing offense. That's a good matchup for the Broncos as they go against a Kansas City defense that gave up 116 rushing yards and 274 passing in just the first half at Tennessee.

How did the Chiefs manage to beat Tennessee given those first-half numbers? Maybe it was Kansas City's Rope-A-Dope approach on defense.

Yep, the same tactic Muhammad Ali used against George Foreman nearly 30 years ago in Zaire. Remember how Ali leaned on the ropes and let Foreman punch himself out with blows Ali absorbed with his gloves and upper body? By the late rounds, Foreman had nothing in the tank and Ali won convincingly.

The Titans, similarly, punched themselves out in the first half against the Chiefs. Drew Bennett ran himself sick -- he needed IV treatments for dehydration in the second half on a bitterly cold night -- in catching eight passes for 192 yards in the first half alone. He caught only four balls for 31 yards in the second-half. Running back Chris Brown ran amuck for 91 yards on 15 first-half carries. But he re-injured himself and didn't play in the second half when the Titans mustered only 47 rushing yards.

Denver should take heed. Aging wideout Rod Smith simply has to pace himself against the inept Chiefs secondary. Reuben Droughns must remember this is an endurance race, not a sprint, and leave something in the tank for the second half. Jake Plummer might want to ice his arm at halftime.

Denver should remember, too, that this Chiefs offense never believes it is out of a game. Kansas City engineered fourth quarter comebacks in both of its consecutive road victories in Oakland and Nashville. After losing four home games already this year, they feel they owe it to their fans to put one on a long-standing rival vying for a playoff spot, something the Chiefs can only hope to deny an opponent this year.

This is the 90th meeting, 89th in the regular season. Chiefs lead the all time series 49-40 and own victories in seven of the last nine regular-season meetings at Arrowhead. The Broncos won the first meeting this year in Denver 34-24 in the 2004 season opener. Top Stories