Only Excuse for This Loss is Coaching

After the last second touchdown over the Oakland Raiders a week ago, everyone felt the Kansas City Chiefs were headed into the right direction; everyone it seems but the coaching staff. As evident by the Chiefs 17-3 loss in Buffalo, Dick Vermeil chose the conservative approach as Kansas City falls to 5-4 on the season.

The loss to the Bills means this team continues to slip into the abyss of mediocrity in the AFC and the reality is that the Chiefs are now in third place in the AFC West. Even further this team has no answers in sight to solve their aching, breaking offense. For Head Coach Dick Vermeil this is a bitter end to a tough week as questions have to start coming into play about his coaching future in Kansas City. It's no longer about if it will happen but when he hangs up his whistle.

On Sunday afternoon a back-up quarterback who had been relocated to the bench came off the depths of the roster to spark an improbable victory by twice hitting the only offensive weapon at his disposal. That was of course J. P. Losman who threw a pair of touchdown passes to second year man Lee Evans. Those two plays were enough to keep the Chiefs at bay as the Bills defense harassed Trent Green enough to keep him off stride the entire game. Despite all that the Chiefs were in this game throughout the fourth quarter but mistakes by Green, the offensive line and terrible play calling killed this team on Sunday.

But this game falls squarely on the shoulders of Head Coach Dick Vermeil. The gambler of a week ago failed to motivate his troops and this loss is more at his heals than anyone else within the organization. The defense did their job for the most part as they finally were allowed to play the attacking style of football that the players had been clammoring about in meetings. They played their best game of the season despite the picture-perfect touchdown passes, but the offense was pathetic.

Quarterback Trent Green was sacked six times; threw three interceptions and fumbled the ball once. After the game Chiefs fans were not interested in hearing Dick Vermeil praise Buffalo Bills Head Coach Mike Mularkey and team owner Ralph Wilson. Instead he should be ripping himself for allowing an inferior opponent to defeat his team. The Chiefs were far more talented on Sunday at virtually every position on the field. Perplexing is the fact that Vermeil could not make adjustments with the offense in the second half that might have turned around his teams fortunes. Once again the offense started off slow and it never found a rhythm once they set up shop in Bills territory. In eight trips in Bills territory, Kansas City only managed three points.

It's clear after nine games that this once heralded offensive line can't stop mediocre pass rushers from getting to their quarterback. For the most part, the Bills only rushed four defensive players. Instead Buffalo chose to drop back in zone pass coverage and save the blitzing for obvious passing situations.

You'd think on a day when the Chiefs had 23 first downs and the Bills only had 10 first downs, the Chiefs would have won the game. The failure to make plays in the Bills territory, once again puts into questions the entire offensive coaching staff and their strategy and approach to overcome their sluggish woes from one game to the next. The offense line is bad but its not THAT bad.

You can spin this anyway you want but when you turn the ball over four times and you don't ride your only offensive threat, you lose football games. Larry Johnson had 132 yards rushing on 27 carries but on two key drives inside the 30-yard line he wasn't on the field. That's bad coaching. No that's terrible coaching.

Vermeil mentioned after the Chargers loss that sometimes the members of his staff over-coaches and on Sunday they under-coached. Granted the offense and special teams struggled for the entire day. Lawrence Tynes who had made 15 straight field goals missed two kicks but that's not why the Chiefs lost the game.

Instead the offense tried to be too creative in the Bills side of the field. Not once did Green roll out to avoid the pass rush. They needed to play smash mouth football with Larry Johnson who was averging 5.3 yards per carry.

The Chiefs didn't take advantage of their clear size advantage up front instead they played to the Bills strength which was taking seven step drops and that allowed their defensive ends enough time to get to Trent Green. They never moved the pocket. They tried very few screen passes and didn't use what speed they have to get the ball to the outside. How about a reverse, flea-flicker or a halfback pass. Try something to give the unit a spark. If not, then ride your only conistant offensive horse.

Facing third and less than four yards on two occasions the Chiefs tried to pass the ball instead of running Johnson twice to pick up a first down. It was clear that tackles Jordan Black and John Welbourn could not handle the pressure being applied by the Bills defensive ends. But there is no excuse for scoring only three points at Buffalo. To put that in perspective the San Francisco 49ers - the leagues worst offense - managed to score nine points against the Chicago Bears on Sunday.
That smash mouth mentality died once the Chiefs put the ball into Bills territory and there is no excuse for that. Again it boils down to coaching. Simply put the coaching staff has to ride Larry Johnson until his legs fall off. The season is slipping away quickly and now the Chiefs must win at least six of their last seven games just to compete for a wild card spot. Looking at their schedule today where are those wins going to come from if this team can't score more than three points per game. They'll be lucky to match last years win total of seven the way they're playing right now offensively.

If the Chiefs don't win the division, then they'll be home for the post season and the only question being raised at One Arrowhead Drive will be talk of which head coaching candidate will take over for Dick Vermeil in 2006.

Another loss next week in Houston and that will be the only suspense leftover in the 2005 season. It's clear that Vermeil didn't bring his ‘A' game to Buffalo. After looking like the Coach of the Year a week ago, that might seem an unfortunate statement to pin on him today but its 100% accurate and warranted.

His timing couldn't be worse. It appears we finally have a solid defense. One capable of keeping its team in the game each Sunday. But the offense genius of Vermeil has been misfiring all season long as he stands on the side lines pleading his case to anyone listening. The problem is the players are not paying attention on offense nor have they since the beginning of training camp.

Something has to change and change fast. Maybe even a drastic change is necessary. This offense was so bad on Sunday that the Chiefs 2001 version seemed more able to score points than the group that's making up the 2005 squad.

It's the job of the head coach despite deficiencies with talent or injuries to bring out the best in the players who are available to him each week. Even further it's his job and his coaching staff's responsibility to prepare the players for every possible situation that might arise in the game against that opponent each week. The Bills did that on Sunday. The Chiefs continue to say excuses won't be made about their injuries but they are not coaching up.

The Bills had numerous starters out for this game but they overcame it. Everyone can see that there are problems in this offense that can be traced to coaching. Sooner or later the Chiefs have to put their best players on the field.

Vermeil's reluctance to count on Larry Johnson in the scoring zone and his insistence on putting in Dante Hall in the offense while a more talented receiver Marc Boerigter sits on the sidelines, makes little sense. Even further a healthy Samie Parker sits on the sidelines because he's in the coaches doghouse. At some point the politics on this team have to be put away because the players are sick of dealing with it.

Talented players are left on the sidelines in key situations or not active when other players not as talented are taking up playing time because one coach favors that player over another. Yes that happens in every organization but to what extent? Players with proven pedigree should not be playing behind feel good players who have overcome odds just to don an NFL uniform.

If that does not change as of Monday morning, Vermeil will continue to be the reason this team will lose football games and he should step down before seasons end if he's not willing to make those changes. He looks tired and worn out on the sidelines. His agitation level has increased the last ten days. It's quite clear that the season of miscues and mistakes is weighing very heavily on his mind and spirit. He looks almost resigned to the fact that this team is going to fall short of expectations. There is plenty of talent on this roster to be a solid playoff team.

Players have privately complained about the long practices and not enough focus of the coaching staff to concentrate on actual game situations. Winning games has been replaced by the thirst for gaudy statistics that are meaningless. Somewhere along the line winning football games has gotten lost in the shuffle.

After the events of last week with the Priest Holmes circus it's clear that Vermeil, who was unaware of the fact his best football player was being placed on injured reserve (not to mention the fact that he's yet to even talk to Holmes since the saga played out), has lost his grip on this football team. Maybe its time to let offensive coordinator Al Saunders, who is rumored to be in line for the St. Louis Rams job, run the team the rest of the season. Let's see what he can do with these players.

For Vermeil, losing with better talent three out of four times this season is not the way he wanted to end his career in Kansas City or coaching for that matter. Unfortunately for Chiefs fans he might have stuck around one year too long.

That's a sad commentary but in one week, its obvious the game has become a struggle for Vermeil; especially when the organization doesn't inform you about your best players' physical health and management is reluctant to inform you about the availability of injured players. That is something Vermeil doesn't deserve. But its the hand being played right now as the coaching staff and management are not on the same page. Vermeil deserves a better ending to his coaching career.

With that said, it might be time for Vermeil to hang it up and call it quits now before this season gets even worse for the Kansas City Chiefs. And I admit that's a sad comment for a really good football coach and great person. But it might be time for someone else to run the ship and that man might be Offensive Coordinator Al Saunders. He deserves a shot even if it's only for seven or fewer games.

In the end Dick Vermeil might have to make the ultimate sacrifice for this organization so they can move forward. After losing to the Bills on Sunday, it might be time to do just that for his football team. Top Stories