Vermeil Has Left the Chiefs in Great Shape

When Dick Vermeil was hired after the 2000 season, one of the criteria set forth by Kansas City Chiefs President Carl Peterson was to bring back the teams swagger. Whoever takes over for Vermeil in the next week as the new head coach of the Chiefs, will have far more to work with than Vermeil had when he took the job five years ago.

You can say whatever you want about former Kansas City Chiefs Head Coach Dick Vermeil. His teams, despite one of the best offenses in the NFL, only won a single division title back in 2003. He lost the only playoff game that his team appeared in back in January 2004, at home no less, and his easy manner style on his players might have been one of his downfalls. But there was no denying he was a great coach and under his watch the Chiefs future is bright.

With that said, the Head Coaching gig in Kansas City might just be the jewel of the NFL jobs that will be available this week. With as many as twelve head coaching vacancies that might need to be filled after ‘Bloody Monday' Carl Peterson will have to strike the iron quickly to find the next head coach before the best candidates find jobs in other NFL cities.

Teams that could be looking for new Head Coaches include Houston, Detroit, Oakland, New York (Jets), San Diego, Green Bay, Minnesota, Tennessee, New Orleans, St. Louis and possibly Dallas.

With no sure fire head coaches on the open market as of Sunday night, the Chiefs might have to settle for a lesser known candidate or pluck one of the better college coaches to replace Vermeil.

But one thing Peterson won't have to do is convince anyone to take the job like he had to do when the Chiefs settled on Gunther Cunningham back in 1999 and then Vermeil two years later. Granted he didn't settle for either candidate but the market was soft both times Peterson went shopping for a new head coach. He'll have a similar problem this time around.

But Peterson had an advantage; there are not many teams that are as loaded as the Chiefs on offense and to some degree on defense. The downside is the fact the Chiefs currently are sitting $15 million or so over next years projected salary cap. With the NFL's new TV, Satellite Radio and Cable deals in hand, the projected 2006 cap could surpass $96 million.

That means the Chiefs will have to restructure some veteran contracts or release some players who have not performed to the teams high standards in recent years. The Chiefs can't stand pat and they'll need to be just as aggressive in free agency as they were a year ago if they want to shore up some of their deficiencies.

Regardless if the offensive line stays in tact for one more season the Chiefs offense behind the NFL's best running back, Larry Johnson, could shatter every NFL rushing record including yards and touchdowns in 2006.

With that said, what prospective candidate would not want to be part of coaching Larry Johnson in the prime of his career. Not to mention a veteran quarterback like Trent Green and the rest of veterans on this team.

Still not everything is rosy with the offense because at times they struggled this year but now that LK has proven he can take over games, it should be better in 2006.

However, the problems on offense this season can be attributed to two things; one the rotation of running backs earlier in the season and injuries to the offensive line. LJ ran for 1750 yards and 20 touchdowns. Imagine if he carried the load full time and didn't share the first seven games of the season with Priest Holmes.

On defense there are some bright spots. Defensive end Jared Allen didn't have a sophomore slump. When he learns to do a better job supporting the run, the sky is the limit for the former Idaho State product.

Middle linebacker Kawika Mitchell proved he's an NFL caliber player and Derrick Johnson made enough progress throughout his rookie season to think he can be an All-Pro in 2006 or 2007. Granted Kendrell Bell was a disappointment the Chiefs have two young linebackers in Keyaron Fox and Kris Griffin who could battle for starting spots next season.

In the secondary nickel back Benny Sapp continued to grow as the season wore on and with Patrick Surtain and Eric Warfield playing at a high level, the Chiefs can still take their time developing Alphonso Hodge for another season or two. At safety the Chiefs are set with Greg Wesley and Sammy Knight.

The failures of the defense in 2005 can be corrected with a more defined focus to the overall basic fundamentals of playing solid defense; primarily tackling. The new defensive coaching staff needs to make that a priority in training camp and the regular season. They also need to use the strengths of the defensive players and not put guys in positions that negate their natural abilities on the field.

In the end, Peterson won't have a tough sell to make to the handful of prospective coaching candidates. That holds true regardless if it's someone he knows like Herman Edwards or someone outside the organization like Jeff Fisher.

But either way, Peterson will have to work fast to get one of the top candidates available in the open market. The 2006 coaching class is going to fill up very quickly.

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