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Archive for Tuesday, October 22, 2002

Tempers flare at Arrowhead

Vermeil miffed at question about defensive coordinator

October 22, 2002

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— A Kansas City defense ranked dead last in the NFL is starting to cause tempers to flare around Arrowhead Stadium.

Coach Dick Vermeil lashed out at a reporter Monday who asked if he still had confidence in defensive coordinator Greg Robinson.

"He is my defensive coordinator. I brought him here. He's a damn good football coach," Vermeil snapped.

With Brian Griese throwing for a career-best 376 yards Sunday and Shannon Sharpe setting a tight end record with 214 yards receiving, the Denver Broncos beat the Chiefs 37-34 in overtime. It was the second straight game in which the Kansas City offense, ranked No. 2 overall, scored 34 points in a losing effort and the sixth time in seven games an opposing quarterback threw for more than 300 yards.

Robinson, who was fired at Denver before Vermeil hired him last year as his defensive coordinator, has come under increasing criticism from fans for having a complicated scheme that is not suited to his personnel.

"The other coaches who work with him are responsible for the performance of the defense, and I am No. 1 responsible for the defense," Vermeil said.

"I'm not going to sit here and criticize my coaches for you. If you already have your story written, write it," he said.

The morale of the defense has been sagging week after week of continued failure. The Chiefs are only 3-4 despite having one of the most prolific offenses in the league, including the No. 1 rushing attack.

They've scored a league-high 239 points, more than anyone else. But they lost a 10-point lead against San Diego two weeks ago in the fourth quarter and failed to protect a 14-point fourth-quarter advantage over the Broncos.

"I have a lot of respect for Greg Robinson. That's why I brought him here," Vermeil said. "We have problems on defense, but they're not all coaching problems. Sometimes we just don't do what we're supposed to do."

Vermeil insisted the defense can still get better.

"Whatever we're doing, it isn't good enough," Vermeil said. "Whether it's coaching, playing or whatever I'm doing, it's not good enough. We know that. But there's a process that goes to make it better, and it's not blaming the defensive coordinator."

Safety Jason Belser, in the meantime, said there is no danger of a split developing between the offense and defense.

"It comes from the head man. That's where it starts, a family atmosphere," said Belser, who spent most of his career at Indianapolis.

If the coach doesn't play one faction against another, Belser added, "it doesn't become contagious, and that's the way coach Vermeil functions."

On the injury front, safety Greg Wesley, who has missed two weeks with a deep shoulder bruise, was expected to be back this week for Oakland.

Backup tight end Jason Dunn, out almost a month with a bad shoulder, is also expected to be ready to go.

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