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05 Aug 2010

The Dick Vermeil All-Stars

by Doug Farrar

Of all the coaches we’ll profile in this series, Dick Vermeil might be the most interesting from a personnel perspective. Vermeil’s long stretch between coaching tenures (from 1983 through 1996) makes an All-Star team with his name on it an exercise in era-jumping. One of our linebackers (Bill Bergey) began his career in 1969, the same year that another (Mike Jones) was born. Whether in Philadelphia, St. Louis, or Kansas City, Vermeil had an innate ability to turn teams around quickly. His own emotional burn rate -- and the weight of emotions on his soul at times -- may have kept him from even greater things, but his successes are genuine.

Skill Players

QB: Kurt Warner, 1999 St. Louis Rams
RB: Marshall Faulk, 1999 St. Louis Rams
WR: Isaac Bruce, 1999 St. Louis Rams
WR: Harold Carmichael, 1978 Philadelphia Eagles
TE: Tony Gonzalez, 2004 Kansas City Chiefs
TE: Keith Krepfle, 1979 Philadelphia Eagles

With all due respect to Jaws and Trent Green, quarterback was the second-easiest pick on this list. Faulk had some murderous competition from Priest Holmes and the underrated Wilbert Montgomery. I almost went with Holmes because he had more great years with Vermeil as his coach (he led all running backs in DVOA and DYAR in both 2001 and 2002), but then I put together the All-Vermeil offensive line. I’m not saying that Holmes was helped by his line at a Shaun Alexander level, but I think Faulk did just a bit more with less. Torry Holt was one of many Rams players who either came of age or were acquired right after Vermeil retired – it’s safe to say that he left the team a bit early.

The 6-foot-8 Carmichael was a treat to watch, especially when matched up against 5-foot-9 cornerback Pat Fischer of the Redskins. Gonzo is the obvious tight end choice with Krepfle’s 41-catch season in 1979 added by default. A Vermeil All-Star Team should probably have one fewer tight end and an added RB/WR position – after all, with this line, we won’t require many six-man sets. Put Holmes in the backfield, split Faulk out wide once in a while, and make things interesting. And yes, Kansas City’s Tony Richardson would be on here with a FB designation – should we go with his 2000 season, which was the only one he had with over 1,000 yards from scrimmage, or the 2002-2004 era, when he was blocking the living crap out of everything that moved (yet another reason I have to put Faulk above Holmes)?

Offensive Line

LT: Orlando Pace, 1999 St. Louis Rams
LG: Brian Waters, 2003 Kansas City Chiefs
C: Casey Wiegmann, 2003 Kansas City Chiefs
RG: Will Shields, 2003 Kansas City Chiefs
RT: Willie Roaf, 2004 Kansas City Chiefs

Well, good luck getting defenders past this group on a regular basis. Pace is the rock star here; one of the Holy Trinity of linemen coming out of the late 1990s along with Jonathan Ogden and Walter Jones. Because of Pace’s greatness, we’ll move Roaf over and give that right side a very formidable look. Wiegmann is now back in Kansas City after making the Pro Bowl in 2008 with Denver’s great offensive line.

Front Seven

LDE: Kevin Carter, 1999 St. Louis Rams
NT: Charlie Johnson, 1980 Philadelphia Eagles
DT: D’Marco Farr, 1999 St. Louis Rams
RDE: Carl Hairston, 1979 Philadelphia Eagles
OLB: Donnie Edwards, 2001 Kansas City Chiefs
MLB: Bill Bergey, 1978 Philadelphia Eagles
OLB: Mike Jones, 1999 St. Louis Rams

Unfortunately, London Fletcher and Leonard Little really blew up just after Vermeil left the Rams; obviously, they’d both be on this list otherwise. Hairston started the Eagles’ Super Bowl XVI loss to the Oakland Raiders, led the NFC with 15 sacks in 1979, and subsequently coached the 1999 Rams defensive line that ranked third in Adjusted Line Yards and 12th in Adjusted Sack Rate. Therefore, he gets a special nod as the only person on the team to show up in both Vermeil eras.

Johnson excelled in 3-man fronts, but he’ll be our 4-3 nose alongside Farr, who had 8.5 sacks and four forced fumbles in 1999. Bergey was an absolute force for the Eagles and Bengals; and never more so under Vermeil than in 1978, when he picked off four passes. I searched a while for the third linebacker on this defense – the primary reason I thought a 4-3 made sense – and I’m going with Mike Jones. Jones didn’t just make the tackle that finalized Vermeil’s lone Super Bowl win; he had four interceptions and ran two back for touchdowns that year.

Secondary

CB: Herman Edwards, 1978 Philadelphia Eagles
CB: Todd Lyght, 1999 St. Louis Rams
FS: Jerome Woods, 2003 Kansas City Chiefs
SS: Greg Wesley, 2003 Kansas City Chiefs

We have to save a place for Herm!, especially the Herm! who had seven interceptions in 1978 and a fumble recovery for touchdown at the Meadowlands that same year; perhaps you’ve heard of it. Lyght had that one six-pick Pro Bowl year in 1999, but he was no one-hit wonder. He just happened to put up solid numbers through the mid-90s when the Rams were awful. For our safeties, we’ll take Woods and Wesley from the best Chiefs team Vermeil ever had. Their overall pass defense was nothing to brag about, but Woods made the Pro Bowl and Wesley had six picks in 2003.

Special Teams

K: Morten Andersen, 2002 Kansas City Chiefs
P: Rick Tuten, 1999 St. Louis Rams
RET: Dante Hall, 2003 Kansas City Chiefs

Hall was by far the easiest choice on this list. He let the NFL in all-purpose yards in both 2003 and 2004, and was getting serious MVP talk among some prognosticators at the time. Vermeil never had what you would call exceptional kickers, but Andersen did a nice job of booting all those extra points for the Chiefs in 2002 and 2003; we’ll put the 2002 version in for his slightly higher field goal percentage. Finding a punter was tougher. I was surprised to see how many of Vermeil’s punters were below league average in yards per punt (hey -- give me a break -- in some cases, we're not just talking pre-DVOA, we're discussing guys that played around the time when the creator of DVOA was born), and Rick “Rootin’” Tuten was the best of a bad bunch.

As far as overall patterns go, Vermeil’s teams always had outstanding and versatile backs – people know all about Faulk and Priest Holmes, but Wilbert Montgomery was one of those guys, like Chuck Foreman, who seem to be forgotten when people want to insist that Roger Craig was the first complete rushing/receiving threat.

He always had great quarterbacks, and none of them were what you’d call obvious picks -- there’s Warner’s Cinderella story, and Jaws was an undistinguished 1973 second-round pick of the Rams, who spent three years backing up James Harris, Pat Haden, and John Hadl before getting his best shot in Philly. Trent Green was drafted in the eighth round (in 1993, back when there was an eighth round) by the Chargers. Of course, Green’s real claim to fame is as the Don Majkowski to Warner’s you-know-who. Defense became more of an issue through Vermeil's career, and it may surprise some who only remember his hotshot Rams and Chiefs teams that the 1980 and 1981 Eagles each led the NFL in scoring defense.

Through his St. Louis and Kansas City turns, Vermeil just missed out on a lot of great defensive players – he left St. Louis before Aeneas Williams came on board, and missed Derrick Thomas by two years in K.C. We already discussed Fletcher and Little. As a result, many of his defensive All-Stars are lesser-known players who had career years at the right time.

I would compare Vermeil to Bill Walsh in one way – both men retired after a Super Bowl win, and I think both men regretted the decision in the end. Well, Walsh made his regret public; the regret for Vermeil may be mine. As much as he did to turn the Chiefs around, I wonder if the Rams would have extended their ride with Vermeil on board for a few more seasons. Another Super Bowl win? That many more winning seasons? That’s the great unknown in the career of a coach I greatly admire.

Posted by: Doug Farrar on 05 Aug 2010

34 comments, Last at 09 Aug 2010, 12:13pm by Dean

Comments

1
by Raiderjoe :: Thu, 08/05/2010 - 11:51am

D. vermeil didnt coahc in 2000 so have to remove 2000 donnie edrwads on vermeil all stars team.

2
by Doug Farrar :: Thu, 08/05/2010 - 11:51am

Fixed -- thanks.

3
by Marko :: Thu, 08/05/2010 - 12:06pm

"Wilbert Montgomery was one of those guys, like Chuck Foreman, who seem to be forgotten when people want to insist that Roger Craig was the first complete rushing/receiving threat."

There's this other guy named Walter Payton who also was a pretty good rushing/receiving threat before Roger Craig.

5
by Raiderjoe :: Thu, 08/05/2010 - 12:16pm

Lenny moore firstt great one.
5174 rush yds carerr, 6039 receivingf

Lydell Mitchell
3 time 1000 yardr rusher, 3 tiems led afc in catching 2 times lef legaue

timmy brown verty good too
one year run for 545 yds and catch 52 passes 849 yards

Rickey young good for last coupel of tarkenton teams and first one without Tarkenton
1978 vikes- 417 rush yds, 88 ctahces
1979 vikes- 708 rush ydr, 72 ctahces
1980 vikes- 351 rush yards,64 catches

teammate Ted brown good like that too
look at Brown first three years
79- 551 rush yds, 31 ctahc es
80= 912 rush yads, 62 catches
81- 1063 rush yards, 83 catches

so more guys like that then many fans think. so agree with Doug Farrar that it is not right that many oyung fans today think R. Craig first big rush/catch threat

7
by bravehoptoad :: Thu, 08/05/2010 - 12:43pm

Nice work.

8
by Bobman :: Thu, 08/05/2010 - 3:18pm

RJ,

Thanks for giving my old Colts some love. My brother and I called Lydell Mitchell "The Worm." He was not an inspiring open- or broken-field runner, but he's hit the line of scrimmage, sort of stop short, squiggle, and somehow come away with 3-4 yards.

27
by spenczar :: Fri, 08/06/2010 - 3:04pm

This is a perfect example of how RJ knows waaaay more about football than most people would expect. Awesome.

34
by Dean :: Mon, 08/09/2010 - 12:13pm

Yoda + Sierra Nevada = RJ

4
by Raiderjoe :: Thu, 08/05/2010 - 12:07pm

edwards and lyght good CBs picks. Also, roynell young excelletn 1981.
80 seaosn for Edwards maybe better than 78.

33
by dryheat :: Sat, 08/07/2010 - 3:18pm

According to John Madden, Todd Lyght plays left tackle for the Patriots for the last several years.

6
by Theo :: Thu, 08/05/2010 - 12:22pm

Torry Holt was a rookie in '99.

9
by Bobman :: Thu, 08/05/2010 - 3:22pm

Doug,

Nice work. Not sure what Colt-colored rock I was living under but I had no idea the Chiefs O-line was so damn good. (and people have the temerity to call the Colts of that vintage under-achievers! okay okay, I'll go back under my rock now...)

Funny that you pick the punter (who probably had the fewest touches) on the Greatest Show on Turf squad. That truly is a dubious honor. And now, the award for tallest midget goes to.....

This has been a fun series.

10
by Theo :: Thu, 08/05/2010 - 4:42pm

Horan was the punter at the end of that season.

11
by Duff Soviet Union :: Thu, 08/05/2010 - 9:21pm

"Vermeil’s long stretch between coaching tenures (from 1983 through 1996)". I think you mean 2006 there. I think you should have just picked Tony Richardson instead of a second tight end, otherwise no complaints. Oh wait, one more. Didn't Vermeil have Jared Allen in his breakout year? Yeah, Bobman, those Chiefs teams were imo the most underachieving team ever. All that talent and not a single playoff win. I don't know if that reflects negatively on Vermeil or not. For instance, a lot of people thought Roaf was pretty much washed up when the Saints got rid of him until he was rejuvenated in KC. With the exception of 2003 the Chiefs always had a DVOA / pythag wins far better than their actual wins.

12
by Raiderjoe :: Thu, 08/05/2010 - 9:54pm

"Vermeil’s long stretch between coaching tenures (from 1983 through 1996)". I think you mean 2006 there.

Writer didnt write wrong there. Vermel didnt coach from 83-96. coached Eagles 76-82, ramms 97=99, chefs 01-05. D. Farrar saying Vermeil long stretch between Eagles and Ramms job which was 1983-96 strtehc of years.

13
by Doug Farrar :: Thu, 08/05/2010 - 10:20pm

What he said. It was a long strtehc of years.

(Aaron, is Raiderjoe our new editor?)

31
by BGNoMore (not verified) :: Fri, 08/06/2010 - 8:46pm

Raiderjoe as fact-checker = not terrible idea.

Raiderjoe as copy editor = um, potentially problematic

Raiderjoe as typesetter = Chernobyl

14
by Basilicus (not verified) :: Thu, 08/05/2010 - 11:12pm

Seriously, when did Raiderjoe become so knowledgeable? Look at that list of Antiquities-era, multi-purpose running backs he compiled up there!

It makes me think...just maybe...he's onto something with the Raiders. Maybe they will go all the way this year. Maybe they'll win the Super Bowl. Maybe he was right all along....

15
by Independent George :: Fri, 08/06/2010 - 12:16am

Raiderjoe's always been knowledgeable, and generally pretty insightful about things outside the AFC West.

16
by I hate raiderjoe (not verified) :: Fri, 08/06/2010 - 9:34am

Raiderjoe's momma thinks a quarterback is a refund

17
by Pied :: Fri, 08/06/2010 - 10:08am

I love Raiderjoe.

19
by Basilicus (not verified) :: Fri, 08/06/2010 - 10:43am

Is Raiderjoe one person or is he many people? Does anyone know for sure? How can they? Is he one person who is sometimes aped by copycats who believe the moniker to be a community activity? Or does no one dare approach the burden of the title? Or is he a machine? I've always wondered, but I suppose he's like Shakespeare or Neil Armstrong. We'll never know for sure if they were real.

24
by Arkaein :: Fri, 08/06/2010 - 11:30am

I think we know for sure that there's only one Raiderjoe because he uses an actual login. There were a few copycats in the days before user accounts were available.

I suppose he could still be a committee, but no mere machine could do what he does.

29
by Phil Osopher :: Fri, 08/06/2010 - 3:47pm

I think its the amount of alcohol that changes the hilarity of his posts. He is easily one of the best and funniest posters around here.

"Greta" Poster is he.

“You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else.”
-Albert Einstein

"Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers"
-Voltaire

32
by Jerry :: Sat, 08/07/2010 - 4:47am

Phil,

Looks like there's an open tag in your sig.

26
by Eddo :: Fri, 08/06/2010 - 1:06pm

Neil Armstrong?

18
by TimTheEnchanter (not verified) :: Fri, 08/06/2010 - 10:25am

I know almost nothing about those old Eagles teams so I can't judge that TE, but it's hard to imagine Tony Richardson doesn't deserve a place on this roster. Dude was a beast blocking for the Padre.

20
by TimTheEnchanter (not verified) :: Fri, 08/06/2010 - 10:54am

Maybe you guys could do a "Wasted All-Stars" team series showing great players who went to waste playing for unsuccessful journeyman coaches. Some possibilities might be: Dick Jauron, Sam Wyche, Dave Wannstedt, Bruce Coslet (Hmmm... Bears and Bengals seem to be a theme here!), Marion Campbell, Dom Capers, Jerry Glanville, Rich Kotite, Herm.

21
by Harris :: Fri, 08/06/2010 - 11:09am

Oh, God. Rich Kotite. A Philadelphian would rather you call his momma a whore than have you remind him of Rich Kotite.

Randall Cunningham
Keith Jackson
Herschel Walker
Keith Byars (3rd in receptions in 1990 with 81 playing TE)
Fred Barnett (Pro Bowl in '92)
Reggie White
Jerome Brown
Clyde Simmons
Seth Joyner (The Linebacker from a Town Called Hate is a personal favorite)
Wes Hopkins
Mike Golic
Byron Evans
Eric Allen
Andre Waters.

Hail Hydra!

23
by Basilicus (not verified) :: Fri, 08/06/2010 - 11:27am

Everyone's arguing in the HoF coaches article about who did the most with the least talent. Just looking at those players, I'm reminded that if there were an anti-HoF, Rich Kotite would be first ballot. A 40-56 (or 36-28 with Philly) record isn't the worst thing you'll ever hear about, but doing it with the level of talent he was given in Philly is unthinkable. In fact, Buddy Ryan, Rich Kotite, Ray Rhodes? That's got to be, hands down, the worst coach selection for one of the best assemblages of roster talent I've ever seen. One doesn't think about how awful Philly really had it, but that's ugly. On a lot of levels.

30
by TimTheEnchanter (not verified) :: Fri, 08/06/2010 - 4:04pm

Nothing to compare with those Eagles, but I don't think his Jets teams were completely devoid of talent either.

25
by Raiderjoe :: Fri, 08/06/2010 - 11:53am

some ohters are Bill Romanowski ansd Refrigertaor Perry. br in 94 and Perry midseason 93 to 94. remember Perry come over from bears to egales in middle of 93 season.

22
by Raiderjoe :: Fri, 08/06/2010 - 11:24am

Did you know? Campbell hold record fir most games under .500 in Nfl history for headf coaches.
Campbell 46 games undre 500 for careeer. J. mckay 2nd at 44 games under.
Capmbell coach falc 2 separsat times and eagles after vermel. campbell fired during a season on all 3 stints as head ciach.

28
by speedegg :: Fri, 08/06/2010 - 3:20pm

Great piece. Vermeil eventually did say he retired too soon after winning the Superbowl with the Rams, but it didn't seem like he had the regret Bill Walsh did. It was one of the specials on the NFL Network ("In Their Own Words" or something), though they don't run them anymore.