Trent Green - Dealing With Change


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Jan 22, 2006
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Trent Green - Dealing With Change
Trent Green has established himself as a top quarterback in the NFL, but must adjust to new coaches this year.

Michael Donnelly

When Trent Green came to the Kansas City Chiefs in 2001, he found himself in familiar surroundings. Green was being reunited with Dick Vermeil and Al Saunders, the pair who he had spent a brief period with in St. Louis earlier in his NFL career. Together the trio has spent the last five seasons in Kansas City in one of the most productive offensive machines ever assembled.

Over that five-year time span from 2001-05 with Green starting 80 consecutive games at quarterback under the tutelage of Vermeil (Head Coach) and Saunders (Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Coordinator), Kansas City's offense has led the NFL in total offense by averaging 380.9 yards per game while also leading the league with 262 total touchdowns along the way.

Green, who saw his NFL career skyrocket as a Chief, is highly regarded as a very polished player with solid accuracy and smarts. While his name may not come to mind immediately, he has established himself as one of the top quarterbacks in the game. Last season alone, he registered 4,014 passing yards to become just the fourth quarterback in NFL history to record three consecutive 4,000-yard passing seasons. Green's 24 300-yard passing games are the most in Chiefs history. His 111 touchdowns and 20,117 passing yards as a Chief rank second in team history, trailing only Len Dawson in both categories.

But this off-season some dramatic changes were made in Kansas City. Both Vermeil and Saunders who deserve much of the credit for the success of the Chiefs' high-octane offense recently departed. So now one of the big questions going into next season will be how Green and his offensive teammates react to the changes.

"We put a good run together as an offense over the last few seasons and we'd like to keep that intact," said Green following the conclusion of the Chiefs' 2005 season. "The thing that everybody's saying is that we are going to keep that all intact so I've been doing a lot of talking with people like Will Shields, Brian Waters and Tony Gonzalez to try and encourage them to maintain that as well."

Vermeil, the coach most responsible for resurrecting Green's NFL career decided to retire after 15 seasons as an NFL head coach. Often viewed as a players coach and emotional leader, Vermeil was an offensive minded coach but spent a lot of his time overseeing the team as a whole and yielding much of the offense to Saunders.

"The way coach Vermeil treats people both on and off the field is something that you can take a lot of value in. My understanding is that Herm [Edwards] is right in that same mold."
"We responded real well with coach Vermeil," said Green. "Until you're around coach Vermeil a lot of people from the outside see his emotions and don't really get it. But when you're there and you experience and understand where it's coming from and see that it's not contrived or meant to be a motivating thing but, that it's who he is as a person. The way he treats people both on and off the field is something that you can take a lot of value in. My understanding is that Herm (Edwards) is right in that same mold."

The Chiefs traded a fourth-round draft choice in 2006 to the N.Y. Jets in order to appoint Herm Edwards as the club's new head coach to replace Vermeil. Edwards is described as a disciplinarian and spent several years in the Chiefs organization in the early 90's as a scout and defensive backs coach.

"You want your head coach to be able to develop a relationship with players and not put a wall up between yourself and them," Green said. "You have to have an authoritative role but you also have to have a relationship where that player wants to play for that coach and wants to do the right thing for that coach and organization. A relationship like that was very strong with coach Vermeil and in my understanding, coach Edwards is the same way."

Mike Solari was promoted from offensive line coach to the Chiefs' replacement for Saunders as the new offensive coordinator. He will at the very least bring needed stability to the team's offense. Solari will be entering his 10th consecutive season in Kansas City and he'll be instrumental in determining Green's future success as a Chief.

"I'm interested to get the opportunity next season," said Green. "I want to sit down and meet with Mike Solari (this off-season) and see what his approach is going to be from a game plan stand point. I want to see what he expects of me and what I expect from him. I've had a great relationship with Mike for five years now. He's done all of our protections in that time so I've had a lot of communication with him."

Green's two-time Pro Bowl career began to materialize when he was traded to the Chiefs from St. Louis in April of 2001. Green and a Rams 2001 fifth-round draft choice were exchanged for the Chiefs' 2001 first-round selection (12th overall). Before Green's glory days with the Chiefs he was forced to travel a long and bumpy road in the professional ranks.

Prior to the trade, Green had been expected to carry the Rams' passing game as the club's starting quarterback when he signed with them as an unrestricted free agent in 1999. Coincidentally, Vermeil and Saunders were both on board in St. Louis that season when they helped to recruit Green to sign with the Rams. Vermeil was serving as the Rams' head coach while Saunders held the associate head coach/wide receivers post. But Green's on field development with Vermeil and Saunders in St. Louis was cut short when he suffered a serious knee injury in just his third appearance with the Rams during the 1999 preseason.

The knee injury was a torn ACL, MCL and lateral meniscus to his left knee that sidelined him for the remainder of that season, allowing quarterback Kurt Warner to step in as St. Louis' starter. With a strong supporting cast, Warner swept in and had a career year leading the Rams to victory in Super Bowl XXXIV. In a flash, Green had gone from being the newly appointed field general in St. Louis to an injured backup quarterback.

As a backup in his second season in 2000 with the Rams, Green was forced to patiently sit until the next opportunity came about. Warner in the meantime was the reigning league MVP and was setting NFL records for passing yards and total yards in the first 11 games of the 2000 season until a broken pinky finger to Warner afforded Green some solid playing time that year. It was made clear to Green that his time at the helm would be limited considering that Warner ended up returning as the starter for the Rams' postseason. Regardless, Green made a great impression, seeing action in eight games that year to register 2,063 passing yards and completing 145-of-240 attempts for 16 touchdowns.

It's ironic that an injury caused Green to lose the starting job in St. Louis because it took an injury to Washington Redskins quarterback Gus Frerotte in 1998 for Green to earn his first start and build his case for being a number one quarterback in the NFL. Green led Washington to a 6-3 record during the final nine games of that 1998 season, connecting on 278-of-510 passes for 3,441 yards and 23 touchdowns.

Since coming to Kansas City in 2001 the threat of injuries has not been a major cause for concern for Green due to his determination to stay healthy. In fact, Green hasn't missed a start in a Chiefs uniform. As a 12-year veteran of the NFL, Green realizes that one of the main factors for him continuing to lead the Chiefs as the starting quarterback rides on his ability to maintain good health.

"I've been real fortunate to stay healthy lately and that's an important thing," said Green. "I do a good job in the off-season and year round trying to maintain that health. There's been so much questioning of that since St. Louis so that's important to me to try and always improve myself from the health stand point."

Green who signed a seven-year contract with Kansas City prior to the 2003 season wants to finish his remaining playing years in the NFL as a Chief but this season may be one of his biggest tests due to the uncertainty of the club's off-season changes.

"The positive is we're replacing from within," said Green. "We're not changing much in terminology or a system. We're going with people that have been in this system with Al (Saunders) for five years and so from that standpoint it's a good thing. But you don't know exactly what you're getting. It's the same thing with when Priest (Holmes) got hurt. How do you replace Priest? Well you don't replace Priest. He's a great player and until Larry (Johnson) gets in there and proves himself and which now he has for a year and a half you don't really know what you're going to get. So to say you can come in and just replace Al Saunders you don't really know until it gets going. You would like to think that we would not skip a beat."
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