Chiefs may be playing for Romeo in season finale

The Kansas City Chiefs were eliminated from playoff contention

Saturday, their roller-coaster season taking one more dip when they

lost to the Oakland Raiders in overtime.

That doesn’t mean they don’t have something to play for in their

finale.

The Chiefs might well be playing for the future of interim coach

Romeo Crennel, who led them to a victory over the Green Bay Packers

a couple weeks ago. The defensive coordinator has provided a calm,

cool presence in the locker room after the firing of Todd Haley

spun the team into turmoil.

Kyle Orton might also be auditioning for a job. The quarterback

is a free agent after this season, and general manager Scott Pioli

might try to sign him to create competition for Matt Cassel, who

went down with a season-ending injury to his throwing hand earlier

this season.

Crennel, who was 24-40 in four seasons as head coach in

Cleveland, has said he wants the Kansas City job on a permanent

basis, and Pioli has already indicated he’ll be formally

interviewed for the position after the season ends next Sunday at

Denver.

If it was up to the guys in the locker room, the formal

interview would be a formality.

”He’s very motivating. He treats us like men,” star linebacker

Tamba Hali said. ”He does expect a lot from us, but he knows what

it takes to work this business and how the body feels and we’re

people, too. We love Romeo. If that’s the question you asked, then

we love Romeo.”

Defensive back Brandon Flowers said he thinks Crennel would be a

good fit for the franchise, and offensive coordinator Bill Muir

said he would vote for his old friend to get the job.

”I don’t know how to put it,” Hali said. ”He’s got five Super

Bowls. With that type of resume, you want someone around that can

help us get to the top.”

Crennel isn’t the only one who could earn a job in the

finale.

Orton has been solid, though somewhat inconsistent, in the two

games he’s started since being picked up off waivers from Denver.

He threw for 299 yards without a turnover in the 19-14 victory over

the Packers, and 300 yards and a touchdown against the Raiders,

running the two-minute drill flawlessly to set up a potential

winning field goal by Ryan Succop on Saturday.

The 49-yard attempt at the end of regulation got blocked.

Orton also threw two costly interceptions, though, reminding

many fans why the Broncos waived him and the Chicago Bears traded

him away. He finished 21 of 36 for a 71.5 quarterback rating.

”Kyle and the offense did a great job of getting us in position

to kick a field goal at the end,” Succop said. ”For whatever

reason, that’s how it worked out.”

Orton will be a free agent after this season, and Pioli must

decide whether it makes sense signing him. Cassel will be in the

fourth year of a six-year, $63 million contract that includes $28

million guaranteed, but he was unspectacular before getting

hurt.

Bringing in Orton – or perhaps drafting a quarterback early –

might create some competition for Cassel that was sorely lacking

during training camp this season.

”I haven’t been here that long, but these guys fight,” Orton

said. ”It’s an honor to play with them. The competitive spirit

that everybody has in that locker room is a great thing.”

Orton downplayed next week’s matchup against Tim Tebow and the

Broncos.

It was Tebow who supplanted him as the starting quarterback

earlier this season, which ultimately resulted in Denver coach John

Fox’s decision to waive him. Tebow has gone on to become the face

of the franchise, helping the Broncos climb into playoff

contention.

”You only get 16 games in the NFL, so every one of them is

meaningful,” Orton said. ”For a player, coach or the

organization, they are all important. I am sure that guys will be

ready to play.

”If you ask my teammates, I’m motivated quite a bit every game.

I don’t think that’ll change.”

With questions surrounding their coach and quarterback, not to

mention having the chance to play spoiler against a division rival,

the Chiefs have plenty to play for against Denver – even though the

playoffs are no longer a possibility.

”We’ve been working hard out on that field with each other

since training camp. We’re not going to go out next week and just

lay down,” Flowers said. ”We’re just going to play Chiefs

football and try to win us a game. We definitely want to get a win

for Romeo.”