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

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

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

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

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

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

”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.”