Chiefs coaching situation front and center
Romeo Crennel spent much of Monday morning meeting with his
players, laying out the groundwork for the offseason. He planned to
spend the afternoon on evaluations, which Kansas City Chiefs
general manager Scott Pioli will use to help reshape the
Crennel won’t have much say in his own evaluation, though.
That’ll be up to Pioli almost entirely.
Crennel went 2-1 as interim coach following the dismissal of
Todd Haley, making a strong case to be hired on a permanent basis.
The two victories were over division champions Denver and Green Bay
– the Packers’ only loss this season – while the lone loss came in
It couldn’t have been more damaging.
The defeat two weeks ago to Oakland eliminated the Chiefs from
playoff contention, turning their finale against the Broncos into
an exercise in pride. They wound up 7-9, but with a bunch of stars
coming back from injury – among them running back Jamaal Charles,
quarterback Matt Cassel, safety Eric Berry and tight end Tony
Moeaki – they’re likely to be favored to win the AFC West next
Regardless of who is hired as head coach.
”The best I could have done was go 3-0, so you know, it wasn’t
the best I could do,” Crennel said Monday. ”If I did the very
best, we would have won three games. It always stops at the head
coach’s desk. You can always say it’s so-and-so’s fault, this guy
should have done this, blah, blah, blah, but as the head coach, it
stops at your desk. It goes against my record, so that’s what it
Pioli has said Crennel will be interviewed for the full-time
job, though it’s unclear when that will happen. Not even Crennel
knew for certain. But the former Cleveland Browns head coach said
he’ll listen to other opportunities ”at the appropriate time,”
even if they’re outside of Kansas City.
If it was up to the guys in the locker room, there would be no
decision to make.
With a gentle nature and grandfatherly demeanor, Crennel served
as a counterpoint to Haley, whose firing came the day after he was
whistled for unsportsmanlike conduct in a 37-10 loss to the New
York Jets. The defeat had dropped the Chiefs to 5-8 on the
The mood abruptly changed when Crennel took charge, the wildly
inconsistent performances brought into check. A team whose season
to that point had been defined by devastating injuries, narrow wins
and blowout defeats became more focused and more cohesive down the
”We came to a common ground over the past three weeks,” said
fullback Le’Ron McClain, who will be a free agent but said he would
love to be back in Kansas City next season.
”I think just the focus by Romeo, taking out a lot of stuff we
didn’t need and putting in stuff we need,” McClain said. ”We were
just all over the place – couldn’t get anything going on offense,
three-and-outs, and we’ve been doing good since Romeo stepped
Defensive lineman Tyson Jackson said he’d support a campaign for
Crennel, along with just about everyone else who quietly cleaned
out their lockers on Monday.
”I mean, I really like Romeo,” Jackson said. ”But I don’t
make those decisions. People with powerful hands make those
People like Pioli, who hasn’t tipped his powerful hand.
The Chiefs general manager has been quiet in recent week, though
that’s hardly out of character. Pioli prefers to work in the
shadows and let his players and coaching staff enjoy the spotlight,
even when it’ll be up to him to decide which direction the
franchise goes next season.
One thing is clear: The next head coach will have plenty of
Cassel, a Pro Bowl pick a year ago, will be back after a
season-ending injury to his throwing hand. Moeaki will be back
after tearing a knee ligament in the preseason finale, as will
Berry and Charles, who also tore knee ligaments the first two weeks
of the regular season.
Moeaki said that the three have been rehabbing together and are
all on schedule to participate in April minicamps. The return of
Charles and Moeaki in particular will provide an instant boost for
an offense that managed no more than a single touchdown in each of
its final nine games.
”I’m not one for predictions,” Moeaki said, ”but the way we
played to finish out the season, especially this last game, even
though we’re not going to the playoffs, everyone played hard.
That’s a good sign of character, and that’s something we can build
Pioli has locked up several of the Chiefs’ top players over the
past couple seasons, including cornerback Brandon Flowers and
linebackers Tamba Hali and Derrick Johnson, who are both headed to
their first Pro Bowl. Hali had 12 sacks while Johnson set a
franchise record with 131 tackles.
There are a couple more who might get away.
Cornerback Brandon Carr has been a stalwart opposite Flowers in
the defensive backfield, but could command a princely sum on the
open market. Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe had another good season
despite a revolving door of quarterbacks, but he’s also been
inconsistent – a dropped touchdown pass against Oakland may be the
one play that kept Kansas City out of the playoffs.
There are also other holes to fill along the offensive and
But despite the many changes that will soon take place in Kansas
City, from the coaching staff on down, there is already a sense of
excitement about what next season might hold.
”We’ve grown during the season,” Johnson said. ”Through all
the injuries, which are not an excuse at all, but through all the
injuries we can hold our hats high, knowing we fought this
”Whoever comes in or whoever stays, we’ll be ready to play for
them next year, for sure.”