Unsurprisingly, the Kansas City Chiefs are going in a different direction at head coach.
Following a 2-14 season in which the Chiefs locked up the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft, reports indicate that Kansas City is firing Romeo Crennel and his 28-55 overall head coaching record but keeping general manager Scott Pioli.
From ESPN's Adam Schefter Monday morning:
The Kansas City Chiefs will fire coach Romeo Crennel on Monday, but not general manager Scott Pioli, at least not now, according to league sources.
If Pioli is retained, he will head the search for both the top overall pick and a new head coach. In the following slides, we'll put our predicting cap on and find the five most likely coaches to replace Crennel in Kansas City.
Kirk Ferentz and Pioli have been linked numerous times in the past—the two men worked together in Cleveland in the 1990s—but the interest of the Iowa coach has always been to stick with his college program, especially with his kids on the team.
However, there's unrest in Iowa City after the Hawkeyes finished 4-8 and failed to qualify for a bowl in 2012. Might this development—the fact that his job is more in question at Iowa than ever before—be the last push Ferentz needs to go to the NFL?
Pioli could make a splash if he can lure Ferentz out of the college ranks and into the NFL.
Bruce Arians' name is going to be popping up at a few head-coaching locales this offseason, but Kansas City feels like one of the better fits.
Few teams need more help at the quarterback position than the Chiefs, and Arians has a long track record—which includes Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger and Andrew Luck—of working with and helping the position. Arians has also done a masterful job as the interim head coach in Indianapolis, winning nine games in Chuck Pagano's absence in 2012.
Certainly, Pioli can envision jump-starting a quick rebuild by pairing Arians with a first-round quarterback in April.
The Bengals will be lucky to retain Mike Zimmer past this postseason. The defensive coordinator of the past two seasons in Cincinnati, Zimmer has helped guide the Bengals defense to back-to-back top-10 rankings in both points and yards allowed. Cincinnati was also seventh in takeaways in 2012.
While Andy Dalton and A.J. Green are widely credited with turning around the Bengals over the last two seasons, just as much, if not more, of the credit belongs at Zimmer's doorstep.
Kansas City has been down the defensive coordinator route already with Crennel, so maybe Zimmer's background will be a turnoff for Pioli. However, Zimmer's son—Adam—was a defensive assistant on Crennel's staff. There could be some familiarity there that is enticing for the Chiefs front office.
Fans in Kansas City won't like Josh McDaniels' name being mentioned here, if for no other reason than his failures and flameout with the Denver Broncos a few years back. In St. Louis, McDaniels couldn't get Sam Bradford turned around or the Rams offense functioning at a high level.
However, McDaniels and Pioli are linked from their days in New England, and McDaniels is currently leading the best scoring and yardage offense in football. And if Kansas City doesn't feel like there's a quarterback worth drafting with the No. 1 pick, then turning around Matt Cassel—who McDaniels led in 2008 in New England—will be a top priority for the next head coach.
There would be no way for Pioli—or any general manager—to make a head-coaching decision based on the results of a draft that is still months away. But if a college quarterback like Geno Smith is on the table for Kansas City, Kyle Shanahan's name makes a lot of sense.
In Washington, Shanahan has developed and implemented a perfect offense for Robert Griffin III, and the result was a complete turnaround at the quarterback position and a playoff berth in 2012.
Of course, no quarterback appears to match the skill set or NFL readiness of an RG3 in this draft, but Shanahan's ability to craft an offense around the position will make him a candidate in the next few seasons. Pioli and the Chiefs could get a jump start on rebooting at quarterback by hiring Shanahan from Washington.