Kansas City Chiefs: Predicting Coaching Staff Under Romeo Crennel
The move makes entirely too much sense given the passionate response from Chiefs players, both on and off the field. The offense found the spark they've lacked all season. The defense dominated Aaron Rodgers, the NFL's top-rated quarterback.
After an absolute upset victory, the players voiced their desires to the media, endorsing Crennel as their unquestioned leader.
Assuming for a moment that he lands the job, what does that mean for the rest of Kansas City's coaching staff? What changes would the soft-spoken defensive guru make within his team's leadership to put the Chiefs back into the playoffs?
That's exactly what we're going to look at. Here's a peek at the faces—new and old—who could find themselves on Crennel's staff should he lead the Chiefs in 2012.
Offensive Coordinator: Chiefs Quarterback Coach Jim Zorn
Last year, Todd Haley promoted offensive line coach Bill Muir to offensive coordinator. The move produced less than stellar results; Kansas City failed to move the ball regardless of whether it was by ground or in the air.
The Chiefs currently rank 27th in yards gained, and would likely be lower if not for their 438 net yards on Sunday.
The offensive line took a major hit with Muir's promotion, too. Kansas City couldn't hold their blocks for most of the season, and further hurt the team with holding and false start calls.
The Chiefs don't have the experience and chemistry to help develop a fledgling offensive coordinator, not when their head coach comes from the defensive side of the house.
That gives Jim Zorn the opportunity to serve in the position he originally accepted in Washington. Zorn and Crennel looked like they worked well on the sideline together Sunday, and an in-house candidate should appeal to Scott Pioli.
Ricky Stanzi should see the most benefit, though. Zorn tends more towards the West Coast-style offense, which would play to Stanzi's intelligence while downplaying his pedestrian arm strength.
If Crennel wanted to go with an Air Coryell offense, Norv Turner should be available following this season and would be a major acquisition for the Chiefs.
For now, though, Zorn is the best man for the job.
Quarterbacks Coach: Former Chiefs Quarterback Trent Green
Yes, this is a considerable long shot, but would be an outstanding fit for both Crennel and the Chiefs. Green led the Chiefs in one of their most exciting eras, and should already be acquainted with the team thanks to his local broadcasting experience.
Green brings plenty to the table as a coach. He is a student of the game; the former eighth-round draft pick thrived in the NFL based more on his preparation and hard work than any abundance of physical talent.
He can instill that discipline and work ethic into the Chiefs quarterbacks.
Most importantly, Green can be that veteran presence among the quarterbacks that Kansas City's lacked in recent years. Ideally, a team carries an experienced older quarterback to show the younger players the ropes and how to handle themselves both on and off the field. They're also expected to step in and manage the game when the starter is injured.
Green can't handle the second part of that deal, but he could fill that void as the quarterbacks coach. Green is an outstanding human being who comported himself well both on and off the field.
Offensive Line Coach: 49ers Offensive Line Coach Mike Solari
The Chiefs could have a difficult time wrestling Mike Solari from the 49ers, but that doesn't mean they shouldn't try. Solari coached Kansas City's line when the media regularly called them "the best line in the NFL."
Granted, it's hard to be wrong when you're directing an elite group like Willie Roaf, Will Shields, Casey Wiegmann and Brian Waters.
Kansas City will need a top-end offensive line coach to step in next year. Muir might not excel as a coordinator, but he is one of the best line coaches. Replacing his ability there will be difficult.
Running Backs Coach: Texans Running Backs Coach Chick Harris
Okay, so I don't really know much about Chick Harris; I don't know of any Kansas City connection and don't have a reason why he'd leave his job in Houston to perform the same job here.
Kansas City will likely need to look for a new running backs coach when the new year turns around. Assistant head coach Maurice Carthon handles the job right now for the Chiefs, but he could be on his way out after Haley's dismissal.
The odds are about 50-50; Carthon worked closely with Haley in Arizona, but has previous experience with Crennel in Cleveland as his offensive coordinator. Carthon resigned one and a half years into the job, though.
But if Kansas City loses/gets rid of Carthon, they'll need to look for someone within one of the more successful programs. That'd be the Texans, who rode former rookie free agent Arian Foster and rookie Ben Tate to their first playoff berth.
Tight Ends Coach: Chiefs Tight Ends Coach Bernie Parmalee
With Tony Moeaki's breakout rookie season, there seems little reason to make a change here. The Chiefs just need to provide more talent for him to work with.
Wide Receivers Coach: Chiefs Wide Receivers Coach Richie Anderson
Another coach who could stick around due to the success of his players. Dwayne Bowe's gone from inconsistent headache to one of the top receivers in the league. With two games remaining, Bowe should easily break 1,000 yards for the third time in five seasons.
Todd Haley deserves plenty of credit for Bowe's development, but there's no reason to think Anderson can't handle the job even without Haley to assist.
Defensive Coordinator: Patriots Defensive Line Coach Pepper Johnson
Romeo Crennel is one of the best defensive minds in the NFL, but he certainly can't run a defense alone.
Pepper Johnson developed under Crennel while in New England. He's coached the Patriots' defensive line since 2004, though I suspect he's filled a greater role than that since Crennel's departure.
What's more, Crennel and Johnson go back even farther than that. Crennel coached Johnson during their days in New York when they won two Super Bowls in five years.
Pairing these two up again would bring an immediate familiarity between coach and coordinator and ensure a seamless transition on the defensive side of the ball.
Kansas City would also benefit from the fact that Johnson does not hold the actual "defensive coordinator" title in New England, though I suspect he handles some of those duties. Offering Johnson a promotion would make it much easier to bring him on board, even if his actual duties wouldn't expand much.
Kansas City's defensive production shows little need for change among its coaching staff. While Pepper Johnson might want to bring a person or two over, odds are good that the Chiefs won't experience much turnover.
After all, this is Romeo Crennel's staff to start with.
Defensive Line Coach: Chiefs Defensive Line Coach Anthony Pleasant
Kansas City's top defensive line draft picks haven't quite panned out as well as intended. Tyson Jackson flashed a couple times in the 3-4 end position he's a prototypical fit for. Glenn Dorsey performs as a steady but unspectacular presence on the other side. Dorsey was initially drafted as a 4-3 defensive tackle, though, and would likely do better there.
This isn't a glowing recommendation for Pleasant. However, a number of other talents on the team blossomed nicely under Pleasant's watch. Wallace Gilberry provides a nice burst of pressure in spot work on passing situations, while journeyman Amon Gordon might have found a niche on Kansas City's line.
The Chiefs are Gordon's eighth NFL team in nine years. His 18 tackles this year are better than a third of his career totals. His two sacks this season are the only sacks of his career.
If Pleasant can coax this type of production out of Gordon, he should do well developing talent like Allen Bailey and Jerrell Powe. Bringing Johnson in as coordinator should only increase his success.
Linebackers Coach: Chiefs Linebackers Coach Gary Gibbs
The emergence of marquis players in the Chiefs linebacker corps doesn't seem to end. First, Tamba Hali makes an amazing transition from end to linebacker.
Already a relentless, high-motor player, Hali developed into a pass-rushing beast. Hali's posted 35 sacks and 12 forced fumbles in the last three years.
Then Derrick Johnson started realizing his potential. Miscast initially as an outside linebacker, Johnson returned to the middle and became the NFL version of the sideline-to-sideline defender fans watched during his college days.
Now, Kansas City has another linebacker coming into his own with Justin Houston. Houston has already made great strides elevating his game to the professional level, and should provide that second pass-rusher needed to make Hali truly devastating.
Gibbs has plenty of talent to work with, but under him this group has gone from solid to elite. There's no reason to mess with something that works this well.
Secondary Coach: Chiefs Secondary Coach Emmitt Thomas
Two years ago, I wrote how Emmitt Thomas coaching for Kansas City made too much sense to not happen.
Today, I feel much the same way.
Kansas City's secondary boasts a pair of defenders who were practically can't-miss prospects. Scouts and coaches expected Brandon Flowers and Eric Berry to do well at the next level.
The same can't necessarily be said of their other two starters in the secondary. The Chiefs selected both Brandon Carr and Kendrick Lewis in the fifth round. Carr took some time to adjust from the Cover 2 defense the Chiefs drafted him to play, but has since paired well with Flowers as a formidable corner tandem.
Lewis debuted with three interceptions in his rookie season, and has three more again this year. However, his overall played has stood out more with Berry out for the season with an ACL tear.
Kansas City hasn't had this type of secondary in two decades, with young, solid performers at every position. Thomas has them playing well even despite losing Berry.
There's nothing to fix here, and no team more appropriate for Thomas to finish his coaching career.