OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR CHARLIE WEIS
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR ROMEO CRENNEL
DEFENSIVE BACKS COACH EMMITT THOMAS
TODD HALEY: “Today’s a big day for the Kansas City Chiefs. We’ve already talked a little bit to Coach (Romeo) Crennel and Coach (Charlie) Weis, but this is a good opportunity to give you all a chance to ask them some questions you may have. Today, the coaching staff is in place, finalized. This, as I’ve said earlier, has been a two-year process. As late as I was hired in the year last year, I knew it was going to take some time and I’m just really fortunate and excited the way things have fallen into place.
“I feel like we have a coaching staff that is very experienced which is very good for our young team, it’s also very good for the other younger coaches on our staff because I think the guys that we now have in place, we have a great knowledge base, a great experience base and a great success base, most importantly. More important than all of that is the fit. I’ve talked about the fit with Coach Crennel and Coach Weis as coordinators and our past experience working together and how I’ve learned from them back in the ‘90s and we’ve learned from similar mentors. We kind of all think in a similar direction along with our General Manager (Scott Pioli).
“Really, just an exciting day and an opportunity for you all to ask some questions if you have them, but I wanted to introduce to, officially, Coach Weis, Coach Crennel and Coach (Emmitt) Thomas. Along with those three though, as has been released, there are a couple important things I want to say. Along with these three, I’ve also added to the staff Bernie Parmalee as our tight ends coach; Otis Smith as our defensive quality control coach; Richie Anderson we’ve officially made the wide receivers coach; Anthony Pleasant we’ve officially made the defensive line coach; Pat Perles who was defensive quality control moved over to offensive line assistant; and Ronnie Bradford has moved from defensive assistant to assistant defensive backfield coach where he’ll work closely Coach Thomas and the secondary. I don’t think I left anybody out, but with that I’ll open it up for questions.”
Q: Coach Haley, how did everything come together to get Emmitt Thomas on the staff?
HALEY: “Coach Thomas is someone that, myself, growing up in the NFL and being around football most of my life, is somebody that I really always looked up to and had a great amount of respect for. Once I got into the coaching side of the NFL, you heard about Coach Thomas. He’s a guy that won a Super Bowl here playing, he’s coached for two more rings with the Washington Redskins, has been playing or coaching in the NFL for 42 years or somewhere around there I think. He’s in the Hall of Fame. He’s a guy that again, I’ve paid attention to. When I’ve seen him in a room or at the Combine or at the Senior Bowl or on the opposing sideline, I’ve always looked at him with a great deal of respect. When his name came up, Scott has a close relationship with (General Manager) Thomas Dimitroff in Atlanta and I know everybody there had nothing but terrific things to say about Coach (Thomas) and with our situation in the secondary, the more we visited with him – Coach Crennel and I actually visited with him at length along with a number of other guys – and just agreed that this was the guy for us.”
Q: Coach Thomas, what’s it like to be back in Kansas City after being gone for so long?
EMMITT THOMAS: “It’s a wonderful feeling. I retired in ‘78 and had the opportunity to work down at Central Missouri State for two years and then I entered the NFL as an assistant coach with the St. Louis Cardinals before they moved to Arizona. Through all the Super Bowls, the hirings and firings, I’ve always anticipated and wished that I would get an opportunity to come back and finish up my career here in Kansas City where I started as a player. I’d like to say thanks to the Hunt family, Coach Todd Haley, Scott Pioli and Coach Crennel for having me and I’m looking forward to a great working environment.”
Q: Now that you’ve been able to watch some Chiefs game film from last year, have you guys seen things that you recognize that with better coaching, with the right scheme, this team could have done more last season?
CHARLIE WEIS: “I don’t think it’s fair to critically evaluate coaching from last year. You weren’t here last year, so you don’t know the parameters or anything that’s going on. We been groomed, all of us have been groomed to just go by what we see. I think we’re more concerned with moving forward, we aren’t looking in retrospect to say ‘what ifs’ anyway. We’re in an evaluation process of players, we have a long way to go to know for sure what to have and we’ll leave it to personnel to keep bringing in good players and we’ll coach the heck out of them and try them better as fast as we possibly can.”
HALEY: “I think that’s a big part of when I said this was going to be a process, when you get hired in late February, you have guys on your direct radar and you have guys on your wish-list radar and as things have developed here, there was an opportunity with all these guys and the other guys mentioned to improve and get better. That is what this is about: getting as many bright football minds with experience like these gentlemen have to make us better and put us in a position to succeed. I will again say what I’ve said before, you can’t do it with just one. If you have the greatest coaching staff in the world and you don’t have the players and you don’t have the players, you’re going to have a hard time winning what our goal is to win. And if you have the greatest players and you have a sub-par coaching staff, then you’re not going to be able to it that way either. It’s all part of the puzzle and I just feel like today, we were able to put a bunch of pieces from the coaching side of it together.”
Q: Coach Haley, is it fair to say that of all the people at this table, the most pressure is on you? Is that a fair statement?
HALEY: “Yeah, I’d say that’s fair. You’re making me the scapegoat. First of all, I wouldn’t say triumvirate or any of those words. This is about trying to put together as good a coaching staff as you can. When you have good coaches that fit together and think in similar directions, then I think you have a chance to succeed. As far as me and the pressures on me, I’m going to be judged by the win-loss column. This is a ‘what-have-you-done-for-me-lately’ business, I’m fully aware of that. We won four games last year. This isn’t about winning the off-season, that’s not what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to win games that lead to bigger games, that’s the goal, and that’s what we’re going to do. All that just kind of comes with the territory.”
Q: How do you view the Chiefs in the short time that you’ve been here? Does the job look bigger than you thought a few weeks ago or not?
ROMEO CRENNEL: “I think there’s some talent here on the team. I think every team in the NFL has talent, that’s why it’s so close and so competitive week-in and week-out. The thing that we have to do is focus on improving the guys on this team, adding pieces to the puzzle so that we can improve and get better. The sooner we can do that, hopefully the better we will be. As good as we have been in the past, that doesn’t guarantee you anything for the future. You’ve got to line up and you’ve got to play on Sunday. So our jobs will be to give the players the best plan we can get them, to get them to play the best they can play and then hopefully they’ll win some games for us.”
WEIS: “I think that a key ingredient that Coach Haley was mentioning and Coach Crennel implied is I think that coaching is one piece of the puzzle, but I think chemistry is a very important piece of this puzzle. Chemistry amongst the coaches, amongst the coaches and players as well as the familiarity that we’ve been bred with puts us in the right direction. That really doesn’t do much at this time of the year. Right now it’s the grind part of the year; everyone thinks this is the slow time. Quite the contrast, we’ve just gotten here but we know there is tons of work to do. But every program that we’ve ever gone into has been a program that was basically where we are right now. Usually when you come into a program with this many changes, it’s because this is where you are. I think Coach Haley has had time to do a lot of due diligence and should be credited to be able to pull a guy like Emmitt Thomas out of his hat, I mean that just doesn’t happen, folks. There’s a lot of due diligence that comes to doing something like that. The most critical factor is now to take this chemistry of the coaching staff that Todd’s created here and permeate it through the players and get to work. We’ll do all the evaluations and everything else, but there are a lot of tasks at hand that we’re going to get the grind to at this time.”
Q: To both coordinators, you guys have been here for a few weeks, but the players aren’t required to be here. How much interaction have you had with the players?
CRENNEL: “I’ve had very little interaction with the present players on the team. I’m still learning. I think that’s part of this process. They have to learn me as I have to learn them so that we can better understand each other and hopefully get on the same page so we can move forward.”
WEIS: “I’ve been here a little longer so I’ve met some of them in person and I’m wearing a couple of them out on the phone – one in particular. I had a little bit of a head start to get a little communication going, but we’re all so cognizant – we’ve been around long enough to realize that these guys have a small window to spend time with their families, too – and I think it’s important to give them their family time because once the end of March rolls around, the off-season program kicks in. It’s a totally different ball of wax because the off-season in football really is now from Super Bowl Sunday to the end of March. It’s really a nine-or 10-month job, not a six-month job which many people perceive. They’ll certainly have enough of us and we’ll have enough of them before May rolls around.”
Q: I’m guessing the guy you’ve worn out over the phone is the quarterback?
WEIS: “I just said I’ve worn at least one of them out.”
Q: I know what you said about him when you first got here, but what do you like about QB Matt Cassel?
WEIS: “He’s on our team and we’ve got him, that’s what I like about him. Anyone who is on our team, I like. If they’re on our roster, you’ve got to like them all the same. It doesn’t make a difference whether it’s the starting QB or your sixth wide receiver, you’ve got to find what you can do to make those guys better and right now, that’s our number one goal.”
Q: Have you talked about what the transition will be like going from being in charge to having a boss again, moving from being the head guy to being a coordinator?
CRENNEL: “I think all coaching jobs in pro football are hard. I don’t think very many transitions are easy. Transitions are difficult until you can get your feet on the ground and start running. It might be easier because I don’t have the whole scope now, I don’t have to worry about everything and everybody. All I have to worry about is the defensive side of the ball. We’ve got competent people to worry about the offense, special teams and then the overall picture, so it might be easier from that respect.”
WEIS: “I concur. I definitely think that’s the one thing that when you move into this position, just like the loaded question you asked Todd before that we all got a kick out of, really you’re asking him and not me and that’s why I’m smiling while you’re asking it. I’m glad you’re asking the question to somebody else other than me. It will be kind of nice to just worry about football. One of the things as coordinators in football, it’s a really fun position. You get to study your personnel; you get to study their personnel, their schemes and game plan whereas there are a lot of hats the head coach wears that you don’t have to wear. At this point in time, I’m glad that we have a head coach to take care of that and I’ll just worry about my job.”
Q: Coach Weis, you don’t have to worry about the recruiting angle of college and you can focus on your specialty, running the offense, right?
WEIS: “There are still two aspects to recruiting in pro football. One of them is pro free agency, that’s one aspect. Right after the draft, there’s another aspect of recruiting where you’re filling up your roster with undrafted free agents. Although it’s not nearly the same time commitment, there are still two aspects that you get involved with and I’m looking forward to helping any way I can when it comes to those two aspects.”
Q: Do you expect to have seat at the table so to speak when it comes to free agency?
WEIS: “Absolutely not. I’m looking forward to when the bosses sit there and say, ‘Let’s go after this guy,’ and using my level of experience in that area to try and help. No, I don’t expect to be a decision-maker sitting at the table on that one.”
Q: Are you guys going to be on-the-field coordinators or booth coordinators, have you figured that out yet?
HALEY: “This is early in the game, we’ve got a lot of time to figure those things out.”
WEIS: “I’ve been up and down. Usually, it’s a little different for an offensive coordinator. I’ve been upstairs as much as I’ve been downstairs, so it’s a little different for an offensive coordinator, especially when you have a head coach with his offensive expertise.”
Q: Coach Crennel, talk about hiring Emmitt Thomas, what you’re thoughts about him are what he can bring to the team?
CRENNEL: “I’ve had the opportunity to coach against Emmitt several times and follow his career over the years and his guys are always prepared, his guys play very hard, they do a good job. He seems to have a good relationship with the guys who play for him, so all of that has impressed me over the years. The opportunity to have a chance to visit with him and talk with him and find out that some of his philosophy is similar to some of the things I believe made him more inviting. I’m just glad he decided to come back and be a part of it with us.”
Q: Coach Thomas, what are your thoughts about coming to work for Coach Crennel and Coach Haley, and what you guys are getting ready to do here?
THOMAS: “I’m so excited to be back and I’m loving the opportunity. The main thing I’m here to do is to support Coach Ronnie Bradford, who Coach Haley thinks is going to be a fine, young secondary coach in the future. I look forward to working with him and helping him out and having him helping me out and we’ll work under the guidance of Coach Crennel and we’ll see if we can get these guys better and competing.”
HALEY: “That’s a very important point which I touched on. When you get the level of experience that we have now with somebody like Coach Thomas, Coach Crennel and Coach Weis, part of this deal is not only developing the players but also developing young coaches because I think to be a consistent team year-in and year-out, you have to do that. Again, when you get some of these guys that want to come be a part of this, that’s going to be a factor and that’s really going to help us as we go forward.”
Q: One of the things looming out there is the possibility of an uncapped year. How are you guys approaching that as an organization?
HALEY: “Our focus right here is trying to get this team, the Kansas City Chiefs, to be where we want them to be. That’s really all we’re focused on. As Charlie touched on, this is a busy, busy part of the year for us. We all just got back from the Senior Bowl, so that was an opportunity for us all to work together. We sat up there in the stands together and really got to talk about what’s important, which are the players that we’re getting ready to make some big decisions on. There’s a lot going on right now, playbooks, free agency is just getting ready to begin and we’ve got to make good decisions in all those areas so that’s really where our focus is right now.”
Q: You’ve got some guys on your roster that may or may not be affected by the capped/uncapped year, depending on how it goes. Do you just have to wait and see on that?
HALEY: “Those are good Scott questions. I know that he’s been grinding hard because there are going to be some adjustments or philosophical things that have to go on involving what may or may not happen. I know he’s grinding to be prepared in all scenarios and most importantly, we have to continue to add pieces to the puzzle.”
Q: Coach Haley has talked about when you and he shared an office together in New York. Did you envision that he would someday become a head coach?
WEIS: “By the time I left there you could see he was kind of on one of those meteoric rises. When I first got there, he was a film breakdown guy and when I’m leaving there, he’s coaching WRs Keyshawn (Johnson) and (Wayne) Cherbet and all those other guys on a daily basis. For somebody to evolve that quickly in this league, there are a number factors that come into play and one of them is their own confidence. I think that it was pretty obvious that he had special things ahead of him. As we reflected when we went through the interview process, I think that it was kind of cool to watch that happen, but it didn’t come to me as any surprise.”
HALEY: “That’s part of the developmental part of this. I know one of our young coaches, Nick Sirianni, just with Charlie’s presence, I know what he’s going through right now, and it’s a grind. But that’s an important part of getting this team to where we all want it to be.”
Q: In general, your thoughts about what you guys saw at the Senior Bowl. Should be a fairly good draft and are the guys coming out of college every year getting more and more talented?
HALEY: “I don’t know about that but I know that there were a bunch of talented individuals down there. When you talk to coaches about the Senior Bowl, generally they don’t like to talk about it because generally we don’t want to be there because we’d rather being playing and coaching. But it was a productive week and again, an opportunity for all of us to spend a little quality time together watching what looked to be a fairly talented group of players.”
Q: One player question, right now, would you feel confident with
HALEY: “Branden, again I’m going to really going to stay out of talking about a bunch of our guys right now, but he’s a guy that showed progress throughout the year. It’s important Branden just like everybody else on this roster, that everybody continues to take steps to improve and he’s no different than anybody else. It’s important that they, as Charlie said, they need a little down time, but we’re going to get ready to get fired up again pretty quick and these guys understand now, with a year under their belt of what’s expected and where they need to be when they get here. Again, I’m looking for each and every one of our players to come in here ready to go.”