When it came to his plans for structuring a coaching staff, Chiefs head coach Romeo Crennel was clear from the start.
“They have to let (the head coach) hire his own coaches to give him the best chance to be successful,” Crennel said last December in his first press conference as interim head coach.
Once Crennel was promoted and the interim tag removed, he was given complete authority to construct his coaching staff the way he saw fit. On Tuesday morning, Crennel announced his first coaching staff in Kansas City.
The final results include five new hires, one promotion and 10 retentions.
Crennel kept the entire defensive staff status quo, including his role as the team’s defensive coordinator. That’s a change from his first head coaching job in Cleveland when he hired Todd Grantham to coordinate the Browns defense.
While the defensive structure stayed the same as last season, Crennel overhauled the special teams staff and turned over half his offensive staff including the addition of a new offensive coordinator.
Jim Zorn has decided to stay with the team as quarterbacks coach despite interviewing for the offensive coordinator job several weeks ago.
Brian Daboll was introduced as the team’s new offensive coordinator last week. A week prior, Crennel announced the addition of special teams coach Tom McMahon.
That left three new additions for Crennel to reveal Tuesday morning, along with an in-house promotion.
Rounding out the Chiefs 2012 coaching staff is offensive line coach Jack Bicknell, Jr. (previously with the New York Giants), wide receivers coach Nick Sirianni (promoted internally), offensive quality control coach Jim Bob Cooter (previously with the Indianapolis Colts) and special teams quality control coach Derius Swinton (previously with the St. Louis Rams).
Here’s a little more on each of the Chiefs new assistants…
Offensive Line Coach Jack Bicknell, Jr
In many ways, it’s likely that Crennel’s search for an offensive line coach was his most challenging.
For starters, he began the search late. It was just two weeks ago that longtime offensive line guru Bill Muir informed Crennel he’d decided to retire. Though Muir wasn’t going to serve as Kansas City’s offensive coordinator in 2012, Crennel had planned to retain Muir’s services as offensive line coach.
In addition, the Chiefs offensive line is one of the team’s biggest question marks heading into the 2012 off-season.
The team is sure to make changes to the front five, putting a priority on improving the position for next season. Returning players will be adjusting to new teammates and a new coach simultaneously.
The Chiefs are also counting on the development promising draft picks to play primary roles on the line next season.
In its current state of transition, coaching the Chiefs offensive line is a big job. But Crennel found what appears to be a worthy candidate in Jack Bicknell, Jr.
Bicknell, the son of Jack Bicknell, Sr. and brother of former Chiefs assistant Bob Bicknell, certainly has the coaching bloodline. His father had a successful 40-year coaching run that included head coaching stops and Boston College, Maine and with the Barcelona Dragons, Scottish Claymores and Hamburg Sea Devils in the now defunct NFL Europe.
Bicknell also has world championship experience, winning a Super Bowl XLVI ring with the Giants eight days ago.
But most of all, Bicknell has head coaching experience.
He was the head man at Louisiana Tech for eight seasons (1999-2006), upending BCS powers Alabama, Michigan State and Oklahoma State in the process. Bicknell won WAC Coach of the Year honors and a league title in 2001, leading the Bulldogs to their first bowl game in more than a decade. He also led Louisiana Tech to its first-ever AP Top-25 ranking.
Personally, I’m a big fan of adding assistants with previous head coaching experience and I’m even more impressed when the assistant has headed up a college program.
From dealing with boosters, to student-athletes, to the parents of recruits and university academia, college head coaches often possess personality traits that translate well into positional jobs at the NFL level.
That theory has proven true recently with two of the Chiefs most productive position groups having been headed by coaches with previous head coaching experience in the college ranks - Charlie Weis’ quarterbacks in 2010 and Gary Gibbs’ linebackers the past two seasons.
Wide Receivers Coach Nick Sirianni
Once it was announced Siranni had been retained, he became the logical choice to fill the vacant wide receivers job. It’s rare that an assistant remains in a quality control capacity at the same location for more than three years.
A former wide receiver at NCAA Division III powerhouse Mount Union, Sirianni coached wide receivers at Indiana University (PA) prior to joining the Chiefs staff as offensive quality control coach in 2009. Though he’s spent time working with the Chiefs quarterbacks the past three seasons, Sirianni was able to give the receivers more attention last season thanks to the hiring of Jim Zorn as quarterbacks coach.
Prior to Zorn’s arrival, Chiefs quarterbacks coaches had held offensive coordinator duties in addition to their position responsibilities. The workload caused offensive coordinators Charlie Weis and Todd Haley
to lean heavily on Siranni’s aid in 2009 and 2010.
Paying his dues as a young coach in the league, Sirianni is deserving of the promotion.
Offensive Quality Control Coach Jim Bob Cooter
The name definitely draws a reaction, doesn’t it?
Cooter takes over Sirianni’s old job and has the necessary coaching and playing background to perform many of Sirianni’s previous duties.
A former college quarterback at Tennessee, Cooter worked with Peyton Manning in Indianapolis (which has already caused natural speculation from some fans) while assisting Colts offensive coordinators Tom Moore and Clyde Christensen.
Special Teams Quality Control Coach Derius Swinton
Swinton fills a new position on the Chiefs coaching staff, with Crennel opting for an additional special teams coach instead of an assistant offensive line coach. Swinton once coached alongside Cooter at the University of Tennessee from 2007-08, serving as the Vols defensive graduate assistant while Cooter worked as a GA on the offensive staff.
While at Tennessee, Swinton worked with Chiefs Pro Bowl safety
There’s plenty of familiarity between Swinton and new Chiefs special teams coach Tom McMahon. Swinton worked under McMahon in the same capacity for three years with the Rams.