One of the biggest decisions of the Chiefs offseason was formally made Monday afternoon, but there’s still plenty of work to be done.
Energy, accountability, integrity and leadership were several of the traits that led to Romeo Crennel becoming the 12th head coach in franchise history, but his performance in an interim role over the season’s final three games played a large part as well.
The Chiefs conducted a thorough search for a new head coach since Todd Haley was relieved of his coaching duties last month. Over a half-dozen candidates formally interviewed for the job, but it became clear Crennel was the right choice moving forward.
“This needed to be a thorough process and I think one of the things RAC (Romeo Crennel’s nickname) said at the time was, ‘I want you to go out and talk to other people because if you make this decision I want you to know that you are making the right decision,’” Chiefs General Manager Scott Pioli said. “I wouldn’t say that it was a foregone conclusion.”
The hiring comes with overwhelming player support behind it, but Crennel ultimately won over the Chiefs football administration during a formal interview last week.
Crennel’s desire for another chance to become an NFL head coach was clear and his competitive nature took over in the interview process.
“During our interview I asked him a question, something along the lines of, ‘Romeo why do you want to be the head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs,’ and he said, ‘because I want to win a Super Bowl as the head coach,’” explained Chiefs Chairman and CEO Clark Hunt said. “That spoke volumes to me and that’s the kind of person that I want leading the franchise as we pursue of goal of winning a championship.”
“There are a lot of reasons why this is the right hire,” Pioli added. “I think continuity and consistency, having Romeo as the head coach and having things like that in place really does add to the likelihood of success. By having someone who has intimate knowledge of the team, who the players also have intimate knowledge of, and anytime you can create or have consistency when you believe that things are headed in the right direction … I think that’s a positive.”
Now that Crennel has been chosen as head coach, the wheels of the 2012 offseason have officially been set into motion.
First up is finalizing a staff.
Since he took over as Kansas City’s interim head coach, Crennel was clear in his opinion that a head coach must be permitted to construct his own staff in order to be successful. Crennel will have full authority to make those decisions, beginning with choosing an offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator.
The search for a coordinator on each side of the football is ongoing with Crennel considering both internal and external candidates. He also wouldn’t rule out retaining control of the defense even after his promotion to head coach.
“We’re going to look at everything and talk through everything and try to figure out what’s best for the Chiefs to do,” Crennel said. “If we determine that it’s best for me to do the job, then I’ll do the job. If not, then we’ll go through that process and name someone else.”
The Chiefs have a number of in-house assistants with previous experience calling plays.
Gary Gibbs and Emmitt Thomas bring previous coordinator experience on the defensive side of the football. Offensively, Jim Zorn and Maurice Carthon have called plays at the NFL level.
Crennel also said that Bill Muir currently remains on staff. Muir served two seasons as Kansas City’s offensive line coach prior to his promotion to offensive coordinator last offseason.
“I think right now it’s a little early for me to be able to say I know exactly who it’s going to be because to be truthful with you, I don’t know who it’s going to be,” Crennel said. “It could be in the building, it could be outside the building, but we’re going to do our homework and then we’re going to come up with who we think is the best candidate.”
Crennel has a week to complete in-house evaluations of players and assistants before the staff heads to Florida for the East-West Shrine Game.
After that, it’s off to Mobile, Alabama for the Senior Bowl. Free agency is just around the corner, the NFL Combine is next month and a structured offseason workout program must be planned.
A lot remains on the table for the Chiefs front office, but acting quickly in naming Crennel head coach gives the team a jump on the process. Three years ago, Todd Haley wasn’t hired until February 6th.
Of the five NFL teams with a head coach opening, Kansas City is the first to name its man.
“We have to evaluate the players on this team and their performance during the course of the year,” Crennel said. “We have to evaluate this staff and we have to evaluate this organization and how things are being done, and if we want to change some things.
“It was shown over the last three games that there wasn’t a tremendous amount of change, but we did tweak things a little bit and guys performed at a good level for us. Wholesale change is probably not going to happen, but there may be some tweaks here and there as we move forward.”