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Romeo Crennel plans to retain defensive play-calling duties as head coach in 2012

Posted Jan 12, 2012

Crennel called defensive plays while serving as interim head coach for the final three games of the 2011 season

Romeo Crennel finished the 2011 season pleased with the overall progress of the Chiefs defense.

After evaluating the performance of his defensive staff, Crennel revealed Thursday that he’s planning to retain the overall structure of Kansas City’s defensive staff for his first season as head coach in 2012.

Crennel also announced his decision to retain defensive play-calling duties while talking with former Chiefs quarterback Rich Gannon on The Sirius XM Blitz radio show.

“The last three games I remained the defensive coordinator and it worked pretty good,” Crennel said. “I do like the defensive staff that I have working with me.

“I have guys like Emmitt Thomas (defensive backs), Gary Gibbs (linebackers), Otis Smith (quality control), Anthony Pleasant (defensive line) and Adam Zimmer (asst. linebackers). We work very well together, so I think that’s a pretty good combination that I’ll keep together going forward.”

Crennel did not say if any staff titles would change, or if any defensive staff additions would occur, moving forward.

The defense was Kansas City’s strong point throughout the 2011 season and it only improved during the three games Crennel called plays while serving as the team’s interim head coach.

Crennel handled the balance of head coaching and defensive coordinator duties well to the close the 2011 season, holding Green Bay, Oakland and Denver to a combined 33 points (11.0 points per game avg.) in his three games holding both jobs. Only Pittsburgh posted a better total over that span at 29 points allowed.

Calling defenses is what got Crennel the head job in Cleveland and it’s ultimately what got him the head job in Kansas City, but Crennel didn’t call defensive plays while serving as Cleveland’s head coach.

Todd Grantham handled Cleveland’s defensive play-calling duties during Crennel’s first three seasons (2005-07) in Cleveland and Mel Tucker coordinated the defense in Crennel’s final season. Grantham is currently the defensive coordinator at the University of Georgia and Tucker most recently served as Jacksonville’s interim head coach following the firing of former Chiefs linebacker Jack Del Rio.

The Browns defense finished 16th, 27th, 30th and 26th, respectively, in the four seasons Crennel served as head coach.

Crennel said earlier this week that he learned plenty from his first head coaching experience in Cleveland and would make several changes in his second go-around. It appears one of those changes will be his approach to coaching the team and calling the defense.

As a whole, Kansas City’s defensive numbers have improved dramatically since Crennel replaced Clancy Pendergast as the club’s defensive play-caller following the 2009 season.

Kansas City finished 11th in total defense (333.3 yards per game) and 12th in points allowed (21.1 points per game) last year after finishing 14th in total defense (330.2 yards per game) and 11th in points allowed (20.4 points per game) during Crennel’s first season as defensive coordinator. It’s the first time the Chiefs have posted back-to-back top-15 finishes in those defensive categories since 1994-95.

Crennel inherited a defense that finished the 2009 season ranked 30th in total defense (388.2 yards per game) and 29th in points allowed (26.5 points per game).

On the offensive side of the football, Crennel is continuing to go through a search process for finding an offensive coordinator for the 2012 season.

A handful of candidates are expected to interview over the next week, with the search spanning both internally and externally.

Internally, Chiefs assistant head coach Maurice Carthon served as Crennel’s offensive coordinator for two seasons (2005-06) in Cleveland and quarterbacks coach Jim Zorn called plays while serving as head coach of the Washington Redskins (2008-09).

Crennel said earlier this week that Bill Muir currently remains on staff. Muir handled play-calling duties last year after serving as the Chiefs offensive line coach the previous two seasons.

“We’ll see what the best fit is for us and then we’ll do what’s best for the Chiefs,” Crennel said Thursday.

Crennel will become the first Chiefs head coach to also serve as the primary defensive play-caller.

Chiefs All-Time Head Coach/Defensive Play-Caller Combinations

Head Coach Defensive Play-Caller Year
Paul Wiggin Vince Costello 1975-76
Paul Wiggin Tom Bettis 1977
Marv Levy Rod Rust 1978-82
John Mackovic Bud Carson 1983
John Mackovic Dan Daniel 1984-85
John Mackovic Walt Corey 1986
Frank Gansz John Paul Young 1987
Frank Gansz Rod Rust 1988
Marty Schottenheimer Bill Cowher 1989-91
Marty Schottenheimer Dave Adolph 1992-94
Marty Schottenheimer Gunther Cunningham 1995-98
Gunther Cunningham Kurt Schottenheimer 1999-00
Dick Vermeil Greg Robinson 2001-03
Dick Vermeil Gunther Cunningham 2004-05
Herm Edwards Gunther Cunningham 2006-08
Todd Haley Clancy Pendergast 2009
Todd Haley Romeo Crennel 2010-11
Romeo Crennel Romeo Crennel 2012

*No coaches were designated as coordinators during Hank Stram’s tenure as head coach from 1960-74. The first assistants in Chiefs history to hold the title of coordinator came under head coach Paul Wiggin in 1975. Although subsequent staffs did not always specifically denote coordinators, every attempt has been made to indicate the offensive and defensive play-callers if it was an individual other than the head coach.

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