Chiefs' Next Move Is Complicated

Chiefs' Next Move Is Complicated

With the firing of Todd Haley this week, veteran coach Romeo Crennel took the reins of the Kansas City Chiefs. And for one game, he managed to get the best out of his entire 53-man roster as his team upset the previously unbeaten Green Bay Packers. Will it be enough to give him the permanent job next year?

The short answer to that question after the Chiefs' 19-14 victory over the Packers is "maybe."

Regardless of a win or loss on Sunday all I wanted to see from the Chiefs against the Packers was maximum effort. And that's exactly what we saw.

The offense managed to grind out yardage between the 20s. However, the lack of execution in the red zone, until the fourth quarter, made it inevitable that at some point the Packers would get back into this game.

But that issue aside, the star of the game was the Chiefs' defense, who held Green Bay scoreless until the seven-minute mark of the third quarter. It was the first time this season that the Packers failed to score any points before halftime.

Kansas City's defense was the catalyst and that's because Crennel understands how to slow down opposing offenses. He's one of the best defensive minds in the NFL, and someone the Chiefs can't afford to lose even if he isn't their next head coach.

Crennel lacks the offensive expertise that might be necessary for someone to grab the permanent assignment as KC's head coach. Now to be fair, next season the Chiefs will have a new offensive coordinator. Bill Muir wasn't a viable experiment this year. He failed miserably as many felt he would under the rule of former head coach Todd Haley.

On the first drive of the day, veteran quarterback Kyle Orton had the Chiefs facing a second and goal from the two-yard line. So what do the Chiefs do? They pass the ball instead of grinding it out on the ground by giving the ball to running back Jackie Battle.

The Chiefs had to settle for a field goal. Late in the second half, Crennel decided to go for it on fourth and one, and with the Packers stacking 10 men in the box, Battle was stuffed.

That would have been the time for a bootleg or rollout pass. But then again, the Chiefs did roll up over 400 yards of offense against the Packers. Still, four field goals and a single touchdown, when you have the ball six times inside the 5-yard line is at least a sign that your offense was doing some things right. And it worked Sunday against the Packers.

But with a new offensive coordinator - likely Josh McDaniels if rumblings are correct -Crennel won't have to worry about the offense struggling in the red zone. So now Scott Pioli has a decision to make and Crennel is at the center of it.

There are a plethora of reasons to award him the job. I'm behind Crennel provided he hires a new offensive coordinator and pushes the front office to spend money in free agency, rebuilding the offensive line. Without that commitment, it won't matter who the head coach is next year.

But there is more at stake for the Chiefs and Pioli. Whomever assumes the mantle as head coach, whether it's Crennel, Jeff Fisher or Brian Billick, there has to be a change in the way this organization does business.

And I believe that's already begun.

Pioli seems to have an ease in the way that he's walking around the complex this week. At the game Sunday, he appeared to have a swagger back that had been held in check because of Haley's poor coaching.

Sure, the press conference on Monday was uncomfortable for Pioli. But the NFL is a business and if Pioli is going to lead the Chiefs to Super Bowls, which is why Chairman of the Board Clark Hunt hired him in the first place, he has to make all the right moves in the coming weeks.

That's why the decision to keep Crennel or throw a wallet full of cash at someone like Fisher will probably be the biggest decision of his tenure in Kansas City. Because the first head coach he hired didn't work out so well.

This time around Pioli has to get it right.

If the final two candidates are indeed Fisher or Crennel, then Pioli has to weigh out the pros and cons of each man.

He knows by adding a competent offensive coordinator, especially with the playmakers on KC's offense who are set to return in 2012, that either head coach would be put in a favorable position.

But what it boils down to is which of the two Pioli can live with as he makes this decision.

Fisher might want more control on player personnel, and would likely want to hire his own coaching staff. Crennel might rely on Pioli for that job. However, Crennel likely will want to improve the coaching staff and dump some players that Pioli drafted.

Either way the Chiefs are going to roll the dice. Both Crennel and Fisher bring positives to the table. But only one can get the job. So who will it be?

I'm just glad that I don't have to make the final call.



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