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The Chiefs wrested Scott Pioli away from the Patriots last season and he promptly traded for Matt Cassel and Mike Vrabel. He is now adding former New Englanders to his coaching stable with this week’s acquisitions of Offensive Coordinator Charlie Weis and Defensive Coordinator Romeo Crennel. Weis and Crennel held the same positions in New England during the Super Bowl era of 2001 through 2004. Each departed their position after the 2004 season and the Super Bowl wins. Weis left for the head coaching job at Notre Dame; Crennel took over as Cleveland’s head coach. Does Todd Haley have reason to worry that Pioli is looking to replace him with Bill Belichick to complete the puzzle on the coaching staff?
Crennel lasted four seasons in Cleveland, never making the playoffs and recording only one winning season. He was replaced by Eric Mangini, who replaced him as the Patriots defensive coordinator. Mangini just completed his first season which began ugly, but finished with a four game winning streak, likely saving his job with new boss Mike Holmgren in town. Weis was just fired from Notre Dame after five seasons at 35-27. He made only two BCS bowls, and three overall, and Notre Dame finished above .500 only three times. The Irish’ high-priced gamble on a pro-style coach with winning credentials did not correlate to a college campus. He seemed to have difficulty recruiting and motivating players, translating to difficulties on the field.
Scott Pioli must think so. Will KC be getting the successful assistants or the failed head men? Weis is a proven pro-style offensive schemer and planner and Crennel is a proven defensive mind, so putting them back into roles where they will be able to focus on their skills would seem to be a positive. Pioli knows how to work the salary cap and on negotiations with contracts, franchising, drafting, and cutting players. Working with familiar coaches should give him a comfort level to get them the pieces they need. The three of them, in conjunction with Haley, should be able to form a base from which to rebuild the Chiefs, one of the most dreadful franchises over the past decade and one having gone among the longest time without a playoff win.
The cachet that they bring from New England may be exactly what Kansas City needs to get some free agents to look their way. Players may not look at the situation as so dismal now with all the Super Bowl rings Pioli, Weis, and Crennel can show them. Pioli started cleaning up the mess last season, including cutting Larry Johnson mid-season, just as he was on the precipice of becoming the franchise’s leading rusher.
However, Crennel is inheriting the third worst defense with 388.2 yards allowed and fourth worst in points allowed with 26.5. They are coming off a season where they allowed 231.7 yards passing (11th worst) and the second worst rush defense with 156.5 yards per game allowed on the ground. The Chiefs also had the second fewest sacks with 22 and third fewest turnovers forced with 26 (15 interceptions, 11 fumble recoveries).
Weis’ road is not as bad as he gets the 25th ranked offense at 303.2 yards per game and 18.4 points per game, 23rd best in the league. However, things may not be quite so bad as seen as the team had a +1 turnover margin and the offense had the sixth fewest penalty yards called against it. Their offensive numbers were slightly up from 2008 considering that they were breaking in a new quarterback and jettisoned their top rusher.
With the fifth pick in the upcoming draft, so they will either draft what should be an impact player for one of the new coaches or, as the Patriots like to do, they could trade it and stockpile draftees to fill the multitude of weaknesses on the roster. Kansas City suddenly becomes a franchise worth keeping an eye on.