One way to divide Kansas City Chiefs fans (and all other fans) is between the patient ones and the shoot from the hip, "Fire the head coach!" fans.
If you go back to the 2003 off season, you'd probably find quite a few New England Patriot fans who were calling for the head of defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel. In Crennel's first two seasons as DC for the Patriots, his defenses actually got worse than the 2000 version that was there before he was.
Fortunately for Crennel and the Patriots, the New England brass was patient with the long-time coach. In Crennel's final two seasons with the Pats, he fielded top ten defenses.
How did he get there? With patience and by slowly adding integral pieces to the puzzle. Let's jump over and see how he did it.
For a little perspective, this is the year before Crennel became the Patriots DC. During the first year of Bill Belichick's New England coaching career, the Patriots went 5-11 and missed the playoffs for the only time Belichick has been head coach.
- Total defense: 20th
- Run defense: 21st
- Pass defense: 21st
What was one of Romeo Crennel's first moves as New England's DC? Draft defensive lineman Richard Seymour in the first round of the 2001 NFL draft. This is in addition to the other solid players already on the Patriots defense - CB Ty Law, DL Anthony Pleasant, LB Tedy Bruschi and DE Willie McGinest. The talent didn't immediately translate into better rankings but the Patriots did win the Super Bowl in '01. Crennel's defensive in the playoffs only gave up 13, 17 and 17 points respectively.
Remember this: Crennel's first move was to improve the defensive line.
- Total defense: 24th
- Run defense: 19th
- Pass defense: 24th
Crennel didn't add any major pieces to the defensive puzzle in 2002. In fact, they only drafted one defensive player in the draft that year - DE Jarvis Green in the fourth round. Green only started four games, which shows that Crennel was more interested in developing the players he already had than making a splash.
Again, no major improvements in the defensive rankings. But Crennel is slowly adding important pieces to the puzzle and getting the defense to buy into his 3-4 philosophy.
- Total defense: 23rd
- Run defense: 31st
- Pass defense: 11th
What personnel did Crennel add in 2003? CB Asante Samuel (draft), S Rodney Harrison, DL Ty Warren (draft) to name a few of the bigger names.
The result? A top ten defense. And it was the best defense Crennel field during his New England tenure. The Patriots held opponents to six points or less five times in the '03 regular season, including three shutouts.
2003 was Crennel's most active off season in terms of acquiring players. No rush to sign the big free agent when he arrived in New England. Crennel waited until exceptional talent like Asante Samuel became available (and until he had a solid defensive line as his base).
- Total defense: 7th
- Run defense: 4th
- Pass defense: 15th
Here's what you need to know about Crennel's 2004 off season - he drafted Vince Wilfork. He started six games and played in all sixteen.
- Total defense: 9th
- Run defense: 6th
- Pass defense: 17th
Crennel's approach to creating his brand of Patriots defense was slow, steady and disciplined. Don't expect a huge turnaround or big name free agent signings this off season. Crennel and his crew are going to do it their way and that's not to rush.
So please....Don't bringing out the pitchforks during the first preseason game. Be the patient fan. It's a lot more fun.