*Notes: (1) All considerations are based on the results of previous polls. Because the AP community has chosen Schottenheimer and Cowher, they are the presumed hires. (2) I do not assume that the Chiefs can coerce anyone who holds the same position with a different team to come to Kansas City. (i.e. Rob Ryan is not a candidate because he is already a DC somewhere else). (3) I am including Romeo Crennel in the poll, but I think it is highly unlikely that he takes a demotion, or that the Chiefs would retain him at all.
Results of previous polls:
GM - Marty Schottenheimer
HC - Bill Cowher
After reuniting Marty Schottenheimer and Bill Cowher in Kansas City, the Chiefs now must move on to addressing the assistant coaching roles. It seems to be a trend for our head coaches to try and take on the additional role of coordinator. This has to end. It simply doesn't work with the complexities of today's NFL. You can't just walk around telling everybody that we're going to run "65 Toss Power Trap". There is now a requirement that experts are used to specifically run each aspect of the game plan.
Up first is Defensive Coordinator. The Chiefs 3-4 defense has not been what we had hoped for. At times, it looks dominant and you wonder how anyone can score against us. At other times, you wonder if we just rounded up 11 guys off the street to sub in for the day. The constants of this defense though appear to be a tendency to play a far too soft zone defense and absolutely no pass rush from the defensive line. While I don't claim to be a defensive guru, it would seem to me that these things don't work out well in the NFL. So how do we fix this? Well, here are some options:
Rex Ryan - Head Coach - New York Jets: It appears as though Rex Ryan may be losing his job in New York after this year. Though his tenure in New York has been a circus, there is no denying that Rex Ryan knows how to run a defense. His scheme worked amazingly well in Baltimore and has found success in New York as well. He clearly paid attention to the things his father did, and has applied and adapted it well to today's NFL.
Ryan believes in an attacking defense that forces the offense to make quick decisions. Though this comes back to bite him at times, it works more often than not. This seems to be the complete opposite of what we are currently doing in Kansas City. As a Head Coach, Ryan hasn't hid his desire to put the bigger stars he signs on the defensive side of the ball. He runs a 3-4, so the base of what he needs is already here.
The biggest (and possibly only) concern with Rex Ryan as a Defensive Coordinator is the circus that will surely follow him. Rex does not shy away from the microphone and often makes statements that come back to bite him in the ass. That is not Bill Cowher's style at all, so there is a big potential for a clash there. Two big personalities butting heads on our coaching staff could seep into the locker room and cause a serious rift in the team.
Kirby Smart - Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator - Alabama Crimson Tide: The Crimson Tide have had one of the best defenses in college football over the past several years, and Kirby Smart is a major reason why. Alabama also has one of the few 3-4 defenses, and it seems to produce multiple NFL stars every year.
Nick Saban runs an NFL-style program in Tuscaloosa, so it stands to reason that Kirby Smart should be fairly comfortable making the jump to the pros. He's been in the NFL in the past as the Safeties Coach for Miami in 2006. He's a young guy who likely has a big career ahead of him. And with Bill Cowher slated as the Head Coach, he should have an excellent mentor which makes Kansas City an ideal place to springboard his career. Smart's defensive style is to play technically sound football and force the other team to beat you. He also attacks a lot with blitzes (remember what Javier Arenas was known for?). The Chiefs could certainly use a good dose of both fundamentals and aggression.
The concerns with Smart start in the same spot as with any college coach looking to make the jump to the NFL. We don't know whether or not he will be able to handle the next level, although he seems to have an ideal situation to be able to succeed. The other concern with Smart is that he is a young guy with a big career ahead of him. He will get Defensive Coordinator offers from the NFL, but also Head Coach offers from the college ranks. And it isn't likely that even if he takes the job in Kansas City, that he will be here for the long haul.
Ellis Johnson - Head Coach - Southern Miss Golden Eagles: Anyone who has enjoyed watching the South Carolina Gamecocks defense owes thanks to Ellis Johnson. He was the driving force in turning around the defensive philosophy of what was a pushover team. Melvin Ingram was set to be a bench warmer his senior year until he started working more with Johnson. Current Gamecocks Devin Taylor and Kelcey Quarles are both NFL prospects now because of what they learned from him.
Johnson is a defensive lineman specialist. He understands and knows how to teach techniques. That is huge considering the raw potential, but lack of refinement, in Dontari Poe. He prefers an aggressive attack, but believes that it should come from the defensive line first and linebackers second. Hiring Johnson would likely mean a switch to the 4-3, but it would be a defense that attacks.
The concerns with Jonson, as with Smart, are on whether or not he can make the jump to the NFL. He has no NFL experience, so there is more of a gamble there than with Smart. The other concern is the switch back to the 4-3 defense. This could mean a larger rebuilding that requires new talent. However, with Cowher at the helm, this could be in the works anyways.
Mike Singletary - Assistant Head Coach/Linebackers Coach - Minnesota Vikings: Though he failed as a Head Coach, there is no doubt that Mike Singletary is responsible for one of the best defenses in the NFL. Jim Harbaugh should be sending him gift baskets every Sunday for that squad. On top of that, there has been a clear change in the culture of the Vikings defense since Singletary arrived in Minnesota. A Hall of Fame linebacker and a keystone player with the famous Monsters of the Midway in Chicago, Mike Singletary brings a fire that is rivaled only by Bill Cowher.
Singletary knows both the 3-4 and 4-3 defenses, but has shown a preference for the former. Also on his resume is a stint as the Linebackers Coach for Baltimore. He brings an aggressive attitude wherever he goes. He hates losers, and that immediately makes me like him. His attitude is also exactly what I think Derrick Johnson needs to pick up. That kind of fire and intensity is what could propel DJ over the top and put him in the same conversation as Ray Lewis, Brian Urlacher, and Patrick Willis. Singletary's style will make the Chiefs much more aggressive.
The concern with SIngletary, if there is one, is that he can be too intense. There will undoubtedly be a few players who want out of town once they witness the combined fury of Cowher and Singletary. But that is also the kind of thing that can make a team's psyche a whole lot stronger over time. Look at the Ravens and 49ers. Those defenses don't crack easily.
Bob Diaco - Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers Coach - Notre Dame Fighting Irish: The Fighting Irish have turned it around, and the defense is leading the charge. Bob Diaco's unit has seen all manner of offensive attacks and has stuffed them all. Regardless of your feelings about Notre Dame being "overrated", there is no doubt that their defense is for real.
If there is one thing to like about Diaco's defense, it is that it scores points. Notre Dame is currently the top scoring defense in college football. That is only done by being aggressive. Again, that is something the Chiefs need. A quick look at Chicago shows just how much a scoring defense can do for a team's chances. It provides a spark that can really make a difference. We almost saw that against Pittsburgh.
The concerns with Diaco are the same with Kirby Smart. First, we don't know if he can make the jump to the NFL. Second, he is going to be getting some offers to be a Head Coach at the college level. He has a bright career ahead of him, and his name has skyrocketed to the top of a lot of discussions for future hires. But an added concern is that he would also bring a 4-3 defense with him, so the Chiefs may have to re-tool.
That's my short list. As always, I'm sure I've missed a couple of names. There are certainly other candidates. And there are definitely concerns with each of these guys, but if there weren't they would already be top Defensive Coordinators in the NFL.
Since it appears some people have not seen the previous posts in this series: