Well, you knew it had to happen. No fan can always support every decision that their team makes if they don't think it is the right one. I am now a 'realist'. I have been transformed by one of Ups evil spells. All I can tell you is that I don't agree with the way the Chiefs organization has been behaving in the recent past (and not just the firing of Todd Haley), and it takes some of the zest out of watching what they do. One of the reasons for my zeal in being invested in Chiefdom since the beginning of the 2009 season, was because of the potential success that time in Chiefs history represented.
We had a new promising GM, Head Coach, and QB and nothing but empty road ahead to be filled with the building of a new offensive scheme and defensive scheme, great drafts, free agent acquisitions and Playoff games galore to be followed ultimately with a Super Bowl appearance. Rarely in Chiefs history had so many stars aligned to give hope for a future of conquest. Wow. What a dream.
That future had no baggage. It's bedrock was based on a GM that by all accounts was one of the most successful in the league, an HC that while not having been in that position before had just coached in a Super Bowl one step removed in capacity from the big chair, and a QB that stepped into a starting job when his first stringer went down with injury and won 11 games only to be cheated out of a playoff spot. Just as quickly as that future coalesced, it has faded to black. In it's place we are left with half a team, half a head coach and a tenuous start to another future so loaded with baggage that we need a pullman car to carry it all. It's success or failure is hidden because of that very baggage.
I am Aiken Drum the Unbeliever, and these are the Wet Blanket Chronicles. In these pages you will find described, the resurgence of mediocrity in a place called Arrowhead. Prescriptions for disaster or merely the continued lamentations of the Chiefs Nation Faithful? Follow me at your peril.
Even though I have not much to say about Todd Haley now, I had to include him in the chronicles simply because it seems that his termination (and subsequently Romeo's ascension to the abdicated throne) was symbolic if indeed the Chiefs go on to embrace mediocrity as they seem to be doing. Todd was sent packing from KC in a loud and ugly manner. Getting fired with three games remaining in the regular season with a playoff spot still in the offing (the decision on which would ultimately go down to the final week of the season to know the outcome) is, shall we say, a bit unusual. Particularly when that HC is coming off the biggest turnaround season in the history of the team that garnered it an AFC west crown and the first playoff game in four years. What it does say pretty clearly though, is that SOMEBODY decided that Todd had to go, and he had to go in a very splashy way.
Was Todd Haley a terrible HC? Some will say yes but I do not think that view is mainstream. Was it impossible for Haley and Pioli to coexist? Reports to that circumstance are out there, but solid proof is elusive and always will be. Those that choose to believe it are no more in the wrong than those who choose not to. Was it Clark Hunt who made this decision based on his association with the two principals? Could Clark have decided that the growth of the team was at an impasse that was insurmountable? Did Clark base his decisions on craftily made comments by his GM that Todd was a good coach but his views were diverging from that GM's enough to warrant an abrupt, messy termination with a playoff spot on the line? Was Pioli's ego such that he could not coexist with a strong willed HC that would not subjugate his decisions to someone that had never done the job?
We will most likely never know the answers. What we do know is that Todd Haley (just like every other Head Coach in the NFL) had his idea of what it takes to make a Super Bowl winning team. He came into KC with no experience in the big chair and the team showed progress in many aspects. Had the lockout not happened, would we still be talking about how he would be changing the offense for the 2012 season instead of what Daboll will do with it? Possibly. What can we take from Todd Haley's recent hiring in Pittsburg? Just that someone in the NFL does not agree that Todd Haley's track record indicates likey failure in the future. Will Todd get another shot at a HC job? I would say almost assuredly. Good luck Todd. Tomlin may be the next sacrificial offering in your career growth.
Romeo Crennel is a fantastic DC. In a two year span, he has transformed our 2009 29th ranked I-don't-know-what-scheme-we'll-run-next-Sunday defense, to an 11th and 12th ranked, confidence gaining, ball hawking, soon to be in your face 3-4 defense that has the potential to have a naming ceremony like the powerfully intimidating defenses of old. Steel Curtain, Doomsday, and Orange Crush all have nice rings to them-don't you think? I love what Romeo can do with a defense. Could he get us the deep freeze back (you remember, Shawn the nut-job Smith)? Who knows, but I am certain he has plans for NT, ILB etc.
What Romeo Crennel has not been able to do as a Head Coach is field a better than average offense. His record of 24-40 with a .375 win percentage in FOUR LONG YEARS is not very encouraging. Chiefs fans will never be able to give him that much time here. In fact, if the Chiefs under perform next season, a large contingent of fans will be screaming for his head. These same fans nearly went apoplectic just letting Todd Haley get through two and three quarters seasons.
There are a great many reasons for Romeo's failure in Cleveland, but as the HC he must take responsibility for what he produced. Many people believe that the Browns organization is sick from the top down. Right now, given the problems in the Chiefs front office, some could say the same for it. Whether or not that has had or will have an affect on the team is yet to be verified or seen. In other words we just don't know if that is something that Romeo's second shot at HC will have in common with the first. Recent events however, have added to that baggage I was talking about earlier. It seems that every day that passes contain events that makes success for these Chiefs seem further off than ever.
When Romeo took over the Browns in 2005, one of the guys he brought in to help run the offense was none other than Mo Carthon. Mo had just finished two years as OC for the Cowboys under Parcells going 16-16 in those two seasons. The strange thing in those two seasons was that in the first one, the Cowboys record was 10-6 with Quincy Carter taking the snaps. That is the single best record that Mo ever had as OC. He followed it up with a Vinny Testeverde 6-10 ride to the dumper. Is Mo only capable with the Master Tuna at the helm? If so, he wouldn't be the only coach in the NFL to claim that moniker.
The two years prior to that, Mo was the OC in Detroit for Marty Mornhinwheg. Mo's lack of success there going 5-27 did not disappoint his old buddy Parcells who brought him aboard in Dallas. Something, however did disappoint Parcells in that 6-10 season and he was quick to make a change. Romeo, being a member of that Parcell's club dedided to take a chance in Cleveland, mystifying everyone by once again putting a failing OC on the job. Carthon was forced to resign after week 7 of the next (2006) season, being ridiculed for poor play calling that led to more losing seasons--just as his record as OC in the NFL to that point indicated would happen. Mo's record as OC is a whopping 28-58 for a .325 winning percentage in 86 games. This is why Haley did NOT give him the title of OC. Was he the real puppet master behind Muir as Assistant HC? It certainly would explain how a HC would expect a lifer of an offensive line coach who had never called plays before was to succeed in that job eh? Does the Parcell's club effect have so strong a pull that Romeo now brings in his own puppet named Daboll to learn at this failed OCs knee?
Romeo says that he learned from his four dismal seasons in Cleveland. I would feel much more inclined to believe that if I saw an infrastructure change within the organization that pointed in that direction, offensively at least. Instead, we see more of the same from Pioli et al. I have very little confidence in Romeo's ability to put together an offensive coaching unit that can get it done. Romeo has FIVE Super Bowl rings. One as a Special Teams coach, One as a Defensive line coach, and three as a Defensive Coordinator. I feel safe in saying that Romeo's forte is NOT the offense. Brian Daboll is a guy that cut his NFL teeth on Romeo's staff as a defensive asst. in New England. He spent four years on that same coaching staff (albeit being moved over to WR's coach after his first year) with Romeo. All of this occurred under the watchful eye of Scott Pioli and Hoodie as well.
Brian Daboll then went on to be QBs coach for the Jets for two years before getting his first opportunity as OC in Cleveland in 2009. In two years under Eric Mangini (another failed HC from the Parcell's club via Hoodieville) Daboll presided over a 10-22, .320 winning percentage campaign. He was considered so good at the job that he was then hired by the Mighty Miami Dolphins (who Parcells now has strong ties with btw) in 2011 where he saw that offense go 6-10. Based on his tenure in the NFL, would you consider this guy someone who can create a playoff contender/super bowl threat of an offense? We report, you decide. Then, in an effort to build even more excitement about this coming season, consider who his backup for offensive information is as Assistant Head Coach since we know that Romeo will be fully integrated in running that really good looking defense he spent two years building--Mo Carthon. Hey, their records are so similar in win % (.325/.333) you can't shine a flashlight between'em. Hoorah!!
Sure, Romeo took over with three games to go in the 2011 season and won 2-3. Kudos, right? Would you agree that the defense was PIVOTAL in those wins? Would you further agree that Luck (not Andrew) played a roll too as Romeo was given a QB named Orton to go up against the mighty (32nd ranked overall defense according to ESPN) Green Bay Packers? Let's examine that win for a sec. It was a defensive win without a doubt. That Packers defense was TERRIBLE, yet the Chiefs could only score 19 points and only one TD? Orton spent half his NLF career in Chicago and played the Packers twice a season being a member of the famed NFC Norse division. Do you think there were more than a handful of QBs on the planet who would have had more experience with Brian Urlacher and that defense to know it's proclivities? I too, was amazed by the win, but when you are playing against a defense that is literally bottom of the barrel, your team should have a chance to win.
In three games under Crennel, the Chiefs offense scored three TDs. Two were rushed in and one was thrown. They averaged 13 points per game--just like they had all season. It was the defense that stopped the competition that made the difference in those games. Did they play harder not to let Romeo down because the team was going through upheaval? If so, will they be able to maintain that intensity for an entire season when adversity strikes? They had been getting their footing all season and had done pretty well considering all the injuries and lack of depth that is consistently discussed here.
My point is that this season would likely have been a much different animal if not for the injuries to major players on offense and defense. I know that conventional wisdom is that you should be able to overcome injuries and still be competitive. Does that still apply when the 14% of your starting players that you lose to injury are also league leaders in their positions? I just don't think that the importance of these losses can be understated.
The Wet Blanket Chronicles will be observing this off season through a weepy (wet--get it?) eye. The Chronicles will be here to help keep you informed of all the goings on in Arrowhead and how they relate to the resurrection of mediocrity that has now, once again, taken a foothold inside the hallowed ground the Chiefs call Home Field.
Will we see a return to Martyball, call it version 10.0? Will we see a complete shutdown of an offense simply because no agreement can be reached between the three cosmically astute offensive minds that have been assembled to run the 2012 Chiefs offense? Will Jamaal Charles and Tony Moeaki return to their pre injury form? (I give Moeaki a better chance at this than Charles). Will Scott Pioli hold onto Both Branden Carr and Dwayne Bowe or will he make a trade with Hoodie that brings McDaniels to the Chiefs midseason to try and save a dismal start to 2012? In Romeo's 10-6 season in Cleveland, two of those games were won in OT by a field goal. Will Mr. Irrelevant save the Chiefs in 2012? Will Ricky Stanzi get to learn how to under perform from the likes of Brady Quinn? These and other questions remain to be examined and (maybe) answered in due time.
Until the next installment of the Chronicles, I bid you adieu...