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It Won't Be Hard to Coach Better than Gunther Cunningham


It was only after he left Kansas City that Gunther Cunningham was told his yellow glasses did not give him special coaching powers.

As we noted  yesterday, new Kansas City Chiefs head coach Todd Haley currently has about a half dozen open coaching positions that he needs to fill. Most notable out of those open positions is defensive coordinator. And with the exit of Gunther Cunningham, we'll no longer have to put quotes around "Defensive" Coordinator anymore.

It won't be difficult for Todd Haley and Scott Pioli to find a replacement that will be more successful than the Chiefs previous DC Gunther Cunningham.

Simply put, Cunningham's second tenure with the Chiefs as defensive coordinator was indefensibly terrible. Let me stress indefensible. Cunningham, even though he was fighting through some truly horrible drafts by the Chiefs, led some of the worst defenses in franchise history. The Chiefs gave up an average of nearly 400 yards a game last year on defense.

What's sad about that performance is that Cunningham is a known workaholic, meaning it's his ability and not his work ethic that failed him. He put in the hours and the research. He just doesn't have the same acumen as others. It's sad but true. The league has passed Cunningham by.

How did Cunningham react when he left Kansas City for Detroit? Excuses, excuses, excuses. He threw Herm under the bus after he left, citing scheme and youth issues.

If I had failed as miserably as Cunningham did at my job, I'd throw people under the bus too. I would be doing what he's doing- deflecting criticism away from my clear lack of ability.

What the Chiefs need is a defensive coordinator who isn't satisfied with leaving a 2-14 team for an 0-16 team and making excuses on his way out. We need a DC that is on the way up, not on the way down.

Under Pioli and Haley, you can bet our new DC will perform like a professional and not a coaching side show. 

After the jump, we have a list of possible defensive coordinators for the Chiefs. None of these guys are excuse makers, complacent in their jobs or look for reasons to fail instead of reasons to succeed.

Like with Todd Haley, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Chiefs pick another coach who hasn't held the position before. Of the candidates I've mentioned after the jump, Romeo Crennel is the only one to have previously held a defensive coordinator position. These initial candidates are just the begining of the coaches we'll look at. This isn't meant to be the end all be all DC post. Just some nice reading on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Many thanks to you guys for giving me your suggestions yesterday.

Todd Bowles


Current position: Miami Dolphins Assistant Head Coach and Secondary Coach (Bio)

Age: 43

Relative to other candidates, Todd Bowles has little upper level coaching experience. He started his NFL coaching career as the defensive backs coach of the New York Jets in 2000.

From 2001 to 2004, Bowles was employed by the Cleveland Browns. He was the defensive nickel package coach in his first three years and the secondary coach in his last year there. In 2004, the Browns ranked 5th in the league in pass defense. The Browns thirteen passing touchdowns allowed in 2003 tied for the fewest allowed in franchise history.

After Cleveland, Bowles spent the next three years with the Cowboys serving as their secondary coach. Dallas' pass defense was middle of the road while Bowles was coaching there, despite talented personnel such as Roy Williams and Terrence Newman. He is currently the secondary coach for  the Miami Dolphins, a position he's held for only one year.

Prior to his NFL coaching career, Bowles played safety for eight years with the Redskins and 49ers. After his playing days, he worked in the player personnel department of the Green Bay Packers from 1995-96. He was also the defensive coordinator/secondary coach at Morehouse College in 1997 and defensive coordinator/defensive backs coach at Grambling State from 1998-99.

Bowles was a candidate for the Lions and Rams head coaching jobs this past month, even going so far to say the Lions head coaching job was the one "he really wants."

Bowles would run a 3-4 defense if he came to KC. The Chiefs currently run a 4-3.

Sean McDermott


Current position: Philadelphia Eagles Secondary Coach (Bio)

Age: 34

McDermott is another secondary coach whose name has been getting traction this off season as a possible defensive coordinator, most notably in Denver and Green Bay.

McDermott played safety at William & Mary from 1994 to 1997 before beginning his 11 year coaching career with the Eagles as a scouting administrative coordinator. He was promoted to assistant head coach in 1999.

From there, McDermott served in a number of capacities for the Eagles. He was an assistant defensive backs coach and a defensive quality control coach before becoming the secondary coach in 2003.He served at that position for the next three seasons.

In 2007, after then Eagles linebackers coach Steve Spagnuolo left to become DC of the New York Giants, McDermott took over coaching the linebackers. He turned a couple of mid round picks into starting linebackers before being renamed secondary coach in January 2008.

The Eagles reportedly think the world of McDermott, who is most definitely a candidate to replace ailing defensive coordinator Jim Johnson.

McDermott has that wunderkind tag attached to him which makes me think that the Eagles will do their best to hang on to him. I think he could be an exciting hire for the Chiefs, if we're able to pull him away from Philly.

Keith Butler


Current position: Pittsburgh Steelers Linebackers Coach (Bio)

Age: 52

After eight seasons at Memphis and one season as the defensive coordinator at Arkansas State, Butler became the linebackers coach with the Cleveland Browns (1999-2002) before moving to Pittsburgh.

Butler has been the Steelers linebackers coach for the last six years. If you've been paying attention to football at all during that time, you know that Keith Butler has been doing a heck of a job. Just looking at the current roster, the Steelers have two Pro Bowl linebackers in James Farrior and James Harrison. Harrison, who returned an interception for a touchdown to complete the longest defensive play in Super Bowl history, was also the 2008 defensive player of the year.

In 2005, Butler’s linebackers helped the Steelers lead the AFC and rank fourth in the NFL in total defense. The sack combo of Joey Porter and Clark Haggans produced 19.5 sacks between them. That's another fantastic job by Butler coaching his linebackers.

Bottom line, Keith Butler has been extremely successful coaching linebackers in Pittsburgh. He's taken stars and made them better. He's taken undrafted free agents and turned them into players of the year. The guy is obviously a top notch coaching talent.

Butler has been rumored to be a possible replacement for Clancy Pendergast, who was the Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator until just after the Super Bowl. Nothing has come of that so far but Butler's track record indicates he's ready for a defensive coordinator job and it may come in 2009.

Romeo Crennel


Current position: None (Fired as the Browns head coach after the 2008 season)

Age: 61

Out of these candidates we've looked at, Rome Crennel has by far the most experience coaching in the NFL. Take a look at his long resume:

Teams as coach/admin
1970-1974 Western Kentucky
(Defensive Line Coach)
1975-1977 Texas Tech
(Defensive Assistant)
1978-1979 Ole Miss
(Defensive Ends Coach)
1980 Georgia Tech
(Defensive Line Coach)
1981-1989 New York Giants
(Special Teams Coach)
1990-1992 New York Giants
(Defensive Line Coach)
1993-1996 New England Patriots
(Defensive Line Coach)
1997-1999 New York Jets
(Defensive Line Coach)
2000 Cleveland Browns
(Defensive Coordinator)
2001-2004 New England Patriots
(Defensive Coordinator)
2005-2008 Cleveland Browns
(Head Coach)

Quite the resume, no? Crennel's success as a head coach is average at best but that by no means excludes him from defensive coordinator speculation. Crennel was also coaching in New England when Scott Pioli was there, making Crennel the current front runner for the Chiefs defensive coordinator IMO. Of course, this is all speculation on my part.

I'll let Crennel's long experience be the biggest positive I'll mention as far as his candidacy for the DC job. I think he would work well with Pioli and Haley.


We'll me checking out more candidates as they come up but for now, let us know what you think about these four guys as possible defensive coordinators for the Kansas City Chiefs.

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