Come Back To Earth … Tuesday Cup O’Chiefs

Fans of the Chiefs are so thirsty for good news that any puddle they stumble upon along the way of another disappointing NFL season will leave them gulping whatever liquid that may have pooled there.

That was the reaction in the 24 hours after the Chiefs shocked the football world with their upset victory over the Green Bay Packers.

Kyle Orton is the quarterback the Chiefs have been searching for since Len Dawson retired; yes, they both came out of Purdue – that connection cannot be ignored. Romeo Crennel is in the reincarnation of the Mentor, Hank Stram and should be given the job of head coach for the rest of his natural life. Everything about the Chiefs bad season before Sunday was the fault of banished head coach Todd Haley and the injured Matt Cassel. Orton and Crennel are the saviors.

Never in Chiefs history has a single afternoon created so many memories, and at the same time rewritten so much history. It was likely the greatest upset the Chiefs have been part of in 52 seasons of play and it will only grow in its stature.

As wonderful as the outcome was for those that worship the red and gold, it’s time to come out of the clouds and put feet back on terra firma. It’s time to allow reality to set in and to understand the ramifications on the future that will come out of this day. Let’s look at some of the reality.


Without a doubt the Chiefs do not beat the Packers if Orton does not turn in the type of performance he showed on the field Sunday.

It was a text book example of conservative play from the offense and the passer. Few gambles were taken or were needed. Orton followed the game plan set up by Bill Muir and the offensive staff and made it work well enough to overcome some poor red zone performances that kept the Chiefs out of the end zone too many times.

On the basis of this one performance, there are fans that want to throw Cassel away and install Orton as the team’s quarterback for the 2012 season. I do not share that thought. I think the Chiefs have invested too much time and money in Cassel to drop him for Orton or anybody else. Cassel has shown when he’s been given something to work with and proper protection, he can get things done.

One must ask why both the Bears and the Broncos were intent on replacing Orton. Former Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels poisoned the well in Denver with Jay Cutler when he tried to put together a trade with New England for Cassel. That forced the Broncos to deal Cutler, and they got back from the Bears the draft choices they wanted and Orton as a throw in.

But then last year, Orton lost his grasp on the starting job. He got it back and then lost it again earlier this season to Tim Tebow.

Over his career, Orton’s problem has been giving the ball away. He has started 67 games now for the Bears, Broncos and Chiefs. In those starts, he’s turned it over (interceptions and lost fumbles) 73 times, or more than once per start.

If there’s one thing that should happen going into 2012 is real competition for Cassel. He’s been treated as a sacred cow since GM Scott Pioli brought him over from the Patriots. No one has been brought in to challenge him, or even been given the chance to challenge him. That has not helped make Cassel a better player.

Whether it’s Orton or somebody else, the Chiefs need to challenge Cassel next season. It’s probably not a role that would interest Orton with the end of his contract coming up after this season and that’s OK; find somebody else.


It will be very interesting to see if the Chiefs have a “real” search for a new head coach, or whether it will be cursory shuffling of papers while Crennel convinces everybody that he’s the guy for the job.

He has the players in his corner, and after Sunday’s game, there are more than a few fans who will sign up for the Romeo Express to top spot.

But before everybody jumps on the bandwagon, consider Crennel’s track record in four years with the Browns as head coach (2005-08) – 24-40, with only one season where they finished with a winning record and no appearances in the AFC playoffs. In the AFC North battles twice-a-year with Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Cincinnati, Crennel’s Browns were 5-19, going 0-8 against the Steelers.

The Browns four years before Crennel showed up were 25-39, and since he left, Cleveland is 14-32.

All of that should give Pioli and Clark Hunt pause before they wrap their arms around Crennel. This situation calls for not only an experienced hand, but one that has a proven track record for winning in the NFL. That list should start with Bill Cowher (161-99-1 in 15 seasons with the Steelers), Jeff Fisher (147-126 in 16 seasons with the Oilers/Titans) or Jon Gruden (100-85 in 11 seasons with the Raiders/Buccaneers.)

Whether or not the Chiefs make connections with Cowher, Fisher and Gruden, they should try to find out the price of those coaches, not only in millions, but in how much power they want and how they want to run the team. Clark Hunt is not quick to dump money on players, so it’s unlikely he’s willing to reach for that checkbook to pay as much as six or seven million a year for head coaches of this quality.

If that’s the case, then Crennel makes the most sense. In fact, it would be a no-brainer and it would be troublesome if Hunt/Pioli went in any other direction. But while Romeo is winning over all the fans, they should be out there talking with the guys on top and establishing completely that they are not options.

Sunday’s upset over the Packers had the touch of whimsy and fantasy, even though the game decision was very real. But the aftermath is the gritty reality of NFL football.

30 Responses to “Come Back To Earth … Tuesday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • December 20, 2011  - bhive01 says:

    In my view, the biggest question as to whether or not Crennel is the HC has to do with the “if he doesn’t get the job” part of the equation. How happy is Romeo going to be stepping down to let someone like Cowher, Fisher or Gruden take the top spot?

    There are egos at stake.

    If this KC team wins out and makes a mathematical run at the playoffs, it’s going to be hard to swallow from a fan perspective that they put someone else in there even if Crennel isn’t the best choice available. Getting Hunt to pony up the cash might be difficult, but he wants wins and excitement surround his organization that a great coach™ might bring.

    You have to consider that Romeo might have learned a lot from his stint in Cleveland and his time since then as DC. I’ve read some suggestions that most coaches are better the second time around as an HC. Any actual data on this?

  • December 20, 2011  - bhive01 says:

    Forgot about Orton… I don’t think KC owes anything to Cassel. Orton’s ability to go through his progressions was noticeable on Sunday. Cassel just does not do that, or if he does, he doesn’t do it well. I saw keep Orton and make Cassel earn his job back. Yes… back, from Orton.

    And, get Zorn to work with Stanzi and see what the kid can do.

    I just hope we show up for these last two games and give us a bit more hope than how dismal things seemed when Haley was let go. I would have never thought that it was Haley that was the problem… after this game I’m beginning to wonder. The players played their hearts out for Crennel. I’m not convinced I ever saw that for Haley. I was convinced the consistency problem was down to Pioli, the injuries we suffered and the lack of roster depth… Now I’m not so sure. If we win out and the players continue to respond to Crennel then it really was Haley.

  • December 20, 2011  - chris says:

    K.C. falling in love with Orton is frightening, we are just setting ourselves up for disappointment.

  • December 20, 2011  - Daniel Jacobs says:

    cassell was terrible this year before his injury, was unable to find open receivers or go through progressions, could not avoid the rush, could not pick up the blitz. His main saving grace was toughness not skill. If I am not mistaken, KC can dump his salary this offseason and use it for a needed running back

  • December 20, 2011  - Chuck says:

    I remember when Bill Callahan first came to the Huskers here in Nebraska. He was touted as the man. After all he came from the NFL. He was going to show us how it was done. WELL HE WAS A MISERABLE FAILURE AT NEBRASKA. Got fired after a few seasons of terrible W-L record. My point is who ever Pioli gives the job to I hope its someone with great credentials and also a burning desire to winning and putting in long hours. And I hope he has charisma for the players. Something Haley never had.

  • December 20, 2011  - johnfromfairfax says:

    One game, however outstanding, doesn’t establish the future or rewrite history. Listen to what Crennel is saying. He recognizes that. Despite all of the speculation we have no clue what went on inside the organization to bring us to this point. The jury is still out on who or what caused the problems or what we can become. We still need a lot of pieces to be a complete team and shouldn’t let personal dislike for a player or coach cloud that reality. Remember Pioli was hailed for getting the jump on the rest of the league when he pulled the trigger before everybody else to bring Cassel to KC. Whether Cassel has a shot or not remains to be seen but those who are laying all the ills we’ve seen at the feet of Haley and Cassell should remember the past. Our line was so atrocious that no QB could have been effective most of this year. I hope I’m wrong but I just don’t see Pioli giving the measure of control to an established coach that they would demand. I’m also still not sold that Hunt will pony up the cash for talent until he’s forced to do so and that both are hoping we can look as competitive as we did this past week so they won’t have to do so in either case.

  • December 20, 2011  - Tenand6 says:

    Well reasoned piece, as usual.

    We differ on Cassel. My eyes tell me he lacks the instincts to play the position. Missing all of college and the first three years of the pros as a starting QB steels my prejudice in thinking Cassel could be the exception to the rule. When Cassel is flushed out of the pocket, his vision downfield seems to severely narrow and his accuracy isn’t above average. In fact, his accuracy and arm strength in the pocket don’t appear to be above average. I would love to ask his coaches if Cassel reads defenses well and how he is at finding open receivers. He can do all of these things, I just don’t know enough if he does them consistently and consistently better than his competition.

    Orton isn’t the answer. However, after watching Orton since he was at Purdue, I would prefer him over Cassel. Meaning, he’s a better stop-gap.

    Totally agree that Cassel needs competition, but not to sharpen Cassel. To sharpen the next guy.

    As Haley would say, you need to know the difference between good and great. Of all positions in team sports, QB requires great.

  • December 20, 2011  - RW says:

    First, some thoughts on Orton as I somewhat disagree with Bob’s opinion on the matter. Good, bad or indifferent, Orton displayed better skills in this one game than any I’ve seen turned in by Cassel over the past few seasons. Orton has a better arm, is able to look off defenders and deliver the ball to an open receiver and overall displays a better confidence in his abilities which translates to better leadership. He’s better than Cassel. Not better than Brees, Brady or Manning but an upgrade over Cassel.

    As far as Romeo is concerned, the job should be his because, among other reasons, he won’t cost as much as the big name guys which resonates mightily with Jr. Hunt. It should also be his because the players stepped up and busted tail for him against the Pack.

    Now, some will say how can all the above be the case after one stinking game? My answer is that one stinking game was better than anything I’ve seen in the past few putrid seasons of Chiefs football. Case closed. Next?

  • December 20, 2011  - ED J says:

    It amazes me how even experienced writer like Bob still thinks like a fan. One we’re not going get Cowher or Fisher. Didn’t we just fire Haley because he didn’t get along with GM. No way Cowher not going come here without full control and Fisher isn’t coming here without a franchise Qb. He’s not going to be told by Pioli Cassel is your guy that’s why he had trouble in Tennessee. Bottom line is Romeo lost in Cleveland not because he was just this awful head coach they didn’t get him any talent. IT was testiment to how good job he did to get Browns to 10 win with Derek Anderson at the helm. Bellichick had losing record with Browns and so did Mangini and so on and so on. Browns have been bad franchise for almost 30yrs no head coach going come in make them consistent winner over night..

    Lets move to QB. Orton passes eyeball test for me. Take career stats out the picture their about the same. Orton is more explosive passer. He throws better ball or better words his location of ball is much better than Cassel. Even his deep ball is more accurate. I’ve said all along ORton is slight upgrade over Cassel. I mean even Cassel best game against 49ers or Titans last yr came against bad teams. I mean Cassel never has had stellar game against good opponents. No way if Cassel was starter Sunday we would’ve won. He would’ve held on ball too long we would complain about the o-line or how receivers drop balls. Ever consider how much receiver have to adjust to Cassel throws vs Orton they can get more yards after catch. Bottom line I’m for bringing in competition just don’t think it needs to be Cassel. As for conservative game plan Bob you’ve said this more than once its a slight. Orton threw ball downfield Baldwin dropped a couple those and caught some too. We ran few screens but none got much yardage. Most of his yards came from throws downfield to Breaston, Pope, bowe, and Baldwin so seriously nothing was conservatve about 300 yards passing. Last how many times have we seen Cassel spread ball around to 11 different players. The only players Cassel seem have chemistry with after 3yrs on this team is Bowe and Moeaki. He hasn’t had game like that in 3yrs and this is ORton 1st game with the team. In this league either you can ball or you can’t and Orton proves he can ball

  • December 20, 2011  - Tim says:

    Good article Bob. As I opined much earlier in the year, Cassel just isn’t an instinctive QB. He’s methodical & has trouble calmly going through his progressions – often not even seeing wide open receivers. One of the differentiating factors between QBs is their ability to process that much information that fast as the play unfolds. There’s no way to know how well they can do this until they play for awhile. Between Cassel & Orton its clear who is better at this – Orton. This means the ceiling for performance is higher with Orton, all else being equal. Between these two, not all else is equal. Orton seems to have a better arm & a more consistently accurate deep ball. Cassel, however, looks to be a better scrambler. If we’re to draft another QB to develop along with Stanzi, we should try to keep Orton instead of Cassel. The payoff is potentially larger.

  • December 20, 2011  - aPauled says:

    Matt Cassel came into the 2011 season with a chance to establish himself as a NFL tier-2 QB and help the Chiefs establish themselves as playoff contenders. Matt Cassel did not take that opportunity. Matt Cassel regressed in 2011 because Matt Cassel was either not prepared or Matt Cassel was not capable of taking that step. The Chiefs owe Matt Cassel nothing. Matt Cassel has Matt Cassel to blame for that.

  • December 20, 2011  - el cid says:

    We are getting close to Christmas and we seem to be getting awfully long winded, Santas watching.

    First we get a HC, then he picks his idea of QB, then we get started on 2012. Orton will move on, Cassel will be here. Pioli is still here. If we get a HC with any independent thinking and say with the organ., he will get the QB he can work with.

    I would appreciate a few more wins like last sunday. Real concern is if NY Giants fire their HC, national media says Crennel is top of their list.

  • December 20, 2011  - harvey says:

    In one game Orton looked better than any qb we have had since before Green suffered the concussion. We have two (maybe more :) ) games to see just what RAC and Orton offer. If they do well and the team does well, give RAC the job and sign Orton.

  • December 20, 2011  - the other dave says:

    Bob, just a few days ago you gave us four reasons to bet on Crennel being the next head coach. Now we have a fifth. Still seems like a pretty sure bet and something to get excited about.

  • December 20, 2011  - Steve says:

    Bob – good article and some well-thought out comments by your steady readers. The comments of some of the players after the Packers victory were interesting – especially McClain’s mention of more meeting time, more football time. Yesterday afternoon, I heard one commentator suggest that Haley would sometimes change the game plan on Saturday, eliminating whatever benefit had come from the practice reps. Bob, what do you hear from the players – what is different about how Romeo prepares the team?

  • December 20, 2011  - Skip says:

    I don’t recall Mike McCarthy having a proven track record as a head coach prior to taking the position in GB.

  • December 20, 2011  - Daniel Jacobs says:

    “I think the Chiefs have invested too much time and money in Cassel to drop him for Orton or anybody else. Cassel has shown when he’s been given something to work with and proper protection, he can get things done.”

    I think KC can drop Cassell in offseason and have big savings for next year- but more importantly, Cassell gets sacked a lot, doesn’t read progressions or work well with tools he has been given this year. If KC gets a new coach other than Crennel and keeps Cassell, KC will be disappointed at the destructive ego of Pioli, especially if Orton keeps playing well.

    Crennell at his presser had no problems considering Orton as the QBOTF for next year.

    I think we know without asking that Fisher, Cowher, and Gruden’s $ and power demands won’t sit well with Hunt and Pioli, and will (if hired) lead to another system turnaround and exit of players and coaches that is not in KC interest.

    Therefore, Bob, if you thought further, its Crennel, and Cassell even if back has nothing locked up to make the team.

  • December 20, 2011  - Jerry Hubbard says:

    Orton is a good passer IF he gets TIME. He is not a mover, Sunday he got the time to make the progression from receiver to receiver. Oakland will try not to give him time, neither will Denver. It will be a good test for the o-line. I thought the play calling was exceptional Sunday. We do not need to make decisions yet, 2 more games. GO CHIEFS!!!

  • December 20, 2011  - Blake says:

    Bob when was the last time Cassel threw to 10 different receivers? How about when he threw for 300 yards and he wasn’t losing? Orton displayed more in that one game than Cassel has in his time here. He goes through his reads, he is much more accurate, he finds his open receiver, he spreads the ball around, all of these things Cassel has problems with. I have though all season since Charles got injured that we should rely on our passing game with Bowe and Breaston and then Baldwin. Cassel never scared defenses, Cassel always played it safe and would automatically throw to his first read even if he was covered. Orton is the better QB plain and simple.

    Romeo still has some work to do. I wont give him the job until after these next two games. Yes he did the unbelievable and he has his players support he still has to show more. He is the front runner for the job no matter what. It is wrong to point to his time in Cleveland to show that he isn’t right for the job, as the records show that the Browns were not good before, during, or after Crennel. This tells me that it is the organization and it starts higher up than the head coach. Savage was the GM at the time and he did not do a very good job drafting talent for Crennel. I think if Crennel is with a good GM and good evaluator of talent like Pioli then he has a chance.

    Most fans are not happy with Pioli but if he continues to bring in talent like he has done in the draft then it will be hard for him to leave. Read “War Room” and get a better understanding of Pioli the person. Just look at this years past draft, Pioli had Aldon Smith as a top 3 player and was going to try and trade up for him, look at him now in SF, 13 sacks and is probably going to break the record for sacks for a rookie. Another player Pouncey in Miami they tried to get him but Miami did accept the trade. The sleeper in the draft that Pioli wanted was Jason Kelce a C that went in the 6th round to Philly, he is starting there and is already a top 10 Center in the NFL. Pioli knows talent, he might not hit on every player but no team or person does in the NFL.

  • December 20, 2011  - Johnfromwichita says:

    Bob – should of given us one more day to relish. Oh well. The reason the O-Line looked so good was because Orton didn’t waste any time. He was quick and efficent. This year it took Cassel too long to make up his mind.

  • December 20, 2011  - aPauled says:

    If Pioli had Jason Kelce targeted late in the draft he made a mistake in taking the “same guy” in Rnd 2 (Rodney Hudson) that he could have had in Rnd 5 (Kelce). Both Hudson and Kelce are undersized guys (280) that can be covered at C…but it would be difficult to pair them on the same OL at that size.

  • December 20, 2011  - ED J says:

    I guess concensus have it that by far Orton is upgrade over Cassel. I challenge any of Cassel supporters to name a good to elite Qb that Matt has outplayed in his 3 yrs here as Chiefs Qb. You cant name not one and all this guy Orton did was outplay best Qb on planet right now in his 1st start as Chief. Seriously just think about that for a moment. This is Qb driven league and if your starter isnt capable of outplaying the other guy on the field you dont have a chance.

  • December 20, 2011  - ED J says:

    Or at very least playing as good as other guy across the field

  • December 20, 2011  - Michael says:

    Sure Bob, there’s a little bit of overexuberance here with both Crennel and Orton after an admittedly great game against the Packers for both. I really like what I saw from them Sunday, but I agree lets see how they do in the next two games and go from there. There is no denying they both pass the eyeball test with flying colors, though.

    If Orton plays well the next two games, the Chiefs have to lock him up. I haven’t been able to get anyone to answer if KC can put the franchise tag on him if they needed to go that way. I think Orton would stay in KC if he is assured he will get a fair shot to be the starter, and I think he would believe that from Crennel. Some people say if the Chiefs keep Orton, they have to get rid of Cassel. Why? The Chiefs have the money to do it, and would have a viable backup with whoever gets the no 2 spot. And I wouldn’t count Cassel out; he’s been through several coordinators and even though Haley brought out the best in some players, I don’t think it was that way for all, especially Cassel. I actually think Cassel might thrive without Haley. What about a distracting QB controversy? You can’t have it both ways and criticize a team for not having a good backup, and then say they shouldn’t keep a good backup because there will be a controversy. There won’t be one if one of the guys is clearly outplaying the other, and the number one and two spots are clearly named. If their play is too close to equal, then pick one and trade one. I don’t think Pioli is as wedded to Cassel as some think, enough to let Orton just walk. Pioli knows the Cheifs have to start winning consistently, or he is on the hot seat next.

    Last thing: the Chiefs under Haley really made some weird personnel moves from time to time, and I’m not sure if it was Haley or Pioli. But, I did have the thought that one of the last straws for Pioli may have been the cutting of Gaither. I guess we’ll never really know. So far, it looks like KC handed a starting caliber left tackle to a division rival for nothing. Not good. And I’d really like to know who had the idea to bring in Orton. Haley never seemed to be in a hurry to sit Palko; so that would be interesting to know, too.

    So we’re all being long-winded. It’s been awhile since there was anything fun to talk about Chiefs.

  • December 20, 2011  - Craig says:

    Great Article Bob. I think one aspect of the game that helped Orton was getting the plays in sooner. I imagine the elimination of Haley as the middle man approving the play selection had to help. I do love Romeo’s infectious attitude! But… If we could get cowher i would be extactic. He would signal to the fan base that Hunt is serious about winning. I do think Orton outplayed Cassel, but it is one game, lets see what saturday brings. Go Chiefs

  • December 20, 2011  - James B says:

    if Chiefs win the next two, and win the division and some how win a playoff game, I would say it’s Romeo’s job

  • December 20, 2011  - Canada Brad says:

    When Haley was fired and Crennel given the job, I thought we were in for trouble. I figured the Chiefs would probably lose the remaining three games due to the chaos of a coaching change if nothing else, let alone their numerous other issues. I felt that if he could win any one of the three games (and by that I meant Oakland or Denver) then he should probably be strongly considered. Now, I think he should pretty much just be given the job. Here are some of the reasons why:

    - His first day with the team as Head Coach was Monday. He beat the Superbowl Champion Green Bay Packers with a 13-0 record on Sunday.
    - A lot of us are worried about “re-starting the re-build”. Romeo would provide the continuity to not blow the whole thing up. He is connected to these players and these coaches.
    - We won’t have to go through getting a new Head Coach that decides to let Romeo go, and bring in a Pendergast (by the way I’m not a Haley hater)
    - Some people want a Cowher or other experienced veteran HC. But be careful, Head Coaches struggle a lot trying to win superbowls with multiple teams. You probably want a veteran HC that hasn’t won the big game yet (for lots of reasons).

    Like the rest of you, I’m just in a good mood. I like the idea that if Buffalo manages to beat Denver this weekend and the Chargers lose one of their two remaining games, then the Chiefs might control their own Destiny. I didn’t think like this on Monday.

  • December 21, 2011  - rufus says:

    God read. I would expect Orton to compete next spring provided he can keep his level of play consistent over the course of the final games. I appreciate your point on the investment of this org into Matt C. but I don’t think Cassel is on Orton’s level at all and I don’t think he ever will be.

    Matt Cassel has been a good investment already though, having been the only QB during most of his 3 seasons in KC and it may just end there. He has provided a consistency on the field not seen previously since Trent G was at the helm in that he has been relatively healthy compared to the carousel of QB’s that accounted for 8 KO’s during the span between Cassel and Green.

  • December 21, 2011  - cychief24 says:

    I’m happy to watch an adult as our Head Coach on the sideline for the first time since 2005.

    Weigmann and Richardson have been awful this year.
    Albert has taken a step back, Lilja is on his last legs, and Asamoah while promising has made many first year starter mistakes.Haley had 3 OC’s calling plays in games. Plays usually didn’t get in until 15 seconds left.
    No QB could be successful be behind that mess against a decent defense.

    Now Romeo has one OC w/o interference. I look forward to being at Arrowhead Sunday.

    BTW Edj, get your DVR fixed. We ran several successful screens vs. GB.


  • December 22, 2011  - iwriter says:

    MItch Holtice was interviewed on 810 today and he basically said that the play calling was so much more fluid than the past season… and when pressed why the play calling was so much better on sunday then in the past few years, he responded that he did not like to bad mouth anyone but when someone is looking over your shoulder all the time and changing your decisions, it is hard to be good at play calling. You end up second guessing yourself. Romeo let Muir call the plays without interference. You need to let people do their job. Lets face Haley is a control freak which is why people do not end up doing their best…. Haley might be a nice guy when is not coaching but when he is coaching he trys to break people down and then build them up. BUt that way of coaching may not work with everyone. Did you read Tamba’s INterview Today where he said that Crennel Treats us like men? He is infering that Haley did not treat them like men. Again Hayley’s idea of coaching is to break down people… that may not work anymore… at least wtih our team it has not worked. Also Haley had favorites… he stayed with Palko because of this roots and he was always working… The first thing Crennel does is demote Palko… why? When Crennel was asked why he said that He has seen Stanzi practice because he runs the scout team and he has been playing well. So it was not a hard decision. Again there is more here than just a miracle happening on one day. Maybe all our problems will come back to haunt us in the next game but that does not erase what happened this game… IT GIVES US HOPE!!! Bob everyone needs Hope…til now there has not been much of it. I am sorry but Cassel has not improved in 3 years…it is time to move on.

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