From Arrowhead Stadium
There was the customary Gatorade bath on the sidelines for Romeo Crennel.
Hugs were being thrown about left and right, and the 2011 Chiefs almost to a man seemed to be chanting the man’s initials β RAC, RAC, RAC!!! as they ran into the locker room.
The 19-14 victory over the previously unbeaten Green Bay Packers was a remarkable day in itself. But the guys who dress in the Chiefs locker room hope it was simply the first of many future games with Crennel at the helm of the Chiefs.
“I think they should just give it to him now,” said CB Brandon Flowers. “Everybody would be happy with that around here.”
No one more than Crennel, who made it very public early last week that in taking over from Todd Haley, he was not doing this with the idea that it was three games and done. He wants the gig for 2012 and beyond.
Absolutely nothing that happened on Sunday against Green Bay hurt his chances.
“We’ll see what the next two weeks bring because every week is a different week in the NFL,” Crennel said. “We’ll let the chips fall where they may. That’s what you always do in football. That’s what I tell those guys in the locker room. Do your best and play your best and let the chips fall where they may. The only thing we can control is how we play, the kind of effort we give and hopefully we can win as we go.”
Through this strange season, there has never been any question about effort on the part of the Chiefs. Ownership may have decided they were too inconsistent and fired Todd Haley, but they could not question how hard this team played for the former head coach.
They went out on Sunday and played just as hard for Crennel. The difference was the fact they played smarter. They kept their mistakes to a minimum, especially in two key areas β they had no turnovers and they did not allow a sack. After QB Kyle Orton was knocked down after getting rid of his first pass of the day, he faced very little pressure from the Packers.
The idea that Crennel struck home with in preparing not only the players but the coaching staff was simplifying things; getting back to fundamentals. Both the offensive and defensive game plans for the game were built with that in mind. When they had the ball, they wanted to run and make sure they got that ground game going. They did not want Orton to be careless with the ball. They wanted him to get protection.
Defensively, Crennel wanted to keep Packers QB Aaron Rodgers guessing, so there were a number of different packages in the game plan from the standard base defense of a 3-4-4, to one scheme that was 1-3-7 and also a 1-4-6. But Crennel the defensive coordinator dialed back on the blitz and went after Rodgers with four rushers.
There was a certain comfort zone there for the players because it was Crennel taking charge. In two years with the team he’s become a locker room favorite, a tough-minded task-master who tends to hand out a few more pats on the back and hugs than a lot of other coaches, especially defensive coordinators.
It’s obvious from what they say that the players have confidence in him.
“It would be good to keep winning for him,” said DE Glenn Dorsey. “He’s our leader and a tremendous coach. We’ve just got to keep it going for him.”
Added Flowers: “We want to play hard for this guy. We’ve been through ups and downs as a defense, but he’s a great guy and he always has something positive to say. He’s a guy we want to play hard for and the offense felt the same way. We just want to keeping winning for him.”
The offensive guys had only good things to say as well.
“He’s been around here for two years so everybody knows him and knows that he’s a good coach,” said RB Thomas Jones. “He’s just a guy you want to be around and you want to play for. He has that leadership skill.”
Other than trying to simplify things, Crennel did not ask for much from the players this week.
“I ask them to do the best that they can do, that’s all I can ask of them,” said Crennel. “If they do that and we end up winning games, that’s a plus and a positive. They are the ones that play the game and should get all the credit. It was just standing on the sideline. That’s all I did today.”
The victory now gives Crennel a NFL head coaching record of 25-40, including his four seasons as head coach of the Cleveland Browns (2005-08). He wants more.
“The Chiefs played a very good game today,” Crennel said. “They played the way that I would like to see the Chiefs play all the time. They followed the game plan, they had energy, they had effort and they played their hearts out.”