Romeo To The Rescue? … Wednesday Cup O’Chiefs

The battles between Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts offense against Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots defense were some of the biggest stories of the first NFL decade of the 21st Century.

From 2000 through 2009, those teams met 14 times, with the Patriots winning eight games. Three of those meetings were in the playoffs, with New England winning twice. In the decade, the Patriots won three Super Bowls and the Colts won one Lombardi Trophy.

In six of those Indianapolis-New England games, Romeo Crennel was right in the middle of the competition, as defensive coordinator of the Patriots. Throw in two games where Crennel was head coach of the Cleveland Browns and faced Manning and the Colts, and the Chiefs defensive coordinator has eight games of experience against the guys wearing the horseshoe helmets.

And that experience is going to be very valuable for the 2010 Chiefs defense when they meet No. 18 and his offensive mates on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.

“We’ve got our coaching staff and coordinator who worked against them a lot,” said SS Eric Berry.

Added ILB Derrick Johnson: “I think we know that he (Crennel) has spent a lot of time in his career preparing to play the Colts. I’m looking forward to seeing what he has planned for us on defense against Manning … Peyton keeps a lot of defensive players up at night. He has a tremendous arm, he’s a smart guy and he doesn’t make many mistakes. When he does make mistakes, we have to capitalize off it.”

In those eight games, Crennel’s defenses forced a lot of mistakes from Manning, with 13 interceptions. Most of all, Crennel’s defenses were on the winning side six of the eight games, losing only during his two games when he was in Cleveland with the Browns. Here are the numbers:

PEYTON MANNING AGAINST ROMEO CRENNEL DEFENSES

Year Team

Att.

Cmp.

Yards

TD

INT

Sacks/Yds.

Score

2001 @ New England

34

20

196

1

3

2/7

L 44-13

  New England

34

22

335

1

0

4/30

L 38-17

2003 New England

48

29

278

4

1

2/6

L 38-34

  @ New England*

47

23

237

1

4

4/29

L 24-14

2004 @ New England

29

16

256

2

1

1/12

L 27-24

  @ New England*

42

27

238

0

1

1/8

L 20-3

2005 Cleveland

23

19

228

0

1

0/0

W 13-6

2008 @ Cleveland

21

15

125

0

2

0/0

W 10-6

  Totals

278

171

1,893

9

13

14/92

2-6

  Average

34.8

21.4

236.6

1.1

1.6

1.8/11.5

 

There’s no doubt that whether it was the Patriots or the Browns, Manning had trouble against the defensive approach employed by Crennel. Even in those two victories over the Browns, Manning threw three interceptions to no touchdown passes.

Over his career, Manning has completed 64.9 percent of his passes. Against Crennel defenses, his number is 61.5 percent. Manning’s career TD percentage is 5.6 percent; vs. the Pats and Browns it was 3.2 percent. His interception percentage overall is 2.7 percent, while against Crennel it has been 4.6 percent.

Obviously one cannot ignore the influence of Belichick in those six meetings between the Colts and Patriots. The New England head coach is one of the finest defensive minds in the game’s history. The job he did in Super Bowl XXV when he was defensive coordinator of the New York Giants (and Crennel was the defensive line coach) and shut down the high-flying Buffalo Bills offense, 20-19.

In all those meetings against Manning that involved Crennel, the Patriots got the job done more with coverage than sending waves of pass rushers. When they really got going, New England employed a 2-4-5 defensive alignment, much like the nickel defense the Chiefs are currently using. They would line up two big bodies on the line and then have Willie McGinest and Mike Vrabel on the ends, sometimes down, sometimes standing. Ultimately, it was the trade of a defensive lineman for a quicker defensive back.

The idea over the years has been to make Manning as uncomfortable as possible. Allowing him to stand behind his protection and survey the field and the defense is asking for trouble. Defenses have to keep his feet moving, force him to readjust, destroy his rhythm with the receivers and bounce him out of the pocket a few times.

That approach works especially well when combined with a defense that stuffs the run and cornerbacks who can get physical with the wide receivers. Then, the wildcard is TE Dallas Green, who has a great ability to find open spots in the coverage and is without a doubt Manning’s security blanket.

What can really light the fuse on the Colts offense is the no-huddle offense. Playing at home, where the crowd noise won’t interfere with Manning and his play calls makes it difficult for the defense. It becomes even more difficult for a defensive unit that hasn’t been playing together in the scheme for a number of years.

It’s going to take a great deal of communication on the Chiefs defense to be able to react to the no huddle. That defensive communication was one of the items that Todd Haley had his team work on during the bye week.

“With the teams we are playing in multiple formation sets and different spots at different times and different calls that are being made, you have to be able to communicate and part of this past week was some of that,” Haley said. “The point I made to our new coaches last week was communication was what I wanted to focus on defensively. We are trying to create more communicators and clearer communication. It is something we work hard on and we will continue to and it will be a big part of the defense.”

Ultimately, when playing against the Colts, the defense has to be willing to play with a bend but don’t break strategy. Here’s what former Patriots safety Rodney Harrison told NFL.com about Crennel’s scheme for the Colts:

“We knew we weren’t blitzing and he told us ‘Guys, don’t get upset, don’t get impatient. The Colts are going to move the ball up and down the field, but that’s what you want with the Colts. You want them to move the ball up and down the field and when they get in the red zone, try to be patient and force Peyton to make that mistake or hold him to a field goal.”

NFL PERSONNEL FILE FOR TUESDAY, OCTOBER 5

  • BEARS – signed DE Charles Grant; released DE Mark Anderson.
  • BILLS – signed RB Andre Anderson off their practice squad.
  • BROWNS – acquired DE Jayme Mitchell from the Vikings in a trade for a late-round choice in the 2012 NFL Draft.
  • CHARGERS – signed S Tyrone Carter, last with the Steelers; signed OLB Cyril Obiozor from the Cardinals practice squad; re-signed CB Dante Hughes.
  • COLTS – placed SS Melvin Bullitt (shoulder) and RB Devin Moore (neck) on the injured-reserve list, ending their seasons; released DT Mitch King; signed WR Kenny Moore and DB Aaron Francisco; signed DB Mike Newton off their practice squad.
  • DOLPHINS – fired special teams coach John Bonamego; promoted assistant special teams coach Darren Rizzi to the position.
  • FALCONS – released LB Robert James.
  • 49ERS – signed LB Keaton Kristick off their practice squad.
  • JAGUARS – signed DL C.J. Mosley, most recently with the Browns; released QB Todd Bouman.
  • LIONS – released G Manuel Ramirez.
  • PANTHERS – claimed WR David Clowney off waivers from the Jets; released WR Dwayne Jarrett.
  • RAIDERS – signed OLB Bruce Davis off the 49ers practice squad; released DT Jay Alford.
  • RAVENS – signed OL Scott Kooistra, last with Browns; released CB/PR Prince Miller.
  • SEAHAWKS – acquired RB Marshawn Lynch from the Bills in a trade for a 4th-round choice in the 2011 NFL Draft and a conditional choice in the 2012 NFL Draft; released RB Julius Jones and OL Evan Dietrich-Smith.
  • TITANS – signed DL Amon Gordon, previously with the Seahawks..

10 Responses to “Romeo To The Rescue? … Wednesday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • October 6, 2010  - Ernie says:

    C’mon D! Let’s make it a “4 quarter” game and then run it down their throats. 4-0 anyone?? We need to at least split these next 2 roadgames and why not start this Sunday?


  • October 6, 2010  - Blake says:

    TE Dallas Clark, not Dallas Green


  • October 6, 2010  - dan in joplin says:

    Great article Bob! This is EXACTLY what I was looking for!


  • October 6, 2010  - jim says:

    Coach and scheme all you want, but the players still have to execute.

    I think this bye week, with the veterans helping to coach, also helps with our on-field adjustments on the fly. With Manning, and the no huddle, this will be invaluable for our defense.

    I think our young team is up for the task. Chiefs 27 Colts 24 — the Colts are driving as time is running out and Lewis gets an int.

    I’m awake now – those short naps are great.


  • October 6, 2010  - Anonymous says:

    Romeo will give us an edge on the defensive side for sure. Emmit Thomas will have his guys prepared as well. Manning will get 300 yds minimum even if we bring our A game. If we can keep our offense on the field, sustaining long… time consuming drives with points (touchdowns preferred) we will have a chance.

    Steve Hoffmans ST unit will be the real key in this matchup. A ST score for a touchdown will be the game changing victory for the Chiefs. I could say more however I will spare those who are reading this their valued time.
    Go Chiefs.


  • October 6, 2010  - dan in joplin says:

    Ernie, I agree! There is no reason why we can’t win this game. The past is exaclty that, THE PAST!!!! I agree totally w/ the direction this organization is going, even if we don’t win this one, I’m looking for improvement. Bob keeps saying the Chargers are still the team to beat in the division because they have better “talent”! But I say when you combine EVERYTHING, we are the better team and have a legit chance @ winning the division which would mean playoffs! I’ll hold the rest of my comments till after the colts game! :)


  • October 6, 2010  - Nate says:

    WHAT A GREAT ARTICLE BOB! THANKS FOR THE EFFORT AND EXCELLENCE IN YOUR WRITINGS!


  • October 6, 2010  - Todd says:

    I see we’re 8.5 point underdogs against the Colts according to the betting line. Even though I drink the red koolaid, I have to admit that such an outcome is very possible. I hope not, though.

    One thing occurred to me while reading this great article (thanks Bob!). No matter the outcome of the game, KC will be a better team after preparing for it.

    Go Chiefs!


  • October 6, 2010  - el cid says:

    KC can win but the score will be low and close. Something like 16-13. If Manning can get the Colts to 21 points, the outcome may not be very satisfying. That said, this is the year to beat the Colts, no running game and WRs only as good as Manning can make them, there is a glimmer.


  • October 6, 2010  - Edward says:

    Going to be a interesting game for sure. Can’t wait to see it. If we can keep it close we have a real chance of winnning.




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