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Chiefs need offensive coordinator to get to next level

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Recent posts by Eli Kaberon

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Posted Jan. 09, 2012 @ 12:30 p.m. ET
By Eli Kaberon

Exactly four weeks after he was named the Chiefs' interim head coach following the dismissal of Todd Haley, Romeo Crennel has been named the team's full-time head coach. His audition was a three-week stretch at the end of the season that saw his squad sandwich wins over the Packers and Broncos around an overtime loss to the Raiders. The Chiefs played some of their best ball all season during this stretch.

Crennel is well-respected inside the team's locker room and around the NFL, and has been around winning teams for much of his career. Like his mentor Bill Belichick, Crennel struggled during his first go-round as head coach while with the Browns. GM Scott Pioli — another Belichick disciple — is banking on Crennel improving during his second chance as head coach. If the Chiefs are going to take the step from middle-of-the-road club to AFC contender, they are banking on Crennel leading the way.

Walking side-by-side with Crennel in leading the Chiefs will be veteran LBs Tamba Hali and Derrick Johnson along with up-and-coming playmakers such as SS Eric Berry, CB Brandon Flowers and OLB Justin Houston. Defense is the key to Kansas City's success, as all of those players are under contract for the foreseeable future. With another solid draft class from Pioli — a nose tackle to stuff the run would be nice, along with some more depth in the secondary — K.C. might have one of the league's top stop units.

However, Crennel won't be a successful head coach unless the team's offense rises to the level of the "D." Scoring points was a huge problem for Kansas City is 2011, as only the pitiful Rams scored fewer during the regular season. Injuries to QB Matt Cassel, RB Jamaal Charles, WR Jonathan Baldwin and TE Tony Moeaki limited the firepower of the attack, but just returning those guys to the lineup won't fix the unit's woes. The team not only must make some tweaks to the roster but also to the coaching staff to improve the offense.

Haley had an offensive background but he could never seem to find coaches on that side of the ball who wanted to work with him. In Haley's nearly three seasons in Kansas City, the team cycled through nearly a half-dozen offensive play-callers, with the former head coach being one of them. Bill Muir, the current offensive coordinator, was the primary play-caller at the end of the 2011 regular season, but he might opt to retire instead of re-upping with Crennel. There are whispers that QB coach Jim Zorn might take over, but he, too, could choose to work with another team.

According to sources, the Chiefs were all set to hire Josh McDaniels — another Belichick protégé — as offensive coordinator to team with Crennel. But McDaniels opted to go back to New England, where there was an unexpected offensive coordinator vacancy after Bill O'Brien left to take Penn State's head-coaching job.

Now, Pioli and Crennel must figure out who is the best person to direct the Kansas City offense — a dynamic play-caller who can complement the new head coach in leading the team to championship contention.

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