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Chiefs fire Crennel; Pioli safe for now

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By PFW staff

Updated at 4:33 p.m. ET, Monday, Dec. 31

The Chiefs fired head coach Romeo Crennel on Monday, the team announced.

In his first full season as head coach, Crennel had a 2-14 record. The Chiefs will have the No. 1 pick in April’s draft.

Crennel took over as the team’s interim coach at the end of the 2011 season after Todd Haley was fired and went 2-1, including a win over the then-undefeated Packers.

Chiefs chairman and CEO Clark Hunt released the following statement:

"I have a tremendous amount of respect and admiration for Romeo, both personally and professionally. He is an accomplished coach, a man of great character and he helped guide our football team through some extremely challenging circumstances this season.

“However, I am embarrassed by the poor product we gave our fans this season, and I believe we have no choice but to move the franchise in a different direction. I will immediately begin the search for the next head coach of the Chiefs. The entire football operation will remain under review, and there may be additional changes to come. No final determination has been made at this point on the future of General Manager Scott Pioli.

“Finally, I want to personally apologize to our fans for our performance this season. We are blessed to play for some of the best and most passionate fans in the National Football League and they deserve better than what we gave them this season. I want our fans to know that I will do everything I can to provide them with a dramatically better team — both next season and in the seasons to come — and our entire organization appreciates their support.”

Crennel released the following statement through the team on Monday afternoon: “Obviously I’m very disappointed in the way our season went. At the end of the day, the NFL is a performance-based league, and we weren’t able to win. I want to thank the Hunt family for the opportunity as well as our players, coaches and fans for their support during my time in Kansas City. As for my future, I’m planning to take some time to reflect on this season, evaluate everything, and make a decision based on what’s right for myself and my family.”

The way we see it

Hunt has handled this dismissal in an interesting fashion. It appears he’s holding off firing Pioli — a decision the owner reasonably could have made weeks ago — perhaps to gauge the public sentiment and maybe to see whether Pioli can present a plan to him for how he would rebuild. That would include, most prominently, hiring a new head coach and making a change at quarterback.

That might not play too well with the fans, who have voiced their public displeasure for Pioli, even paying to fly “Fire Pioli” signs over Arrowhead Stadium during games. Hunt could hurt his team’s chances of getting his top choice of a head coach (or a GM) if he waits too long to render a decision.

Pioli struggled to find a head coach to replace Herm Edwards, seeking opinions far and wide. He chose Haley because of his offensive vision, but ultimately there was a huge personality and style clash between the two, with the buttoned-up Pioli never meshing well with the more loose-cannon Haley.

That was never the problem with Crennel and Pioli, who worked together for years in New England, winning three titles. But their inability to forge an effective offense — and handpick a quarterback to run it — was the undoing of the team, even with a roster that in some ways was solid.

The next few days will be critical to the immediate future and direction of the Chiefs. We just don’t know which way those will go yet.

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