Just call them the Kansas City Patriots
When they take the field next year, they Chiefs will have the same defensive coordinator, offensive coordinator and top front office executive who helped lead New England to three Super Bowl titles between 2002-05.
Throw in quarterback Matt Cassel, who backed up Tom Brady with the Patriots, and the New England-Kansas City connection becomes even stronger as Scott Pioli attempts to reverse the fortunes of the long-suffering Chiefs.
Romeo Crennel, the defensive coordinator on the Patriots’ Super Bowl teams, agreed Wednesday to join the Chiefs in the same capacity, his agent said. Crennel, who was out of football this past season following hip surgery, will be reunited with Charlie Weis, who was New England’s offensive coordinator and agreed last week to take that job with the Chiefs.
They’ll be working for Pioli, who one year ago resigned as Patriots personnel director to become general manager of the Chiefs. One of Pioli’s first acts was to trade for Cassel and make him the foundation quarterback for his long-term rebuilding project in Kansas City.
Crennel’s agent, Joe Linta, said Crennel would begin working for the Chiefs in a “couple of weeks” after attending to some family business and coaching in the East-West all-star game. The Chiefs declined comment.
The New York Giants had also expressed interest in Crennel, and talked with him by phone on Monday. But he told them the Chiefs, who run a 3-4 defense similar to what he coached in New England, would probably be his first choice.
Crennel and Weis will be joining a franchise that has won only 10 games in three years and went 4-12 last year in Todd Haley’s rocky rookie season as a head coach. As defensive coordinator, Crennel will replace Clancy Pendergast, whose status on the staff has not yet been redefined.
Besides their successful experience with the Patriots, the two new coordinators also have post-New England failure in common. Weis left the Patriots to become head coach at his beloved Notre Dame and did get off to a good start. He was fired Nov. 30 with a five-year record of 35-27.
Crennel, 62, left New England to become head coach at Cleveland. And five years later, he was fired with a 24-40 record, including 4-12 in 2008.
Both also face a big challenge to help Haley and Pioli get the Chiefs back into contention. Kansas City showed some life near the end of the season, but has not won a postseason game since the 1993 season and is still only 6-35 in its last 41 games.
The Chiefs’ defense had some of the worst games of any in the NFL this past season, twice sending opposing players into the record book with franchise-best performances.
Miles Austin, in an overtime victory over the Chiefs, set the Cowboys single-game record with 250 yards receiving. Then later in the season in what many Chiefs fans consider the low point of the entire year, Cleveland backup Jerome Harrison rushed for an astonishing 286 yards, wiping out Jim Brown’s team record with the third-highest single-game total in NFL history.
The Chiefs pick fifth in the April draft. And they would seem to have a favorable schedule in 2010 with only three games against 2009 playoff teams.