Chiefs fire Crennel, restructure organization


Chiefs fire Crennel, restructure organization

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) The Kansas City Chiefs are doing more than looking for a new coach after firing Romeo Crennel on Monday. They're changing the entire structure of the organization.

Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt said in an interview with The Associated Press that he will hire the next head coach and that person will report directly to him. That's a departure from the previous 53 years in Kansas City, where the head coach had always reported to the general manager.

``The reason for it is I think it gives us the best chance of hiring the most outstanding coach,'' said Hunt, who had already begun working the phones to find Crennel's replacement.

Hunt relieved the 65-year-old Crennel of his duties after a 38-3 loss to Denver on Sunday that finished off a 2-14 season, tied for the worst in franchise history. But he has not made a decision on the future of GM Scott Pioli, whose job has hung in the balance for weeks.

``I don't have a timeline laid out on that,'' Hunt said. ``Obviously the beginning of February, there are a lot of important events related to the upcoming draft, the combine and so forth, and we want to be solidified in that regard before that.''

The Chiefs will have the No. 1 pick for the first time since joining the NFL.

The Chiefs' only victories this season were against New Orleans and Carolina, the latter coming one day after linebacker Jovan Belcher shot his girlfriend to death and then drove to the team's practice facility and turned the gun on himself as Crennel and Pioli looked on.

Crennel seemed to know the end was coming Sunday night when he was asked to defend his job and said, ``If your criteria is wins and losses, there's not much defense.''

``The NFL is a performance-based league, and we weren't able to win,'' Crennel said in a statement Monday. ``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 only other time the Chiefs finished 2-14 was 2008, the year before Pioli was hired. They were 2-12 in 1977, the only other time they've failed to win at least three games.

``It's a tough day, but I can't say I didn't see it coming,'' said right tackle Eric Winston, among several players cleaning out their lockers Monday.

With five players voted to the Pro Bowl last week, there are certainly pieces in place for the Chiefs to make rapid improvement. But four of them were inherited by Pioli's regime, and that haul of Pro Bowl players may have been Crennel's biggest indictment.

``You always want to be able to give a head coach as long as you can to build a program. I just felt we really were not headed in the right direction,'' Hunt said. ``The Pro Bowl balloting tells us a little about what coaches and players around the league think about the roster, that there's some very talented players. But at the same time, we all know there are holes.''

The biggest hole is at quarterback, where the Chiefs benched Matt Cassel and his $63 million contract in favor of Brady Quinn, who struggled all year and is now a free agent.

The Chiefs' inept offense managed 18 touchdowns in 16 games, finished minus-24 in turnover margin and lost nine times by two touchdowns or more. Along the way, they broke an 83-year-old NFL record by not holding a lead in regulation until their ninth game.

``It has been by far the hardest year I've ever had as a professional,'' Hunt said. ``I was miserable throughout the season, just in terms of what I was seeing. It was so hard on me because I want the team to succeed, not only for everyone in this building but most importantly for our fans. It just killed me that we weren't competitive. I hated it.''

Crennel, whose career record as a head coach is 28-55, was hired in 2010 as defensive coordinator. Respected by his players, he was appointed interim coach last December when Pioli fired Todd Haley with three games left in the season.

Crennel immediately brought a sense of stability to a floundering franchise, defeating the previously unbeaten Green Bay Packers and winning at Denver in the season finale.

With the support of the players, Pioli made Crennel the permanent coach a few weeks later, giving him another opportunity as a head coach after four failed seasons in Cleveland.

This season was a disappointment from the start, too. The Chiefs were blown out by the Falcons in their opener, trounced by the Bills and later lost eight consecutive games.

Empty seats began to multiply at Arrowhead Stadium, once one of the NFL's most intimidating venues. An organized fan rebellion paid for banners to be towed behind airplanes asking for Pioli to be fired, and the majority of fans dressed in black for a home game against Cincinnati.

Nothing Crennel did seemed to work, either.

He fired himself as the defensive coordinator and turned those duties over to linebackers coach Gary Gibbs. He shuffled his quarterbacks, changed inspirational posters outside the locker room and even tinkered with the way practice was run.

But injuries were numerous, turnovers plentiful and penalties crippling as blown assignments became the hallmark of a team that was rarely competitive in games.

Then came the morning of Dec. 1, when tragedy struck.

Belcher, a part-time starter, shot the mother of his 3-month-old daughter, Kasandra Perkins, multiple times at a home not far from Arrowhead Stadium. The linebacker then sped to the team's practice facility and was confronted by Pioli, who tried to talk him out of more violence.

After thanking Pioli and Crennel for his chance in the NFL, Belcher shot himself in the head.

The Chiefs played the following day against Carolina, and Crennel was praised for the way he stoically led a team in turmoil. Kansas City put together its best performance in a 27-21 victory.

It wound up being their last win. The Chiefs were blown out by Cleveland, shut out by Oakland and beaten by the Colts before an embarrassing finale against the Broncos.

That was enough to finish Crennel, and enough to put Pioli's future in jeopardy.

``I kept looking for the team to improve, to show signs that we were turning the corner,'' Hunt said, ``and we just never got there.''


Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Quick Links

Wizards Tipoff podcast: Should Bradley Beal be an All-NBA selection?


Wizards Tipoff podcast: Should Bradley Beal be an All-NBA selection?

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, host Chase Hughes was joined by guest co-host Travis Thomas to break down Bradley Beal's All-NBA chances and John Wall's injury rehab.

They also discussed the crazy Eastern Conference playoff race, Trae Young's draft stock and essentials for a good snow day.

You can listen to the episode right here:

You can download the podcast on Apple Podcasts right here and on Google Play. If you like the show please tell your friends!

Quick Links

Caps prospect watch: Signing season?


Caps prospect watch: Signing season?

The 2018 NCAA Hockey Tournament bracket has been announced and only one Capitals prospect, Brian Pinho, is still in the running.

Providence College was selected as the No. 2 seed in the East Regional and will play No. 3 Clarkson in the first round on Friday, March 23 on ESPNU. The winner will play the winner of Notre Dame-Michigan Tech on Saturday with a chance to advance to the Frozen Four.

The college season is over for the rest of the Capitals' college prospects which begs the question, will any of them sign an entry-level deal with Washington?

In the spring when seasons end for colleges, junior leagues and European leagues, we see a flurry of signings across the NHL as teams sign their prospects and young free agents.

Among the Caps' college prospects, the most likely candidate to sign would be Shane Gersich. Gersich just wrapped up this third season at the University of North Dakota, finishing second on the team in goals (13) and tied for third in points (29). The Capitals will certainly make a push to sign him considering his talent and because if he returns to college for a fourth year, he stands to become a free agent on Aug. 15, 2019.

Brad Elliott Schlossman of the Grand Forks Herald reported Wednesday that North Dakota was still awaiting Gersich's decision on whether he planned to return to college.

Quinnipiac defenseman Chase Priskie is in a similar situation, but it he has decided to head back to school for another season.

“That wasn’t a season I’d want to leave on,” Priskie told the New Haven Register. “When I came here as a freshman I saw our senior class, Garteig, St. Denis, Soren Jonzzon, and they left such a legacy that guys still talk about them. Same for Sam Anas and Devon Toews. They were all such great players and some of the best people for our program. When I leave, I want to be talked about like they are.”


Other prospect notes:

  • For Pinho, now a senior at Providence, this marks an opportunity for him to finish his college career the same way he began, with a national championship. “I don’t think I realized at the time how hard it is just to get back to the tournament,” Pinho told the New Haven Register. “So that’s something we older guys have been telling the younger guys. You never know when you’re going to be back and you have to make the most of it when you’re there.” (You can read the full feature on Pinho here)
  • The end of the season may suddenly be near for goalie prospect Ilya Samsonov. Metallurg Magnitogorsk finds itself down 3-1 in its series with Ak Bars in the KHL playoffs meaning their season could be over as early as Friday. Of course, the big news to watch after that is whether or not Samsonov would come to North America. If he does, he would most likely go to Hershey to play for the Bears. With only 10 games remaining on Hershey's schedule, however, the sooner Samsonov's team is ousted from the playoffs, the better. At least from a Washington perspective.
  • All three of Washington's WHL prospects have reached the WHL playoffs. Moose Jaw (Dmitriy Zaitsev) finished with the best record in the league and will play Prince Albert in the first round. Swift Current (Beck Malenstyn) finished second in the East Division behind Moose Jaw and will play Regina. Everett (Garrett Pilon) won the U.S. Division and earned the top seed in the Western Conference. They will play Seattle in the first round.
  • Dmitriy Zaitsev remains out after taking an illegal hit last week. He did not play in either of Moose Jaw's final regular season games, but was a full participant in practice on Wednesday.
  • Adam Carlson has found his groove in Kansas City. Playing for the Mavericks of the ECHL, he won each of his two starts this past week allowing only one goal on 43 shots. He was named the 2nd star of the game for both games.
  • Madison Bowey recorded an assist on Friday and two more for Hershey on Saturday for three over the weekend in his first week back with the Bears. Bowey has spent the majority of the season with the Caps, but the additions of Michal Kempny and Jakub Jerabek at the trade deadline meant there were just too many bodies up in Washington and not enough playing time to go around. As Bowey is waiver exempt, he became the odd-man out and was sent to the AHL. It would not be surprising to see him recalled by Washington when the NHL playoffs begin.
  • Defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler brought his goal total up to five for the season with two goals against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Monday. The Bears really wanted to emphasize his offensive game this season to see if Siegenthaler could be developed into a two-way player. His strength is definitely is on the defensive end of the ice, but he will be a more versatile player if he can also be a threat offensively as well. You can see the highlights of Siegenthaler's two-goal game here:

  • Forward Hampus Gustafsson was recalled to Hershey last week and did not wait long to make an impact. He scored his first career AHL goal on Friday. He also added an assist making that game his first career multi-point game as well.
  • Tyler Lewington was suspended two games by the AHL for a punch he delivered to Bridgeport's Scott Eansor in Friday's game.

Who are the Caps' top 10 prospects? Find out here in this week's updated rankings