This one is going to be tough. I can’t recall ever ending a season more unsure of my coaching staff. I don’t necessarily mean that in a bad way. I mean literally unsure. As in, not sure.
In the past, our coaches have always had very well defined strengths and weaknesses. We all knew exactly what Martyball was. Vermeil was all offense. Gunther was all crazy. Herm was the most incompetent and infuriating coach of all time. Even our coordinators have either been people we all pretty much liked (Gunther stint 1, Al Saunders, Chan the man) or total hacks (Mike Solari, Paul Hackett, Greg Robinson, Gunther stint 2). I’ve always felt like I had a total handle on our coaching staff. I no longer feel that way.
Part of this is just getting older and realizing I don’t know everything. But this really has been a tough group to nail down. Good record, easy schedule, high-profile coordinators combined with an inexperienced head coach. Where the hell do you assign credit (or blame) there? Both our offense and defense had highs and lows. The team overachieved, yet folded in the end and came out flat multiple times. With respect to the coaching, this was a very mixed bag. Peanuts and cashews, sure, but also several of those nuts that are too hard and throw off the texture continuity.
We’ll begin……at the beginning.
Todd Haley- We’re two years in, and we still don’t really know. Fiery, immature, gambler, motivator, fool, Haley has been called a lot of things. I guess maybe he is a lot of things. Some of them are good. Others most definitely not.
I’m in the camp that thinks Haley should get credit for winning 10 games regardless of how he got there. 10 wins is a lot for the new millennium Chiefs. One of our most successful seasons (sigh). I think a head coach who presided over that should automatically get above a C. I’m sure to many of you the division championship alone merits an A. You can definitely make a case for that, and I wouldn’t think less of you for it.
But when I look closely at what Haley actually did, I am not filled with confidence for the future. I’m having a hard time identifying his strengths. Offensive guru? We’ve seen what happens when he calls our plays. Personnel evaluator? He thought Larry Johnson and Thomas Jones deserved more carries than Jamaal Charles. Master motivator? Only if you ignore the playoff game. And the Oakland game. And the Denver game. And the San Diego game. I enjoyed the 4-down ball for the most part, but even that hurt us at least as often as it helped us.
I can’t say whether Haley ran off Charlie Weis. I can say he seems like he’d be a difficult guy to work for. And I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see him crash and burn next year. I said he earned above a C, and I meant it. But I’m not ready to say he’s a great head coach. Not yet. Final Grade: B-
Charlie Weis- I was pretty sure Weis was going to be a massive boon to this offense. And in a sense, I guess he was. Matt Casselwas much better this year than last. In my head, Weis is getting most of the credit for that.
And yet, the guy decided to abandon us before the season was even over. Presumably well before. Whatever his reasons, that just doesn’t sit right. Do we point the finger at Haley for this? Some have. Personally, I think all that smoke could indicate fire. But when grading an offensive coordinator, the “accepted another job during season” asterisk has to hurt the final score.
And how about that playcalling? It could seem brilliant one game and clueless the next. So inconsistent. At times it felt like Weis was getting too cute. Other times not cute enough. And he stubbornly refused to feed my boy Perv the rock despite his nose for the endzone*. Charlie Weis knows offense, I don’t think there is any doubt about that. But for us, this year, he was wildly inconsistent. Honestly, I’m forced to wonder a little about his focus. Once you’ve put in your two weeks (or even decided to) you’re pretty much on cruise control. When I knew I was leaving Long John Silver’s my hush puppies definitely took a step down. From excellent to very good (I never worked at LJS). Finale grade: C
*I’m halfway serious about this. I began advocating ironman ball from Shawn Smith as soon as he got that TD. I look at him and see the next Neon Deion (but with busier hands).
“Pants” Crennel- Crennel is the obvious valedictorian of this coaching staff. He took an absolutely dismal unit back to respectability. We’ve been waiting ten years for that. Eric Berry was good, but its not like much changed with this defense other than the man running it. As it turns out, that was a pretty huge change.
Replacing Clancy Pendergast is probably the easiest job in sports*, and I recognize that. Expectations for Crennel were as low as they could possibly be. So in a sense, he was set up to succeed.
*Pendergast is now the defensive coordinator for Cal. I can’t believe that. He was first hired as a defensive coordinator by Denny Green. Now that I can believe. Turns out he had impressed Green’s son. Funny how often the word “son” occurs in descriptions of how coaches got their jobs.
I don’t think Romeo Crennel is a genius. In fact, he often struggled to make in-game adjustments. But I feel better about this defense than I have since the 90s. I can’t believe the progress they made in a year. Given his background, its hard to give too much of the credit for that to Haley. Crennel is in prime position to receive our adulation.
Here are some other things I like about Romeo Crennel:
- his pants
- the way he walks in the aforementioned pants
- he seems just the slightest bit silly (see twinkle in eye)
- he brought us Perv Smith
- his ability to recognize that Corey Mays is not an NFL starter
Final Grade: A-
What say you, Addicts?