Kevin Hoffman-US PRESSWIRE

What If Crennel Is The Problem?

Going into yesterday’s game, I thought it was entirely possible the Chiefs would lose. In fact, the Bills were viewed as more or less equal to the Chiefs in terms of talent, so the safe pick in this game was probably Buffalo, given that it was their home opener and they also wanted to make a statement after a blowout loss.

Still, although a loss is just a loss whether you lose by a point or a million, it does matter how you lose, and that’s what stood out most in this game.

Once again, a defense that was supposed to be in the top 10 in the league got carved to pieces. Coverages were routinely blown. Tackling was poor. We had no pressure on the quarterback, and made no plays in the secondary.

After Week 1, I suspected that ILB Derrick Johnson might not yet be fully recovered from his ankle injury. This game pretty much confirms that. He definitely did not show the speed and athleticism that makes him a dynamic player in the middle of his defense. He could not keep up with Buffalo’s running backs and he was horrendous in coverage. Belcher continued to be a huge liability when defending the pass and Flowers looked far from 100 percent.

Timothy T. Ludwig-US PRESSWIRE

No one in the ACL crew looked like they had their 2010 spark back. TE Tony Moeaki was never getting separation and only caught one pass on four targets. Jamaal Charles was totally ineffective in the run game and was put on ice, possibly due to a yet undisclosed injury. S Eric Berry was virtually invisible out there. We now have to consider the possibility that some or all three of those players may never fully recover from their bad knees.

Who would have guessed that S Kendrick Lewis would be so missed?

I presume everyone will now pile on Matt Cassel for this loss, but as with last game, I don’t see it. His stat line was 23/42 for 301 yards, 2 TD 1 INT. In a win, this would be considered a pretty good performance. No one on either side of the ball stepped up when called upon.

I’m just going to say it right now, Jon Baldwin may be a bust. We had high expectations for him given that he was lighting it up in camp, but after seeing how the Chiefs D-backs have been playing, anyone on the AA staff could have come out of St. Joe as a training camp sensation. He wasn’t even targeted against the Falcons and did not look good against the Bills.

Kevin Hoffman-US PRESSWIRE

Baldwin never seems to run his routes with confidence and always expects to be able to outmuscle defenders in jump ball situations with his body skills — except that he doesn’t, and one way or the other, we need him to catch and run, not loiter around on the sideline as if he’s playing some elaborate form of Keep Away. In the second half, it was clear that Cassel was forcing the ball to him in the hopes of making something happen deep downfield. Baldwin was never open, never ready and only reeled in half of the balls thrown his way. He got us 62 yards, but in the worst way. I hope I’m wrong about him.

Dexter McCluster, again, was KC’s only reliable receiver, consistently getting open and catching four passes on five targets. TE Kevin Boss again caught a pretty pass, but I’d be surprised if he doesn’t miss time after getting knocked out cold after a nasty blow to the head (which wasn’t really a penalty, but the refs gave us that one). As has long been the case, WR Dwayne Bowe emerged in the second half as the Chiefs’ only big-play threat, catching eight passes for 102 yards and 2 TDs.

Timothy T. Ludwig-US PRESSWIRE

This too, however, has a dark undercurrent to it though, as BJ Kissel pointed out on the Chop Talk postgame podcast. It is currently looking like the Chiefs will have to franchise Bowe again this year, to which he will likely respond by holding out again. The alternative is to pay him big bucks that Pioli doesn’t want to shell out and honestly may be more than he is worth. Still, as Kissel said, “This offense is scary to think about without Dwayne Bowe on this team.”

The offensive line, which was also supposed to be a great strength of this team in 2012, floundered. Cassel was under near-constant pressure and took five sacks. In his short, but illustrious career, this is the first time that Bills DT Kyle Williams has gotten two sacks in one game, and he also drove G Jon Asamoah into Charles for a 5-yard loss. Congratulations, Kyle.

RB Peyton Hillis, who was supposed to be the safe, pounding runner, gave up a critical fumble on the 1-yard line.

But, what killed the Chiefs most in this game was not the poor play of individual players or units, it was the shell-shocked reaction of the entire team to the Bills’ initial success. Early in the second quarter you could see the team as a whole shaking their heads and looking at the scoreboard as if to say, “Well, I guess this just isn’t our game.”

This is unacceptable, and it was by far the most infuriating part of this game. This team seemed to be totally unprepared and they gave up early. That’ll happen in high school. It’ll happen in college. This is unacceptable in the pros.

Special teams gave up another long kickoff return for a touchdown at the worst possible time allowing the Bills to seal the victory in the third quarter. Even my wife, who is still learning the game, correctly pointed out that no one looked focused.

Cassel, the usual scapegoat, was also strip-sacked and was never even close to saving us in the game, but he also scrambled well and showed toughness while getting what little was there. In the end, Cassel, McCluster and Bowe seemed like the only players still interested in playing the game by halftime.

Kevin Hoffman-US PRESSWIRE

This is where the coach is supposed to come in. Not only did the Chiefs seem unprepared, they looked utterly outcoached on defense. With as bad as DJ has looked against the pass, how could Crennel put him in coverage on TE Scott Chandler – one of Ryan Fitzpatrick’s favorite weapons – in the red zone, allowing him to give up an easy touchdown on virtually the exact same play that Tony G scored with last week?

Comparatively, Brian Daboll’s scheme overall looks like it will get us places this year. I liked some of the matchups he exploited, but I can’t honestly say anything positive about the defense.

After halftime, I was expecting the Chiefs to come back fired up, and, while I knew likely wouldn’t be able to catch up to the Bills, I expected them to at least play like professionals. Instead they came out flatter than before. Crennel, who is known for his friendly, soft-spoken demeanor, was unable to get rally the troops. In that situation, the players didn’t need a friend; they needed leader that would kick them in the ass and tell them to go out and play with pride.

When it was time for the Chiefs to pick a new head coach after the 2011 season, I was one of the few who went against the grain in suggesting that Crennel was not the best choice. In addition to the fact that he had been unsuccessful in the top job before, many of the things that doomed Todd Haley’s tenure in KC – namely blowout losses – were failures on Crennel’s part as well. Getting torched for lopsided losses is as much the defensive coordinator’s fault as it is the head coach’s. Crennel has now presided as DC over two seasons of disgustingly poor defensive play in the opening games.

Although he engineered big wins in the last three games of the season, not much else stands out in his resume other than the fact that he is from the New England system and the players seem to like him.

After the game, Crennel said he didn’t really know how or why the Chiefs got so thoroughly demolished in the game. Paddy quoted him as saying, “I’m gonna say that I thought we would be better. I really thought that we would be better but we’re not so we’ve got to figure out why that is.”

This is very distressing.

Now, because I have just spewed 1,300+ words of negativity, here’s some happy thoughts for anyone still reading:

1.) The Chiefs came back from blowout losses and crucial injuries in the first two weeks of the season last year, and stayed in division contention to the end. So, if you haven’t blacked it out of your memory, you will recall that you felt this bad after Week 2 last year and it got better.

2.) The Chiefs aren’t the only team that has allowed a league-high 75 points so far in the 2012 season. We are tied with the New Orleans Saints and we play them next week.

3.) Kansas City is currently fifth in the league in total offense, fifth in rushing and 11th in passing. So, hey, at least that’s not our biggest problem anymore!

4.) As bad as the Chiefs’ loss today was, the Raiders’ beatdown was worse. They got crushed 13-35 against the Miami Dolphins, considered by many to be the worst team in the league.

5.) Speaking of the ‘Phins, it took the team half of the season to learn Daboll’s complicated offense, but after playing awful in their first seven games, Miami went 6-3 starting in Week 9 (against the Chiefs) with a combined score of 222-131. In other words, don’t worry. The Chiefs are just going to be late bloomers.

6.) Remember that Arizona team that we mowed over in the preseason? Well, they just beat the New England Patriots in Foxborough. If they’re good enough to do that, then we must have something.

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Tags: Bills Brian Daboll Buffalo Chiefs Dexter McCluster Dwayne Bowe Matt Cassel Romeo Crennel

  • Tribal Rage

    Im not sold and Im certainly not buying….there are really big, huge problems on this team. Good numbers in garbage time is not an arguement for Cassel Bowe and DMC being the only ones in the game. I do agree a blowout loss counts as much as a close loss…its a loss. But we have real problems and few options for 2012.

    Start with the line. They were man handled and over-powered all day long. Lilja is a sled. He gets pushed back almost every play. I would rather use Albert at guard and Stephenson at Tackle to at least create a stronger pocket. Cassel has never performed well with people in his face and with continued pressure up the middle we are doomed.
    The play calling has been questionable. Where was the goal line formation at the one. We spread the field and let the big back run behind a weak interior line? He lost that ball because he was contacted at the 3 and was fighting to push the ball in front of him 2 yards trying to make a play. Its 1 yard…I formation…qb sneak…punch someone in the mouth. Why is JC not touching the ball? Where’s the innovation? How are receivers wide open against us but our guys are constantly blanketed?

    The 2 gap system only works if your 3 down lineman command double teams. Ours do not. The word is out, we are in trouble. This defense is not physical and the hits that are being delivered are easily forgotten. If your gonna play finesse D, you better frustrate the opposing offense. This team does neither. Time for a change. With the players on this roster a ferocious 4-3 attack D a la SF would be better suited. We have 6 1st round picks starting….6. RACs teddy bear approach and scheme is not the identity that is Chiefs Football.

    Special Teams:
    Are a joke. Great punter, Inconsistent kicker, bad coverage team and incapable return specialist. Oh yea, Tynes 2 SB rings…Barth 5/5, longest 52yd.

    I will no longer make excuses for this team. We are delusional fans…this team is the Cleveland Browns, just some haven’t learn to accepted it. Im not drinking the kool-aid no more….I’ll have a beer instead, and just sit and watch it continue.

    • jamestown

      Couldn’t agree more with Tribal Rage. The defense we are in doesn’t fit the personnel. This is the biggest issue we face. I know Crennel is a mastermind at defense but it is time to look past that and recognize what we have. Belcher is a complete waste of space as well.
      In regards to Cassel, he is THE problem on the offensive side. You can say that Baldwin is a bust but if you watch the game you will see that the Chiefs use him like Randy Moss. They have him sprint down the sidelines play after play trying to catch the deep ball. This may work if the person throwing the ball was accurate. You can’t expect him to jump when he is at an all out sprint to catch up to a ball overthrown by 5-10 yards.
      This team gets fixed by a more confident / better QB and a different defensive system.

      • tm1946

        You cannot cut Belcher, I would suggest our “mastermind” adjust his system to fit the personnel. If your players cannot play the 2 gap then you play something else. For some reason Crennel just keep calling the same plays his players will not or cannot execute.
        Baldwin is a big time bust, no NFL grade speed. No separation from defenders, runs bad, uncontrolled routes. BUST.
        Not sure why you are blasting on Cassel, 300 yard and Pioli has insured he is the first string QB. Want to see Quinn or Stanzi? I don’t. Just be aware Cassel is not very good but Pioli has made sure no one else is on roster.

        • Spencer

          Baldiwn a bust? no speed? ha!!!!, he has nfl speed easy, now does he run good routes? hell no……., but he is an atheltic freak, he’s 6ft 4 230 lbs 10 1/8 hands, runs a 4:50 40 yrd dash, and has a 42 inch verticle, everyone talks about julio jones jump.. well he can olny jump 4 inches lower then baldwin and has 1 inch less in height, same arm length, and has smaller hands

          Now julio jones and Baldwin? Julio Jones all day, that guy is faster, runs a 4.4 forty yrd dash, and is simply another athetlic freak, but Baldwin isnt a bust, he still hasn’t played a full season, umm wrs still take an average of 3 years to have their breakout year, and he’s still young and athetlic

          if every team used your ability to call someone a bust well, there would be alot of stars out on the market right now, simply put, rookies dont just end up in their 2nd year as great, they usually take time, even 1st round wrs, look up the stats, it can all be seen through them stats

          • tm1946

            No just Baldwin, T. Jackson, and Cassel to a lessor extent. I will admit I chose wrongly with the 2nd round attack of the little people but not sure there was not some truth to not go that direction . Almost forgot,not in love with last years draft either.

          • Tribal Rage

            I think you misunderstood bust….Baldwin possess all the tools to make him a superstar yet he has done nothing on the field. D Bowe has Cassel throwing him the ball and yet he’s a superstar, in that logic its not Cassels fault. Im beginning to think, Baldwin lacks heart. He lacks intensity. He lacks desire. Smaller, slower guys get open and catch everything thrown near….Jon Baldwins issue is Jon Baldwin. That’s probably why he is a ghost, why he’s not getting separation and why he wont be on this team and will bounce from place to place in 2 years. 1st rd WRs that don’t apply themselves are bust. In college he was a man among boys and half effort yields results….in the NFL you need full effort, heart, and drive to maybe get lucky enough to be thought of as a great player.

          • jpopejoy

            and this is an issue Haley would’ve undoubtedly fixed. I’ll admit Haley has his share of issues, but maximizing WR talent was NEVER one. I’m starting to be curious how much of Haley’s attitude, etc was due to Pioli.

          • Jim Harper

            That is not the problem! The problem is they are not targeting Baldwin, nor giving him much playing time. They are playing Breaston instead. I think Cassel does not trust him to go get a ball.

          • Danny W

            Baldwin isn’t a bust period. All he has done is catch every ball that is within his zip code. Your absolutely right that he is a physical freak and is only on the field about 25% of the time.

          • Daniel Ruth

            Don’t forget JJ has Ryan throwing him the ball, not Cassel!

    • Chief Hokie

      I agree with this

    • ArrowFan

      the 3-4 did good against the run it was our Nickel that got ran on.

  • Nate Taylor

    I don’t think Cassel was the only problem. In fact, I couldn’t find a position that didn’t contribute to yesterday’s loss. The WRs were the closest I came.

    However, I think including Cassel’s stat line is a bit disingenuous. Yes he had 301 yards 2TDs and 1 INT. By my count close to 150 of those yards were in the 4th Q, both TDs and the Int were in that quarter. The quarter that Bufffalo started putting in the backups and basically went into victory formation.

    That’s the type of spin I expected to see today. Bowe had a good game yesterday if you look at his 4th Q numbers. However, I don’t think anyone really had a good game yesterday. Week 1 they play 1/2 of a game. Yesterday looked like they played 1/4 of a game, plus the first drive of the game.

    The way they came out yesterday I thought they had a shot. The opening drive, while not scoring looked decent. But when BUF started having success the team started falling apart. If the recipe for this team is get a lead and never look back it’s going to be a long season.

    • Manny8808

      Bowe is a part of the problem. His attitude was in full demonstration yesterday. His pointing to his jersey crap in a blow-out loss is indicative of the guys approach, all about Bowe. Get back to the huddle and do your job! Franchise him and trade him next year!

      • NicholasAlanClayton

        Yeah, I didn’t remember the whole jersey thing because I had self-medicated myself into a fuzzy state.

      • sidibeke

        And get a QB with the pick!

      • Nate Taylor

        In the game thread, I actually said something like “Don’t celebrate. Get back to the sideline”

      • chiefridgy

        That’s just bowe’s thing

    • Chiefswatch

      So right about the spin man. I didnt expect to see it on AA to be honest but Cassel lovers are Cassel lovers.

      • Danny W

        NAC usually calls it like he see’s it so I don’t know what this article is all about. It’s completely absurd if you ask me. I said during the game that the excuse train we be rolling down the tracks and here it comes.

  • tm1946

    Interesting read, Chiefs 5 ranked team, I think stats are for losers. All the offense came after the game was decided and the other team was coasting.
    AZ beat NE and that means something b/c Chiefs beat them in the preseason….well does the preseason mean anything or not cannot have it both way. Preseason mean nothing or preseason means something.
    Seem to feel this team will come back after two losses. I with you but doubt this offense or defense has a clue about what to do from the opening of game to the final gun.
    If Daboll needs half a season to get his offense insink, we just gave up this season b/c so far he does not seem to know anyone on the roster from guards who look like road kill to rbs who stand on the sidelines while a backup runs the ball, to WRs who get involved only after the team is down 21 points. How stupid is Daboll?
    Lastly Crennel seems more than little lost after games. Guess the game may have passed him by, considerating his inability to make a single adjustment that works after halftimes.

  • mg2098

    I think these two blow out losses are on everyone in the organizations fault. I know in the end that the head coach always takes the blame, but it always comes down to the talent level on the field (Scott Pioli). When our offense struts out on to the field they have no identity, and no obvious leader. No one on the offense is willing to step up and take that role. On most successful NFL offenses the QB is the leader. After four years of leading the Chiefs offense Matt Cassel has failed to step up and take the leadership role of this team. To become the leader Cassel would have to show himself worthy, and make a few difficult plays in any given game to give his team the edge. Lets say 4-5 passes or scrambles that separate a stalled drive into some type of points. This in turn would start a chain reaction to the rest of the players on the field willing to play their best for him. Along with this comes consistency for Cassel to do game in and game out. In his four years there was only one game that he was able to rally team to a victory with 4-5 clutch plays which was last years Colts game. This should have been a gimme win, but somehow the Chiefs were able to find themselves down by 3 TD. I think much of the problem on the offense is a lack of belief by the players that Cassel can lead it, and also not yet buying into Dabolls system. This Offense with Cassel under center will never take flight and remain consistent muc like Cassel’s career.

    On the defensive side of the ball the problem is much more complicated. With Hali and Flowers being out of the line up in week 1 it aloud the Falcons to do what they wanted however they wanted. It put a stigma on the players that this defense just might not be very good. You can build on success or fall deeper into the rubble with poor play. Im betting on the latter. This set the tone for week two and many games to come if Crennel doesn’t fix the problem in a hurry. I believe that Crennel can’t be a head coach, and a defensive coordinator at the same time. He proved this in Cleveland, and will prove it once again in KC. He just cant focus enough attention on the defense to make great game plans, and focus solely on halftime adjustments. In these past two games it is obvious to see that he and the Chiefs might have bit off more than they can chew, but only time will tell. Also the leader on the defense has yet to step up this year, and has played just as inconstant as his QB. Yeah im talking about DJ here. So until these issues are resolved I don’t feel like the Chiefs will ever field anything resembling Championship caliber team. It will be one heartbreak week after another. I wouldn’t look for the change to start this week going up against a pissed off and hungry Saints team.

  • chiefridgy

    It’s only game 2…..chill out a bit….We all had our hopes high (cloud 9 high) before the start of the season and it hurts like hell when you come crashing down from there. I don’t think the season or this team is lost ( i know the team looked lost yesterday). If you put an arrowhead on the glass, I’ll drink the Kool-aid all day long….
    GO CHIEFS!!!

    • Danny W

      I’m sure you were like chill out it’s only preseason after we got blown out of our third game in a row. Then after the first game chill out it’s only week one and the preseason doesn’t matter. Put the weed pipe down brother. We’ve been blown out of five games in a row if you count the preseason.

      • chiefridgy

        You coming on here and complaining isn’t going to change anything…they aren’t going to take any of our advice….u think they are sitting around wondering what danny w would do….God forbid someone trys to stay positive…Nice weed reference …grow up brother

  • Chiefswatch

    Looking at that Cassel stat line is misleading and its not very cool that you used it in your post like we didnt watch the game. I remember three points showing on my screen throughout most of the game. His lost fumble was another “I am an idiot moment” much like throwing across the defense was last week. Most of his success came in garbage time and you damn well know that. He was as terrible as any throughout the first three quarters. I don’t see how you can say the receivers are not getting separation, unless of course you were at the game, when I watch games they zoom in on the QB and all receivers are out of frame. It is infuriating to say the least. If you do see that though we got huge problems because if Bowe, Baldwin, Breaston, Moeki, and Boss are the reason Cassel cant complete more than three non check down passes per game we may as well throw in the towel.

    • NicholasAlanClayton

      Tough crowd.

  • jpopejoy

    a lot of times, i agree with stuff written here, but some of these comments are SO far off base. Pioli *hopes* you look at cassels final numbers and say “wow, he played well.” in fact, he played terribly. 125 yards, 3 sacks and a fumble up to the point it was 28-3 with 5 left in the 3rd. in TOTAL garbage time, he did fine against prevent defense. Additionally, even some of the “good completions” were bad passes. Cassel throws behind Boss on that deep ball that got him injured. A seam route is one of the easiest in all of football, and Cassel still throws it to the wrong shoulder.

    Also, Bowe is the only consistent receiver on the chiefs. McCluster is a dump down guy that is good for what he does, but Bowe is a legit STUD. It’s absurd some people in Kansas City don’t realize it. The guy got 1100+ yards with TYLER PALKO throwing for 6 games last year. You put him with a legit top 15 qb and he gets 1400 a year, easy.

    Lastly, why did anyone believe “reports from camp” that Baldwin was having a breakout camp. Was anyone that naive to believe that it wasn’t Pioli putting that word out there to try and devalue Bowe?

    Pioli is obsessed with the “right 53″. You need the “right 1″, the QB. Brady, Peyton, Brees, and Rodgers make everyone look like a genius, and hide GLARING deficiencies at other positions.

    Pioli, Cassel, and Romeo gotta go. Romeo is a great D coordinator, not a head coach. At this point, I’d offer *any 3* chiefs and 2 1st round draft picks to get the #1 overall and draft Barkley. Then again, with how the team is playing now, we will get a top 5 pick all on our own.

  • Danny W

    All Baldwin has done is catch the balls that are thrown with his huge reach. You calling him a bust is crazy brother. He hasn’t been on the field for a large percentage of each game. That’s Daboll.
    Those numbers Cassel put up were in the closing quarter of the game when we were down by 30 points. It’s not all of Cassel’s fault but he shoulders a lot of it. He didn’t do half of what winning quarterbacks would do. Most of the throws he completed were not caught in stride and many were up for grabs. When you get down by 20 points in a game the defense is going to attack your line. All these blitzes are going to make your quarterback scramble. I know you live in Europe or whatever and maybe you didn’t get to watch the game. If not you should watch it. A lot of what you are saying makes no sense.

  • sidibeke

    I worry that Crennel is the problem, too. And if so, that will be hard to overcome. ST failures, team letdowns…we need some leadership and I’m not sure from where it will come. Cassell is fiery, but he doesn’t seem to be a leader. We need guys like DJ and maybe Boss or someone on the o side to step up and get more out of this team if the HC can’t.

    If this continues, there will have to be another major shake up: fire Romeo, maybe Pioli with him. This team has too much talent to not be better.

  • KCMikeG

    Thanks for speaking the truth in your happy thoughts. Sanity is difficult to grasp in times like this. I would add Draughn to the list out there trying. Telling the truth isn’t spin unless it gets in the way of someone’s unsubstantiated claims.

    Kansas City is currently fifth in the league in total offense, fifth in rushing and 11th in passing. HOW could that possibly be true with the WORST QB in the NFL??? Maybe reports of Cassel’s death were premature.
    REALITY CHECK: Buffalo did not have subs at DB in the 4th. ALL of offense AND Cassel’s stats haven’t ALL come in garbage town (1st half vs a Great ATL team). You have to be deaf, dumb and blind to harp Cassel. He clearly isn’t the only problem nor the biggest – in fact there are much worse issues at play. The entire defense, RAC, ST, the health of the ACL3 and the OL are where our focus should be instead of the knee jerk reactions attacking Cassel.

    Interesting stat from ESPN for you Tom Brady lovers/Cassel Haters: Brady overthrew WR Brandon Loyd and TE Aaron Hernandez yesterday, both on passes over 30 yards. Since 2011, Brady leads the league in missed passes from 30-plus yards – misfiring on 12-of-19 (63.2%).
    NOT comparing the two so spare me the attacks on that. But I could have sworn I saw Cassel plant one dead on to Bowe in full stride with a defender right on him for a 33 yard TD after doing the same on the TD to Boss last week and went +25 to Boss and Baldwin twice. Just saying….

  • malcriiado

    I WISH Crennel would of stayed as just DC…… now if the team doesn’t do well that means he’ll be sacked and we’ll need a new DC and HC!

  • atlchief

    So we’re supposed to feel optimistic because we won a preseason game? Have you looked at the schedule? You know what “late blooming” gets us? Maybe a win Cleveland.

    We’re probably looking at 1-5 going into the bye. At that point we’re in the Miami Dolphins as “one of the worst teams in football”

    Speaking of Cleveland; maybe we can just drop off Romeo while we’re there. This man has no spark, no fire, no nothing. And I’m convinced that his success in NE had everything to do with having a HOF QB who took tons of pressure off the defense.