Does Romeo Spell Run Defense?
This article is by our other new staff writer Robert Beames. Please join me in welcoming Robert to the AA family in the comments. Our new writers, Robert and Matt will have their own AA posting privileges soon. Until that time, I will be posting their articles. Enjoy!
Most of us felt anywhere from intrigued to elated when KC hired new defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel. However, for many it didn’t take long for reality to set in. Crennel is faced with turning around a defense which was better than only one team against the run last year. Any savvy fan of the game knows, in order to win consistently, the defense has to stop the run consistently. So, can Crennel stop the run?
If not, how is the run defense going to improve? He didn’t get help from free agency, and as we all know, the draft came and went with only our last pick used for one of the defensive front seven – DE Cameron Sheffield from Troy in the fifth round. On paper, that doesn’t look like much help. So pCrennel will coach up the Chiefs existing defensive talent to bolster resistance against the run. After a some more experience in the NFL Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson might prove to be studs. Perhaps, the newly acquired Shaun Smith will turn out to be the dominant NT every 3-4 scheme needs. If not, Crennel better hope UFA rookie Garrett Brown is a diamond in the rough, because it doesn’t look like Ron Edwards is the answer. So we are left with Crennel’s strategic mind alone to stop the run. Let’s see if it’s worked in the past.
The below NFL team rankings are one gauge of the run-stopping effectiveness Crennel has had over his coaching career. The numbers go back ten years to when Crennel was a D-line coach, because although there is only so much a coach can do in that position to help the total unit, they do shoulder a bulk of the responsibility for stopping the run. The years and numbers in parentheses show the NFL ranking of the team the year before Crennel joined their staff.
Crennel’s Run Stopping Efforts
|Year||Position||Team||Run D Rank||Pass D Rank||Total D Rank|
As you can see Crennel joined a top five defensive squad in New York, but failed to maintain it, especially against the run. In his first stint with the Patriots, he took a poorly ranked run defense – one only better than six teams, not ten – and didn’t make much of an improvement until the fourth year. Yet overall that defensive unit ended up no better than when he first joined the team. In 1997, he helped a porous Jet defense to become average against the run in his three years there, but again, overall the defense was in the bottom third of the league. In his debut as a DC with the Browns, he didn’t improve the three major defensive rankings at all. Maybe that’s why he returned to New England after only one year. In the span of two years with the Patriots, the below average rush defense he inherited was degraded into a next-to-last quality squad until it later rebounded in 2003-2004 with top-ranked rush defenses during these two Championship years. Long-term these numbers aren’t all that impressive. They almost make us think something magical must have happened in Crennel’s last two years in New England. Oh yeah, wasn’t there some cheating going on around that time? Maybe it helped out the defensive unit, too.
I’m not trying to rain on anyone’s Crennel Parade. Who wouldn’t like to see the above 2003-2004 numbers in KC three years down the road? But there’s no guarantee it will happen. I’m not starting a Hate on Crennel Campaign, either. He deserves a shot to turn the Chiefs defense around, but his past performance doesn’t prove he will be either able to stop the run, or create a dominate defense.
There are many stars which must align to bring a defense together, and Crennel might be able to do this as well as anyone else out there. But based on his past track record, we shouldn’t get too giddy about our defensive future with him holding the reins. Maybe we should all allow Crennel to take the cape off. Who said he wanted to wear it anyway?