Romeo Crennel, A Man Apart


Romeo. Romeo.

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell so sweet. Well, your defense has been smelling pretty sweet lately, call it what you will. Which means, yes, I have a man-crush on you! In fact, you are the man.

A man apart.

For you have composed an epic… yea, heroic, defense. I’m not even a defensive guy. My first love is offense but, you Romeo, you, have made me appreciate the everyday people skills and gameday chess match wizardry that a great defensive coordinator embodies.

Is your defense the best in the league? No. But, you have my vote as DC of the year so far. I don’t know anyone who has done so much with so little. For you are some how able to take lemons and make laser-guided National Defense weaponry.

To be, or not to be, that is the question. There is no doubt that your defense… is. No question about that. When every one else is talking about how the Chiefs offense has only scored two touchdowns in the past 20 quarters, your defense has been “a dish for the gods.” In the past eight quarters of play your defense has only allowed one single solitary touchdown. Furthermore, that was against the grizzly Bears and the beastly Steelers.

More Romeo after the jump.

Romeo Crennel.

Born in 1947 to Joseph (U.S Army sergeant) and Rosemary Crennel in Lynchburg, Virginia. He was a standout defensive lineman in high school and college at  Western Kentucky where he also played offensive lineman his senior season. Although he never played in the NFL, he went on to serve as defensive coordinator at his college Alma mater from 1970-1974. In 1975 he moved to Texas Tech where he worked on the same staff with Bill Parcels who later brought him to the Giants to serve as special teams coach and defensive coordinator.

Crennel won a Super Bowl ring as a special teams coach with the Giants in 1987 and another ring with them as the DC in 1991. Romeo won three more rings with the New England Patriots in 2002, 2004 and 2005 as DC before becoming head coach for the Cleveland Brown later in 2005.

After taking a year away from the game in 2009 to recuperate from a hip replacement, Crennel showed up in Kansas City last season and helped the Chiefs to a 10-6 record and more importantly, land in the playoffs for the first time since 2006.

Yes, the Chiefs are 5-7 now and you could argue that the seven losses indicate that the defense hasn’t been very good this year. In looking over the Chiefs defensive statistics for this season, you may not be too giddy at first glance. However, by taking a closer look you can’t help but be impressed.

Firstly, I can’t say enough about the job Romeo Crennel has done with the players he’s had to work with. Yes, Tamba Hali and Derrick Johnson have played like legitimate Pro Bowl performers this year but, it’s the development and contributions of the many other players that have the Chiefs achieving the defensive results they’ve gotten thus far.

Jon McGraw consistently plays over his head and capabilities. For the first time in his three year career, Tyson Jackson looks like he may end up becoming a real player and contributor for this defense. Jovan Belcher, while still no speed demon, has begun to lay some serious wood to opposing running backs. In prior years I’ve wondered what Travis Daniels was doing on the Chiefs roster but now, he looks like he can cover consistently and plays with intensity.

Allen Bailey, Amon Gordon and Javier Arenas… the list of improving defensive players goes on.

It’s hard for me to think of players on the defensive side to the field who have not at least improved a little bit. I even saw Sabby Piscitelli tackle someone the other day. I knew right then, that Pope John Paul II must have touched the hem of Romeo Crennel’s garment.

The most outstanding improvement I have seen in a player comes in the form of rookie Justin Houston. Houston was my early spring preference for the Chiefs to select in the draft… in the first round. At Georgia, Houston would rarely allow his offensive opponent to tie him up and recently he’s been playing with the same ability to get free, and that’s resulting in more pressures and sacks. I’m glad the Chiefs got him in the third but, he’s certainly living up to his original first round expectations. Congrats go to Justin and Romeo.

Here’s the deal with Romeo. His defense has not allowed a TD in 23 of the last 40 quarters. In other words, since the Chiefs were blown out in their first two game, the Chiefs have played very, very good defense, on the average.

If you count the overtime period that the Chiefs played against the Chargers, then they haven’t allowed a TD in 24 of 41 quarters.

Since those first two games of the season, Romeo’s defense has allowed opposing teams to score 15.9 points per game. That would currently rank the defense 3rd in the league in total points allowed per game.

What’s so astounding about Romeo Crennel is that he’s doing all of this without S Berry or Brandon Siler. Remember Siler? He was supposed to help, situationally, at middle linebacker.

If the Chiefs had an equally competent offensive coordinator, then this defense could be lights out.

I wouldn’t want to make excuses for the way the Chiefs handled the off season or the preseason but, it’s a lot easier to see the progress the defense has made this year when focusing on games, since the first two games with Buffalo and Detroit. Below is a chart showing the total points scored in each quarter of the Chief past ten games.

Click on the chart above to view full size. Click the back button to return.

We’ve heard all the fuss about the Chiefs offense only scoring x number of touchdowns in x number of quarters. However, the Chiefs defense has only allowed 3 touchdowns in the past ten fourth quarters. That bodes well for the Chiefs in 2012. When the offense begins to produce enough to keep the Chiefs in games, the defense will be able to do their part… to not let games get away in the fourth period.

The chart above also shows that the Chiefs defense has had only four quarters in which they allowed 13 or more points to be scored by the opposition. So, they’ve held scoring sprees to a minimum.

Plus, 17 shut-out quarters, so far this season, is nothing to sneeze at.

Romeo Crennel has done so well… with so little… that I’m of the opinion that he has become the Chiefs all-time best defensive coordinator. Gunther Cunningham had too many stars to go around. Bill Cowher was terrific, too, but he had a ton of talent to work with as well.

Now, as much as I’m a Romeo lover, I still don’t want to see him become the Chiefs next head coach. Especially next season. Why? Because I’m also a Todd Haley believer and if the head coach can get the offense in order, Romeo Crennel will be able to deliver championship quality defense in Kansas City. I can’t wait.

To be or not to be… is there any question? Not when it comes to Romeo.