Jamaal Charles Is Wrong


November 1, 2012; San Diego, CA, USA; Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles (25) prior to the game against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-US PRESSWIRE

There are certain things players need/have to say after a loss. Those things include: taking responsibility; not viewing it as the end of the world; saying something about getting ready for next week; and vowing to get better. Even if he doesn’t mean a thing he’s saying, those are some of the things that need to saying.

As simple as this press process might seem, some players struggle with it. Look at Cam Newton in Carolina. Worst-day-ever demeanor after every loss; asking for a suggestion box about how to improve the team; and throwing GM’s under the bus (although, to be fair, he should have been fired a long time ago). Luckily for the Chiefs, the team hasn’t begun a revolt in the media quite yet; they’ve left that up to the fans I suppose. And while I think the last thing this 1-9 team needs is a media circus fed by the dissatisfaction and dysfunction of the locker room, I take issue with what Jamaal Charles said after the blowout loss to the Bengals.

According to the Kansas City Star, Charles shared his views on the coaching staff:

“I don’t know what the outcome is, what you’re going to get if you keep on changing head coaches and changing head coaches. If you keep doing that, he can’t get the right players here. I feel if you stay with one system and continue to get players, I feel you can be successful. If (Crennel) is here for one year, you just can’t kick him out because he’s not having a good year. Let him get his stuff together and have a couple of years, then we can have a successful year.

“Everybody goes through (coaching changes) every year, and some have success and some don’t. Some come back (without a coaching change) next year and have a better year.

“I feel bad for Romeo. He’s a good coach, but we’re not playing up to our potential to win for him. I feel bad. We should be going out there and playing harder for our coach.”

Now, let me just say, supporting one’s head coach is a necessity from any player. And I’m sure Charles really does want Crennel to stick around for a couple of more years. After all, Crennel has always been known as a player’s coach that the team wants to play hard for. The problem with Crennel’s teams – going back to Cleveland – is that they just don’t play well.

And while Charles has a point with constant coaching changes negatively effecting the development of a team – case in point, the 2000’s Raiders – and he’s already on his third head coach since being drafted, he’s wrong in saying it would be wrong to fire Crennel because he’s not having a good year.

Sure, there are those few games where the team played inspired football: the final three of last season (which took place after Todd Haley’s firing and teams historically play more inspired in the games following a midseason coaching change – and yes, I am aware of the Colorado University study on such impact in college football), and then perhaps the second half and overtime of the Saints game, the Ravens game, and the Steelers game. And only one of those last three games mentioned resulted in a win.

Other than that, it’s been one of the worst seasons in the history of the NFL. We all know (way too much) about the 1929 Bisons, we all know that the Chiefs are GUARANTEED another losing season, and if it wasn’t for some sort of miracle overtime win against the Saints on the road, the Chiefs would be staring at an 0-10 record. These features of the dismal 2012 season might be excused if it wasn’t for the talent on the team, the past two seasons of hope, and the expectations entering the season that was supposed to announce the arrival of the Kansas City Chiefs as a perennial contender and AFC West favorite.

Instead, the Chiefs, for lack of a better term, suck.

Look at the Rams after they hired Jeff Fisher. The 2011 Rams went 2-14. The 2012 Rams, while not much better, are clearly better coached and sit at 1 win (and 1 tie) higher than last season. The Buccaneers, after losing their last 10 games in a row last season, fired Raheem Morris and hired Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano. He now has the young and talented team at 6-4, 2nd in the NFC South and in hunt for a playoff spot. I’m tempted to mention Chuck Pagano, but his circumstances haven’t really allowed him to coach much; plus the Colts have Andrew Luck, which is sort of unfair.

And we can even go back to last season, when Jim Harbough took over the underperforming 49ers, took them to the NFC Championship, and won Coach of the Year in the process. And another reason I like this comparison is because players on that team liked Mike Singletary too, much like the Chiefs players, or at least Charles, does with Crennel. Vernon Davis, the player that Singletary once famously called out in a post-game press conference. Davis said Singletary’s tough love approach caused him to grow up, and that he appreciated Singletary’s presence with him and the team. But I guarantee you he’s happier now being on a winning team.

These coaches haven’t just brought hope to teams that had miserable seasons; they brought a change in culture. Change is only good if it makes things better, and in their cases, it has been so far. The change that Crennel brought to the Chiefs: fan insurrection, pointless talent, excuses, and another losing season (actually, I guess that last point didn’t really change).

Sometimes, a team just needs a fresh start. Crennel might be a victim of expectations, but someone has to pay for this season. I think Pioli will pay, I think Crennel will pay, and I think Cassel has already paid. I love Charles, and I think he’s the best player on the offense, but he can’t be satisfied with the success – or lack thereof – the team has experienced this season. I understand staying the course, but Crennel was hired because he was supposed to offer a seamless transition between the success of 2010 and now. Not to change the culture, not to shake things up, but to keep it all together.

None of that success carried over, and although I’m usually not a fan of firing a coach after one season on the job, but for Crennel, I make an exception.