Crennel’s Chiefs A Horror
Kansas City, Mo. — The man who can do no right is trying to explain why everything is going so wrong. He must know this is a fool’s errand.
Romeo Crennel is not crazy. He is not stupid. But when the coach of the NFL’s worst team — a key part of the New England Patriots’ coaching staff during their Super Bowl championship run last decade — stands in front of reporters and cameras and his boss to explain a 10th loss in 11 games, well, this is not Crennel’s finest moment.
“I thought our guys played a good football game,” he says about a team that is now on track for the first pick in the 2013 NFL Draft with a roster many picked to make the playoffs.
“I thought it was better today,” he says of an offense that gained 264 yards, somewhere around the 15th percentile of production for NFL teams this year.
“We were still in the game until the end,” he says of a $1 billion franchise that plays in perhaps the most cutthroat and bottom-line league in American sports.
This is what happens when a thoughtful man becomes the face of a disaster that just lost 17-9 to the Denver Broncos on Sunday, a game he knows his team could’ve won.
One of the narratives of this rotten garbage season is that the Kansas City Chiefs have been unlucky. That, you know, if not for a turnover here or there (their season total of 32 is comfortably the worst in football), they’d be much better.
Well, the Chiefs had just one turnover in each of their last three games and lost all of them.
They actually didn’t turn it over until the last play against Denver and still haven’t led in the fourth quarter of any game. They had seven penalties Sunday, including four false starts that Crennel tried to blame on the Broncos barking defensive calls at the line of scrimmage â?” a somewhat shady practice that many NFL teams do.
This season has long gone from losing to lost, leaving Crennel awkwardly close to bragging on non-blowout losses. He singles out his quarterback, running back and offensive line for good efforts after a second consecutive game without a touchdown.
He kicked a field goal on fourth and short inside the 5, and if he really wasn’t sure if the Chiefs would need touchdowns to beat Manning instead of field goals â?” honest to goodness, his postgame excuse â?” then he was the only one.
He wasted a fourth-quarter timeout to punt at midfield because he wasn’t sure if he should go for it, knowing that part of the job description is to make these decisions beforehand. He is perhaps the most mild-mannered head coach in the NFL, and cameras caught him giving assistant Brian Daboll the verbal business. The cracks are showing.
Last month, Crennel talked of the urgency for better results, saying that every team has a breaking point of hope, where it realizes the tides have risen too high and the effort fractures. That was four losses ago.
This is a man out of answers.
“I was proud of the way they competed,” Crennel says, “and (how) they played against a very good football team and particularly here at home in front of the home fans (where) we haven’t been very good this year. I was proud about that.”
The Chiefs have now lost seven in a row in the place formerly known as the NFL’s loudest stadium. That wasn’t too long ago, actually. Back when Crennel was just the defensive coordinator.
Back when the Chiefs played games that mattered.
For as long as he has his job this season, Crennel will be one of the least envied coaches in sports.
He is now our local version of Steve Spagnuolo or Rod Marinelli, in charge of an inept group of underachievers that â?” if human nature applies â?” is now playing for something much harder to define than team glory and a postseason spot.
You don’t have to look too hard to see hope’s breaking point.
“A lot of people expect a lot of things out of life and they don’t go their way,” safety Eric Berry says. “This is a game. If you fight back in life, it’s easy to fight back in a game. Nobody’s dying or anything like that. It’s just a bad season.
“So we gotta finish this out strong and, I hate to say build for next year, but we need to build that momentum going into next year. It just is what it is.”
This is one of the Chiefs’ most earnest and hard-working players, a bright guy with a refill of football passion after missing virtually all of last season because of a knee injury. And with more than a month left, he’s reaching for motivation.
While Berry is speaking, Crennel walks by, through the Chiefs’ locker room and back toward an office. He wakes up this morning trying to excavate hope from the hopeless. This is the worst coaching challenge in sports.
This is now Crennel’s life.