Prior to Romeo Crennel’s arrival in Kansas City, the Chiefs were in need of help on defense. Crennel came to Kansas City in 2010 and did something that Clancy Pendergast and Gunther Cunningham were unable to do.
When it seemed like Derrick Johnson was on his way out the door due to poor, inconsistent play, Crennel enters the franchise and turns Johnson into one of the best linebackers in the NFL, eventually helping him play in a couple of Pro Bowls.
Tamba Hali was making progress during Kansas City’s transition to the 3-4 defense. But what Hali needed was better coaching. In Hali’s first year playing under Crennel’s defense, he led the AFC in sacks and received a late Pro Bowl invitation.
While many fans were ready to label Tyson Jackson a bust, Crennel was not ready to give up on him. Regardless of his past, Crennel helped out Jackson and saw improvement over time. While Jackson still has a lot of growing to do, Chiefs fans saw some flashes from him in the second part of 2012.
Eric Berry, Kendrick Lewis and Justin Houston all excelled during their rookie seasons, thanks to Crennel. Berry and Houston both reached the Pro Bowl very early in their careers and are viewed as one of the top players at their respective positions.
If it wasn’t for Crennel, none of these players would be where they are today. They all improved throughout their time while Crennel was with the franchise and experienced some of the best football they have played in their careers.
Even when Crennel demoted himself as the defensive coordinator while serving as the head coach during the 2012 season, he was still there for his defensive players to coach them up.
Despite a two-win season last year, four Chiefs players from the defense received Pro Bowl invitations.
Moving forward, Crennel is out of the franchise and Bob Sutton steps in as the new defensive coordinator. Johnson, Hali, Houston, Berry, Lewis, Jackson and several others will go into the season learning some new things from a new defensive coach.
The biggest challenge for the Chiefs this year will be whether or not the defense can continue to play at a high level. It’s worth keeping an eye on Kansas City’s defense and seeing whether or not it can play at a high level without Crennel.
For now, there are reasons to believe that the defense will be fine moving forward. If the preseason means anything to Chiefs fans, they should be satisfied with the defense’s effort in limiting Drew Brees, Colin Kaepernick and Ben Roethlisberger.
Kansas City still has a lot of the players it had under Crennel. While the Chiefs do have a new defensive coordinator, it shouldn’t make a major difference for the defense.
With Hali and Houston as the pass-rushers, Kansas City’s defense, under Sutton’s guidance, will dominate in 2013 against some of the league’s most prevailing quarterbacks.