Jeff Herr, a finalist in the 2011 Big Gig Contest on 610 Sports Radio, was born and raised in Kansas City. Following the Chiefs, Royals, and Jayhawks all his life has led him to blog about all three extensively at the-jeff-report.blogspot.com. He has also spent time covering the Royals for the blog site kingsofkauffman.com as well as serving for a period as the lead editor of throughthephog.com a blog covering the Kansas Jayhawks. When not writing about the local sports scene, he pays the bills by serving as an accountant.
Jeff Herr: Chiefs Coaching Candidates
by Jeff Herr,posted Dec 27 2011 3:04PM
Looking forward seems to be a Kansas City sports pass-time. Really, that’s all that KC fans have been able to do. With no playoff victory for the Chiefs in almost 20 years, no playoffs at all for the Royals in over 25 years, the ‘next year’ mantra is tired and clichéd. This makes the upcoming offseason and subsequent coaching search all the more important. Fans in KC are growing tired and want a winner.
The coaching search will be the first place the Chiefs can make this big splash and give the fans something to get excited about. This isn’t just any coaching search, though. This might be the most important hire in Chiefs history. Losing is something that can permeate an organization. It did this to the Chiefs from 2007-2009. The 2010 season was supposed to signal the change. After how 2011 has gone, the Chiefs are at risk of moving back into that realm of not only a losing team but a losing organization. This needs to be stopped. As we’ve seen in the past, losing is a vicious cycle and it often takes a house cleaning to get rid of it. That is not where the Chiefs want to be 2-3 years from now.
In order to make sure this doesn’t happen, they need to find a coach that fits them perfectly. This is not a situation in which Pioli can pick someone he “thinks” will fit. That mistake was made with Haley. He needs to look in the mirror and see what he’s done wrong. He needs to find what he can improve to make this relationship something that contributes to winning and not losing. He also needs to realize that he has to find a coach who can handle Pioli. Pioli demands a lot from his staff, is stubborn, and believes in his system. He needs to find someone who is able to handle that and win in spite of his faults.
There are always names thrown out there for head coaching candidates and below are I have listed some that could have a chance at being hired. Bill Cowher is not a candidate. While he got his start here in KC and feels loyalty to the Hunt family, this is just not a realistic situation for him to take over. Same goes for Jon Gruden. That said, on to the candidates:
Romeo Crennel– This one is obvious. He has a long history with Pioli working with him in New York, Cleveland, New England, and now here in Kansas City. Crennel has head coaching experience and knows how to deal with Pioli. He did not have the greatest success as Cleveland’s head coach with a 24-40 record. However, it is important to remember that lots of successful coaches have failed in their first attempt. Bill Belichick couldn’t win in Cleveland, either. Mike Shannahan couldn’t win in Oakland. Marv Levy couldn’t win in Kansas City. In many situations you have to experience failure and learn from it before you can experience great success.
Josh McDaniels – This is the candidate that makes Chiefs fans cringe the most, and rightfully so. He fell completely flat on his face in only two years in Denver. While the aforementioned axiom rings true about failure, McDaniels was a bit different. As a young coach in his 30’s he was completely overmatched. He had too much control, too much ego, and too much stubbornness to be effective. He needs a few years to see how things work and mature before getting another shot.
Kirk Ferentz – Of all the things that Pioli has shown us, he hasn’t shown much of an ability to go outside his “network.” If he’s going to go outside his top two candidates from above then this is a very likely course of action. Ferentz has not shown a desire to leave the college ranks and go to the NFL. He does have experience coaching in the league, albeit not as a head coach. I don’t see this as very likely because of low interest in leaving college.
Marty Mornhingweg – This is one nobody is really talking about. While Mornhingweg doesn’t have a Pioli connection and probably isn’t on the list, he should be. Mornhingweg was about as hotshot of an assistant as there was in 2001. After spending six years with the Green Bay Packers and the San Francisco 49ers, Mornhingweg had the pedigree coaching at winning organizations brings you. However, he took over as head coach of the Lions in 2001 and a two year stint ended badly with a record of 5-27. He was not the right guy for the job at the time. Since then Mornhingweg has been an assistant with the Eagles.
He has gotten the best out of Donovon McNabb and Michael Vick for years. Desean Jackson has been turned from a talented second round pick to a legitimate #1 or #2 receiver. Lesean McCoy may be staking his claim this year as the best running back in the NFL. All of this showing that he has a very good offensive mind. Mornhingweg has an offense that would fit the Chiefs talent well enough. Not sure if Pioli could work with him, but he’s as good of a candidate as any.
Mike Mularky – This one doesn’t seem quite as obvious, either. However, it still makes a lot of sense. While his previous stint as head coach wasn’t all that great, as aforementioned, that doesn’t always equal a bad hire. Mularky was 14-18 with the Bills and might not have been given a true shot to succeed. He has shown the ability to groom a quarterback as he has spent the last 4 years in Atlanta making Matt Ryan a top tier quarterback. His offense has made Michael Turner an elite running back. Roddy White and Julio Jones have flourished as wide receivers. With the talent the Chiefs have, Mularky could be in a situation to have some terrific success. If Crennel stays on as defensive coordinator the Chiefs would be AFC West favorites going into 2012.
Above are 5 candidates that could and should be on Pioli’s list. Jeff Fisher isn’t on this list because, quite frankly, I’m not sold on him as the coach for this team. The argument is made that Fisher had inferior talent on his teams and I don’t find that to be accurate. Steve McNair, Eddie George, Kevin Dyson, Derrick Mason, Keith Bullock, Jevon Kearse, Sumari Rolle, Blaine Bishop among others were all top level players that Fisher had. Most of them were at the same time as well. While he did make a Super Bowl, the rest of his tenure isn’t that impressive.
Looking at the past and what has made a successful head coach, I would go with Mornhingweg. He and Mularky would be at the top of my list. They are risky assistant hires, but have been head coaches before. If experience is valuable, these two have it. The Chiefs have to find somebody that is going to have the ability to take them to the next level. As organization they have talked about this for years, it’s finally time they actually go out and get there.