Next Opponent: Chiefs Start Over

Kansas City fired Todd Haley, with his Chiefs 5-8 this season and 19-27 during his three-year tenure. Defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel, the former Cleveland coach, will be the interim coach for the final three games.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Throughout their 20-minute meeting with the Kansas City media, Chiefs team chairman Clark Hunt and general manager Scott Pioli said there wasn't one particular thing that led to the firing of coach Todd Haley.

But the more they talked about the situation, the more apparent it became that there was a straw that broke the camel's back as far as Haley's future was concerned. It was losing 37-10 to the New York Jets in what was an embarrassing performance that saw the Chiefs offense gain just 4 yards in the first half. Then in the second half, a frustrated Haley lost his cool and got slapped with a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

"Clark and I talked last night and then we officially decided this morning," said Pioli. "Clark and I visited with Todd this (Monday) morning and let him know what our decision was.

"I don't think there's a final straw in every decision. It's never one thing; it's an accumulation of information and thoughts and we finally got down to where things were and this was the best way to create more consistency for us."

Said Hunt: "We felt the inconsistent play that the team had experienced through the season including during yesterday's game made today the right day to do it. We want to give the guys a chance to finish the season on a high note. Mathematically we are still alive in the playoffs and we wanted the guys to go out and face the Green Bay Packers and play to the best of their ability and felt that change was important at this time."

After Hunt and Pioli told Haley he was fired, they met with his coaching staff and then asked Romeo Crennel to take over as coach. When announcing that move, Pioli did not use the term "interim" and said that Crennel would be one of the candidates considered for the job in 2012.

"Romeo has been a head coach in the National Football League," Pioli said. "He is very similar to Todd. He is extremely passionate about football, passionate about this football team, passionate about these players and he was very focused on winning. Romeo has a lot of those qualities.

"I think it's safe to say that he's one of the people we will be looking at going forward."

Crennel's first test will be a big one against the Packers, who are 13-0 and have won 19 in a row.

"It's something that you never want to see happen," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "It's part of our business. Todd's a good man, got to know him a little bit here over the last couple years. So, there's always a personal side to it. You feel for his family, but it changes their environment there in Kansas City. It'll be something we talk about in our preparation because the worst thing you can do is think you're going in for a different type of football game when, to me, I think it'll be a game where they play with a lot of energy. Romeo's a good man and I know they'll want to play for him. We feel this will be a highly contested football game."

While Haley is now gone, the man that hired him remains on the scene and will select the new head coach.

"I don't perceive Todd Haley as a mistake," Pioli said. "He's a good football coach. There is accountability on my part as well. I made the decision on hiring the head coach. It didn't work out. I will be held accountable for it."

Pioli also admitted that he needs to do a better job of acquiring talent for the head coach to work with. When injuries took four key starters away from the team for most of the year, there were not talented backup players available to fill the void.

"I think we have a locker room that has talent, I think we also have a good makeup in character in that locker room," Pioli said. "That being said, it's abundantly clear that ultimately that's my job and we clearly are not at a spot where we need to be with our record the way it is. Clearly I need to do my job better as well. We need to continue to improve this roster and improve the depth on this football team.

The Chiefs were 19-27 during Haley's tenure, but won the AFC West last season in what appeared to be a turning-point season. Injuries to key young players, including safety Eric Berry and tight end Tony Moeaki, put the team in a bit of a hole early in the year. The list grew quickly, claiming running back Jamaal Charles, who went down with a torn ACL against the Vikings, and quarterback Matt Cassel.

Haley is considered highly competitive to the point of being abrasive — which was evident in the Chiefs' lackluster performance at Lambeau Field in the preseason finale, when he kept his key players in the game into the fourth quarter. Haley is an offensive coordinator by trade but he wasn't able to bring the same sizzle to the Chiefs offense that he had to the Arizona Cardinals or Dallas Cowboys.

Including Sunday's 37-10 loss to the Jets, the Chiefs have 10 points or fewer in six straight games.


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