Crennel Working His Magic In K.C.

Former Patriots DC has the Chiefs among the top Defenses in the league. What's going on in Kansas City?

Romeo Crennel has seen plenty of Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts offense. And that experience is going to be very valuable for the 2010 Chiefs defense when they meet No. 18 and his offensive mates on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.

"We've got our coaching staff and coordinator who worked against them a lot," said rookie safety Eric Berry.

Added linebacker Derrick Johnson: "I think we know that he (Crennel) has spent a lot of time in his career preparing to play the Colts. I'm looking forward to seeing what he has planned for us on defense against Manning ... Peyton keeps a lot of defensive players up at night. He has a tremendous arm, he's a smart guy and he doesn't make many mistakes. When he does make mistakes, we have to capitalize off it."

In eight games where Crennel was defensive coordinator of the Patriots and head coach of the Browns, Crennel's defenses forced a lot of mistakes from Manning, with 13 interceptions. That's an INT percentage of 4.6. His career percentage is 2.7. But most of all, Crennel's defenses were on the winning side six of the eight games, losing only during his two games when he was in Cleveland with the Browns.

Manning's numbers in those eight games were 171-of-278 for 1,893 yards, nine touchdown passes and 13 interceptions. He was sacked twice. There's no doubt that whether it was the Patriots or the Browns, Manning had trouble against the defensive approach employed by Crennel. Even in those two victories over the Browns, Manning threw three interceptions to no touchdown passes.

Over his career, Manning has completed 64.9 percent of his passes. Against Crennel defenses, his number is 61.5 percent. Manning's career TD percentage is 5.6 percent; vs. the Pats and Browns it was 3.2 percent. His interception percentage overall is 2.7 percent, while against Crennel it has been 4.6 percent.

Obviously one cannot ignore the influence of Belichick in those six meetings between the Colts and Patriots. The New England head coach is one of the finest defensive minds in the game's history. In all those meetings against Manning that involved Crennel, the Patriots got the job done more with coverage than sending waves of pass rushers. New England employed a 2-4-5 defensive alignment, much like the nickel defense the Chiefs are currently using. They would line up two big bodies on the line and then have Willie McGinest and Mike Vrabel on the ends, sometimes down, sometimes standing. Ultimately, it was the trade of a defensive lineman for a quicker defensive back.

Crennel had Manning's number in New England. (AP Photo)
The idea over the years has been to make Manning as uncomfortable as possible. Allowing him to stand behind his protection and survey the field and the defense is asking for trouble. Defenses have to keep his feet moving, force him to readjust, destroy his rhythm with the receivers and bounce him out of the pocket a few times.

That approach works especially well when combined with a defense that stuffs the run and cornerbacks who can get physical with the wide receivers. Then, the wildcard is tight end Dallas Clark, who has a great ability to find open spots in the coverage and is without a doubt Manning's security blanket.

What can really light the fuse on the Colts offense is the no-huddle offense. Playing at home, where the crowd noise won't interfere with Manning and his play calls makes it difficult for the defense. It becomes even more difficult for a defensive unit that hasn't been playing together in the scheme for a number of years.

It's going to take a great deal of communication on the Chiefs defense to be able to react to the no huddle. That defensive communication was one of the items that Todd Haley had his team work on during the bye week.

"With the teams we are playing in multiple formation sets and different spots at different times and different calls that are being made, you have to be able to communicate and part of this past week was some of that," Haley said. "The point I made to our new coaches last week was communication was what I wanted to focus on defensively. We are trying to create more communicators and clearer communication. It is something we work hard on and we will continue to and it will be a big part of the defense."

Romeo Crennel spent two stints with the Patriots as defensive coordinator, the first under Bill Parcells (1993-96), the second under Bill Belichick (2001-04). After leaving New England, Crennel spent four seasons as head coach of the Cleveland Browns (2005-08) before taking a year off and then agreeing to join the Chiefs in 2010.

This report courtesy of The Sports Xchange

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