Crennel changing structure of Chiefs offensive staff

Posted Feb 8, 2012

Brian Daboll will not serve as a position coach. He'll focus on being the offensive coordinator.

With the hiring of Brian Daboll as offense coordinator, head coach Romeo Crennel is changing the structure of the Chiefs coaching staff.

It’s a shift in staff structure the team hasn’t seen since Chan Gailey served as offensive coordinator in Herm Edwards’ final season as head coach.

The change is both simple and efficient.

Daboll will not have any coaching responsibility other than being the team’s offensive coordinator. It’s essentially the same setup Crennel uses on the defense side of the football.

“He is a coordinator,” Crennel said. “Now as a coordinator he will be able to go into every meeting room on the offensive side of the ball but he’s going to coordinate the offense and go from there.”

Last season, Bill Muir served as the Chiefs offensive line coach in addition to his coordinator duties.

The year before, Charlie Weis carried the coordinator title but the Chiefs did not hire a quarterbacks coach on staff. Weis was responsible for that position and led quarterback meetings.

Even Todd Haley held positional duties while serving as offensive coordinator. In addition to his role as the team’s head coach, Haley often oversaw quarterback drills and meetings while serving as the team’s offensive coordinator in 2009.

Haley forced the brunt of quarterback responsibility on himself as a rookie head coach after firing Gailey as the team’s offensive coordinator two weeks before the start of the 2009 season. Gailey had been coaching the quarterbacks prior to his firing, which was a change from the previous year when he served only as the team's offensive coordinator.

Crennel’s decision to keep Daboll from carrying positional duties is significant in several ways.

First, it allows Daboll to concentrate his efforts on the offense as a whole. He’ll be able to roam from position to position, making adjustments, and will be able to watch tape on the entire 11-man operation rather than dedicating a significant portion of his time to a certain position group.

Second, alleviating positional duties from Daboll provides continuity for Matt Cassel and the Chiefs quarterbacks.

Cassel hasn’t just had five different offensive coordinators in what will be his fourth season with the team. He’s had four different position coaches the past three seasons as well.

Throw in the assistance that offensive quality control coach Nick Sirianni has provided and you could argue that Cassel’s had five quarterback coaches in three seasons with the Chiefs.

Even though Jim Zorn interviewed for the team’s offensive coordinator opening and came up short, it appears Zorn will stay on staff. Zorn’s return would give Cassel the same position coach two seasons in a row for the first time since he arrived in Kansas City.

“(Offensive Coordinator) didn’t work out for (Zorn) here at this time, but I told Jim that I wanted him to stay and hoped that he would stay and I expect him to stay” Crennel said. “I don’t know what else might happen for him but if nothing happens for him then I expect him to be here.

“Jim is a good coach, I think he’ll do a good job with the quarterbacks so we’re looking forward to him being here and going forward.”

Zorn’s return would provide a consistent voice for Cassel, Ricky Stanzi and potentially even unrestricted free agent Kyle Orton. Zorn was able to work more hands-on with Chiefs quarterbacks last season than the three position coaches who preceded him.

Zorn’s presence also allowed Sirianni, who’s been with the team in a quality control capacity for three seasons, to gain experience assisting other offensive positions including wide receiver. That experience could make Sirianni a candidate to become the team’s next wide receivers coach.

Currently, Crennel is still looking to fill three offensive staff positions.

“We’ve got an offensive line spot that we need to fill and an assistant offensive line spot,” Crennel said. “I have a direction that I’m going with the receivers and so we’ve got a couple of spots that we’ve got to look at.

“Hopefully it won’t take as long as it took with Brian but I think that you have to go through the process and that’s one of the things that we wanted to do was be thorough in the process.”

Daboll’s hiring is Crennel’s most important of the offseason and it represents the focal point of an effort to overhaul the Chiefs offense.

But the structure surrounding Daboll’s hiring also allows for the presence of continuity while changes are being made.

“I’m going to depend on him to handle the offensive side of the ball,” Crennel said. “But with that being said, because of our relationship we are going to be able to sit down and say this is how we need to attack an opponent, this is what we need to do in the game plan and then I expect Brian to implement those things.”

To successfully overhaul the offense with the least amount of turbulence, Daboll will need the assistance of offensive staffers who know the team’s personnel best. That’s where the retention of Zorn, Sirianni, Maurice Carthon and Bernie Parmalee come into play.

Without stacking positional duties on top of Daboll’s coordinator role, the Chiefs offensive transformation should run more smoothly.

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