Crennel sets table for further staff announcements

Posted Jan 31, 2012

Looking into the hiring of special teams coach Tom McMahon

Though none were present for staff meetings at the Senior Bowl last week, Chiefs head coach Romeo Crennel waited to officially announce he’d moved on from assistant coaches Steve Hoffman, Pat Perles and Richie Anderson.

Crennel opted not to renew the contracts of each assistant, which are set expire at the end of the 2011 league year. Hoffman coordinated the special teams, Anderson coached the receivers and Perles assisted Bill Muir with the offensive line.

The three coaches were originally hired in 2009 as members of Todd Haley’s first coaching staff. Anderson replaced former Chiefs assistant Dedric Ward as the team’s wide receivers coach midway through the 2009 campaign.

Last week, Crennel indicated he was pleased with the team’s progress toward finalizing a coaching staff for 2012. Interviews were being conducted and candidates were in play, but Crennel wasn’t ready to make any changes official.

That’s not the case anymore.

Monday’s announcement of three staff subtractions, coupled with the addition of new special teams coach Tom McMahon (pictured), officially turns the page on 2011.

Suspense still remains as to who will be Kansas City’s next offensive coordinator, but the table is now set for Crennel to make an announcement in the not-so-distant future.

It’s been almost one month since the Chiefs last played and three weeks since Crennel was announced as the 12th head coach in team history. January might have moved quickly for the Chiefs front office, but it was a crawl fans who’ve watched coaching staffs dismantle across the league and hoped the Chiefs might scoop a familiar name.

We’ll hear from Crennel soon enough, but likely not until his staff is complete. Until then, speculation will continue as to who will coordinate the offense next season.

But if we can take one thing away from the hiring of McMahon, it’s that Crennel isn’t afraid to go outside his coaching circle to find key assistants.

McMahon has never worked with Crennel before, though he did spend one year (2007) working under Jerry Rosburg in Atlanta. Rosburg, who is currently Baltimore’s special teams coordinator, served in the same capacity on Crennel’s staff in Cleveland from 2005-06.

McMahon’s path to the NFL hatched from a long-standing relationship with the Petrino family. It’s a relationship that began as a player at Carroll College in Montana under Bob Petrino, who later hired McMahon as a secondary coach at the college.

McMahon then joined one of Petrino’s sons, Paul, as an assistant at Utah State and spent more than a decade working at the University. Paul moved on from Utah State several years later, but would reunite with McMahon on younger brother Bobby Petrino’s coaching staff at Louisville in 2006.

When Bobby Petrino left Louisville to become head coach of the Atlanta Falcons in 2007, McMahon followed and broke into the NFL as an assistant for Rosburg’s special teams units in Atlanta. He would also work alongside current Chiefs defensive backs coach Emmitt Thomas.

After Bobby Petrino left Atlanta for the University of Arkansas midway through the 2007 campaign, McMahon spent another year with the Falcons before landing with new Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo in St. Louis.

Spagnuolo gave McMahon the responsibility of coordinating St. Louis’ special teams and McMahon spent three seasons across I-70 before the Rams coaching staff was dismissed earlier this month.

When McMahon was hired in St. Louis, the Rams boasted a kicking game similar to Kansas City’s. Personnel was strong at both kicker and punter, but coverage and return units needed improvement.

Under McMahon, all phases of the Rams special teams saw significant improvement.

Kicker Josh Brown connected on a career-high 33 field goals to lead the NFL in 2010 and punter Donnie Jones turned in an All-Pro season following the 2009 campaign. Then, in 2010, Jones and the Rams punt team turned in the NFL’s third-best net punting average at 40.0 yards. Return man Danny Amendola experienced noted success as well.

McMahon inherits a talented, but often inconsistent special teams unit in Kansas City.

Kicker Ryan Succop tied a franchise-record with 22 consecutive made fields goals last season, punter Dustin Colquitt turned in one of his finest year’s a pro and punt returner Javier Arenas led the AFC with a 12.8-yard return average. But the Chiefs were also plagued by special teams errors at inopportune times.

Two blocked field goals haunted the Chiefs in a 16-13 overtime loss to Oakland that ended Kansas City’s playoff hopes in Week 16. A 91-yard kickoff return also led to an Oakland score and the Chiefs finished the season ranked 29th in kickoff coverage.

The Chiefs were also one of the NFL’s most-penalized special teams units last year at -12.00 yards per game.

McMahon’s hiring makes sense and it’s understandable considering special teams struggles were widely apparent in Crennel’s only defeat serving as Kansas City’s interim head coach.

But what sticks out the most regarding McMahon’s hire is that, other than a possible recommendation from Rosburg, Crennel went outside his direct coaching circle to find a qualified candidate that best fits the Chiefs needs.

That’s an encouraging sign as Crennel’s first staff begins to finalize.

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