OPENING REMARKS: “Good afternoon. Today was the exit physicals for the players and our final team meeting of the season. We tried to end it with a positive note, so there were a couple of things that occurred. The Mack Lee Hill Award for the rookie of the year basically that the players voted on was won by
“Then, we recapped the Denver game, talked to them about what it took to win the game, a division game on the road when many people felt like the Chiefs didn’t have anything to play for, but they showed a little substance by going out and executing the gameplan and playing the way they did and being able to win the game.
“We recapped that, talked about that and then, since this is the last meeting we’ll have with them until April, we talked about resting bodies, resting minds, but also that you can’t rest until April, that you have to get up and start doing something to get yourself in condition to be ready to go in April, which then basically will be the beginning of next season. Because it’s a tough season, they need to get their bodies, get in shape, stronger and ready to go. But the first thing they have to do is they have to rest. They have to take some time off and just relax. Also, along with that, we warned them about the dangers that are involved with the offseason because there is no regimentation. While they’re here, they have to be here at 7:30, and it’s mandatory. If they’re not here, they get fined. They get into a regiment – they’re at this meeting, they’re at this meeting, they’re at practice, they’re at the meeting after practice. Then, they’re tired so they go home and rest for the most part. Then, they come back and do it again the next day. But then, in the offseason, nothing is mandatory. They can kind of do what they want to do, so we talked to those guys about making good decisions while they’re away. Like I said, we mentioned the dangers that are involved about social conduct and all of those things that occur a lot of times in the offseason, and then told them that basically they represent the Chiefs, their families and themselves and to think before they act and then we shouldn’t have any problems if they would do that.
“Then, after that, I wished them a Happy New Year. I told them how much I appreciated their efforts this year and to go and enjoy the New Year and then we’ll see what the future brings. We truly will see what the future brings, not only them, buy myself as well. I was told that at the end of the season that I would have a meeting with Scott [Pioli], so sometime here after this season is over, I think that meeting will occur and then we’ll see what it holds for me. For some of the guys on the team, because every year is a new year, it changes, we have guys who are under contract, we have guys who are restricted, we have guys who are free agents. And the free agents, that group of guys, they get to be involved in the business of football during this time of the year because free agency begins hot and heavy after the season is over up until the free agency signing period. So, those guys will be investigating offers to see what is out there for them, whether staying here with the Chiefs is their best move or whether going to another team [is their best move]. Each individual has to look at that himself and make his own determinations and then go from there. We, as a team, have to make determinations and go from there, so that’s why every year is a new year. It’s a different situation and you have to start all over. That’s what the organization will do and we’ll start pretty quickly. With that, I will open it up.”
Q: In telling us what you told the players, you sound like a guy that plans on being back here next year as the head coach.
CRENNEL: “No, not necessarily. I tell the players that anyway. When I was a position coach, I told my players that. As a coordinator, I talked to my players about that because all of those players have to deal with those issues that I talked about, and I want the best for all of them. Whether I’m here or not, I want the best for them. I was just telling them the facts. Hopefully, they will take some of it in and heed some of the advice.”
Q: When do you expect to know?
CRENNEL: “After I meet with him [Scott Pioli], and I don’t know when I’m meeting with him yet. I was just told after the season I would have a meeting, so after that meeting is over. I don’t know how long they’ll take after that, but after they decide, they’ll let me know.”
Q: Are you getting any other offers for other head coaching jobs coming available today?
CRENNEL: “Today is a tough day for a lot of coaches in the NFL. It’s a tough time because moves are made, lives are impacted and I’ve been in that situation myself and it’s not fun. It’s unfortunate, but it’s part of this business, so those teams, they do what they feel like that they need to do. Those coaches will do what they feel like they have to do to try to help themselves and continue their careers. At some point in time, I will entertain whatever offers that may be there, but you know there’s a tampering rule that’s involved in the league, so no one has talked to me.”
Q: What has your communication with Scott Pioli been over the last three weeks?
CRENNEL: “We talk basically on a daily basis, and the communication has been about the team and about how we can go forward as far as winning the game at hand and any problems that might come up or occur.”
Q: So it’s all been aimed at the upcoming game and nothing future-based?
CRENNEL: “No, no future-based.”
Q: Historically, coaches who were promoted from within usually don’t fare as well as coaches that come from the outside. Are there reasons you think promotions from within haven’t worked out as well? Do teams need fresh voices? Why do you think coordinators promoted from within have done poorly?
CRENNEL: “I’m not exactly sure. I really haven’t studied it that much.”
Q: What is the difference when you go from a coordinator to a head coach and you’ve got the whole ball of wax to deal with?
CRENNEL: “That whole ball of wax is a pretty big ball and when you haven’t had it to deal with before, it takes a lot of energy to get it done because things happen that you’re not aware of, that you don’t plan for, but you have to deal with, so that becomes a pretty big issue. So, you really need a good support staff around you to help you make it work. Now, why guys get promoted from within might not be as successful, I can’t tell you.”
Q: Could one reason be because they’re promoted from a coordinator and then they lose their best coordinator and now they’ve got to replaces themselves?
CRENNEL: “Well, you know what? I’ve been told that that occurs and some people look at it like that, that if you become the head coach, would you still be the coordinator and why would you want to give up that responsibility? Like you said, some guys will coordinate and still be the head coach; some guys will just be the head coach and hire somebody else. It just depends on how that individual feels about the scope of the job, I believe.”
Q: You may be an exception to this rule because you have been a head coach elsewhere and you’ve had this three-week run. Do you think that previous experience can help you?
CRENNEL: “Yeah, I think that helps, having had that experience. It was a good experience and it helped me in this situation by taking over here in these three games.”
Q: I understand you wanted to go 3-0, but sometimes those things are a little bit out of a coach’s control. Do you feel like you did the best you could do under the circumstances that existed here?
CRENNEL: “Well, the best I could have done was to go 3-0. It wasn’t the best that I could do because if I had done the very best, we would have won three games.”
Q: Was that your fault that you didn’t beat Oakland I guess is what I’m asking.
CRENNEL: “It always stops at the head coach’s desk. You can always say it was so and so’s fault and if this guy had done that and blah, blah, blah, but as the head coach, it stops at your desk and I was the guy in charge and we didn’t win the game, so it’s my responsibility. It goes against my record, so that’s what it is.”
Q: The players have endorsed you to be the next head coach. Some have even said they were playing to win these last three games for you. What does that mean to you?
CRENNEL: “I appreciate their support, but I don’t think they sign my paycheck. If they were signing my paycheck, I would really appreciate it and really enjoy it. The decision hasn’t been made yet and it will be made in the future.”
Q: If you are the head coach, will you hire a defensive coordinator?
CRENNEL: “If I am the head coach… If I had picked the correct numbers in the lottery, I would be a multi-millionaire. I think every situation is different and you have to look at who is available and how you think it might impact your program and then go from there, so I’m not ready to answer that question right now.”
Q: You said a couple weeks ago that you’d like to be permanent head coach. Do you still feel that way?
CRENNEL: “It hasn’t changed.”
CRENNEL: “They are all making good progress. They are all rehabbing and I’ve been told that they’re on schedule as far as their rehab goes. Now, whether that’s football-ready or not, I can’t say that right now.”
Q: As a head coach can you go outside of your comfort factor and hire a defensive coordinator that coach defense a little bit differently than you?
CRENNEL: “As a head coach what you want to look at is you want to look at your personnel and see what you have and then if you decide that you want to go outside your comfort level, how that’s going to impact the team and the personnel that you have on hand. Because if the personnel that you have on hand will make it a tough transition maybe it’s a transition that you don’t want to make.”
Q: Would it be hard to go outside of your comfort level on defense given the progress they made this year?
CRENNEL: “No I don’t think it would be hard. I would just be a matter of looking at the situation and figuring out how long it would take for the players to make that adjustment. Because it would be an adjustment for the players and how can you get it done and how soon can you get it done.”
Q: Is continuity among the coaches important and do you think you’ve got it figured out?
CRENNEL: “No. If I had it all figured out I’d probably still be in Cleveland. This is not an exact science we are dealing with. Things change all the time and trying to put a staff together, it’s a tough deal because maybe the guys you want are not available so now you have to look other places and so you end up trying to do the best you can and trying to get the best people that you can get. Sometimes you don’t know those people and you have to rely on other people that you do know making recommendations for you and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t work and so you have to adapt and adjust as you go along.”
Q: Talk about
CRENNEL: “I think Tamba has had a good season, I think he had like 12 sacks this year. The thing that I talked to Tamba about was that he missed several sacks towards the end of the year so I talked to him about whether he was trying to strip the ball and missed those sacks or exactly what but if he had made those sacks his number would be up there in the higher echelon. So I think he has a good future in the game and his work ethic and the way he approaches Sundays, he’ll continue to be a force on the football field.”
Q: Are there any players that remind you of Tamba or does Tamba remind you of any players?
CRENNEL: “Those guys that rush the passer, they are kind of a different breed. Just their work ethic and desire to get to the quarterback makes them special. Sometimes Tamba reminds me of Lawrence Taylor by the way he wants to get to the quarterback. Now I’m not saying he is Lawrence Taylor or anything like that, I said sometimes he reminds me of Lawrence Taylor because those pass rushers are a special breed.”
Q: Do you expect
CRENNEL: “Well like I told you, every year there are a list of guys who are free agents and the business of football in the NFL and free agency business starts, I think the team will get together and determine free agents that are on the list and prioritize those guys and try to go after them. Just like every other team in the NFL, they are looking at the potential free agents and prioritizing those guys and determining who they may want to go after so then we’ll have to see how it plays out. But Brandon has had a nice year for us.”
Q: What will you do once this new conference is over?
CRENNEL: “I’m probably at a point in my career where I don’t have to pull my hair out, the little bit that I have because I’ve been in this league a long time and as [Bill] Parcells use to say, I’ve put some pelts on the wall. So if I have to go lay on those pelts I can do that. What I’ll do is I’ll go back and finish the evaluation for the season because that’s part of it. We evaluate our players, we talk about them and see where they may fit and see where they are in their careers, how they can impact the team so we have to go do all of that and part of that process also, help Scott [Pioli] make decisions about free agency and about the draft and all of that. So we’ll give Scott that input and then let him decide how he wants to handle it.”
Q: What did
CRENNEL: “Nothing. He just said hey I appreciate you coach, I enjoyed working for you and I said I appreciate you Kelly. This is what I’ve found out about players, right after the season is not the best time, after the last game, it’s not the best time for those guys to make decisions and generally after they go away for a minute and have a chance to rest and reflect back on the year, reflect back on how their bodies feel, then they can make a more informed decision and more times than not that decision is well I think I can do it one more year. Now I don’t know in Casey’s situation because he has not told me that this is his last year or anything like that and neither have any of the other players but over the course of the years guys go home and they sit down and sometimes they think about, okay this is going to be my last year but then when they go home and they rest up and the bodies begins to feel a little bit better they say hey I think I can do this one more time.”
Q: So is it kind of like the year you spent out where the wife says when are you going to get out of here?
CRENNEL: “Yes, exactly. She says why are you just sitting in that chair all the time? Then when Kansas City called I said hey I need to go.”
Q: Does it make it a little easier knowing that there is no lockout and you know you will have the normal offseason?
CRENNEL: “Yes it does make it easier. If for no other reason, the young players, they will have an offseason. The guys who get drafted this year will have an offseason. So now you have a chance to get your system installed and be more ready for the season when the season arrives.”
Q: Do you think not having an offseason affected the rookies this year?
CRENNEL: “I think so. Because as you look at this team, the rookies really didn’t come on until about half way through the season. Then that’s when they began to show up, the ones on defense anyway, they began to show up half way through the season so maybe if they had been able to have the OTA’s and an offseason program they might have started showing up earlier.”
Q: How do you explain the extreme highs and extreme lows of this season?
CRENNEL: “It’s hard to explain, you just don’t know. Every week is a different week and sometimes you feel like you are in good shape and things should be rocking right along and then all of a sudden you hit a Miami game. We lose the first two games pretty badly and then the third game we try to play better and then we started playing better and then we started losing again. I don’t know whether it was a function of not having an offseason, not having a consistent training camp, exactly what it was, I can’t put my finger on it.”
Q: What do you mean by a consistent training camp?
CRENNEL: “When we had training camp, half the guys weren’t even there. They had to wait a week before they came in and some guys showed up on the start of training camp and then the rest of them showed up a week later. And it’s tough to build that team chemistry and get the team on the same page when you don’t have everybody there and everybody is at different levels so I think this coming year having an offseason and having a training camp it should be better.”
Q: Candidly evaluate
CRENNEL: “I think Tyson has made good progress since I’ve been here. I saw improvement in the offseason program in the first year and then we’d gone through training camp and he made improvement in training camp and then he got hurt, first game he got hurt and as a result of that injury he regressed and then after he came back we had to start all over with him again and so he had to build it back up and so by the end of the year it wasn’t where it needed to be. This year he got into training camp and then began to show that okay he can do this job and I think he’s shown it during the course of this season. The thing about our defense is that I know everybody wants the third pick or whatever to be the sack master, the run stopper and all that, but in our defense, our lineman, they make it happen for Derrick Johnson and Tamba Hali and Justin Houston so I tell them just make the plays you are supposed to make and many of those plays occur in the running game and everybody, they’re not all excited about a guy making a tackle at the line of scrimmage. But Tyson has done a nice job.”
Q: If you were contacted by somebody else before you had the meeting with Scott Pioli, would you contact Scott and tell him before you entertained something else?
CRENNEL: “Well first of all, they would have to contact Scott, before they contacted me. And then Scott would be the one to come to me and say team x, they would like to talk to you, do you want to talk to them or go like that.”
Q: Can you give us some insight on where you think you are strong and where you think need help this offseason?
CRENNEL: “I’ll be very general with you. I think we need depth, across the board. If we can get depth across the board then we might be able to be improved.”