Hearing from the Chiefs: Crennel & Cassel
Head Coach Romeo Crennel
Re: Relationship with Todd Haley:
Our relationship goes way back to when I was with the New York Jets. That was the first time I met him and got to know him a little bit. I watched him work and then I followed his career throughout. We’ve had a good relationship the whole time.
Re: Haley’s offense being diverse:
That is something that he has always been able to do. He has a good offensive mind. When he was with the Arizona Cardinals they were able to get to the Super Bowl when he was their offensive coordinator. That’s just who he is, as far as the offense goes and what he tries to get done.
Re: The mood of the team:
We don’t like where we are but we are the ones who put ourselves in this position. What we are going to have to do is work our way out of it. That’s what I’ve been telling the team and what we’ve been trying to focus on. We’re trying to eliminate mistakes and trying to play better.
What has been missing from your defense and what do you see from the Steelers’ offense?
We have been giving up too many easy touchdowns on defense. If you look at our defense, particularly early in the year, we weren’t able to stop guys the way we needed to stop them. We are doing a little bit better at that as the season has gone on. The Steelers’ offense is a very good one. They are solid. They pulled out a big win on Sunday. That was huge for them. I think they will try to use that as a springboard for the second half of the season.
Re: Steelers’ defense:
They look pretty good to me. I’ve seen the Steelers’ defense for several years now. Dick LeBeau does a great job. He always gets his guys to play hard and he puts them in the right positions. You are going to have to play really good to beat them.
Re: QB situation:
We are going to have two of them out there. I am not ready to say right now who they are going to be. I am about to go talk to our local media here, and I will tell them first what I am going to do. Then you will be able to catch up on it after that.
Re: Switching from coordinator to head coach and back to coordinator:
It’s not really hard to do, because if you know football, you know football. Sometime the perception of your team is important. I think our situation and where we are, we have a young team. We have a lot of young players on both sides of the ball. I needed to work on that perception and get them to feel like I am coaching the whole team and not just the defense. That’s why I removed myself from the defensive coordinator role so I could concentrate on the whole team more.
Re: Similar situation you faced in Cleveland as Haley did in Kansas City last season compared to the Steelers and the way they handle their coaches:
Pittsburgh has been the poster for continuity. They’ve done a tremendous job from top to bottom. That’s why they are able to get good coaches that fit into their system and who can last to keep that continuity going. You know in the NFL and in today’s society, it’s an “I want it done yesterday” league. It’s gotten to that point, and if you can’t get it done right away, people look for changes and for something different. That is part of the beast that we have to deal with.
Re: Jonathan Baldwin’s career:
He got hurt and was injured his first year. Then he started off good this year and then once Dwayne Bowe got back into the fold, he took balls away from Baldwin, and rightfully so. Bowe is a very good football player. Baldwin is still working to improve and refine his game. He can be a big part of this team, and he will be going down the road.
Re: Haley’s reputation before coming to Pittsburgh:
Everybody has a different personality. I’ve known him for a long time, and I get along very well with him. I don’t know exactly what other people were saying or why they were saying what they were saying. Some people don’t like my personality. I can’t talk about anybody else’s.
Quarterback Matt Cassel
What do you see in the matchup with the Steelers this week that you may or may not have seen with them previously?
They have the same mentality. They’re a big, physical group. They’re the number one defense in all of football right now. When you play the Steelers, you’ve got to be ready for a really tough, physical football game. They’ve got a veteran group. All of these guys have played together for a long time with [Casey] Hampton, [Brett] Keisel, [LaMarr] Woodley, [Larry] Foote, [James] Harrison, [Ryan] Clark, and we’ll see if [Troy] Polamalu plays or not. I don’t know whether or not he’s going to play. Obviously, it’s a veteran group, they’re experienced, and they play well together.
How is WR Jon Baldwin developing?
I think he’s developing each and every week. I think that last year, for a lot of rookies, it was a tough year because they didn’t have an offseason coming in with OTAs or anything like that. He had the unfortunate accident in training camp where he broke his hand and was out for the first six weeks of the season. I think it was a tough year on him last year but to have the OTAs and the mini-camps and all that stuff this year, I think it really helped him in terms of technique and in developing both mentally and physically. Throughout the year I think he’s continued to work hard and continued to grow into that X position.
Re: The Chiefs season so far:
It has been a rollercoaster season. I don’t think any of those guys anticipated coming in and being where we’re at at the midway point of the season. We’ve done a lot of good but at the same time, in this game in the NFL, it comes down simply to turnovers, penalties and big plays. Anytime you have a lot of turnovers, you have a lot of penalties and you give up the big plays, it’s hard to win in this league and I think we’ve done a lot of that on both sides of the ball. We have to do a better job of protecting the football and that will help us immediately. [You have to] eliminate penalties because in this league if you get into third-and-long situations and guys know that you have to throw the ball it becomes a lot more difficult to pick-up that first down. And on the defensive side of the ball, we’ve got to eliminate the big plays in the pass game and also the run game and that will allow us to make teams drive the field a little bit more and give us a better chance to win.
How much input did Todd Haley have in the offense last year?
I think he had a lot of input. I know that he took a hands-on approach. He wasn’t in our meetings or anything like that but I know between him, Bill Muir, and also Jim Zorn, there was a lot of collaboration that took place between the three of those guys in terms of how the offense went last year for us.
Have you kept an eye on what Haley has done in Pittsburgh so far with the Steelers offense?
I haven’t because we’ve obviously got a lot going on over here that we’ve got to get fixed and figure out ourselves. I have been able to a see a few of their games here and there and obviously he’s done a great job with the offense and the offense is playing really well.
What kind of coach is Haley to play for?
I think Coach Haley is a demanding coach. He expects a lot out of his players and he’ll challenge you. He’s not afraid to get in your face and let you know and hold you accountable, I guess is the best way to put it.
Did you have a problem with Haley’s coaching style if he did get in your face?
There were probably times that I did but at the same time you also respect the process and respect the coaching that’s taking place. As a player, it’s your job to fix whatever the coach is saying and what he wants you to get accomplished and move forward.
What signs have you seen that the season could turn around for you guys?
We’re hoping every single week that we’re able to go in there and turn it around. With this group, I think that we’ve got a group that works hard and is determined to get this thing turned around. We’ve got talent on our football team, now it’s just bringing it together and playing a complete football game. I think that we really haven’t done that yet this year and it starts with just getting one win. If we can get that one win, it builds confidence and a confident man is a strong man. Then we can move forward from there.
How good is WR Dexter McCluster in the slot?
I think Dexter’s done a good job of developing in the slot. He worked hard this offseason learning the ins and outs of the position and reading the different coverages. I think that Dexter has tremendous ability with his quickness and his ability to uncover. There’s also a second side of that where he’s a little bit smaller so sometimes it’s challenging from a physical standpoint for him. At the same time, I think he’s developed and become a pretty dependable slot receiver for us.