Crennel reunites with Weis, Pioli in KC

Updated: January 13, 2010, 1:56 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

As expected, the Kansas City Chiefs on Wednesday officially hired Romeo Crennel to be their new defensive coordinator.

Romeo Crennel

Crennel

When they take the field next season, the Chiefs will have the same defensive coordinator, offensive coordinator and top front-office executive who helped lead New England to three Super Bowl titles during 2002-05.

Throw in quarterback Matt Cassel, who backed up Tom Brady with the Patriots, and the New England-Kansas City connection becomes even stronger as Scott Pioli attempts to reverse the fortunes of the long-suffering Chiefs.

Crennel, who replaces Clancy Pendergast, reunites with general manager Pioli and offensive coordinator Charlie Weis. Weis was hired by Kansas City last week following his ouster as Notre Dame's coach.

The Chiefs informed Pendergast early Wednesday that they would be terminating his contract one year after hiring him from Arizona, sources close to the situation told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter. Potential landing spots for Pendergast could include Atlanta, which did not renew the contract of defensive backs coach Emmitt Thomas.

Crennel will not start work for Kansas City for a couple of weeks because of a prior commitment -- he'll be the head coach of the East Team in the East-West college football all-star game on Jan. 23 in Orlando, Fla.

The New York Giants had also expressed interest in Crennel, and talked with him by phone on Monday. But he told them the Chiefs, who run a 3-4 defense similar to what he coached in New England, would probably be his first choice.

Crennel and Weis will be joining a franchise that has won only 10 games in three years and went 4-12 last year in Todd Haley's rocky rookie season as a head coach.

Besides their successful experience with the Patriots, the two new coordinators also have post-New England failure in common. Weis left the Patriots to become head coach at his beloved Notre Dame and did get off to a good start. He was fired Nov. 30 with a five-year record of 35-27.

Crennel, 62, left New England to become head coach in Cleveland. And five years later, he was fired with a 24-40 record, including 4-12 in 2008.

Both also face a big challenge to help Haley and Pioli get the Chiefs back into contention. Kansas City showed some life near the end of the season, but has not won a postseason game since the 1993 season and is still only 6-35 in its last 41 games.

The Chiefs' defense had some of the worst games of any in the NFL this past season, twice sending opposing players into the record book with franchise-best performances.

Miles Austin, in an overtime victory over the Chiefs, set the Cowboys single-game record with 250 yards receiving. Then later in the season in what many Chiefs fans consider the low point of the entire year, Cleveland backup Jerome Harrison rushed for an astonishing 286 yards, wiping out Jim Brown's team record with the third-highest single-game total in NFL history.

The Chiefs pick fifth in the April draft. And they would seem to have a favorable schedule in 2010 with only three games against 2009 playoff teams.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.