If you were to examine a tale of two rivals, the Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders took two completely divergent paths this off-season. Both teams needed a head coach after firing Todd Haley and Hue Jackson respectively for failing to win the AFC West title even though both were favored before the season. Instead, it was the upstart Denver Broncos who upset everyone and won the division.
Yet as both teams went in search of a new head coach, the two rivals could not have looked any different. Consider just how opposite the team’s approaches were:
1. Team Familiarity
This is otherwise known as the “relational tree” wherein a general manager will typically tap his friends on the shoulder. The Patriots have cycled through more assistants over the last few years as former Pats execs have climbed into the seats of power with several teams like the Falcons and Chiefs. Those men end up hiring what they know and it’s par for the course in the NFL.
Scott Pioli ended up hiring Romeo Crennel, a man he’s known year after year and as veteran a coach as you’ll find in the NFL. The Chiefs, in fact, didn’t even leave Arrowhead Drive to find their man.
The Raiders, on the other hand, could not have taken a more liberal approach. Reggie McKenzie ignored all other relationships he had to take a chance on Dennis Allen, now the youngest head coach in the NFL at 39. The two had never worked together before. It is a complete roll of the dice. Two completely different paths.
2. Service Time
Romeo Crennel had already plied his trade elsewhere, with four subpar seasons of head coaching experience in Cleveland. He’d been with the Chiefs already for three years. He’s very much a known quantity who should bring no drama or uncertainty to the Chiefs locker room that was used to Todd Haley’s passionate and sometimes abrasive style.
The Raiders, on the other hand, took the liberal approach to bring in the young guy they were most impressed with. While Allen is definitely not dramatic, there is a risk and tension in bringing in a young coordinator with only one year of experience. The Broncos were not the league’s best defense and there were other more experienced defensive coordinators with better resumes. Instead, there was a connection.
Romeo Crennel has coached in the NFL since 1981. Dennis Allen was 9-years-old in 1981. There’s not a right or wrong here. Some Raiders fans will be nervous with such inexperience at the helm. Some Chiefs fans were hoping for a sexier choice than Crennel. Only time will tell which team took the right approach.