KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Romeo Crennel wants another chance to be a head coach in the NFL. He may have the opportunity with the Kansas City Chiefs if he can hold together a franchise in disarray over the next three weeks.
Crennel spoke Tuesday for the first time since he was appointed interim coach, telling reporters on a conference call that he wants to be considered for the permanent job in Kansas City. Crennel will lead the Chiefs through the end of the season after Todd Haley was fired on Monday.
"There were no conditions to this," Crennel said. "I want to try to be helpful in this situation, and I knew one of the ways I could be helpful was to be the interim coach."
Long considered one of the game's brightest defensive minds, Crennel has spent the past two seasons as the Chiefs' defensive coordinator, presiding over a unit that has been their biggest strength. His track record includes five Super Bowl rings as an assistant coach.
Crennel received his first chance to be a head coach in Cleveland, where he had mixed results in five seasons. He took over a moribund franchise and went 10-22 his first two years, but had the Browns on the cusp of the playoffs after finishing 10-6 in 2007. Crennel received a contract extension, but the team slipped to 4-12 the following year and Crennel was let go.
"You know what? When I left Cleveland, one of the things I felt was that my competitive nature, my competitive energy that I have, I would like to be a head coach again and show I could get it done," Crennel said. "I know how to get it done and I think the experience will make me better."
Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli said Monday that Crennel will be given the opportunity to interview for the full-time job, though he's by no measure a certainty.
Potential candidates could include Rams offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who worked with Pioli in New England, and Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz, who has rebuffed every overture from the NFL in recent years. It's unclear whether Pioli has even begun to formulate a wish list.
"I know the respect Romeo commands in the locker room," said Pioli, who was New England's personnel director when Crennel was the Patriots defensive coordinator. "We talked with Romeo and I think he's someone we're definitely going to be talking to."
Crennel said that he doesn't plan to make wholesale changes to the way the team operates through the end of the season, especially with the unbeaten Green Bay Packers coming to town Sunday.
He'll continue to call the plays on defense, though he'll delegate some of the game planning to assistants Emmitt Thomas and Gary Gibbs. Offensive coordinator Bill Muir will continue to call plays on that side of the ball, though Crennel said he'll offer his input when it's warranted.
"I will tell them what I think, what's important, and they will use that as a framework to develop a plan that gives us a chance," Crennel said. "If I don't think plays are good, I'll say, 'Let's not run this play. Have you thought about this as a possibility?'"
Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson said he's convinced that Crennel can keep the team together after only the second in-season firing of a head coach in franchise history.
"Coach Crennel is a great guy, a great coach. Very well-respected," Johnson said. "He's a guy who knows what he's doing. He's a proven leader in this league, and for this three-game season, he's going to do the best he can."