This one might have a little more bite to it than otherwise would’ve been expected.
When Todd Haley was fired as Chiefs coach on Monday, I figured that would make this Sunday’s game a breeze for the Packers. I figured the Chiefs would name a three-game interim head coach who, in effect, would be a lame-duck coach expected to do little more than guide the Chiefs to a merciful conclusion to their season.
All of that thinking was dashed when it was announced that Romeo Crennel would be the Chiefs’ interim coach. That’s when the wheels in my head started to turn.
Let’s see, Crennel was with Chiefs GM Scott Pioli in New England. Hmmm. They like each other. They work well together. They’re a comfortable fit. Hey, I get it. Crennel is the next coach. This is just an audition.
What the Packers are going to get in the way of an opponent this Sunday is a team bent on impressing their new coach. They know that with a strong finishing kick to their season, the Chiefs will probably land the full-time head coach’s job for Crennel, and Crennel is a player-friendly coach. In other words, players could do a whole lot worse than Crennel.
“They made a change and there’ll be a new energy source that’ll come out of them. That’s been my experience,” Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy said on Wednesday.
McCarthy knows how this stuff works. He knows players won’t play for a lame-duck coach, but they’ll play with fury for the guy they want and Crennel is the kind of coach players want.
“I do believe that how we play in these next three games will impact what they decide,” Crennel said on Wednesday of the decision-makers that will pick the Chiefs’ next coach.
Next three games? How about the next game? Should the Chiefs upset the undefeated Packers, Crennel would be a shoo-in to become the Chiefs’ next head coach. How could they not hire him?
So that’s what the Packers will be facing this Sunday in Kansas City, a Chiefs team motivated to win a game that would land their coach the full-time job and eliminate the prospect for radical change in the offseason. Nobody likes change, huh?
Here are 10 things the Packers have to do to beat the Chiefs:
1. Stay focused—The only way the Packers lose this game is if they get sloppy.
2. Run the ball—The Chiefs are 26th against the run and I loved the way the Packers ran the ball against the Raiders. With Greg Jennings out, what’s wrong with a little run-the-ball time?
3. Block Hali—Tamba Hali can really rush the passer. He’s the AFC version of Jason Pierre-Paul.
4. Expect Orton—Kyle Orton gives the Chiefs their best chance of winning.
5. Find McCluster—Dexter McCluster has big-play potential. He can stretch a team sideways.
6. Be ready—The Chiefs will be fired up from the start. Don’t let them get a foothold on their own turf.
7. Get a body on Baldwin—First-round pick Jonathan Baldwin is a big receiver who’s at his best catching the high ball.
8. Up the tempo—More plays would favor the Packers; fewer plays would favor the Chiefs.
9. Turn Cobb loose—With Jennings out, this game could become Randall Cobb’s breakout game.
10. Think clinch—That’s what a win would do. It would clinch home-field advantage for the playoffs and put the focus squarely on the pursuit of immortality. Additional coverage - Dec. 15