AFC West: Bill Muir

AFC West coaching update

February, 1, 2012
2/01/12
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The Kansas City Chiefs announced that offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Bill Muir will retire.

Muir, 69, wasn’t going to be brought back as the coordinator, but the Chiefs had interest in him to stay as the line coach. Muir denied a report last week that said he was going to retire. Yet, he has, indeed, decided to pursue other life interests. He spent 34 years in the NFL.

“I am excited for Bill as he moves into retirement,” Kansas City coach Romeo Crennel said in a statement released by the team. “I have known him for a long time and he is one of the finest coaches I’ve ever been around and an even better person. Bill is a very good friend and I have a great deal of respect for the way he worked. It was a privilege to work alongside him.”

Added Muir in the statement: "It has been an honor to be a part of this great league for so long. Over the years I've made a lot of great friends and worked with many talented players and coaches. This was a personal decision for me, the timing was right. The Chiefs are in great hands with Romeo and Scott (general manager Pioli) and I wish them nothing but the best.”

The Kansas City Star reported that Chiefs quarterbacks coach Jim Zorn has interviewed for the offensive coordinator opening. Crennel has been considering candidates for several weeks. The Chiefs reportedly recently denied the Bears permission to talk to Zorn about their quarterbacks coach job, which signaled that the Chiefs could be interested in promoting Zorn. He worked well with Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel last season.

FoxSports.com reports Oakland is hiring Houston assistant offensive line coach Frank Pollack as offensive line coach. He worked with new Oakland offensive coordinator Greg Knapp the past two years. Bob Wylie coached the Oakland offensive line last season and he did a nice job. It will be interesting to see where this decision leaves assistant offensive line coach Steve Wisniewski. He is a former Raiders great and is the uncle of Oakland guard Stefen Wisniewski, who starred as a rookie last season.

Meanwhile, former Oakland coach Rod Woodson is being considered as the defensive backs coach in Cincinnati. Woodson was a first-year coach with the Raiders last year. There was a report that Oakland coach Hue Jackson was going to fire Woodson before Jackson was fired himself.

AFC West notes

January, 25, 2012
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The Chargers scoped out pass-rushers at the Senior Bowl. That is an area the team could look to improve with the No. 18 pick in the April draft.

Bill Muir is expected to return to the Chiefs’ staff as offensive line coach. There will be a new offensive coordinator. New Kansas City coach Romeo Crennel is interviewing people for jobs this week at the Senior Bowl.

Denver’s defensive stars are sorry to see defensive coordinator Dennis Allen go to Oakland. Meanwhile, an Oakland columnist isn’t sold on the Raiders’ decision to hire Allen.

In an insider piece, Mel Kiper redrafts the 2006 draft. There are some interesting AFC West choices.

In an Insider piece, the Broncos and the Raiders are on the list of teams which exceeded expectations in 2011.

Chuck Pagano is reportedly leaving the Baltimore Ravens as defensive coordinator to go to Indianapolis as head coach. His brother, John, was recently promoted to defensive coordinator in San Diego.

Injuries suffered in a playoff loss at New England on Jan. 14, will keep Denver quarterback Tim Tebow from playing golf at Pebble Beach next month. The injuries aren’t expected to affect any of Tebow’s football activities.

What's next for Romeo Crennel?

January, 9, 2012
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Now that Romeo Crennel has been hired as the permanent coach in Kansas City, the focus will be on his coordinator hires.

Reports suggest Kansas City will pursue a high-profile, dynamic offensive coordinator to help Crennel, who is a defensive specialist. Former Kansas City coach Todd Haley was an offensive-minded coach. Bill Muir, the Chiefs’ current offensive coordinator, reportedly may retire.

The problem with finding a star offensive coordinator is the fact there aren’t many available. One name to consider may be former Jacksonville offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter. He is considered an up-and-comer. He interviewed for the head-coaching job in Denver last year. Other available names include former NFL head coaches Brad Childress and Mike Martz.

Koetter might be a safer pick, though, since Childress and Martz have reportedly had issues with getting along with co-workers and/or players in the past. After firing the volatile Haley, the Chiefs want stability and that is a big reason why Crennel was promoted.

One name to keep in mind is current Kansas City quarterbacks coach Jim Zorn. He is a respected, experienced coach, who knows this team and he works well with Crennel. Considering the Chiefs have had three different offenses in the past three seasons, sticking with a familiar coach makes sense.

The defensive coordinator search is less importance since Crennel will still have a big hand in the running the unit.

One name that may surface is former Jacksonville defensive coordinator and interim coach Mel Tucker. He was on Crennel’s staff in Cleveland. Another candidate could be San Francisco defensive line coach Jim Tomsula. Kansas City linebackers coach Gary Gibbs is also reportedly a candidate.

Crennel will likely get right to work on the assistant coach search and I could see the key openings being filed in the next week or so.
The Raiders placed cornerback Chris Johnson on the reserve/non-football illness list Saturday. Johnson’s sister was shot to death and his mother was wounded in an attack in Texas recently; Johnson has been traveling back and forth from California.

The Raiders signed defensive end Mason Brodine to the 53-man roster to fill Johnson's spot.

In other AFC West news:

The Patriots ruled out Deion Branch, Patrick Chung, Shane Vereen, Brandon Spikes and Sebastian Vollmer for Sunday’s game at Denver.

Denver signed safety Kyle McCarthy and cut fullback Quinn Johnson. McCarthy was cut earlier in the week. The Broncos are banged up at safety — starter Brian Dawkins is questionable with a neck injury that knocked him out of the Chicago game and held him out of two days of practice.

Detroit safety Louis Delmas has been downgraded to out for Sunday’s game at Oakland.

Offensive coordinator Bill Muir is back to the press box to call the game as the Chiefs shift from the Todd Haley regime to the Romeo Crennel regime.

Gunther Cunningham, who spent many years in the AFC West before landing in his current gig as Detroit defensive coordinator, is looking forward to going back to the Black Hole on Sunday with the Lions.

Major kudos to Oakland quarterback Jason Campbell for continuing to be a stalwart in the community after being injured. It’s been a tough season for Campbell, but he’s handled the situation with immense class.

Random thoughts on Kansas City

December, 14, 2011
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Below are some thoughts about the Kansas City Chiefs as they move on from the Todd Haley era and move forward with Romeo Crennel. Crennel was hired as the interim head coach after being promoted from defensive coordinator when Haley was fired Monday. The Chiefs host the 13-0 Green Bay Packers on Sunday:

Don’t be surprised if there is a quarterback change: Crennel said Tuesday that he wouldn’t rule out starting fifth-round pick Ricky Stanzi. I wouldn’t be shocked if Stanzi starts at some point in the final three games. The 5-8 Chiefs have nothing to lose and they like him. Tyler Palko has started the past four games since Matt Cassel was lost for the rest of the season. Haley was Palko’s biggest supporter. I believe there is sense in the building to make a move because Palko has not been impressive. If Kyle Orton wasn’t dealing with a finger injury, I think there’d be no doubt who would be starting.

Keep an eye on the offensive play calling: Haley was always vague about his involvement in the play calling, saying offensive coordinator Bill Muir had a major part in the duties. Now without Haley’s input, Muir will have full run of the offense.

Crennel likely will get a pass this week: There’s no doubt Kansas City general manager Scott Pioli will consider Crennel for the full-time job. Of course, it will help Crennel’s cause if the Chiefs play well in the final three games. But I don’t think Crennel has to beat the Packers to keep his name in consideration. I think Crennel will likely be judged more on the Chiefs’ performance in their final two games, at home against Oakland and at Denver, than in Sunday’s game against the juggernaut. However, of course, if the Chiefs somehow become the team to derail the Packers, Crennel’s candidacy will soar.

Could be bad timing on Ferentz: It’s no secret that Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz is probably at the top of Pioli’s list. The two go way back and Ferentz has been pursued by NFL teams before. However, because there is still three weeks left in the season, I’m not sure the timing is going to be right. Will Ferentz want to wade through all the rumors and answer frequent questions about it, all the while trying to get his team ready for a bowl and trying to recruit for Iowa? That could be difficult for him to deal with.

AFC West mailbag

December, 10, 2011
12/10/11
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Weekend mail call:

Diego from Albuquerque wants to know if I think Oakland defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan could be fired after the season.

Bill Williamson: It depends. If the Raiders hire a general manager, maybe he could make that call. But I bet coach Hue Jackson has a major role in making the decision no matter what happens in the front office. Jackson likes Bresnahan and the two have worked together. I could see Bresnahan getting another chance. But the Raiders’ biggest problems on defense the past few seasons continued this year under Bresnahan –- they give up way too many plays. Sooner or later, this talented unit has to play better.

Damian from Kansas City wants to know if I think Norv Turner could end up as the Chiefs’ offensive next year if he is fired by the Chargers.

BW: I don’t necessarily see that as a fit. I think Turner would look at other options. I just have a feeling that if Tuner gets fired, he’d probably look for an opportunity in which the head coach is a defensive-minded coach. I couldn’t see Turner running another offensive-minded coach’s system.

Jeff from Boulder, Colo., wants to know who I think will be the first to be shown the door in Kansas City, coach Todd Haley, offensive coordinator Bill Muir or quarterback Matt Cassel.

BW: If I had to guess, I’d say all three will be back in Kansas City in 2012. If was told I had to say one would leave Kansas City after the season, I’d say Muir. But that would be mostly based on I think Haley and Cassel will get another. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Chiefs looked for another option at offensive coordinator, perhaps finding a more dynamic option. But, again, I wouldn’t be stunned if Muir stayed in his role.

Palko, not Orton, gets call in K.C.

December, 2, 2011
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Kansas City coach Todd Haley said Tyler Palko will start Sunday at quarterback at Chicago instead of Kyle Orton.

I think the only reason this makes sense is if Orton just doesn’t have the Chiefs’ offense down yet. Orton has said he is ready; he has been with the Chiefs for a week after being claimed off waivers from Denver.

I think if Orton is ready, he needs to play. The Chiefs picked up the remaining $2.5 million on his contract; Orton is a free agent at the end of the year. Orton should be in Kansas City to play, not back up Palko. Palko has thrown six interceptions in two starts playing for Matt Cassel, who is out with a broken hand. Haley said Orton could play against the Bears, but he was far from committal about it.

“We’ve had to prepare Orton to get ready to play and he may have to, but he may not,” Haley told reporters. “We’re really focused on how we want to start this game and we know what we need to do.”

Meanwhile, Kansas City offensive coordinator Bill Muir said Jared Gaither wasn’t as physical or as explosive as he was with the Ravens. The Chiefs cut the offensive lineman – who missed all of last season with a back injury – this week. San Diego claimed him. Gaither could play for the Chargers on Monday night at Jacksonville.

In other AFC West news:

Rolando McClain’s high school does not want him to attend its basketball game Friday night. The Oakland linebacker was arrested this week on assault charges in his hometown of Decatur, Ala. I wonder if the Raiders will feel the same way about their game in Miami on Sunday?

Kansas City Chiefs: Moving on

November, 22, 2011
11/22/11
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Here are some areas the Kansas City Chiefs need to focus on after a 34-3 loss against the New England Patriots in Foxboro on Monday night:

Recap: In the end, the undermanned and battered Chiefs were tossed around by a superior team playing at home in prime time. However, the game wasn’t all New England. The Chiefs were outplaying the Patriots until late in the second quarter. All but seven of the Patriots’ points came in the final 31 minutes of the game. Kansas City has now lost three straight games, is 4-6 and is tied for last place in the division with San Diego.

Biggest area to fix: The Chiefs need to continue to work with quarterback Tyler Palko. He entered the game with just 13 career NFL passes. Palko was not terrible Monday. Yes, he threw three interceptions and he made some bad decisions, but he was also competitive. He threw for 236 yards on 25-of-38 passing. Expect offensive coordinator Bill Muir -- who moved from the press box to the field Monday -- to stay on the field and continue to work with Palko as the Chiefs try to stay in the hunt for the final six games of the season. They will be now without starting quarterback Matt Cassel, who is out for the year with a broken hand.

Biggest area to build on: The Chiefs’ played very aggressive on defense in the first half. The game got away from them in the second half, but Kansas City was pushing around the New England offensive line and making life uncomfortable for Tom Brady early. Kansas City had three sacks in the first half and none in the second. Also, credit Kansas City for containing New England receiver Wes Welker. He had two catches for 22 yards. His previous season low for catches was five and his previous season low for yardage was 39. Welker is leading the NFL in receptions (74) and yardage (1,028), yet he was not a factor against the Chiefs.

What to watch for: The Chiefs have the toughest remaining schedule in the NFL and they stay in the prime-time spotlight. The Chiefs host Pittsburgh on Sunday night.

Evening AFC West notes

September, 30, 2011
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In a fascinating tale, New England coach Bill Belichick talked about interviewing for the Raiders’ head-coaching job with owner Al Davis in 1990s. Belichick knew he didn’t have much of a chance to be hired. Since John Madden retired in 1978, all 11 of Oakland’s head coaches have been offensive specialists. Belichick is a defensive guru. Could you imagine if Belichick did go to Oakland? I wonder what could have happened.

Joyner: Raiders are for real

September, 28, 2011
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KC Joyner knows football. He knows trends and he can crunch a number with a maestro’s touch. Joyner doesn’t think the Oakland Raiders are going anywhere … other than, perhaps, the playoffs.

In an Insider piece, Joyner explains why he thinks the Raiders are a legitimate contender. Here is a passage from the piece:
After doing detailed game tape and metric analysis, it is clear this team is not the same old Raiders. In fact, it looks like a bona fide playoff contender.

It’s good stuff and completely believable. The Raiders are alive and well.

In other AFC West nuggets Wednesday:

ESPN Boston looks at the Richard Seymour of the Raiders from a Patriots perspective. He was traded to Oakland in 2009. The Patriots visit Oakland on Sunday.

The Chiefs did a tight end swap again. They cut Anthony Becht and re-signed Jake O’Connell. Two weeks ago, they re-signed Becht and cut O’Connell.

The Chargers hope a new bill signed by the governor of California could help keep them in San Diego.

Offensive coordinator Bill Muir is keeping his gig as the playcaller in Kansas City.

Oakland running back Darren McFadden is back on ESPN.com’s MVP Watch.

Former Chief and current Patriot Brian Waters recalls previous trips to Oakland. You must check out this link. Guaranteed chuckle.

Wrap-up: Lions 48, Chiefs 3

September, 18, 2011
9/18/11
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Some thoughts on the Chiefs' 48-3 loss to the Lions:

What it means: The Chiefs are terrible. Sorry folks, I usually try to stress patience, but this season is already getting away from the Chiefs, who were beaten 41-7 last week at home by Buffalo. Considering the injuries -- star running back Jamaal Charles suffered a potentially serious leg injury Sunday -- and the way the Chiefs have played, I can’t imagine them being a factor in the AFC West. Dating back to the final game of last season and in the playoffs, Kansas City has been outscored, 150-27.

Tomorrow’s talker: Will Todd Haley survive Monday? It’s amazing to think that a coach who went a surprise 10-6 to win the AFC West and who received some coach of the year consideration is on the hot seat. But Haley may just be there. The Chiefs look terrible. General manager Scott Pioli doesn’t mess around. It’s not out of the question Haley gets the axe.

Hold your breath: Charles’ injury doesn’t look good. We likely won’t know more until Monday. The Chiefs can’t afford to hear any more terrible news when it comes to injuries. They already lost star safety Eric Berry and standout tight end Tony Moeaki to season-ending knee injuries in the past two weeks. This would be another brutal blow for a team that is reeling.

Missing Charlie? We must beg the question: Would this be happening if Charlie Weis was still the offensive coordinator in Kansas City? The Chiefs’ offense has fallen off a cliff since it was announced Weis would leave for the University of Florida before Week 17 last year. Quarterback Matt Cassel looks out of sorts and the play calling of offensive coordinator Bill Muir hasn’t worked so far. There are a lot of problem in Kansas City right now, but the loss of Weis may be near the top of the list.

What’s next: The Chiefs have another tough test. They go to San Diego in Week 3.

AFC West mailbag

September, 17, 2011
9/17/11
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Weekend mail call:

Adam from Nashville, Tenn., wants to know if the Oakland secondary was better than I expected against Denver.

Bill Williamson: In the Oakland Raiders' first game without Nnamdi Asomugha, their secondary did pretty well. But there is room for improvement. Even though, he was never really in a zone, Kyle Orton did throw for 300-plus yards. So, the secondary does need to tighten up. But the key to Oakland’s defense is that great front four. The better the pass rush will be, the better the secondary will be. That will help Oakland’s defensive backs all season.

Mikey from Kansas City wants to know if I think the Kansas City Chiefs’ running back Jamaal Charles will be a flop this year.

BW: No way. The guy is legitimate. Yes, he only had 56 yards Sunday, but he only had 10 carries. The key for the Kansas City Chiefs is to get into a rhythm and make sure it can taken advantage of Charles. He needs more chances. The Chiefs’ offense is a work in progress because of injuries and a change of command from Charlie Weis to Bill Muir. But Charles is not the problem. Not even close.

Justin Keller from Seattle wants to know if the fact that Oakland middle linebacker Rolando McClain didn’t have a great game in Week 1 is a reason for concern.

BW: Yes, McClain was beat a few times in coverage, but this is a good player. People have to remember, though, McClain is still learning the NFL game. Just because he was a starter at a critical position from Day 1, it doesn’t mean he has it all figured out. He is still improving. He needs to be better in coverage and he needs to be consistent. But he is a smart, hard worker who should have a bright future.
Four days before the start of the season, Kansas City coach Todd Haley said at his news conference Wednesday that new offensive coordinator Bill Muir will be the primary playcaller this season.

Haley said Muir scripted and called the plays in the preseason. Muir takes over as offensive coordinator for Charlie Weis, who is now at the University of Florida. Muir was offensive line coach last year and still has those duties. Muir, 68, was Tampa Bay offensive coordinator when they won the Super Bowl, but head coach Jon Gruden called the plays. Muir has never been a primary playcaller.

Haley, who was the offensive coordinator in Arizona before being hired in Kansas City, took several weeks to promote Muir and then he wouldn’t say who would call the plays. He had said several members of the Chiefs’ coaching staff, himself included, would have a hand in the plan. I bet that continues in some form. Haley did say he will help with the game plan during the week but the offense is in Muir’s control on game day.

I’m surprised Haley is not calling the plays because of his experience. But, in the end, it is best for him to have someone else call the plays. Haley called the plays in 2009, his first season as the Chiefs’ head coach. He admitted he was stretched too thin. Things worked much better last season when Weis called the plays.

Haley will always be there to assist Muir, but Haley has many other responsibilities to worry about, so having Muir call the plays is the right decision for now.

Chiefs' intelligence report

September, 1, 2011
9/01/11
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Here is Kansas City's team page:

1. Ready to air it out: The Chiefs' passing game excelled under former offensive coordinator Charlie Weis last season, and don't expect that to change now that Weis is at Florida. Offensive line coach Bill Muir has been promoted to offensive coordinator. Former Washington head coach Jim Zorn is the quarterback coach, and head coach Todd Haley will be involved in the passing game. Don't expect the Chiefs to shy away from throwing the ball. If you don't believe it, just look at two of their biggest offseason pickups -- receiver Jon Baldwin, their first-round pick, and free-agent slot receiver Steve Breaston.

2. It all starts with Jamaal Charles: The Chiefs are in fine shape at running back. They just signed fullback Le'Ron McClain, who runs the ball more than the typical fullback, and they still have veteran Thomas Jones. Those two will help keep pressure off star Jamaal Charles, who the team believes is most effective when he is fresh. Jones had 15 more carries than Charles last year. That will probably change because Charles is so explosive. According to the Football Scientist, KC Joyner, Charles is outstanding in his good blocking yards per attempt (GBYPA) metric. It gauges how productive a running back is when his blocking is effective. Charles had a 9.0 GBYPA last year, second best in the NFL.

3. Challenge will be stiffer in 2010: The Chiefs were a surprise division winner last year. They developed quickly and showed they are one of the NFL's most talented young teams. However, they benefited from an easy schedule. Kansas City played only two playoff teams in 2010. The schedule toughens this season. From Weeks 11 to 15, Kansas City plays five 2010 playoff teams, including the four teams that went to the conference championship games: Green Bay, Chicago, Pittsburgh and the New York Jets. The other 2010 playoff team in that mix is New England. Yes, it's brutal.

4. Varied weapons: Kansas City has a unique offense. No weapons are alike. The Chiefs will feature receivers Dwayne Bowe, Baldwin and Breaston. They all offer different things. Bowe is a classic No. 1 type. Baldwin is a big, vertical threat. Breaston is a chain-mover. Add field-stretching tight end Tony Moeaki and shifty running back/receiver Dexter McCluster, and the Chiefs will have many different schemes to keep defenses off balance.

5. Hali was not a one-hit wonder: Don't expect Tamba Hali to fade now that he got his big contract. The Chiefs recently gave Hali a five-year, $60 million deal with $35 million guaranteed. He is not a cash-grab type of player. He is very humble and is a hard worker. Expect Hali, who led the AFC with 14.5 sacks last season, to work even harder to live up to his big contract.

Chiefs back-to-work FYI

July, 25, 2011
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NFC: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South Unrestricted FAs

Readiness factor: The Chiefs are in pretty good shape. They didn’t have many major changes. New offensive coordinator Bill Muir was on the staff last year, and big pockets of players worked out together on a few occasions. I don’t think there will be any major obstacles to this team getting rolling quickly.

Biggest challenge: Quarterback Matt Cassel's progression is vital for this team. He made great progress last season, but he stalled in the Chiefs' final two games after offensive coordinator Charlie Weis announced he was leaving for the University of Florida. New quarterbacks coach Jim Zorn is charged with working with Cassel. The two have met briefly, but they will have to get on the same page quickly to ensure Cassel can continue to lead the offense effectively.

Getting rookies ready: The Chiefs are excited about their draft class. Players such as receiver Jon Baldwin, center/guard Rodney Hudson and front-seven defenders Justin Houston and Allen Bailey have a chance to play right away. They must get up to speed without the benefit of an offseason program.

Key players without contracts for 2011: Center Casey Wiegmann.

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