Chiefs were once where Browns are now

The Wichita Eagle (Sunday) - - Sports - BY BLAIR KERKHOFF

A hand­ful of Chiefs who will travel to Cleve­land this week­end have been where the Browns are to­day when it comes to play­ing for an in­terim coach in his first game.

The Chiefs will work to prevent the suc­cess they en­joyed on that oc­ca­sion.

In 2011, head coach Todd Ha­ley was fired by the Chiefs af­ter a 37-10 loss to the New York Jets. Three games re­mained in the sea­son, and the Chiefs el­e­vated de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Romeo Cren­nel to fin­ish it out.

On Mon­day, the Browns fired Hue Jack­son along with Ha­ley, the Browns’ of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor, and named de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Gregg Wil­liams to the top job with an in­terim tag.

In each case, the team in coach­ing tur­moil faced long odds the fol­low­ing week. The Browns are a nine-point un­der­dog against the Chiefs on Sun­day. Seven years ago, the Chiefs were an 11-point un­der­dog to the vis­it­ing Green Bay Pack­ers, who car­ried a 13-0 record into that game.

Does Chiefs de­fen­sive end Allen Bai­ley, a rookie in 2011, re­mem­ber what hap­pened that day?

“I know it hap­pened af­ter the Jets game and the fol­low­ing game was a home game,” Bai­ley said. “Who was it?”

Re­minded it was the Pack­ers, and that the Chiefs pulled off the shocker, 19-14, be­hind quar­ter­back Kyle Or­ton, Bai­ley’s rec­ol­lec­tion kicked in.

“Oh, yeah, it was,” Bai­ley said. “It was a cold day. I re­mem­ber that now. Got my first sack in that game, too.”

In­deed. Bai­ley took down Aaron Rodgers in the fourth quar­ter to force a Pack­ers punt. Ev­ery­thing seemed to go right for the Chiefs that af­ter­noon.

Can the Browns pull off the same type of per­for­mance against a Chiefs team that now owns the AFC’s best record at 7-1?

It’s an un­usual sit­u­a­tion emo­tion­ally for a locker room, the Chiefs re­called.

“I re­mem­ber think­ing I had to fo­cus on how I can help my team get out of this hole,” said Chiefs punter Dustin Colquitt, who was in his sev­enth sea­son in 2011. “I think if any­thing a

sit­u­a­tion like this helps guys unite. ‘I have your back, you have mine. What­ever we’re miss­ing, let’s go fig­ure it out.’

“There’s still a love and pas­sion for the game.”

Jack­son didn’t seem des­tined to re­main the Browns’ coach for long. He owns a 3-36-1 record, and dis­agree­ments with Ha­ley and other coaches in the pre­sea­son were cap­tured on HBO’s se­ries Hard Knocks. But per­haps a team plays with loose­ness or a freer mind in times of abrupt change.

Browns quar­ter­back Baker May­field said the early signs are pos­i­tive.

“There’s no way to cor­rect de­scribe the feel­ing right when it hap­pens, that first day,” May­field said. “That next day, it’s what are we go­ing to do with this?

“We have to do our job, stick to­gether and not use it as an ex­cuse.”

Bai­ley re­mem­bers that feel­ing in the Chiefs’ locker room in 2011.

“We’re all pro­fes­sion­als, so we shouldn’t let it bother us from an emo­tional stand­point,” Bai­ley said.

The un­ex­pected vic­tory for the Chiefs that day set in mo­tion a se­ries of events that changed the team’s di­rec­tion. The Chiefs won two of their three games un­der Cren­nel, and the in­terim tag was lifted from the pop­u­lar coach.

But the 2012 team proved to be a dis­as­ter. The Chiefs fin­ished 2-14 and fired Cren­nel the day af­ter the sea­son. Less than a week later, Andy Reid was hired, and about two weeks later, John Dorsey was named gen­eral man­ager. Dorsey is now in his first full sea­son with the Browns.

Wil­liams, the in­terim Browns coach who grew up a Chiefs fan in the Kansas City area, said his fo­cus is on forgetting about what hap­pened ear­lier in the week.

“You have to un­der­stand the past, and we have to fo­cus on what we’re do­ing to­day, and we have to put a bunch of great to­days to­gether and fin­ish the sea­son strong,” Wil­liams said.

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