Nothing Crennel did seemed to work, either.
He fired himself as the defensive coordinator and turned those duties over to linebackers coach Gary Gibbs. He shuffled his quarterbacks, changed inspirational posters outside the locker room and even tinkered with the way practice was run.
But injuries were numerous, turnovers plentiful and penalties crippling as blown assignments became the hallmark of a team that was rarely competitive in games.
Then came the morning of Dec. 1, when tragedy struck.
Belcher, a part-time starter, shot the mother of his 3-month-old daughter, Kasandra Perkins, multiple times at a home not far from Arrowhead Stadium. The linebacker then sped to the team’s practice facility and was confronted by Pioli, who tried to talk him out of more violence.
After thanking Pioli and Crennel for his chance in the NFL, Belcher shot himself in the head.
The Chiefs played the following day against Carolina, and Crennel was praised for the way he stoically led a team in turmoil. Kansas City put together its best performance in a 27-21 victory.
It wound up being their last win. The Chiefs were blown out by Cleveland, shut out by Oakland and beaten by the Colts before an embarrassing finale against the Broncos.
That was enough to finish Crennel, and enough to put Pioli’s future in jeopardy.
‘‘I kept looking for the team to improve, to show signs that we were turning the corner,’’ Hunt said, ‘‘and we just never got there.’’
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