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Tribal Warfare
10-18-2009, 11:02 PM
Chiefs beat Washington 14-6 for first win under Haley (http://www.kansascity.com/sports/chiefs/story/1515854.html)
By KENT BABB
The Kansas City Star

LANDOVER, Md. | Todd Haley stepped into a hallway, the tears still in his eyes and the praise still coming. Somebody handed him a cell phone. It was his wife. That didn’t help the overflow of emotion that he was experiencing.

“I’ve been waiting to enjoy one of these,” said Haley, the Chiefs’ coach.

The postgame meeting and a different kind of news conference behind him, Haley took a breath and absorbed what it meant to get his first victory as Kansas City’s head coach, a 14-6 win Sunday against Washington. His shirt was still soaked after an ice bath, and his eyes remained red from four hours of cold and ending five weeks of losses. Haley leaned against a wall and was honest about the day’s importance.

“We needed it,” he said. “We needed some positive feedback. Otherwise, they’re going to say, ‘What the heck? We’re doing all this and we’re sitting …’ ”

Haley trailed off. But he understood the weight of his team’s win. At least for now, it helped validate months of running, months of verbal sparring, months of endless work that wasn’t rewarded until Sunday at FedEx Field.

As team insiders passed and slapped Haley’s shoulder and colleagues shook his hand, players dressed in the locker room and talked about how Haley’s words and actions, difficult as they have occasionally been to understand, now carry some tangible value.

Haley has been toughest on a handful of players. Defensive end Glenn Dorsey is one of them. He was moved to defensive end and ordered to lose 50 pounds, and he was dangled in front of fans and reporters at training camp when the work didn’t show results quickly enough. Dorsey said last week that the extra work didn’t always make sense. Players had little choice but to follow orders, but what did it all mean?

“During the week,” Dorsey said Sunday, “we work so hard. Coach is not taking it easy on us. It’s great to win, just to show that we’re headed in the right direction. The stuff that we’re doing is working.

“It kind of validated our process.”

The Chiefs might have won Sunday because of Haley — or even in spite of him. He passed on trying a field goal in the first quarter and tried to convert on fourth and 2. The play resulted in a sack of Matt Cassel, and that became the latest example of a coach who’s willing to experiment, willing to gamble and might not yet be comfortable with his players or himself enough to try to win in more traditional fashion.

“Whatever it takes to win,” wide receiver Dwayne Bowe said. “You’ve got to hold them, you’ve got to punch them, whatever it takes.”

Haley, like the players, learned from his mistakes. He didn’t try such a thing again against Washington, allowing Ryan Succop to kick — and make — four field goals.

If the Chiefs had continued losing, Haley’s fear was that players might begin to tune him out. They are human, and when it’s all investment and few returns, humans begin to look for an escape hatch. Haley said it was important to get that positive result before their trust began to wilt. He said that hadn’t happened yet, but as the losses piled up and the empty seasons began to run together, the risk was forming.

“We’re working and pushing,” Haley said. “Usually when things are going bad, guys are laying off, and you’re worried. We just kept pushing.”

It might have happened just in time Sunday. And no one could explain why it happened. It didn’t hurt that Washington is a team mired in chaos and uncertainty. Coach Jim Zorn could be fired at any time, and starting quarterback Jason Campbell was benched at halftime Sunday for former Chief Todd Collins.

When Washington made a mistake, Kansas City took advantage. When Clinton Portis broke a 78-yard run, the Chiefs stayed calm and held Washington to a field goal. When Cassel kept getting sacked, the team turned to running back Larry Johnson, who rushed for a season-high 83 yards. It all just happened.

Some things didn’t change. Bowe caught a pass in the fourth quarter and had a path to the end zone, but he stepped out of bounds and missed a chance to score. The Chiefs settled for another field goal. When Bowe reached the sideline …

“He ripped me for that,” Bowe said, adding that after Sunday, some of Haley’s unusual behavior and emphasis has begun to make sense. “I understand. He wants greatness. It’s not all about your stats; it’s about helping your team win.

“He’s a great coach, man. He’s going to press day in and day out for greatness.”

It’s a different way than the Chiefs are used to, and Sunday was a different day than the team was used to. General manager Scott Pioli paced a back hallway, a cell phone pressed to his ear and his white dress shirt carrying a red stain, probably from some icy celebration. Offensive linemen Rudy Niswanger, Ike Ndukwe and Andy Alleman smiled and told stories. Cassel joked about being uncertain the Chiefs would win until he took a knee and the clock expired.

“Anytime you win,” Cassel said, “the bumps and bruises don’t hurt as much. There’s a lot of smiling faces.

“We took a breath of fresh air. This was a special day.”

Now Haley’s job begins again. The Chiefs have 10 games left. He has his validation. He has his players’ restored faith. Now he’ll see what all that is worth to a team starved for success but interested in listening to something new — as long as it works.

“We were sitting in the locker room,” Haley said, “and I said: ‘Each week, I’ve felt like we were going to win the game.’ But you’re 0-5. You’ve either got bad feelings or something.

“We were ready to play and ready to win. This time we were right.”

Jethopper
10-19-2009, 12:22 AM
Succop > Nick Lowery

DA_T_84
10-19-2009, 12:32 AM
Todd Haley stepped into a hallway, the tears still in his eyes and the praise still coming.

Hmm... they never say who it was that cried their tears into Todd MFnP Haley's eyes. Because A.J. Curry knows they weren't Haley's.

Micjones
10-19-2009, 02:27 AM
Haley deserves credit for calling a much better game offensively overall. He also deserves credit for having the team come out and play with some fire yesterday. Cassel deserves credit for staying poised despite a furious pass rush and multiple opportunities to pick himself up off of the ground. Johnson deserves credit for running hard and being explosive today in the ground game.

T-post Tom
10-19-2009, 02:35 AM
“Anytime you win,” Cassel said, “the bumps and bruises don’t hurt as much."


Len Dawson said that Cassel was covered in bruises after the game. I think Croyle would be dead if he had been abused like Cassel was on Sunday.

Tribal Warfare
10-19-2009, 02:37 AM
think Croyle would be dead if he Haynesworth had landed on him like he did on Cassel.

Haynesworth was the one who fell on Brodie's leg and thus tearing his ACL

vailpass
10-19-2009, 08:33 AM
Haley was crying? Seriously? I can see why he would have cried after each of his team's previous games this season but good lord man.

Redrum_69
10-19-2009, 09:30 AM
Vermeils crying > Haleys crying

Redrum_69
10-19-2009, 09:31 AM
"You cry to win the game" /Herm

Mr. Laz
10-19-2009, 09:32 AM
Chiefs needed this win badly ... if just for little confidence and a hope.