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ChiefsandO'sfan
09-11-2011, 08:45 AM
Chiefs’ Haley on the clock as season begins today


By KENT BABB

The Kansas City Star


Todd Haley leans against a counter in a mostly empty room, talking about probabilities and his ongoing pursuit of beating them. He prefers card games that, although they favor the house, offer a chance to beat the odds. He also likes conversations that poke holes in conventional wisdom.

Haley is a gambler, and his first two seasons as Chiefs coach have shown his willingness to try the unusual for a chance to reach the extraordinary. It’s not always popular.

“I do think you can give yourself an advantage,” he says. “It’s like Indianapolis last year. I took a lot of flak for that.”

He’s talking about the fourth game of the 2010 season. Against the Colts, the Chiefs attempted a surprise onside kick to start the contest and, later, Haley passed up a short field goal for a fourth-down try. Sure enough, quarterback Matt Cassel’s pass fell incomplete, and Haley’s team left Indianapolis with its first loss.

Nearly a year later, Haley isn’t regretful.

“It was just a no-brainer to me,” he says.

Haley still parlayed his gambles into a 10-6 record following a 4-12 season, a memorable year for the Chiefs but one defined in some ways by his propensity to ignore the usual NFL coach’s approach. As Haley prepares for today’s opener against the Buffalo Bills, he has perhaps taken on his biggest series of chances at a time when the wrong decision could put his future in jeopardy.

Haley’s contract is set to expire after the 2012 season, and NFL teams rarely allow coaches to enter their final year as a lame duck. The Chiefs likely will decide this season whether to offer a contract extension or part ways with their coach.

Months ago, Haley decided to simplify the team’s preseason approach, scaling down the intensity that marked his first two training camps in favor of a careful, low-contact affair designed to limit injuries following a lengthy lockout.

The preseason choice was unusual, and it already has had consequences. Four starters were injured in the Chiefs’ fourth preseason game, including tight end Tony Moeaki, who suffered a season-ending ACL tear.

The risks didn’t end there.

Haley appointed coordinator Bill Muir to call offensive plays for the first time in a 34-year career and elected to begin the season without an experienced quarterback to back up Cassel. Haley also signed off on making wide receiver Jonathan Baldwin, a player with baggage, the team’s No. 1 draft pick. Months later, Baldwin was injured in a training camp fight with teammate Thomas Jones.

As Haley begins his third season, a question has emerged, and it could affect the Chiefs’ long-term plans: Is the coach more the bold decision-maker who somehow led his team to a division championship last year, or is he a man who’s too enamored of gambling’s thrill that he doesn’t stop often enough to consider his odds?

“He’s a guy that’s going to experiment with everything,” veteran center Casey Wiegmann says. “That’s just his personality. He has a track record of doing different types of stuff, and hopefully it all works out.”

For now, Haley says that’s how he learned to coach the game. He says this is who he is and how he likes to coach. He says this isn’t something he’s willing to change.

“You can’t play scared,” he says. “You’ve got to play smart, but you can’t play scared.”

• • •

It was in the old days, the years dusty and faded now, that Haley learned that coaching wasn’t only about intelligence and experience; it’s about guts, too. He famously learned at the feet of legendary coach Bill Parcells, and Haley absorbed as much as he could.

One of the things Haley paid attention to was that Parcells didn’t care for custom; if he decided something, that’s the way it would be.

“You cannot do it with any hesitation. He was the best at that,” Haley says of his mentor. “If he decided to pull the trigger, he was pulling the trigger.”

Haley has, in many ways, tried to emulate Parcells. But Haley coaches in a different era. Coaches make millions and are the public face of billion-dollar companies. Their futures also are decided sooner than when Parcells won two Super Bowls with the New York Giants a generation ago.

Today’s NFL isn’t the same one Parcells excelled in.

“A what-have-you-done-for-me-lately league,” Haley says.

Coaches are fired if they don’t show results in a handful of years. In 2008, The New York Times reported that an NFL coach was given an average of a little more than four years before a change was made. Haley’s division championship last year could be forgotten under a pile of losses a season later, leaving Haley’s star falling and his Chiefs career defined by perhaps two losing seasons in three years.

“If there’s not signs of progress,” former Chiefs defensive lineman Bill Maas says, “then, yeah, you’re pretty much gone in this league.”

Under Haley last year, the Chiefs showed more progress than they had in years. They won the AFC West for the first time in seven years, surprising opponents occasionally with bravado and panache — most of it originating from the man wearing the headset. The Chiefs converted 10 of 23 fourth-down attempts — Atlanta went for it on fourth down 15 times, the next-highest total for a team with a winning record in 2010 — and Haley had no problem using trick plays and unusual methods.

“It’s not uncommon,” Muir says, “to say, ‘Hey, let’s think about this.’ ”

Haley says the gambles are researched, tested and trusted before they’re used in games. They are discussed and agreed upon. Haley says he has faith in this approach, even if it is unorthodox.

“If you believe you can get something done and you believe you can make something happen,” he says, “you can get something done.”

So a few months ago, Haley had a new idea. He gathered his staff and suggested a plan. Instead of the strenuous training camps of his first two seasons, wouldn’t a better idea be to ease players back into the NFL grind? Perhaps the Chiefs would peak later than other teams, in time for a playoff push. Perhaps a vanilla game plan during the preseason would allow the Chiefs’ rookies to easier grasp a system they’d soon be playing in.

Haley won’t say if there were dissenting voices, but regardless, the plan was adopted.

“It was never to try to outsmart anybody else,” he says. “It was just to try to do what we think was smartest for our team.”

Players returned to Kansas City after the lockout’s 4 1/2 -month layoff and started a different kind of training camp. All along, Haley admits now, the plan was designed to ride the brake on players until the fourth preseason game, when coaches would hit the gas. Starters would play longer than normal, and sure enough, long after the Packers removed most of their starters after one possession, many of the Chiefs’ regulars were still playing in the fourth quarter.

Even as the injuries mounted, Haley didn’t sway.

“A lot of people were like, ‘What were you doing?’ ” running back Jamaal Charles says. “But he knows what he’s doing.”

Players say they have faith in Haley; that last year earned him the benefit of the doubt. Still, some acknowledge this could be Haley’s biggest gamble in a career full of them.

“He took a little risk,” Charles says. “But I guess he’s saying hard work pays off. Hopefully one day, after the end of the season, it pays off.”

• • •"

Dick Vermeil began the 1999 season knowing that, if things didn’t change, his time coaching the St. Louis Rams would be finished. And already, the odds were stacked against him.

The Rams won a combined nine games in Vermeil’s first two seasons as coach, and his third began when quarterback Trent Green suffered a season-ending knee injury during a preseason game. Vermeil opted to stake the Rams’ season, and his future, on a former Arena Football League quarterback named Kurt Warner.

“That was about as big a gamble as you can make,” says Vermeil, who later coached the Chiefs.

Of course, Warner emerged as a future Hall of Famer that year, and the Rams were the unlikely Super Bowl champions. Now, a dozen years after the beginning of that season, Vermeil says he didn’t think much about how that chain of events might have affected his job security and stained his legacy. But he does now.

“If we didn’t win that year, I’m gone,” he says. “… I don’t think coaches coach concerned with losing their job. I really don’t.”

About a year ago, Haley stood in a hallway at Chiefs headquarters and talked about how he spent his first season fearing that he would blow his opportunity as an NFL head coach. He often left the field, worried. “Well,” he remembered thinking, “I’m going to get fired.”

After two full seasons, Haley says he no longer thinks that way. He says he can’t believe he ever thought that way. He says now that he coaches only to win each game, adding that he believes no great reward comes to those who play it safe.

He says he understands the NFL’s short memory, and he understands the questions that could grow louder if the Chiefs struggle. Will Haley’s preseason philosophy succeed or cost the Chiefs a season of growth? Is Haley stubborn or innovative, a gambler who just can’t help himself or a man with the guts to chase down football’s greatest prize? He says so many of these questions will be answered in time.

“We’ll see,” he says.

A smirk forms.

“One thing I’m not going to do,” he says, “is just do what everybody else does, just because.

“I’m going to go back to the way I learned and was brought up and raised, to do your homework and do the things that you think give you the best chance to be right or succeed — and don’t look back.”


Read more: http://www.kansascity.com/2011/09/10/3133801/chiefs-haley-on-the-clock-in-his.html#ixzz1XegqS3eV

Coogs
09-11-2011, 08:55 AM
I thought this was a great article. I also like the approach Haley took with this training camp. It makes perfect sense to me, and I really hope his approach works. We will know soon.

Count Zarth
09-11-2011, 08:56 AM
We’ll see,” he says.

A smirk forms.

“One thing I’m not going to do,” he says, “is just do what everybody else does, just because.

Haley says fuck you.

hometeam
09-11-2011, 08:56 AM
TLDR~

FAX
09-11-2011, 09:07 AM
It's kind of strange ... this speculation that Haley's job is in jeopardy, I mean.

In my humble opinion, nothing could be further from the truth. First off, The Don knows that consistency at the HC position is a major key to long-term success. Second off, he knows that Haley is just getting started. Third off, he knows just how badly this team sucked with they took over. Fourth off, he's smart enough to understand that this season's schedule is quite different from last year's list of opponents. Fifth off, it's apparent that he has a good working relationship with Haley and they share the same basic philosophies. Sixth off, who would take Haley's place who would be any better? Seventh off, they came in with a multi-year plan to convert the Chiefs into a perennial contender and that takes time. Eighth off, he knows that we're fortunate to have Haley who is personally and primarily responsible for the development of some of our best players like Hali, DJ, Bowe, etc.

The Star is dim.

FAX

KCrockaholic
09-11-2011, 09:10 AM
Anyone who calls for Haley's head needs to pull their own out of their ass.

Misplaced_Chiefs_Fan
09-11-2011, 09:12 AM
It's kind of strange ... this speculation that Haley's job is in jeopardy, I mean.

In my humble opinion, nothing could be further from the truth. First off, The Don knows that consistency at the HC position is a major key to long-term success. Second off, he knows that Haley is just getting started. Third off, he knows just how badly this team sucked with they took over. Fourth off, he's smart enough to understand that this season's schedule is quite different from last year's list of opponents. Fifth off, it's apparent that he has a good working relationship with Haley and they share the same basic philosophies. Sixth off, who would take Haley's place who would be any better? Seventh off, they came in with a multi-year plan to convert the Chiefs into a perennial contender and that takes time. Eighth off, he knows that we're fortunate to have Haley who is personally and primarily responsible for the development of some of our best players like Hali, DJ, Bowe, etc.

The Star is dim.

FAX

Remember FAX, the most popular guy on the team is the back-up quarterback and the best coach in the NFL is the one NOT coaching your team.

So sayeth CP

Arrowhead Nation
09-11-2011, 09:21 AM
Kent Babb is the worst kind of journalist out there.

Dave Lane
09-11-2011, 09:38 AM
Anyone who calls for Haley's head needs to pull their own out of their ass.

x 1,000,000

Cheater5
09-11-2011, 09:47 AM
Article is a result of scars from the Carl Petersen era that have yet to fade. Clark Hunt has wisely decided to hire a GM and HC who know how to groom talent, cut away the superfluous, and adapt.

Agree completely with FAX- Babb is missing the bigger picture here. He seems to look no further in his analysis than his nose.

Rain Man
09-11-2011, 09:59 AM
I love the fact that Haley's not afraid to go against the grain. Surprise and innovation are the things that separate the winning teams from the losing teams in the long run.

Well, that and better players, but hopefully Pioli is taking care of that part.

Marcellus
09-11-2011, 10:42 AM
Personally I think they key to success is changing head coaches every 3 or 4 years. That has been proven to be the case time and time again in the NFL.

milkman
09-11-2011, 10:44 AM
I was okay with the decision to hire Haley, but there were a couple of guys I wanted badly and was disappointed that they were, to the best of our kowledge, never even considered.

There are some gambles that he takes that I don't always agree, but I absolutely hate coaches with no balls, so I'm happy to have a coach that thinks outside the box and takes those risks.

I am fully on board with the approach he took this preseason.

I think it's unadulterated stupidity to think the rug will be pulled after this season.

milkman
09-11-2011, 10:46 AM
Personally I think they key to success is changing head coaches every 3 or 4 years. That has been proven to be the case time and time again in the NFL.

Hadn't thought of that.

Good point.








Sarcasm recognized and responded to in kind.

FAX
09-11-2011, 10:49 AM
Personally I think they key to success is changing head coaches every 3 or 4 years. That has been proven to be the case time and time again in the NFL.

Interesting.

I hold the exact opposite opinion, Mr. Marcellus. It seems to me (assuming the HC in question knows what he's doing) that a long-tenured HC is super important to franchise success. There are exceptions, of course, but I think about guys like Knox, Landry, Levy, Coryell, Belichick, etc.

FAX

FAX
09-11-2011, 10:50 AM
Hadn't thought of that.

Good point.








Sarcasm recognized and responded to in kind.

Uh, oh.

I've been away too long, haven't I?

FAX

kstater
09-11-2011, 10:51 AM
The entire premise of this article is retarded. Haley took a team that won 2 games the year prior to arriving to 10 wins and the playoffs two years later.

milkman
09-11-2011, 10:52 AM
Uh, oh.

I've been away too long, haven't I?

FAX

Every damn time you go away, it's too long Mr. Fax.

ChiefaRoo
09-11-2011, 10:55 AM
KC has gotten nothing but better at every position since Haley and Pioli showed up. There's no drama here.

KCtotheSB
09-11-2011, 10:57 AM
IS BILL COWHER AVAILABLE!?!??!!!

Baby Lee
09-11-2011, 01:35 PM
LOLercaust!!

FAX
09-11-2011, 01:37 PM
I don't know about you guys, but I think they should fire Haley.

FAX

Baby Lee
09-11-2011, 01:42 PM
I don't know about you guys, but I think they should fire Haley.

FAX

He at the very least needs to have the media let his whole asshole hang out.

There needs to be direct pointed questions and they need to be answered.

FAX
09-11-2011, 01:54 PM
He at the very least needs to have the media let his whole asshole hang out.

There needs to be direct pointed questions and they need to be answered.

I'm not sure what happened today. It was a total meltdown in every aspect of the game. The HC is ultimately responsible, no question about that. But, damn ... your guys have to tackle and throw and catch and hold onto the football and stuff.

On the other hand, this has to be one of the worst losses in Haley's career ... if not THE worst. Can he learn from this disaster or is he a delusional madman? That's the interrogatory to which I wish him to respond. Oh, and this one; What reason does the fan base have to believe that we're not, in fact, the absolute worst team in the league?

FAX