One of the big decisions that Kansas City Chiefs GM Scott Pioli will have to make this offseason is whether or not to retain head coach Todd Haley.
2012 is the last year of Haley’s contract and rather than go into the season with a lame duck coach, Pioli may want to decide now whether to extend Haley or cut him loose. Switching coaches after only three years seems to go against Pioli’s slow and steady, substance-over-sizzle style. Then again, it may be that Haley has shown way to much sizzle for Pioli. There have been multiple rumors, both locally and nationally, of strife between the GM and his head coach.
Regardless of whether the rumors are accurate, Pioli has a decision to make and he has to make it soon. Let’s take a look at some bullet points of both the good and bad that has been Todd Haley.
-4-12 in 2009.
-Haley’s sideline demeanor in 2009 was a bad look for the head coach. He looked like a maniac at the best of times and it appeared he was in over his head. His frequent shouting matches with refs, players, coaches and pretty much anyone else in his general vicinity did nothing to stop the rumors that he was insecure and arrogant.
-Haley’s benching of Derrick Johnson in 2009 was utterly ridiculous. Those who wish to attribute Johnson’s recent success to a year of not playing are simply wrong. Good coaches can get players to perform while teaching them on the field. Haley’s head games with Johnson might have cost the 2009 team wins, which is inexcusable. Haley’s job is to put the best players on the field and to win games. Not sit grown men in the corner with a dunce hat on to teach them a lesson. Starting Corey Mays over Derrick Johnson, under any circumstances, is irresponsible.
-Haley gave Thomas Jones more carries than Jamaal Charles in 2010. His obsession with feeding the ball to an aging, declining running back led Jamaal Charles to declare himself “the backup” to the KC media early in 2010. Under no circumstances should a Jamaal Charles in his prime have to call himself a backup. Haley’s preferential treatment of veterans could possibly be slowing the development of younger players.
-Haley’s post-game antic with Josh McDaniels in 2010 again reflected badly on the organization and the head coach. These actions created the perception that Haley is a sore loser and a poor sport. Haley again had words for Ravens coach John Harbaugh when it appeared Haley was upset because he felt the Ravens were running up the score. Haley’s team, later in the 2011 season, threw a deep pass to the endzone against the Oakland Raiders late in the fourth quarter of a game they were dominating.
-Haley’s continued use of RT Barry Richardson is mind-boggling even to NFL experts. Matt Williamson of ESPN told 810 Sports this week that he could not figure out why the Chiefs never even tried to play Jared Gaither, who Williamson thinks can still play at a high level, while Richardson was playing so poorly. Cutting Gaither seemed like a bad move at the time and seems even worse now that he seems to be playing well. For the Chargers.
-Haley seems to have a problem keeping offensive coordinators. Chan Gailey, Todd Haley, Charlie Weis and Bill Muir have all held the position since Haley has been head coach. Haley fired both Gailey and himself, Weis left after only a year and Muir is sure to be replaced after this season. The constant changeover seems to have incredibly slowed the progress of the KC offense. The group is now among the worst in the league. For a former offensive coordinator, on the job nearly three years, this is damning.
-Thus far Todd Haley is 6-10 in the AFC West.
-Haley’s current record as head coach is 19-26.
-Haley’s teams seem prone to blowout losses. Of Haley’s 26 losses, 15 have been by double digits. The scores, in order were:
38-24, 34-14, 27-16, 37-7, 43-14, 44-13, 19-9, 49-29, 31-0, 31-10, 30-7, 41-7, 48-3, 31-3, 34-3
In those 15 losses the Chiefs were outscored 489-159.
-Haley’s preseason plan coming out of the lockout was an epic failure. His team looked like a disjointed mess all preseason long and the poor play, missed tackles and blown assignments leaked into the regular season, causing the Chiefs to start 0-3.
-Haley has completely turned around the KC roster. After seasons of 4-12, 2-14 and 4-12 under Herm Edwards, Haley led the team to 4-12, 10-6 and 5-7 records. The team is better under Haley.
-Under Haley, Derrick Johnson, Dwayne Bowe, Tamba Hali, Matt Cassel and Jamaal Charles all had career seasons. Bowe, Hali, Charles and Cassel made their first Pro Bowl.
-Haley led the Chiefs to a 10-6 record and the AFC West Championship in only his second season.
-Multiple players have gone on the record as saying that they like Haley, going so far as to call him “one of the boys.”
-Haley has shown the ability to keep his team playing hard despite tough circumstances. He rallied the team to a 4-3 record after an 0-3 start in 2011.
-As a motivator, Haley appears to be extremely successful.
-In 2010 and 2011, Haley has calmed down on the sidelines. He now keeps his cool more often than not, which demonstrates an ability to grow and change, a key personality trait needed in a young head coach.
-Haley doesn’t make excuses like some other KC coaches of years past. He takes responsibility for his team’s failures and gives his players credit for their success.
-Haley’s 2011 team has remained competitive despite a brutal 2011 schedule. They will play meaningful games in December for the second straight year and are only two games out of first place in the AFC West with four games to play.
The argument for ditching Haley:
Haley has to go. His long list of mistakes and blunders far outweighs his positives. His team’s lack of offensive production, poor division record, propensity to meltdown losses and his mismanagement of key personnel are red flags that will continue to plague the team as long as Haley is coach. The Chiefs need to move forward with a new coach who can take this young and talent team to the next level before it is too late.
Scott Pioli can also promote one of the qualified candidates he already has on staff so as not to set the team back by bringing in a coach who will want to make major changes. Promoting Romeo Crennel or Jim Zorn would offer a fairly seamless transition. Both have been head coaches before and would likely be more prepared and able the second time around.
The argument for keeping Haley:
Haley turned around a franchise that appeared to be heading down a very dark road, and he did it relatively quickly. His team has taken on his scrappy, no-excuses mentality and now the incoming groups of rookies are buying in. The coach needs to be given more time continuing developing his roster. 2009 was, frankly, a transition year and 2010 led to a division championship and a home playoff game. Despite mounting odds, Haley’s 2011 team is still in the race in December and has continued making forward progress, particularly on defense. Firing him now would pull the rug out from under a program that is just now getting started. The league’s most successful franchise, the Pittsburgh Steelers, rarely switch coaches and rarely overreact to a losing season here and there. Haley’s sample size is way to small to declare him a failure. Scott Pioli needs to stick with his gut, stick with his style and stick with Haley.
There you have it, folks. I tried to lay it out as evenly as I could. There are obviously pros and cons to keeping or firing Haley.
Which side of the fence are you on? If you are ON the fence, what does Haley have to do down the stretch to keep his job?