Change is a strange bedfellow. Especially in the NFL. One day your sheets are red and gold and and the next day you’re two sheets to the wind and hanging in the breeze. In this faster-than-a-Tweeting-bullet world of commitment changes, owners make decisions based on perceived notions of great and bad based on nothing more than the unfamiliar universe beyond their own noses.
On Monday morning Clark Hunt, owner of the Kansas City Chiefs, has done just that, vilifying an employee who was too far away from his own sphere of comfort, thereby relegating him to the distant planet of the unknown and unacceptable. Hunt didn’t fire Haley because he’s a bad coach; he fired him because he doesn’t know any better.
In the meantime Hunt erroneously aligns himself with the man who’s responsible for the continued devolution of his club. Just ask Scott Pioli himself and he’ll tell you, the buck stops with him.
I wish Hunt could see who is more at fault in this situation. However, the NFL doesn’t work that way of course. Owners hire GMs… to hire coaches… and give them a minimum of a couple of chances to turn the ship in the right direction. The problem is, this was less Todd Haley’s doing and more Scott Pioli’s.
Whether you side with Haley or not, ask yourself the question, if Haley was 100% at fault in this situation… who hired him? And the bigger question is… why did Scott Pioli hire Todd Haley in the first place?
Pioli can’t argue now that he didn’t know Haley was a hot head. Haley’s temper was public knowledge. He can’t argue now that he wasn’t aware that Haley had Super Bowl-strong opinions about player personnel. He can’t argue that now that Haley was unbendingly offensive minded.
More Hunt Fires And Misses after the jump
If Clark Hunt and Scott Pioli fired Todd Haley because he was inconsistent… we know they don’t mean… if Haley consistently lost… they’d be satisfied. So, it can only mean one thing when they say they fired him for being inconsistent… they fired him for losing.
GMs and owners don’t have to lavish exiting coaches with praise as they did boasting, “Todd Haley is a good football coach.” It’s absolutely disingenuous. The question then is… why be disingenuous? Unless you ARE disingenuous. This practice of praising an individual who you’re severing ties with, is political and done for the sole purpose of making yourself look good to the public eye.
What we’re also witnessing is an alpha-male management conflict coming to a head. An organization based on an alpha-male hierarchy can in no way allow for two alpha-males to share… collaborate… and coexist at the top. Clark Hunt is not an alpha-male. However, when he hired Scott Pioli he was buying into a belief system born of the Bill Belichick and Bill Parcells ilk. It basically goes like this: I’m right, you’re wrong and my opinion matters most.
Consequently, how can Scott Pioli now claim that someone else is to fault for His (with a capital H) team’s overall failure.
Admittedly, if Clark Hunt had fired Scott Pioli on Monday, the hiring of a new GM would have brought a change at the head coaching position, most assuredly. The point is, I think Scott Pioli deserved being sacked more than Todd Haley.
Some writers have been overly generous with their laying blame at the feet of Todd Haley for decisions like keeping Barry Richardson around, cutting Jared Gaither and almost cutting Jamaal Charles two years ago. The problem with that is that the bottom line decision maker has always been, and shall always be, Scott Pioli.
When Bill Parcells was the head coach in Dallas from 2003 to 2006 similar conflicts were ever present and on-going. Looking back, it’s a miracle that Jerry Jones and Bill Parcells could finish a conversation without one of them getting in the last word.
What a burden it must be for Scott Pioli, to be the son-in-law of Parcells and the protegee/apprentice of Belichick’s. Being a Bob Knight or a Bo Schembechler or a Tony LaRussa has got to be rough going. Especially rough for anyone who gets in their way.
The biggest problem I have with the mis-fire on Clark Hunt’s part is that.. so far… Todd Haley’s players aren’t happy about it. Not at all happy.
Derrick Johnson said,
“I won’t say it’s no big deal, it’s a very big deal for the Kansas City Chiefs right now…. We definitely believed in him. My best wishes are for him, and I hope he does well in the future.”
Jackie Battle said,
“We went to the playoffs last year. I mean, that has to mean something. The season didn’t go the way we wanted this year, but he’s proven he can win in the league.”
Brandon Carr Tweeted on Monday,
“Crazy, crazy day. I’ve seen and been thru so much in these 4yrs. But at the end of the day the motto remains the same: LDC” On Friday Carr had Tweeted, Describe Todd Haley in one word: Fierce”
Did Clark Hunt think for one minutes to ask his own players about what they thought of Coach Haley?
But, it doesn’t matter, Scott Pioli’s supernova ego will carry him through. He said on Monday that “hiring Todd Haley wasn’t a mistake.” Of course not, Pioli would never admit he made a mistake. His alpha-stone-age personality won’t, and can’t, allow him to do that.
Is there anyone still convinced that that the old task-master alpha-male approach will work with today’s players when today’s players are so much more adept at understanding the business of football and the game itself? Not to mention that so many players are millionaires who are less likely to take that kind of grief.
How can Scott Pioli or Clark Hunt sleep at night knowing they canned the coach of a team they chose to spend 32 million dollars under the cap on? What are they looking for? A shoestring miracle worker? And they thought Tyler Palko would be a good back-up QB?
Somewhere in heaven, Lamar is shaking his head in shame.
One fan’s reaction to the firing struck a chord, “Dumb move, the players need to be replaced, not the coach.” Getting new players would be the job of who? So, who’s not been doing their job?
Another issue with the Todd Haley firing is timing. When questioned, both Hunt and Pioli said it was something that they just started talking about this last week. Obviously, if they decided they were going to go ahead and make the change after this season ended, then they also decided it would be advantageous to go ahead and make the change now instead of waiting.
In reality, they could have waited another year.
Stalwart organizations keep their coaches through thick and thin. That’s not always the answer of course but, there are some numbers which back that up.
Take last season, for example. If you add up all the wins and losses for every coach who has coached for 4 years or longer in the league, their record was 121-85 last season. A .587 winning percentage.
If you take all of the coaches who had coached for 3 years or less, their complied record last season was 123-146. A .457 winning percentage.
Now, this may be for games that were played in only one season (2010) but, it does show a pattern. Coaches who have been in the league longer, usually do better. It makes sense.
By firing Todd Haley now, the Chiefs may have missed out on his best years of his service and success, which could have been right around the corner.
Now, we’ll never know.
Fans calling for Haley’s ouster should be ashamed of themselves too. I may not have agreed with every decision Haley made either but, no one can deny Todd Haley made legitimate and measurable progress… with the players he was given to work with.
Not to worry… “in Pioli we trust”… will deliver the Haley haters.
Now, I’ll be hoping that Ralphie… err… I mean Clark… gets a brand new Red Rifle BB gun of his very own next Christmas 2012… and that he has the wherewithal to pull the trigger himself. I just pray that next time he hits the right target.