Why I Miss Todd Haley

I was never on the bandwagon for firing Todd Haley last year.

Of course, this all sounds like “I told ya so” talk now, but I enjoyed going back and reading my articles defending Haley and expressing skepticism about Crennel for an entirely different reason: It was a simpler time.

Looking at the old AA pieces I wrote, I realized it was like re-reading diary entries from childhood in the days of innocence before some traumatic event. Back then, we had excuses for our poor play and it seemed like good football was on the horizon. Our coach and quarterback had been disappointing but were still winning some games. The team had an architect that we could still give the benefit of the doubt.

Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE

Now that innocence is gone and we recognize our parents are not paragons of virtue and strength but flawed mortals. The world is full of people who lie and mean people don’t always get punished. This team is off the rails. The last four years have been basically wasted. We have no coach, no QB, no GM and an owner who seems to be conducting a social experiment to determine how long before fans burn Arrowhead to the ground in rage at his inaction.

Back then, we could still say that we had a QB on the roster good enough to get us through games, that we were full of young talent and we were growing a dynasty. Just add water. Today, nothing looks good and people in Chiefs country are dying of anguish and frustration.

It really cannot be overstated. At 1-9, the Chiefs have matched their worst opening to a season in the history of the franchise. I will be honestly stunned if we win another game this year. By every major metric other than rushing production the Chiefs are a disgrace. At this point, both Haley and even Herm Edwards look attractive.

But, it’s really not just because of how bad we are right now. I’ve always thought Haley got a raw deal.

In 2009, Haley was one of 11 head coaches hired. Like Todd, most were successful coordinators somewhere else. Of those 11, only two still have their jobs — Jim Schwartz in Detroit and Rex Ryan in New York, and they’re both 4-6 right now, by the way. By the time Haley was fired only four of those other coaches from the class of 2009 had a better win-loss record – Ryan, Jim Caldwell, Mike Singletary and Jim Mora Jr..

John Rieger-US PRESSWIRE

So, while that was an admittedly uninspiring crop, Haley was among the most successful coaches hired that year. Also, statistically speaking, it was nearly certain that the Chiefs would have a bad season.

Thirty NFL teams between 2002 and 2009 increased their season-to-season records by five or more games like the Chiefs did between 2009 and 2010. Of them, 24 (80 percent) had worse seasons following their surge – with 13 (43 percent) of them losing at least four more games after their surprising season. There are lots of reasons for this of course, the main one: changes in the strength of schedule. Also, the NFL is just a hard place to maintain success. Let down years are inevitable.

But even Haley somehow won five of 13 games without the ACL crew. He even got a win with Tyler Palko at quarterback while the team this year has only even had a lead in two games so far.

It’s also not as if Haley had a whole lot to work with. In addition to the fact that Pioli was diametrically opposed to putting a quarterback on the field not named Matt Cassel, KC’s defenses were nearly always inconsistent, showing up big in some games and melting away in others. He also had to deal with a sociopathic boss who collects candy wrappers, wiretaps his employees and in the end essentially fired him because he didn’t shave or wear a new hat. (Seriously, I’m quite certain that when Pioli gets off work he goes to sit and stare quizzically at an array of severed heads in jars).

But mostly, I just realized that I honestly liked our team that year. I’m finding it very hard to say the same in 2012. In 2011, we were a team ravaged by injuries playing above our level of talent and clawing for every win. Now, we’re just a bundle of undisciplined players making dumb mistakes and barely giving opponents any resistance as they march up and down the field.

Haley was known for being overly brash on the sidelines, which is something I would love to see these days. Someone needs to yell at these guys. When I heard the criticism about him being verbally aggressive, I always thought it was way overblown. These players are grown men and this is an emotional game – or at least it is unless your name is Romeo. If so, then game day is a time when the bad people make you stand outside for three hours and all you have to read is a laminated sheet of paper while you stare blankly at the field while repeating soup recipes in your head. Or at least that’s what I think he’s doing. Your guess is as good as mine. All I can tell you is that it is not inspiring.

So here we are. Refreshing football news websites over and over hoping to see that someone has been fired. This is what it has come to. We have come of age and discovered that the adults running things are even more screwed up than us little people down below and there’s nothing to do about it.

But, family is family. So, next Sunday and the Sunday after that, I will tune in to watch the Chiefs play. I will cringe and guffaw, and write another piece, although I’m running out of things to say.

Maybe next week this column will be about soup.

Topics: Bad Coaching, Books, Chiefs, Grief, Mourning, Romeo Crennel, Scott Pioli, The Past, Todd Haley

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  • http://www.facebook.com/jonathan.aldridge.73 Jonathan Aldridge

    i agree. but once again i blame everything on matt cassel. if he wouldnt have gotten hurt, his much superior qb play than palko probably wouldve given us at least 2 more wins, push us into the playoffs, and kept a much more qualified coach in haley. if you ask me haley was forced by pioli to keep kyle orton on the sidelines until haley was fired (pioli and haley didnt have a good relationship, just fyi) and then crennel made the obvious move to put orton in. lemme just close out with this- when else have you seen the former coach of the year get fired in the middle of the following season?

  • chiefridgy

    I liked Haley

  • Priest4Prez

    I miss that crazy man.

  • Chris Fredricks

    I can see Tomlin shakin his head & Haley sayin “I know, I know… Pioli is a freakin nut job, thats what I’ve been trying to tell ya!”

  • http://www.facebook.com/john.sherwin.58 John Sherwin

    The paragraph about Romeo and soup recipes hit the nail on the head and is genius. The lack of passion and apathy displayed by the players and coaches is truly pathetic. After the fake punt on 4th down yesterday, it was readily apparent based on body language that the game was over, despite the scoreboard at the time. I wish I could have DVR’d the season and could hit the fast forward button. I just want it to end…….
    Pitchers and catchers can’t report soon enough, at least the Royals give me some hope…….for now anyway.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jonathan.aldridge.73 Jonathan Aldridge

    imma watch mnf tonite and see if gruden continues to hint about returning to coaching

  • Lyle Graversen

    Here are my thoughts on the matter.

    1. I was always a Haley fan, I just like the guy (when he wasn’t melting down).

    2. I also think it was 100% justifiable to fire the guy. He often acted like a tantrum throwing jerk. His preseason plan last year was absurd. His approach to the OC position was an absolute nightmare. The guy made a ton of mistakes.

    3. That having been said, I think the 2010 playoff team had more to do with Haley as coach than it did Pioli as GM. Haley was too out of control at times, but he pushed the players to get better and held them accountable. That is sorely missing in KC now.

    4. I think if Haley really watches how Mike Tomlin handles himself and can learn from it. I think a more mature Todd Haley could still be a really good head coach in the NFL down the road.

  • Lenny Lieurance

    Nice walking dead reference. Until the governor is fired, we should call arrowhead woodbury.

  • Chief Hokie

    I never wanted us to fire Todd Haley, but I understood the resentment. Haley made some bad moves: starting Palko over Orton, that preseason plan (although you cannot necessarily attribute the injuries to that), and he allowed too many humiliating blowouts. Collectively, these factors made the Haley firing a little easier to swallow, especially after Crennel rallied the troops to beat the undefeated Packers. That game showed us the true potential of our team, and it confirmed for most fans, including myself, that the Haley firing was justified. We then got the ACL crew back and fixed our biggest weakness at RT by signing WInston – our sights were set high. But here we are now, 1-9, suffering even more blowouts than the year before, wondering if Haley should have ever been fired.

    Maybe he was a part of the problem, but maybe he was the only thing holding this team together. Is it just a coincidence that the biggest thing this team lacks is the qualities that Haley embodied – passion, fire and a no-nonsense attitude? We’ll never know if Haley was a genuine part of the problem, unless of course……Haley were to return? If we fail to land any big-name coaches like Gruden, Cowher, or even Chip Kelly, I wouldn’t mind this experiment. Don’t think it will ever happen though.

  • Cha-iefs

    To EVERYONE with the “I miss Haley” blah blah…..
    I don’t want to hear or read ANY “I miss Haley” stuff. You were probably the same person complaining nonstop about him or screaming for his head last season or you were a closet supporter of his and hid in the shadows like a coward while the popular thing to do was BASH him. Losing brings out the hypocrites! I wear my opinion on my sleeve and I don’t care if its popular or not but i’m real about it.

    • chiefridgy

      keeping it real by speculating about everyone else?

      • Cha-iefs

        So we could go back and look at your 254 comments and you never bashed Haley?

    • Cha-iefs

      The worse thing you can do is sit on the “PC fence” with the “I like the GUY but not the “player/ coach”. Grow a pair and develope some backbone if you’re the Political correctness fence straddler. You’re not going to go drink beer with them or become bestfriends…..they “work” for the team you like. Either you like them for what they do to make that team successful or you don’t. Nobody wants to hear your kumbaya “safe” opinion. just some more real talk.

  • http://twitter.com/skymuscle83 Skylor Kingrey

    I never once blamed Todd Haley for an injury plagued year!! I never wanted the man fired at all!!! I still hold true to he is a good Head Coach and for the people who say he was a little crazy well how would you be if you had a boss that was nuts like Pioli? Pick up your wrapper todd, shave todd, buy a new hat todd, I know what you said todd i wiretapped you!!! Damn Pioli is nuts and drove Todd crazy cuz of Pioli’s insanity!!! Todd Haley was a good Head Coach and I’d be for KC rehiring him!!! I’d totally be for that but a new GM for sure. Crennel is a horrible Head Coach. Never have liked him whatsoever. I wasn’t even on board with hiring weiss as OC cuz he did what I called he’d do. Walk away after some success!!

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