Haley Must Do A Better Job Evaluating Talent In 2010
I like Todd Haley.
I have liked him from the start. I like his no nonsense attitude. I like that he doesn’t coddle the players. I like that he is a tough SOB that demands perfection from his team. I like that he is accountable. I found last season that when coach Haley made a coaching mistake during a game, often he admitted it.He also didn’t make excuses for his team’s poor performance ala Herm Edwards. He always claimed his team had to do better.
One thing that Haley didn’t do last season, and is likely never to do, is admit he put the wrong guys on the football field. That is ok. Haley shouldn’t admit this verbally. It would be a slap in the face to the guys who were out there busting their butts and working hard for the team.
Still, Haley made some big personnel blunders last season and some of those failures could have cost the Chiefs games.
More after the jump.
The first big, gigantic, huge mistake Haley made was to keep Derrick Jonson on the bench. DJ is by no means a consistent player but he has more athletic ability than Demorrio Williams and Corey Mays combined.
The true story of why DJ was benched never did come out. Haley claimed that it was more a case of Williams and Mays playing well than DJ playing poorly.
Unfortunately for the Chiefs, it quickly became clear that Mays was not playing well and that Williams was steady but unspectacular. Haley relented a little and began inserting Johnson into the nickel defense alongside rookie surprise Jovan Belcher.
It wasn’t enough. The Chiefs missed Johnsons big play ability all year. Neither Williams nor Mays recorded an interception or a sack all season. An inconsistent Johnson is more productive than an inconsistent and out of position Corey Mays any day.
Haley’s next blunder was sticking with Larry Johnson.
Upon being hired, Haley promised a clean slate for everyone. LJ showed up to his offseason workouts and by all accounts, worked hard and looked good. He said all the right things and seemed primed for a return to his former greatness.
But the Chiefs soon realized that Willie Roaf and Will Shields are long gone and that without Jason Whitlock sized holes to run through, the aging Johnson could no longer produce.
The problem wasn’t that Haley gave Johnson a shot, it was that he kept giving him a shot. Week after week after week Haley kept feeding LJ the ball when everyone could plainly see the back was washed up and running behind a terrible line.Had Larry not gotten frustrated and throw a “Twit Fit” I am not sure Haley would have ever pulled him. I like to think he would have eventually but I am just not sure.
Haley bungled it. He failed to see that he had something special in Jamaal Charles even though Charles produced whenever he got the chance to carry the ball.
Sure, Charles was young and had a propensity to cough up the ball but the young guys have to learn sometime and the other backs on the roster weren’t getting the job done.
Johnson’s inability to carry the ball farther than 2.5 yards before falling down and Haley’s inability to make the move to Charles sent a ripple effect through the entire offense.
No running game meant lots of 3rd and longs and lots of 3rd and longs mean a lot of pressure was put on the offensive line and on Matt Cassel.
There were many reasons why the Chiefs offense stunk last year (one major reason was Haley canning offensive coordinator Chan Gailey and his playbook 3 weeks before the season) and it isn’t all on the coach but the lack of a running game in the first half of the season killed any chance the unit had of developing an identity. It wasn’t magic that the offense suddenly got better when Charles started getting carries.
Even as late as the Jacksonville game, Haley was too blind to see that he should be getting to ball to Charles more. In that game, which the Chiefs lost 24 to 21, Charles had only 6 carries for 36 yards. In a game where Michael Sims-Walker had a disgusting 147 receiving yards, Haley could have slowed the Jags aerial attack by simply realizing his own young running back was averaging 6 yards per carry.
Lastly, Haley and the Chiefs released Bernard Pollard in favor of veteran Mike Brown. There has been a lot made of this release and I agree it was foolish. Pollard is a very productive player and for the Chiefs to simply cut him without getting anything in return was a gargantuan mistake. He may not have been the right player for the Chiefs moving forward but the team never should have given him up for free.
Pollard may be a little overrated. He played well last season for the Texans but he was also one of the most burned safeties in the league. Despite the holes in his game, Pollard was damn sure better than Mike Brown was for the Chiefs.
I understand that Haley may not have liked Pollard’s attitude and I also understand that he was trying to demonstrate to the roster that he wants a certain type of player. I understand all of that but decisions like cutting Pollard and benching Johnson cost the team wins and winning, after all, is what Haley is getting paid to do.
There is no doubt in my mind, that if Bernard Pollard and Derrick Johnson were on the field as starters last season that the Chiefs wouldn’t have won at least 1, maybe 2 more games. Had Charles started the whole season, the Chiefs might have won 3 more games.
2010 is a chance for Haley to make up for the sins in his past. I am encouraged that at the end of OTA’s, Derrick Johnson and Jovan Belcher were starting at MLB. It makes me feel like Haley saw the tape, knows he made a mistake and is trying to make it right.
There are other things that worry me, though. I worry that Thomas Jones might hit the wall this year and that Haley will refuse to stop giving him the ball.
I am also worried that by mid-season, Andy Studebaker will prove that he has surpassed Mike Vrabel but that he will remain on the bench.
Coaches, just like players are going to make mistakes, but when it comes to picking starters, Haley has got to get it right.