The Kansas City Chiefs will square off against their coach’s old team Sunday when the Arizona Cardinals come to town.
Haley joined the Cardinals staff back in 2007 when Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt brought him in to be the team’s offensive coordinator. Haley did not start officially calling plays until late in 2007 but in 2008 he lead the most productive Cardinals offense in team history. Lead by Kurt Warner and Larry Fitzgerald, the 2008 Cardinals finished 9-7 on their way to an unlikely playoff run that ended in a last minute loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Super Bowl.
Just weeks after the big game, Haley was hired by Chiefs GM Scott Pioli to be the team’s new coach.
Yesterday, Todd Haley talked a little bit about some of the Cardinals players
“When you play some players like we’re going to see in WR Larry Fitzgerald of how you’re going to handle him each and every down and I think that will be one of the critical factors of this game for us other than the basic fundamental of stopping the run but that we understand when there’s an extra man on number 11 and when and where he is aligned,” said Haley.
Haley is right to worry about Fitzgerald after the Chiefs secondary was torched a week ago by Broncos WR Brandon Loyd.
“We had that situation occur and that’s been a big focus for us defensively this week. So communication overall will be critical for our team,” Haley told reporters.
Haley also spoke abut one of the Cardinals best defenders in safety Adrian Wilson.
“Yeah, defensively, 24 is somebody we’ve got to be aware of where he is,” said Haley. “He is a big, strong, fast player, basically an extra backer that can run like a safety. They find as many different ways as they can to get him into the box in general.”
Being only a year and a half removed from the Cardinals, Haley likely still has a vast understanding of the team’s schemes and personnel which should be a big benefit to the Chiefs.
If the Chiefs need any extra motivation after losing two straight and seeing their AFC West lead evaporate, they will likely find it in their coach. The Chiefs helped Haley get revenge on the Pittsburgh Steelers last season in a win that the coach later admitted was extra special for him. He likely feels even stronger about taking on the Arizona Cardinals.
“There’s no way around it, there has not been a bigger game for the Kansas City Chiefs than this week against the Arizona Cardinals,” said Haley. “This is the biggest game of the year and that’s the way we’re preparing and we need to go out and play our best game.”