For the past two days, much has been made* of the second-quarter sideline exchange/argument/tiff/spat/discussion/hissy/fight between the Kansas City Chiefs’ once-Pro-Bowl quarterback and their once-Coach-of-the-Year runner-up. With about five minutes left in the half and the Chiefs trailing the also-winless Minnesota Vikings 7-3, Matt Cassel appeared to quickly bail out on a broken screen play. And Todd Haley appeared nonplussed about it, a sentiment he then appeared to share with his quarterback as the TV cameras zoomed in.
*When has this not been the case? We spend all day, every day, thinking, talking, and writing about what happens during three hours of game action once a week. Making much is what we do.
This fifteen seconds of infamy has been posted, reposted, played, and replayed dozens of times on the blogosphere since Sunday, without any real revelation as to what exactly took place.* All that we know—or so we’ve been told by others who are also making much of this—is that it seems like Cassel and the Chiefs were different, much more fired-up, after this one outburst of emotion. And they put together enough of a second-half effort to get their first win in 2011 (the year, not just the season).
*However, this clip does reveal a couple of interesting developments on the fashion front: First, Cassel manages to get his sideline hat onto his head properly in one single, swift motion. Considering recent history, a good sign! Also, after swinging way too far towards the lying-around-the-house-in-the-wife’s-old-sweatshirt-on-laundry-day look two weeks ago and rebounding hard with a comfortable-yet-commanding dark fleece in San Diego, Haley seems to be splitting the difference now, with a gray-sweatsuit-and-dingy-old-hat ensemble that looks more like what you might wear working in the yard while listening to the game. We may need to start a Haley Style Watch to keep him in line.
Cassel himself would later thank his coach for the “open dialogue.” But what was really said? It’s not very easy to read lips, but here are a couple possible snippets…
"Haley: Why did you give up on that play so quickly?Cassel: Why didn’t you call a better play?Haley: I don’t call the plays, remember?"
"Haley: You know field goals are worth three and we’re down by four, right?Cassel: You know pre-seasons are for getting us ready, right?"
"Haley: Wow, somebody really didn’t want to throw a pick.Cassel: I’m saving it for the end of the game."
"Haley: You catch that new “Modern Family” this week?Cassel: Yeah, great writing—and it’s just nice to see Ed O’Neill distinguish himself like this after playing the chump for so many years on “Married…with Children.” And that Sofia Vergara… Hola!Haley: I hear you. Say no more.Cassel: By the way…nice sweatsuit.Haley: Thanks. Would you believe…half off?Cassel: Really? No! Well, it “suits” you. Get it?Haley: Yeah, it hides the paunch.Cassel: (quietly) I wouldn’t go that far.Haley: What?Cassel: Hey, field goal’s good!Haley: Huh? Oh. Nice."
"Haley: I didn’t realize you were on the “Suck for Luck” bandwagon, too.Cassel: Come at me, bro.Le’Ron McClain: Hey, hey, hey. As one of the team’s very few, semi-high-profile free-agent acquisitions, I have to step in here and take advantage of this chance to “contribute.”"
Please keep in mind, I can’t confirm that any of the above is 100% accurate. Lip-reading can be hard.
But whatever happened in this “fight” off the field, it was certainly nice to see the team put up more of a fight on the field. It’s not enough, of course. A newly fired-up quarterback who can, well, consistently get us into field-goal range ain’t gonna take this team much further (though it is nice to have a little more confidence that field-goal range may again result in field goals). The Chiefs are now 1-3—a record reset to 0-0 in any case according to Haley’s obnoxious quarter system—and will bring their perfect-record-against-winless-teams into their game against the 0-4 Colts next Sunday. But after the last two games (and, it should be pointed out, two weeks in a row without any devastating injuries), it is clear that, contrary to my greatest fear, the Chiefs should be a team worth watching from here on out.
On the field and, sometimes, off.