Why Andy Reid should go after Todd Haley this offseason
By Matt Conner
Andy Reid needs some senior-level offensive help. Todd Haley needs one more key stop on his resume to be a head coach again. This could work for everyone.
There’s no news here at all. There’s no rumor either.
There’s not even the prognostication from someone who could remotely be considered an “insider,” so we’re not even in the realm of educated guess. This is complete conjecture, a strand of pasta flung against the wall, and you should treat it as such.
But the beginning of the offseason is the perfect time for such random guesses, some guesswork as to what a team might do in the name of betterment, even if such ideas are as far-fetched as this one. And at this point, I think it’s an idea worth bringing up: a reunion between Todd Haley and the Kansas City Chiefs.
As of now, Haley is a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers coaching staff. He’s in the same role he’s been for the last six seasons, twice the amount of time he was in Kansas City. In that time he’s helped command one of the NFL’s most potent offenses of a generation, one featuring the presence of multiple Hall of Famers who will one day be enshrined together as The Killer B’s—Antonio Brown, Ben Roethlisberger and Le’Veon Bell.
Yet this is likely a train that has run its course. The drama between Haley and Roethlisberger is no secret to anyone, and every party might want to simply move on at this point. Yet where exactly Haley would go is a very interesting question—one with a few possibilities but nothing glaringly obvious.
While Haley has no doubt enjoyed the incredible talent given to him, Haley has always been known as a strong offensive mind, and that he was given a head coaching opportunity very early in his career should signal what NFL circles think of him. Six seasons learning under Mike Tomlin combine with his head coaching experience with the Chiefs should open up plenty of doors for him in the future. But no one has said his name around head coaching possibilities for 2018 here.
If he’s once again relegated to being an offensive coordinator, he should also be able to do at a bigger level. So let’s consider this:
Andy Reid is one of the most respected coaches in the NFL, a man whose coaching tree now includes 7 head coaching positions with even more likely (depending on Pat Shurmur lands in Arizona as rumored). Yet Reid is also in a bit of a vulnerable coaching position.
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Reid has taken heavy criticism on the offensive side of the ball until he gave up playcalling duties midway through the season. The man who took over, and earned great praise while doing so, was Matt Nagy, who is now the shiny new head coach of the Chicago Bears. On the same day the Chiefs officially lost Nagy, they also reportedly lost Brad Childress, the Chiefs assistant head coach who had been with the team for five years (and with Andy Reid for many, many more years).
The Chiefs responded by adding a couple exciting young voices to the mix with the promotion of running backs coach Eric Bieniemy to offensive coordinator and the addition of celebrated college running backs coach Deland McCullough from USC (who also made stars out of Tevin Coleman and Jordan Howard at the University of Indiana) in Bieniemy’s old spot.
The new voices are nice, but from Reid’s perspective, they’re also unproven. Senior level voices, trusted ones, like those of Childress and Nagy, are nowhere to be found on the one side of the ball where he needed to ask for help this year. Two years ago, he lost Doug Pederson to the Philadelphia Eagles. The loss of Nagy and now Childress, too, make for a thin, inexperienced room on the offensive side of the ball.
(It’s important to note that Childress’s exit is, at this point, only rumored and no official action has been taken. Much of this changes if those rumors are false or he changes his mind.)
It’s possible that longtime coaches like offensive line coach Andy Heck or tight ends coach Tom Melvin could become the senior-level voices to replace the likes of Pederson, Nagy or Childress that the Chiefs have lost over the years. Heck joined Reid in K.C. when he first arrived and has nearly a decade of experience coaching with the Jaguars before that (though never at a coordinator level). And Melvin is certainly trusted, since he’s been by Reid’s side since 1999.
Yet again, neither Heck or Melvin have had to carry the load while operating from an overhead perspective. At this point, Reid’s choices are either down to limited experience or just inexperienced.
Back to Haley
Todd Haley’s quick summary is this: a still young, talented head coach with key learning experience already as a head coach with the Chiefs and as a coordinator on one of the NFL’s key franchises. That should equal head coaching opportunities, except it hasn’t, for some reason, which means Haley needs to think strategically about adding whatever is needed to his resume to make those interviews surface again.
I believe Todd Haley’s best chance at adding a key resume piece to become a head coach again could be a short reunion in Kansas City. Here’s why it works for both sides:
For Andy Reid, adding an outsider like Todd Haley could provide a fresh perspective for the team’s offensive approach. It’s a total curveball, a la the Chris Ault hire from a few years, which means Reid has done it before. Haley would add his experience with the Steelers, which comes with plenty of playoff perspective as well.
Even more importantly for Reid is that it shows he’s doing what it takes to learn and grow even after losing Nagy, which is cause for concern given that Reid needed to hand off playcalling duties. Is Bieniemy ready to take over as needed as well? Perhaps, but it couldn’t hurt to bring in a senior-level opinion to round out the room.
For Haley, it’s a chance to work with Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, Kareem Hunt and, of course, Patrick Mahomes—a new fearsome offensive bunch that rivals his Pittsburgh unit and yet gives him another group for his resume. If Reid made Haley assistant head coach for one or two seasons, and Haley proved to help keep the Chiefs successful through the quarterback transition from Alex Smith to Mahomes, why wouldn’t a team want to give Haley another chance at leading a franchise again?
For the Chiefs, Haley has finessed an aging Kurt Warner to a couple more seasons of greatness. He even spun gold in K.C. and got a Pro Bowl season out of Matt Cassel. Finally he’s taken one of the league’s best offenses and used them to their full potential. Having that sort of experience back in the room, this time with Reid, could be an interesting experiment and important addition after a couple years of losing notable staff.