Jeff Herr, a finalist in the 2011 Big Gig Contest on 610 Sports Radio, was born and raised in Kansas City. Following the Chiefs, Royals, and Jayhawks all his life has led him to blog about all three extensively at the-jeff-report.blogspot.com. He has also spent time covering the Royals for the blog site kingsofkauffman.com as well as serving for a period as the lead editor of throughthephog.com a blog covering the Kansas Jayhawks. When not writing about the local sports scene, he pays the bills by serving as an accountant.
Jeff Herr: Haley Deserves Credit
by Jeff Herr,posted Oct 24 2011 5:54PM
Two months ago, after six games, seeing the Chiefs at 3-3 would not have been that much of a stretch. Yet the way the season started, people began to wonder if the Chiefs would even win one game. Of course, that was a little overboard. But the fact still remained the Chiefs did not look like a quality football team.
Early struggles were a result of catching a couple rising teams to go with a lot of injuries. Todd Haley took a different approach to the preseason and it did not pay off. Haley took everything slow focusing on conditioning. What was supposed to be an advantage just meant the Chiefs were behind and underprepared. They Chiefs looked lost, losing by a combined score of 89-10 in the first two games. People began to talk of Haley losing the team and possibly his job.
Then, things started to go the Chiefs way. After catching a winless Minnesota Vikings team, the Chiefs had their biggest comeback ever against the Peyton Manning-less Colts. This past weekend, the luck continued. After losing Jason Campbell, the Raiders came into this game with a backup QB. Kyle Boller and Carson Palmer were awful for the Raiders. The Chiefs were able to turn their miscues to a 28-0 victory.
Despite all that, people are still being negative. Whenever the Chiefs have success there is a contingent of fans that do not want to believe in it. The excuses begin to come out.
“Indianapolis and Minnesota are two of the worst teams in the league.”
“Oakland didn’t have a quarterback and anybody wouldn’t have beaten them after throwing 6 INTs.”
Those are certainly valid points. However, in the NFL a win is a win is a win.
People too quickly forget that even with a backup QB the Raiders were still expected to win at home. According to the detractors, the Raiders were too much for this Chiefs team. They were too big and too physical for the Chiefs to win. They were also proven wrong when the Chiefs smacked the Raiders.
The Chiefs held their own against a team that was supposed to dominate them in all phases. This is serious progress.
Monday Night, the Chiefs will play the Chargers and the winner will be in first place in the division. This team was on the brink and was able to turn things around.
A big reason for this turnaround is Todd Haley. Haley decided that the methods he was using weren’t working. He did not need to be a rocket scientist to figure that out. Yet, in a world full of stubborn ego-driven head coaches you don’t often see coaches admit when they were wrong. Haley deserves all the credit for changing what wasn’t working.
Haley has been viewed by many as an ego maniac. He has been told that he won’t be successful in the NFL. He is also the definition of this team right now. Listen to the players’ postgame comments and you will see that they are all behind Haley. Where most coaches may have lost their team, Haley has used the opportunity to gain a stronger bond.
That stronger bond has led to a swagger for the Chiefs. This team isn’t crying over the injuries anymore. They are not feeling the sting from 40 point losses. This team is feeling like they can win. Even with a newfound swagger and three consecutive victories, there are whispers that Haley and General Manager Scott Pioli do not get along. Those rumors further say that Haley will wind up fired after this season regardless of how the team does.
Firing Haley would be a disaster. He is the right coach for this team right now. Players are buying in to what Haley is doing and it is paying off. He did the most important thing a coach can do and that is changing his methods to suit his team. When things aren’t going right and you’re not reaching your players, then something has to change. That either means the coach or the players.
Haley did what he had to do and that was change the coach. There are some prominent examples of coaches who have changed their style and made a difference. Mack Brown changed his style and won a National Championship at Texas. Tom Coughlin changed his hard-nosed methods and the Giants rallied around him to win a Super Bowl. Let’s not forget that Coughlin was on the hot seat that season after an 0-2 start.
Haley has admitted that he was trying to do too much early in the season. He and his staff recognized that they were asking their players to do too much as well. Haley and his staff have changed their scheme to fit the players they now have. The scheme they were using before when they had Jamaal Charles and Eric Berry healthy won’t work with these players. Realizing that, the Chiefs coaching staff is putting these players in a position to succeed.
The result is increased production on the field. People keep placing the credit on the failures of the other team. Proper credit has not been given to Coach Haley and his staff. Putting players in a scheme that allows them to succeed is the staple of a solid organization. The Patriots, Packers, Ravens, and Steelers all put players in position to succeed and only ask that they do their job. Other teams force players to fit their systems while asking them to do too much. When they have the players, they are legitimate teams. When they don’t have the players they struggle.
One of the most underrated abilities of a coach is the ability to recognize his own shortcomings. Todd Haley has recognized this and the players have taken note. Perhaps it’s his internal evaluation that has led the players to do the same and achieve more. Either way, Haley is proving that he has the ability to coach these players to success rather than try and force it upon them. This is a much underrated aspect of being a coach. It’s also a very big reason why Todd Haley is the perfect coach for this team right now.