A Chance To Be Head Coach

Monday night was just what Todd Haley envisioned it would be like when he was a head coach.

He wasn’t calling plays. He watched his team’s defense. He made a critical substitution on special teams. He monitored the lightning and rain, the number of plays each defender along the defensive line had. He managed the game.

And he loved it. He loved the 21-14 win, of course. He loved the surprising two-score lead his guys held midway through the third quarter. He loved it that his guys kept San Diego out of the end zone late in the game.

But what he really loved was being a head coach and doing the job the way he envisioned it should be done all those years he worked in the trenches as an assistant coach. On Monday he was involved in all aspects of the game. And . . . without much doubt, he helped his team win.

“This is the vision I had when I took the job,” Haley said late Tuesday afternoon and clearly showing the after-effects of the long night before. “I had a lot of fun coaching last night.”

Here’s what you should have suspected about Haley all along during his rookie season.

He didn’t want to call the plays. He didn’t like thinking about his next offensive series when his defense couldn’t stop anyone from running the ball. And he’s a smart enough guy to know that hurt the Chiefs a year ago. So when he got his staff in place, he became what he always thought he would be as a head coach.

“It’s absolutely different (than a year ago),” Haley said. “That wasn’t a situation I wanted for us or our team. But it was the way it had to be for us to get the foundation. I love calling plays. But I know the way I want this to go.

“I didn’t fire myself as coordinator or do anything like that. I made those changes that were in the best interest of laying a foundation. (This year) I was able to bring in more than a couple of real good additions to our staff, which I will always be in the business of. If I have a chance to get good coaches – especially ones I have close working relationships with and I am excited about. I feel good about where we are as a staff. We are functioning fairly efficiently. I have as much input as I want/need.

Then he smiled and said: “I like the executive power”

So here’s what he did Monday night:

– He switched return men. Javier Arenas had averaged 30 yards per return on his first two. But he was playing a lot of plays on defense, so Haley switched to Dexter McCluster. McCluster delivered the longest punt return in Chiefs history, an electrifying 94-yard jaunt for touchdown.

“Javier was tremendous,” Haley said. “But it was clear to me he was fighting to keep up to speed, and I didn’t feel like he was in a position where we wanted to tax him a whole bunch at that point or put him in a position where things might not go the best way possible. I wanted to know how many snaps Dexter had been in at that point, and wanted to get him a little more involved when I did that.”

– Haley adjusted the game plan and told offensive coordinator Charlie Weis to rein things in. That’s part of the reason quarterback Matt Cassel tossed for only 68 yards. At the same time he told defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel to play defenses that would take away the middle of the field – running and passing – because of the driving rain.

“The scenario of being up two scores in the third quarter against a very good team is not one I had spent a lot of time thinking about before the game,” Haley said. “I made it clear in the way I was speaking to the coaches and to the players (I wanted to play) from a very conservative standpoint, which goes against how I normally am. But we were up two scores in very difficult conditions.

“We were doing some of the same things on defense – not being conservative but understanding what the difficulties was in throwing and where we wanted the ball to be thrown. Outside the numbers, you weren’t seeing a lot of balls completed out there.

“I was real clear to everyone: ‘We are not turning this ball over fellas.’ I would rather punt than have something like that happen. We had a breakdown that allowed them a big play that gave them some hope and back in the game. But . . .”

– And Haley paid more attention to everything a coach should focus on.

“It’s absolutely different (from last year), across the board,” he said. “All the different things that are going on in a game; monitoring some lightning, Dexter and Javier . . . those are the things you have to be paying attention to. The guys up from were playing a lot of plays on defense.

“Each position coach has his agenda, which he should. It’s about his group. But it takes somebody trying to make the decisions that are best for the good of the team and those situations are coming up all the time.”

Not everything went right, of course. The defense gave up a big play on a blown coverage – right down the middle of the field that the head coach told them to protect. The offense didn’t get a first down and run out the clock when the game was on the line in the fourth quarter. But the defense responded, and San Diego did not tie the game.

And, just perhaps, we got a glimpse that Todd Haley is a better head coach when he manages all aspects of the game.

“I would probably say yes,” Haley said. “More than anything it allows me to be a better head coach. The whole idea, through my years of experience, was that if I ever got into this position this is how I would want me team run. I think that allows you to perform the head coaching job to the best of your ability.”

10 Responses to “A Chance To Be Head Coach”

  • September 15, 2010  - Tenand6 says:

    Good stuff, here. Smart wins.

  • September 15, 2010  - Joshua says:

    I can’t judge Charlie quite yet, but doesn’t it seem like the Haley offense was more productive than this last year. I’m not too impressed with Weiss so far, but I’ll wait to pass judgement until we’re played a few games.

  • September 15, 2010  - Nate says:

    Joshua – didn’t you just read Bob’s article? chiefs had a 14 point lead and it was raining. and Todd Haley told Charlie to rein in the offense. that’s just smart winning football.

  • September 15, 2010  - RickyP says:

    I believe we led the league in three and outs last year…were especially bad in the first half of the season.

  • September 15, 2010  - Edward says:

    AGreed Joshua. Charlie needs to realize is FEED #25 the ball. He was the spark plug that drove the offense last yr. The sooner Weis realizes that Charles needs to be the feature guy in the offense the more productive will start to see the offense become.

  • September 15, 2010  - Edward says:

    Don’t get me wrong guys Haley absolutely did the right thing turning over the play calling to Weiss but not making Charles the feature player of this team is a mistake because by far he’s the #1 player on this team

  • September 15, 2010  - Edward says:

    Good article kent

  • September 15, 2010  - Kent Pulliam says:

    Thanks. It’s was fun being out there and able to contribute to Bob’s Web Site

  • September 16, 2010  - Justin says:

    Great article. It is nice to hear and understand Haley’s thinking – play calling and player substitutions.
    I think it takes guts to admit you were conservative because you did not EXPECT a 2 TD lead in bad weather.

  • September 16, 2010  - Russell says:

    C. Weiss has to know(3 SB teams)when to juice and when not to. Charles was spared because we had 14 pts at home, weather, and the D is doing great! some risk, but all this is factored… Watch everybody’s reaction when we are 4 and 2 or 5 and 1 for crying out loud…

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