A King-Sized Second Guess … Tuesday Cup O’Chiefs

It’s one of the things that make sports so attractive to fans – the second guess.

No matter the size of the ball used, or even if it’s a puck, the decisions made by team owners, presidents, general managers, coaches, coordinators, assistant coaches, managers, players are all out there to be second guessed. It’s all analyzed, dissected, twisted, turned and shaken to produce either agreement with what was done, or consideration that the decision was a complete failure and the person that made it is without a definable IQ.

Todd Haley is getting second guessed a lot these days. That’s nothing different there, since as an NFL head coach and a play caller in the league, there’s always the little birdie sitting on his shoulder cheeping away. “You should have done this? That was a bad decision. Don’t you know what you are doing?”

The great thing about the second guess is that it comes with 20-20 vision. The results are already known, something that makes the decision process just a tad bit more tidy and understandable.

But right now Haley is being second guessed on the way he handled the team’s training camp and pre-season. He went outside the box so to speak when he put together his plan. We’ve heard about it over a month now, but it comes down to this – strength and conditioning were the No. 1 priorities for Haley in preparing for the 2011 season. Football was on the back burner. The playing time the Chiefs players got was largely decided by what kind of shape they were in.

The idea from Haley was they were going to build to a conclusion with the fourth pre-season game. That night was going to be approached more like a regular season game, or at the least, the way teams usually went after the third game of the pre-season.

Ordinarily that fourth pre-season game means the night off or only a cameo appearance for established NFL starting quarterbacks. For example, just take the three QB starters for the other teams in the AFC West:

Team Starting QB



Denver Kyle Orton



Kansas City Mark Cassel



Oakland Jason Campbell



San Diego Phillip Rivers



What others teams were doing in the pre-season and with playing time in the fourth game for their starters and key contributors mattered not to Haley.

“How anybody else does it really doesn’t pertain to us,” Haley said. “We’ve got a very experienced staff. We had hours and hours of discussion through the off-season on how we wanted to do things, how it’s set up in relation to what we were trying to get done, and we followed along with that for the most part.

“Most everything we did pertained to injuries and trying to do our best to prevent them by knowing that if our guys were in core shape or as close to core shape condition as we could get them; that we would have a better chance to practice and play in an efficient, healthy manner.”

With so much time devoted early in training camp to getting in shape, the football angle was something that saw increased time only toward the end of the schedule. It was building to the crescendo of the final game. Haley liked the idea of playing on the road, at Lambeau Field against the defending Super Bowl champion, with most of his starters on the field in front of a loud crowd of Cheese Head fanatics.

Was it a gamble? Certainly. Nobody wants to see their starting quarterback go down with an injury in a meaningless game, probably the most forgotten moment in any NFL season.

But obviously Haley was willing to take that gamble, and it had nothing to do with how the offense or Cassel had played in the preceding three weeks.

“That was kind of how we laid the plan out,” he said. “And part of that was the playing time as it related throughout the other three games. There’s no doubt you have to get guys game ready and ready to play. In those early preseason games, we physically were just not ready.

“I don’t know that there’s a training camp you get through without some injuries. Injuries are an unfortunate part of it. But, if you’re asking if that was why guys got hurt, no, in my opinion. Since I’ve been in the league, which is going back into the ’90s, that fourth pre-season game I’ve been places where we’ve played guys, starting left tackles entire games, where we’ve played quarterbacks up to the half.”

If Cassel shakes off the rib injury he suffered on his 27th snap and starts and performs well against Buffalo, then some of the second guessing of Haley will turn to other subjects and decisions.

If not, the second guessing will continue.

If it does not, then the second guessing goes on.

“You’ve got to be ready to play and ready to win or ready to play your best game,” Haley said. “How I felt about how we went through, I felt really good about it.

“We won’t know. We’ll know as the season plays out, so I don’t know that there’s any way you can really make an accurate assessment of our pre-season right now.”

8 Responses to “A King-Sized Second Guess … Tuesday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • September 6, 2011  - Tenand6 says:

    I don’t question the conditioning/playing time. It’s rational and like every plan it wasn’t perfect. I understood it from the beginning and thought it was smart. It seems to me Haley was looking out for the best interests of his players. Haley-haters say he is mean and arrogant. This plan suggest someone who is thoughtful and careful. He put his players’ physical well-being over a meaningless pre-season winning record.

    That being said, I enthusiastically second-guess Pioli-Haley’s decision not to bring in/trade for an experienced QB to compete with Palko.

    I’m also the guy who second-guessed bringing in Keary Colbert. I remember seeing him on the sidelines warming up for an evening practice in St. Joe. I read about his background and thought that was a waste of time. Therefore, my second-guessing abilities are limited and ripe for second-guessing.

  • September 6, 2011  - RW says:

    I’ll give Haley credit for coming up with a plan, flawed or not, and sticking to it because it’s his butt on the line so he might as well do it his way and live or die with the outcome. The Haley way sort of flies in the face of the old belief that teams should practice like they play in a real sense. Granted, this lockout off-season has changed the dynamic of the proven path toward regular season readiness.

    Still, with all the confusion and forced timeouts, the Chiefs don’t look nearly as ready as most other teams I’ve seen in the pre-season which is quickly forgotten if they come strong out of the gate but long remembered if they do not. Through it all, Haley is doing it his way which might prove the right way if the team gains traction.

    The QB issue is troubling as has been stated many times by many, including me. Let us hope for a solid injury-free season from Cassel and take our chances from there. Anything else? Polish up that resume`, Todd.

  • September 6, 2011  - Niblick says:

    Well said RW. I’ll change my gloom and doom prediction of 4 or 5 wins if they come out strong against Buffalo. I know Buffalo is one of the weakest teams, but a strong showing would temper my prediction. Also it looks like Cassell is a go, which is a positive. I’ll say they get to 7 wins if Haley’s approach to the pre-season has worked.

  • September 6, 2011  - aPauled says:

    Perhaps Haley was waiting for the O-Line to come together before throwing valued players back there (Charles, Cassel) and ran out of time prior to Pre-4. If the O-line doesn’t improve, no one from the backfield is staying healthy. Which leads to my second guessing…is Bill Muir so distracted with the O-coordinator duties that he hasn’t gotten the O-line ready? I’ve see this guy work with his players…very good coach. We saw basically this same line maul people in the run game last year. What the heck is going on this year…can’t all be scheme.

  • September 6, 2011  - robert pritchard says:

    Some things Haley has done can be second guessed. For instance, his choice of o-coordinator, and his approach to the preseason if the team isn’t ready for week one. You can also second guess some Pioli/Haley decisions on personell.

    The injuries to Cassell and Moeaki should not be subject to that second guessing. Unless the total number of preseason plays (not just the game 4 plays) for Cassell is far larger than the league average, Haley’s approach was the safest possible way to give his key players the needed playing time. They didn’t play much until they were in condition to do so, and most of their preseason plays were against 2nd stringers in the final game. I don’t see how you can’t take better care of players than that.

  • September 6, 2011  - Michael says:

    It’s odd how so many people are negative about Muir as the O coordinator when he hasn’t even been at the helm for one real game.

    I don’t know if we’ll get a real indication of where the Chiefs are at until after the first four games-the first quarter of the season.

    Also, people shouldn’t take the Bills so lightly; they are not as bad as some want to make them out to be. They’ve got good skill players on offense, and their front 7 on D ain’t too bad. Their O Line and secondary don’t look great. The Chiefs should beat Buffalo, but they can’t take them lightly either.

  • September 7, 2011  - el cid says:

    The Chiefs did have offenses under Weiss and seem to have a clue during the preseason under Gailey. Muir seem like a good soldier and a person who will stand up to Haley when he occasionally loses his mind during games. We will see.

    But if the fans take the last year’s AFC West Champs and have to wait til after the first four games to see what they have…..well, let’s just say they will not have much. Even 4-0, later in the season they are facing murder’s row if this team is not preforming as a team, oh well there will be a 2012.

  • September 7, 2011  - Michael says:

    I think this offseason was a bit different than most others. I just don’t know what to make of the Chiefs at this point. Not enough to go on.

    I guess that will make seeing what happens all the more interesting.

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