Column – Haley Says Blame Me. OK Coach

From Arrowhead Stadium

Let’s establish this right off the top – the Chiefs are not the worst team in the National Football League.

And let’s add this – in their season opener on Sunday, the Chiefs played like the worst team in the NFL.

Seriously, consider the other games that were played on this opening weekend. No other team got smacked by 34 points. No other team looked and played as poorly at home as they did against the Bills. With the exception of the game’s coming up on Monday night, the absolutely ugliest opener belonged to Todd Haley and his team.

And, Haley says blame me. No … I don’t mean me. Blame him.

“I am taking 100 percent responsibility for our team not being ready to go,” Haley said after the 41-7 loss. “You can point the finger at Todd Haley.”

Don’t worry coach – everybody already had their bull’s eye out and projected on your back.

Haley was doing the old coaching trick of trying to deflect blame from his players. Rather than have them feel like they are failures, it’s always easier for the head coach to publicly put his head in the noose and draw attention away from the locker room.

Well, after that debacle against the Bills there is plenty of blame to go around. Haley deserves a healthy dose, but his players must also take responsibility for one of the worst performances in club history. If you doubt that, know this:

  • It’s the worst opening day loss the Chiefs have experienced in franchise history. That’s 51 years plus Sunday.
  • It’s the worst home beating the Chiefs have experienced since November 7, 1976 when they were beaten 45-0 by the Steelers at Arrowhead. Sunday ranks as the second worst home beating in club history.
  • It’s the worst loss suffered by the Chiefs in any game since the 2006 season, when they were drubbed in Pittsburgh 45-7.

But here’s the worst ramification of what happened against the Bills – the Chiefs have now lost seven games in a row, including five of those games at Arrowhead. They dropped the regular season finale to Oakland. They got smashed in the playoffs by Baltimore. They lost all four of their pre-season games and now they’ve lost the season opener.

If winning is a habit, then losing is a habit as well. Right now, the Chiefs have a habit they must find a way to break. This supersedes all second guessing of play calling, personnel decisions, how Haley ran training camp, the lockout effect and any other excuse that rolls into the court of public opinion.

Right now, the Chiefs are losers; in black and white that sounds rough and maybe over the top. Without a doubt, it is a bit much if we keep our focus to the 2011 season. Sunday’s game was but one snapshot out of 16 and whether it has any more importance than what happens next week in Detroit, or weeks ahead in Indianapolis, or against New England and Pittsburgh we only know with the microscope of hindsight.

But losing seven in a row is a concern. I know, I know … everybody wants to forget those pre-season games that don’t count in the standings. I think they do count on the psyche. There’s nothing wrong with winning and nothing wrong with winning every time a team steps on the field. That should always be the attitude; a coach should never pass up the opportunity to develop winning.

That was not the attitude of this team in the pre-season, and that traces right back to the guy who says blame him. From the end of last season there has been a noticeable attitude permeating the Chiefs, an attitude that they had arrived. They were a team that made the playoffs, they had gotten over the hump, and they were already on the mountain, closing in on the summit.

GM Scott Pioli took that attitude with the type and number of talented players he added in the draft and free agency. The players took that route with little in the way of organized workouts during the lockout. Haley took that attitude with the pre-season, where it wasn’t so much about football, but about getting into shape.

Whether that attitude is real, or a perception of an outsider looking in, does not really matter at this point. Something needs to give in this equation. The winning habit needs to be re-established and ultimately the finger of blame for whether that happens with the 2011 Chiefs will be pointed at Haley. And, it won’t be just by the fans and media. It will be by the Hunt Family, Pioli and those that run the organization.

Again … the Chiefs are not the worst team in the NFL. They just played like it against the Bills. The embarrassment needs to be dealt with immediately. The culture needs to be changed.

12 Responses to “Column – Haley Says Blame Me. OK Coach”

  • September 11, 2011  - ED J says:

    I think Haley felt like getting into to shape is was contributed to winnning success we had last yr. I for one agree with him. We won alot of games because we were the most condition teams late in games last yr. Compared to 07 and 08 where we blew huge leads late. This is one game its too early to say Haley’s approach to the season was wrong. No different if we would have won the game it would’ve been too early to say it was right.

  • September 11, 2011  - brainsmasher says:

    I like Haley’s out of the box thinking and innovative ideas. He got a little carried away last year and I think Pioli reined him in. Somebody–Pioli and Clark Hunt–signed off on Haley’s approach to training camp. All we kept hearing all summer was they were getting ready for Buffalo. Well, we all saw that they were not ready. On paper they look like a better team. Too bad you have to block and tackle in real games.

  • September 11, 2011  - Bills Run Over Chiefs In Opener, 41-7 : says:

    [...] COLUMN: Haley says blame him. We should. [...]

  • September 11, 2011  - el cid says:

    Did you guys watch the game? By the 4th qtr the Chiefs players were sucking wind like the Bills players. First you cannot get “conditioned” in the short time preseason presented. Second Haley said repeatedly his approach was designed to be ready for 11 SEPT game…..did this team look prepared to play today???

    In the final analysis of this game, it is what Pioli/Haley/Hunt put together for this year. Why hash it over, let’s see what we do against the Lions?

    I thought Haley was a jerk the first year, changed my mind with 10 wins, and, now, after one game he is an idiot again. Truthfully, this team seems to have regressed to the herm era quality of effort. I cannot imagine how Haley will be about to fix this mess before the second half of the season.

  • September 11, 2011  - Kenny Low says:

    Dear Coach Haley,

    Don’t worry, I blame you.
    I blame you for not having a game plan that was even remotely effective.
    I blame you for not having the team ready on opening day when it was all you talked about all preseason.
    I blame you for the terrible offense line play.
    I blame you for the terrible play calling.
    I blame you for the execution.
    I blame you for the poor defense and not being able to make adjustments at halftime.
    I blame you for putting us through the most embarrassing lose I can remember as a chiefs fan.

    You can’t take the type of risks you take in preseason preparation and play calling and not take the blame. You don’t have to remind me who to blame, I already know.

    I was disappointed after our loss. Frustrated as a fan and frustrated for the entire team. But when I listened to your postgame interview, frustration would be an understatement. We deserve more from our team than that performance. We deserve more from you and your staff.

  • September 12, 2011  - PAChiefsFan says:

    Any idea or thought that the Chiefs had arrived should be well dispelled at this point. A team that has arrived does not get their head handed to them in the first round of the playoffs or get destroyed in the opening game of the next season. One game does not a season make but they certainly need to get a number of things fixed quick. In light of yesterday’s disaster a quote from Sean Connery’s character in the Untouchables comes to mind, “What are you prepared to do now?”

  • September 12, 2011  - Mark Broski says:

    But I have to ask, “Where were the fans?” It was the home opener, and half of the Club Level looked empty. Arrowhead’s new amenities are distracting fans from what is really important: creating a raucous sea of Red with the power to shift the outcome of the game. Though they are professionals, I do believe this has an impact on the players. Especially for out-of-town Chiefs loyalists like me, the game was a disappointing commentary on the quality of sports culture in Kansas City.

  • September 12, 2011  - pharmer says:

    I agree, yes there is enough blame to go around, but include in that the lack of fan support. That place started to empty out when the result of the game was still in doubt. That’s when the team needed the fans and they gave up on the game.

    Romeo needs to rethink his sub package, because until he does, teams are going to scheme us to keep that sub package on the field all game. We need to see more of the base defense, or do more rotation into the sub defense to keep guys fresher.

    Once again, I think that we are seeing just how much of an impact the strong off season program had on the 2010 season, and we’re seeing the difference now from not having that.

  • September 12, 2011  - MarkInTexas says:

    Very well said, Bob.

    Wins and losses in preseason may not matter, but how you perform does. This was coming and I think the fans and media knew it. What a waste of a great scene at Arrowhead yesterday.

    I hereby resign as President of the Todd Haley Apologist Club.

    I think the Hunt’s already had some apprehension about him because of his style and decision-making. Winning trumped those concerns last year, but yesterday’s embarrassment (and it was) erased any margin for error that Haley previously enjoyed.

  • September 12, 2011  - leonard says:

    Wow, 1 game and the whiners are bailing. Great support guys. First, the lockout definitely hurt this team. No OTA’s , and the new practice rules are rediculous, and that contributed to this mess. Do you think the Steelers fans are bailing on them. They looked just as awful. The Chargers barely won at home. How about Falcons fans, are they jumping off the band wagon after a terrible game? Are they ready to fire their coach. Jesus , you guys need to get a life. Bob said it, they are not the worst team, they just played like it.
    This was a good wake up call, if they thought they were all that. A rude awakeing is a good thing. I will hold my judgement for now. Yes, we need to get this going and I believe they will.
    Charles has got to quit this damn fumbling, He is becoming labeled as a fumbler, and I believe that is why they called that a fumble in the game, and not down by7 contact.

  • September 12, 2011  - Tim says:

    It was reminiscent of the unprofessional effort of the Herm era. Nuf said.

  • September 12, 2011  - cychief24 says:

    Do you fork out $2750 for a single season ticket in the Club section? How about $11,000 for 4? We were in the Club Level for 24 years and had to move to the Upper Level because of the 300% increase in prices. That’s why the Club Level is half full. That’s the Chiefs decision not the fans. We now sit 1st row 25 yd line in the Upper Level and love it. The prices chased us up there.
    All 4 of us stayed to the end, did you? Then we drove back to Des Moines.
    Focus on why the Chiefs looked so Herm like not the fans that pay full price for 2 pre-season games.

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