Column: He’s Not Crazy, Although Maybe He Should Be

From Soldier Field, Chicago

It has become popular sport at various times over the last three seasons for those who follow the red and gold to question the intelligence of one Richard Todd Haley.

If not his intelligence, then his sanity has been called into dispute, and if not his smarts and sanity, it has been his intentions.

Of the Chiefs head coaches I’ve gotten the chance to know in the last 30 years, I would say I probably know less about Haley than the others going back to Marv Levy. And yet, I must tell you that in many ways Todd Haley may be the most interesting of the lot.

Let me assure you that he’s not an idiot, he’s not insane and his intentions are beyond reproach. Anybody that says otherwise is a.) Trying to sabotage his position or b.) Just plain lying. Yes, some of that is happening.

All this came up for discussion this past week when the head coach told everyone that he was going to start Tyler Palko at quarterback in Sunday’s game against the Bears. The presence of Kyle Orton made no difference in Haley’s belief that opening the game with Palko was the best way to go.

Numerous members of the media horde and fans alike blasted him up and down for even considering Palko. By the end of the week, the quarterback controversy had morphed to such a point that Palko was the worst QB in the history of the game and Orton was another John Elway. The fascination and attention on Orton was out of whack given his track record and the fact that not one, but two NFL teams have found him wanting as the starting quarterback.

Palko’s six interceptions and 0-2 record as the starter in replacing the injured Matt Cassel was the obvious lightning rod among the football populace. And well it should have been. A quarterback’s job really comes down to three things: win, score points and don’t turn the ball over, and Palko had not gotten the job done in any of those categories in both of his starts.

Thus, the clarion calls to throw Palko away. That’s the type of society we have these days … we decide we are tired of something or someone and they get chucked, sent to the landfill of human debris, sometimes without a full hearing or chance to present their case.

That’s not what Todd Haley is about. He has seen the work that Palko has put into his career, one where he waited five years to get his opportunity. For anyone to expect he was going to stroll right into the huddle and write a new chapter in Chiefs QB history was delusional. So too are they nuts to talk about dumping the man after two games.

Haley wasn’t going to do that, and who really has more to lose in this situation than Todd Haley? Many in the NFL already consider him “dead man walking” when it comes to his future as head coach of the Chiefs. Forget any type of generated blather from the organization that all is well and everybody loves everybody. This guy is out there rowing the boat with this team with his players and staff and that’s it.

Even given that situation, it was Haley’s considered opinion that Palko was the guy to start. It was not a decision that Palko is a better quarterback than Orton. It was a decision based on fact – that right now Palko is a better offensive leader for this team than Orton. If the finger injury Orton suffered on Sunday is not serious and he can continue to practice, then there’s a chance Orton can knock the rust off and develop the necessary rapport to work with his receivers.

I can guarantee you that the decision to start Palko, the decision to send Orton in for the first play of the second quarter and the plans the Chiefs had to use Palko-Orton over the rest of the Bears game were well-thought out and considered from every angle. At times Haley drives his coaching staff crazy with meetings and discussions that never seem to end. But he wants and seeks out information, opinion and comments. He thirsts for it, because he wants to have as many facts and analysis as possible. That guy who seems to always be screaming on the sidelines and appears out of control, is anything but that way 99 percent of the time.

It was suggested by some over the final days of last week that Haley was in danger of losing the locker room if he started Palko. That sentiment was built on the idea that the players knew Orton was the better quarterback, and thus gave the Chiefs a better chance to win.

Yet, to a man, the dozen players I questioned Sunday after the game said that was crap, that Palko has and has had the support of the locker room. He won them over the same way he got Haley on his side – by working his backside off, putting in the time and leaving no stone unturned in preparation for a season, a game, or a series of plays.

“I didn’t hear a single guy say anything about the new guy giving us a better chance to win,” said ILB Derrick Johnson. “One of the things that’s happened with this team is we are taking care of our business. We are not getting caught up in the decisions made. We all have our jobs to do, and just tell us what to do, and when, and nobody in this locker room cares about anything else.”

Whether Todd Haley is the head coach of the Chiefs on January 2, the day after the last regular season game, I do not know. What I do know is that he will coach these four games coming up the same way he’s coached the 45 that came before – his way.

If that’s crazy, or a sign to many of some sort of coaching dementia, he could care less.

17 Responses to “Column: He’s Not Crazy, Although Maybe He Should Be”

  • December 5, 2011  - Kenny says:

    It was really funny to see him drop the challenge flag in the 1st quarter, then haggle with the refs for a few minutes seeming to give his guys a chance to a see a good replay. In the end, he didn’t challenge the play and the bears looked pretty upset the chiefs weren’t charged a timeout.

    Would be interesting to see if he does this again this year..

  • December 5, 2011  - rufus says:

    There are a lot of nutty fans. Thx for sharing your experience with these men, Bob.

    *But those players are LYING!!! What else WOULD they say??? Haley is a LOON??? ………..


  • December 5, 2011  - Chiefs End Losing Streak With 10-3 Victory Over Bears : says:

    [...] COLUMN – No, Haley’s not crazy, but maybe should be. [...]

  • December 5, 2011  - Craig says:

    The coaching carosel in interesting social discussion fodder. I think back and realize that Mike Malarky was available to KC before he went to Green Bay. I wonder?

  • December 5, 2011  - TDKC says:

    At the end of the game the CBS cameras focused in on Haley and Muir on the sidelines. Haley, with an angry look, grabbed the microphone portion of Muir’s headset and said something that caused Bill to give a WTF look of his own.
    I wonder if Haley is so hard to work with that he will drive away other good coaches. This could be his biggest fault. And the one that may ultimately doom him as Chiefs head coach.

  • December 5, 2011  - James says:

    Haley’s not crazy. He’s just a control freak who is way in over his head. Player’s seem to like to play for him. Shame he doesn’t have a decent QB.

  • December 5, 2011  - ED J says:

    I don’t agree he’s control freak but it is a shame he doesn’t have better Qb. I love the opinion Bob disagree with it. Players are going support Qb that is what they suppose to do and say, but trust me Orton came into that game because Palko was getting yanked. Luckily for him he was put back into the game because the guy broke his finger. Bottom line our defense can’t continue to win games like that. Houston not going to explode for 3 sacks every game. We’re not going have 7 sacks every game or 3 picks every game. Palko after 3 games hasn’t improved his chances of being starter remainder of the season he’s worsen them. The only thing he did well yesterday was not turn ball over.

    Either way hopefully Orton is ok because he’ll be replacing Palko at some point in the Jets game. No one is disputing how hard guy works but even you Bob bashed Pioli for picking so called leaders in the 2010 draft and not drafting enough talent. So leadership is one thing but guys are more inspired by performance than how much time guy spends studying film. Either way Orton will get start if he’ healthy or at least replace Palko next Sunday.

  • December 5, 2011  - Tim says:

    I believe Haley is publicly “defending the fort”. I believe he knows Muir is miscast for the OC role & that’s why the operations seems to have been “tweaked” lately. Haley has demonstrated he has a plan. He’s demonstrated players will play hard for him. He’s demonstrated he can get the best out of what most players have to give. What he has not yet demonstrated definitively, is whether he can adequately evaluate talent to begin with. His decisions that some of these guys are on the roster this season when other talent was available at some positions are glaringly bad. How many times do Pope & Richardson get to shoot our offense in the foot. The answer is: the entire 2011 season because Haley didn’t go get another TE or RT when they could have. The evaluation of talent to be acquired is our biggest problem. If the talent gets there, Haley has demostrated he can do something with it & develop it.

  • December 5, 2011  - the other dave says:

    I think Haley is a winner when he has talent on the roster. Give him a break this year.

  • December 5, 2011  - Tenand6 says:

    Great, great column, Bob. This needed to be written. Sports talk radio this past week has been beyond embarrassing. The talk about Haley wanting to start Palko just to jam it to Pioli was….how do I say it? How about this: Emotionally and intellectually stupid. As if Haley doesn’t give a damn about his team or winning. Every now and then sports talk radio reaches a new low in this town. It happened last week.

    Thanks for this column. It was fantastic on multiple levels.

  • December 5, 2011  - Anonymous says:

    I live in Chicago and listened to talk radio on the way home from the game. I think sports radio is formulaic – get every one riled up and cause a stir for ratings. You should have heard Doug Buffone go after the Bears. One caller even called Roy Williams “feminine” – hilarious.

    It really requires a dose of reality. This is a kid’s game played by men for the amusement of fans. It is not a life or death situation. Still, it was fun walking out the stadium after hearing all week the Chiefs were such and inferior team. Maybe we are the better TEAM with less talented players.

  • December 5, 2011  - Rick says:

    I for one, am still on Coach Haley’s side, and so are the players.


  • December 5, 2011  - Flyboy26 says:

    Nice column, Bob,I agree with practically everything you wrote, for a change. It’s sad that the entire media has degraded to the point that it has. I miss the reporters and columnists of yesteryear. These days, we get more “unthoughtout” opinion and stories that sell to the “sheep” of the world rather than informative facts and wise opnions. Unfortunately, rumor mills, and the like, will exist and flourish as long as there are gullible human beings.

  • December 5, 2011  - Johnfromwichita says:

    Haley is an excellent coach. He has no control on injuries. He doesn’t have control of the depth of talented backups. That’s his bosses job which obviously wasn’t done. The only problem I’ve had with him is his, I suspect, unwilliness to trust anybody to be his offensive coordinator. Promoting the offense line coach, and how good are they, isn’t working. I’d give the nod to Zorn.There really isn’t any major problems to this team that can’t be fixed by spending more money on talent. Which I’m beginning to think that Clark Hunt isn’t about to do. That wasn’t an earthquake I just felt; that was Lamar turning over.

  • December 5, 2011  - cychief24 says:

    Our best OT is playing for the Chargers tonight.
    Whomever decided to cut Gaither has no business making personnel decisions. Weigmann is feeble at C. Hudson looks good but has been standing next to Gaither all year. WTF?!?!

  • December 5, 2011  - johnfromfairfax says:

    Good question cyechief. Consider the money spent on Cassel and Orton this year. Juxtapose that with the ineffective play of the group in front of them that led to both being injured. I’d say the lack of expenditure to upgrade the line cost a lot more than it saved in the long run. But I suppose that’s just one dumb fan’s opinion.

  • December 6, 2011  - Michael says:

    Gaither wasn’t really tested by anyone on the Jags, but he did appear to move well. I want to see him against better competition, and also if he can stay out of the training room. If he does, it will confirm our idea that cutting him loose was a bad move. When they waived him I had the same feeling as when they let OL Wade Smith go. At the time, Smith was a quality reserve who could play almost every position on the line, and had performed at a high level when he did start. He has started for the Texans, on one of the best OL’s in the league, for a couple of year now. Then you look at a couple guys who ended up in Green Bay-LB Eric Walden and and TE Tom Crabtree. Walden is one of Green Bay’s staring OLB’s, and has developed into a pretty good pass rusher. Crabtree, from the same school as Jake O’Connel and who came to KC at the same time, was cut in favor of O’Connel. Crabtree is one of their best special teamers and is a fine blocker who and has made some clutch catches for them. Crabtree would be an asset to KC now. Then there is Shaun Smith. Why was he let go? He’s logged a good deal of playing time for the Titans this year. Then think of what the Chiefs depth at safety would be if they had kept Pollard and/or Page. Brian Waters seems to be playing just fine for the Pats. DE Jasin Babin starts for the Eagles.

    You win some and you lose some in personnel moves. Sometimes guys don’t play well or fit well with one team, but do on another. But, if you couple the kind of decisions listed above with an unwillingness to sign quality free agents for at least depth and then you do only fair to good in the draft, well, it’s not going to be good.

    I’m sure Haley has some blame for this, but I think he’s a good coach who will get better and the Chiefs should keep him. Most fault, I think, is Pioli’s to a large degree, but mostly Hunt’s. Pioli must make better decisions, and Hunt must open the checkbook.

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