Commentary: No Time To Celebrate

From Arrowhead Stadium

It was pretty hard to tell from Todd Haley’s post-game demeanor that he had finally gotten off the schnide and his team captured the first pre-season game victory of his short head coaching career.

There was no celebration, no hooting and hollering, not even a smile from the head coach as he stepped to the podium and faced the media horde for the normal post-game inquisition. His body was there, but his mind was elsewhere.

Moments after the game clock showed 00:00 and he had shaken hands with Packers coach Mike McCarthy, Haley already put the 17-13 victory into the history banks and moved on. There’s a lot of work to do in the coming hours, days and more than a week. Haley made it very clear what was on his mind.

It wasn’t beating the Packers JV squad – it’s getting ready to play the San Diego Chargers on September 13 to start the regular season.

“We have these next 11 days here to get prepared to start the season,” Haley said. “It was important for our team to make positive strides and I feel like we did that through the pre-season in all areas.”

A lot has to happen in just the next few days. It starts with the Chiefs trimming their 75-man roster to a 53-man active list and an eight-man practice squad. All that must be done by 5 p.m. CDT on Saturday.

This is part of the duty that goes with being a head coach where the millions of dollars they are paid just isn’t enough. There isn’t a man out there in the top job that enjoys these days where he must tell young men that have worked so hard and given all they had that it’s not going to work. Whether because of numbers, or circumstances, or just a lack of the necessary skill, it’s going to end up that at least 14 players, and likely more are going to get their walking papers and a ticket back to the real world.

“Letting guys go that have put so much into it is always a difficult task and there isn’t a guy that hasn’t given his heart and soul to what we are trying to get done here and wanting to be a part of a good team,” Haley said. “It is going to be more difficult and that bodes well for the team because I think the harder those decisions are that means generally the more competition, the better team you are becoming.”

There’s a very good chance when his team took the field Thursday night, Haley knew who would be included on his 53-man roster. It’s always possible that a player can do something in the final game to change a coach’s mind, but these decisions are never made on a single snapshot. They come from stringing together pictures, starting back in the off-season, rolling through training camp and into four pre-season games.

“When you have a young team, a big part of the pre-season and in those practices, you are trying to figure out exactly what you have, what people can do and where they can help you,” said Haley. “I feel good about what we did through training camp and the tail end of the pre-season and figuring some of this out. ”

What Haley does not know is what players will find themselves on the waiver wire from other teams. Those matter to the Chiefs because as the head coach and GM have said many times since they arrived, they are always going to be looking to improve their talent base.

“This is for the most part last chance shopping,” Haley said. “This is the last chance to try and improve your team outside of trades or something like that. That process has not stopped. You haven’t seen our scouts here for a number of weeks and that is because they are out. Not only do they have to get started on college but we have a lot of guys at a lot of games just trying to figure out if something does happen, you have to start making some of those decisions which are difficult decisions.

“There are some unknowns. We have a lot more information on most of the guys that are here and you tend to grow fond of or develop a relationship and get a comfort level with guys and those are always difficult decisions to make. We are on it and we will pull the trigger if we have to.”

And then on top of those concerns, there is preparation for the Lightning Bolts and their arrival for the final game of the NFL’s opening weekend. San Diego is the reigning AFC West champ times three and they remain the team to beat in the division. This is the team that walked into Arrowhead last year and just smashed the Chiefs, stepping on their neck early and never letting them breathe.

Haley and his coaches have been thinking about San Diego since the schedule came out. Bet the farm that a lot of the game plan on both sides of the football is either already on paper, or filed away very neatly in the brains of Haley, Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel.

So all that was floating through the head coach’s mind after Thursday night’s game. It wasn’t the victory, or a post-game beverage and pizza or celebration of any sort.

It’s why the final pre-season game is always the most forgotten part of any NFL season.

“If we were 3-0 it would still be about one thing: getting better so that in 11 days when the regular season begins we play the way that we need to win,” said Haley. “Last year’s pre-season, this year’s pre-season, from a win/loss is meaningless to me. It’s about getting better every day and be better than the other team on more plays so that we win the game.

“That’s what we did for the most part tonight and that’s what we need to do on the night of September 13.”

3 Responses to “Commentary: No Time To Celebrate”

  • September 3, 2010  - Edward says:

    Like I said win or lose it’ll all be forgotten when we beat San Diego Monday night. Its good that the team got a win just to have that feeling that winning games gives you but they have to put that behind after tonight and start focusing on what they need to do to beat San Diego come Sept 13.

  • September 3, 2010  - Butler says:

    Well even though it wasn’t against the
    Cheese Heads A Team Starters in the early going
    I think we still would have WON THE GAME
    Chiefs had a lot of Positives in this game

    GO Chiefs GO !!!!!!!

  • September 3, 2010  - Butler says:

    It all leads to BAD NEWS for the CHARGERS !!!!!!!

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