Commentary: There’s Something Going on Here

From Arrowhead Stadium

I think it’s safe to say that the mantras chanted for the last two years by Todd Haley have infected his football team.

After picking up a stunningly brutal 31-10 victory over San Francisco on Sunday, the Chiefs locker room was not delirious with celebration and joy. They are now 3-0, and for any player in that room who was part of last year’s 4-12, or the 2-14 from the season before, or the 4-12 from the year before that, this had to be pure heaven. Only six other teams in 51 years of Chiefs football had been 3-0 and that group included the AFL championship teams of 1962 and 1966.

But there the Chiefs were, toweling off, dressing, answering questions in a matter of fact manner. From Thomas Jones, to Brian Waters, to Brandon Flowers, to Derrick Johnson, to Shaun Smith, to Dexter McCluster, to Tony Moeaki … they were all recordings of sane, level-headed football players who have come to understand one thing – going 3-0 accomplishes nothing.

And that comes from Haley.

“One of the pitfalls in this business is thinking that you’ve accomplished something,” said Haley after the game. Of course, he said the same thing before the game, a week ago, a month ago, last year. “If you have a feeling like you’ve accomplished so much, the trap door is about to open underneath you and you are going to make a long fall into some ugly waters. That’s what I believe, that’s how I’ve always believed. That’s the way I was raised and taught. That’s how I coach.

“We are three games into the season, we haven’t done anything.”

That’s not quite true – the Chiefs have done plenty in the first three weeks of this season. They have begun a very quick validation process of some of the talent that was brought in this year by GM Scott Pioli. Even an almost afterthought player like journeyman DL Shaun Smith has produced in the last three weeks. Smith took part in seven tackles and so aggravated San Francisco RT Anthony Davis that the rookie ended up getting slapped with a 15-yard unnecessary roughness call.

The 3-0 start is also evidence of the forward momentum that came with the hiring of Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel to the coordinator positions. Weis is still finding out what his players can do, and the more exposure they get, the more the options grow for him when it comes to game planning and play calling. Evidence for sure was the presence of RB Jamaal Charles in the passing game. The 49ers linebackers are good, but they are built to stop the run. The Chiefs offense worked on matching up those guys against Charles and rookie WR/RB Dexter McCluster. It produced six catches between those two guys for 126 yards and a 31-yard TD play from QB Matt Cassel to McCluster.

Crennel quickly won over the defensive players and it shows with their play.

“He explains the game plan to us every day, and make sure we understand why we are doing what we are doing,” said CB Brandon Flowers, who added another interception on Sunday. “It doesn’t just get you involved, but it gets you committed. You want to make it work.”

Ultimately, the 3-0 start is validation of Haley and his ways. Influenced by his father, Pittsburgh’s great coach Chuck Noll, various other NFL assistants and especially Bill Parcells, Haley’s beliefs are set in stone. He’ll make changes to how he does things, but there’s no budge on what he thinks must be done to achieve his goals. If sometimes that means he butts heads with players, assistant coaches, people in the organization, fans, media, so be it. They’ll have to change.

“I know I’m not going to waver,” Haley said. “That’s the way you have success. You had better believe in what you believe in and if it has some fundamentals that give you success. If you stay with those beliefs and are willing to put up with the pressure and put some of the less fun things into it early on, I think you can get a bunch of like-minded employees.”

Why are the Chiefs 3-0? Because trained by their head coach, they are constantly aware of the trap door that sits underneath them.

“We are three games into the first quarter of the season, trying like heck to make that transition from a not so good team to a good team and to do it sooner rather than later,” said Haley. “We are by no means there. A bye week is a good opportunity for these guys to work on some things and get better.”

That’s because the trap door never takes a day off.

11 Responses to “Commentary: There’s Something Going on Here”

  • September 26, 2010  - Butler says:


  • September 26, 2010  - Mark says:

    Execellent comments. Todd Haley is likely to grow into an outstanding NFL head coach. Look at his thoroughbred training and background (father; Noll; Parcells; etc.) Pioli is not likely to being making a mistake in picking his first head coach; look at Pioli’s record of “good calls” in all facets of building a team. And, for that matter, Matt Cassell is likely to grow into at least a B+ NFL QB; among the top 1/3 of QBs in the NFL, if not better (ie, think Trent Green). Look at the faith that Bellichek and Pioli both have had in him. That duo is not likely to be far off the mark. MANY NFL QBs come into their own only after 3 to 5 years in the league. Cassel is at the very beginning of his 3rd year…with no college experience.

  • September 26, 2010  - Tenand6 says:

    “The process” is getting more and more interesting every week. Thanks for great writing and coverage, Bob. To write this well on the fly is amazing. The sign up fee was a bargain.

  • September 26, 2010  - Edward says:

    Good read Bob.

  • September 26, 2010  - Edward says:

    Haley since day one has always sounded and looked like a head coach. With his understanding and beliefs in what it takes to win he stands firm in. He’s honest, tough, but yet he is an humble football coach. He’s going to be a good one.

  • September 26, 2010  - johnfromfairfax says:

    I really like what I’m seeing so far. One can see that the team is being assembled for success. They’ve shown growth each week which is what you look for from your players and verifies good coaching. There are still areas needing improvement but the talent upgrade is beginning to show and the collective effort is exceptional thus far. Great stuff Bob, Tenand6 is right on. This year is already more enjoyable than any we’ve seen in a while and could be the start of something special. It’s great to look forward to the games again.

  • September 26, 2010  - OMG! … Chiefs 3-0 With 2-Game Lead! | Chiefs Football at says:

    [...] Commentary: Haley has something going on with this team. [...]

  • September 27, 2010  - RW says:

    I laughed out loud when Bill Cowher said this on the CBS pre-game show yesterday: “There are 3 unlikely undefeated teams out there. The Chiefs, Bucs and Bears. If any of those teams goes 3-0, they’re going to think they’re much better than they really are”.

    After seeing the total dismantling of the 9ers yesterday, I’m not laughing anymore. The Chiefs are better than I thought they were and the rest of the TV talking heads are going to have to deal with it.

  • September 27, 2010  - dan in joplin says:

    RW, good point!

    Todd Haley- Chiefs Will……. :)

  • September 27, 2010  - Mike says:

    I’m beginning to believe in Haley and his philosophy. When (not if) we win the Super Bowl, I can hear Haley saying, “We haven’t accomplished anything yet. The important thing is to be consistent and do that we have to win the Super Bowl two years in a row.” GO TODD!

  • September 27, 2010  - robotfighter says:

    Haley acted like a lunatic last year. He started to mellow last year. He is almost likable now.

    My opinion of Pioli changed the day after this year’s draft. I could do without the “Patriots way” spiel. I want to barf every time I hear that.

    All of my buddies were laughing when I was pumping up Arenas and McCluster. After taking their money for 3 weeks they are laughing no more.

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