Grizzled Guru … Monday Cup O’Chiefs

From St. Joseph, Missouri

Grab the nearest dictionary, whether it’s from Webster’s or some other publisher, and look up the word grizzled. There will be multiple definitions, including this one:

Grizzled (griz’eld) adj. The result of being exposed to something terrible for a long period of time and having the results show through your appearance and state of mind.

But all that’s necessary to provide a definition of grizzled would be this picture:

That’s Bill Muir, the definitive grizzled veteran in the coaching ranks of the National Football League. The Chiefs offensive coordinator and offensive line coach has been there and done that in a career in football that reaches its 50th consecutive year in 2011. His college playing career began in 1962, and every fall since those small college days Muir has been part of football in coaching and scouting roles. In the year when he will turn 69, he’s going strong.

And, make no mistake about Muir’s state of mind. He’s as mentally sharp as he begins his 38th season in the NFL and his first year as the Chiefs offensive coordinator.

“I like to give a hard time because he’s getting up there in age,” said Chiefs head coach Todd Haley, who was born in 1967, after Muir had already put in the first three seasons of his coaching career.

“He says the same thing every time, he says, ‘I’ve got more gas left in the tank than any of these guys on this side of the hall (coaching floor)’.”

There was panic in the Chiefs Nation when Charlie Weis left the team after the 2010 season and moved on to the University of Florida to serve in the same capacity. There was more panic when Haley named Muir as the new coordinator and not one of the hotshot offensive assistants that are always floating about the league.

But what few people took into consideration was that last season, when the Chiefs led the league in rushing; there was one man who called nearly 100 percent of the running plays – Bill Muir. That’s often how it works with NFL teams – while one man may have the offensive coordinator title, he doesn’t put together the game plan and call plays in a vacuum. It’s collaboration and sometimes that sharing rolls right through the games.

That’s the way it was for Muir when he was offensive coordinator of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers working with Jon Gruden. That’s the way it was when he was defensive coordinator of the Indianapolis Colts for two seasons (1989-90.)

That’s the way it will be with the 2011 Chiefs, as Muir works with Haley, QB coach Jim Zorn and RB coach Maurice Carthon in putting together the offense each week. But somebody has to be in charge, and that’s Muir.

“It’s like riding a bike – you never forget,” Muir said Sunday, after the Chiefs completed their afternoon practice.

“I spent several years on the defensive side of the ball – they call that the dark side by the way,” he added. “It was some time ago but it was valuable experience, because you began to think how they think and how you can exploit them. It was a great experience.”

Haley had a great experience with Muir back in the late 1990s with the New York Jets. The head coach was moving over from the personnel side and threw himself into the job, working as the offensive quality control coach and dealing with Muir, who was the offensive line coach.

“He wasn’t afraid to let me know it in a number of different ways which were very painful and made me tired and I lacked a lot of sleep for a couple of years,” Haley said. “There might not be anybody that taught me more about certain aspects of the game and how you do it. He’s coordinated both sides of the ball in the NFL and has a Super Bowl ring. He’s a great resource.

“I was very excited to move him to the position I did because I knew he would be excited, and I think it’s a real good thing for our team, for our quarterback, for our staff. It will play itself out, but Bill Muir is a great football coach.”

So what was Muir’s problem with the young Haley?

“Like rookie players, I don’t like rookie coaches,” Muir said with a smile.

He’s learned over his time in the game about both sides of the football, and both aspects of offense. Yes he called the running plays, but Muir also worked with an offensive line that finished in the top half of the league in pass protection last season for Matt Cassel.

Dealing with the quarterback is also one of the duties of the offensive coordinator and Muir only wishes he’d had time during the off-season to work with Cassel. But the lockout wiped out that opportunity. Still, over four months of the lockout, Muir got work one.

“It was a good opportunity for me to get an overview of the big picture,” he said. “We did a lot of studying of the people we are going to play. I have a pretty good idea what we are going to have to do. We looked at a lot of other teams, and we modified our offense to a certain degree. What we do well, we are going to continue to do.”

Grizzled veteran? Absolutely, and while his hair is white, as is the stubble on his face, his mind is fresh and ready to go.

9 Responses to “Grizzled Guru … Monday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • August 1, 2011  - ChuckP says:

    I still say Haley will do almost all of the play calling and this guy will be the fall guy next year. Also I don’t think Haleys ego and personality wanted a “strong willed guy” as their Offensive Coordinator.

  • August 1, 2011  - Ethan Ives says:

    I’m confused why we still talk about how big of an ego Haley has. I’ve haven’t seen him demonstrate a big ego. Was it the firing of Chan Gailey where all this talks come from? It seems that most players and coaches enjoy working with Haley. Look at the veteran coaches we have brought in. Do you really think they would join Haley if he had a huge ego? What about all the players like Fitz that talk so highly about him? If he had such a big ego why would Breaston want to come play for him again? How about all the veteran coaches (Crennel, Thomas, Muir, Zorn, Gibbs, Pleasant, Carthon)? Do you really think all these players/coaches would want to work with Haley if he had this super big ego? I’m just confused on where this comes from? Or is it just the media trying to stir the pot?

  • August 1, 2011  - Mike in MO says:

    I think this whole ego thing started during Haley’s rookie year. He tried to do too much. It was as if he was afraid he’d get fired after one season if the team didn’t do well, and he was going to do his damndest to make sure it didn’t happen…..with 4-12 as the outcome! Haley has backed off trying to do it all, allowing his assistants to coach. One telling comment he made was when Mike Vrabel retired, and Haley mentioned how much he had learned from Vrabel. Ethan mentioned above that veteran coaches wouldn’t work for Haley if they had to put up with his ego.
    Haley tried too hard to prove he was the boss in his first year, but one thing he got through to his troops in no uncertain terms was what he expected of them. Almost everybody’s on the same page now, and things are a bit more relaxed, though the expectations haven’t changed. The players have!

  • August 1, 2011  - el cid says:

    Give us 10 wins and make the playoffs most years and have an ego as big as all outdoors. In his hey day, Carl P. had the same ego that everyone jumped on at the end, just he forgot to win. As for Haley, Breastons comments says it all, more than local fans or players have viewed him as some kind of AH/nuts.

    As for Muir, give him a chance, he has been a good soldier for several NFL coaches for years. After all, every general needs a tough sgt to push the troops around (very wealthy troops).

  • August 1, 2011  - Tenand6 says:


    Your thoughts on this coaching staff? To my untrained mind and eyes, it looks strong.

  • August 1, 2011  - Mike says:

    Good positive story, Bob.

  • August 1, 2011  - Niblick says:

    I just read Ty Warren is making a visit here. He’s been to Denver and Houston. I hope that perhaps we can sign him. He has that connection to Pioli. He would be a great addition at DE and perhaps free up Dorsey for more work at NT and push Tyson Jackson.

  • August 1, 2011  - txchief says:

    I also like the positive story Bob!

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