Spinning With Haley … Friday Cup O’Chiefs

You have to hand it to Todd Haley.

A year ago, the head coach was paddling as fast as is humanely possible just to keep his head above water as a tsunami of losing was washing over his first Chiefs team. It was October 18 before Haley saw his initial victory as an NFL head coach, after five losing efforts.

Fast forward to the first week of October 2010 and Haley’s world is very different. They are 3-0, on top the AFC West and the only unbeaten team left in the NFL. The head coach is now simply the head coach, not head coach-offensive coordinator-quarterbacks coach. He has spent the whole year so far working on his team’s head, continuing to pump home his themes and beliefs, while making sure nobody starts feeling comfortable about winning the first three.

Haley’s world has changed so much that he now has time to spin his message when he speaks publicly. What he’s told the media horde this week is probably not what he’s told his team in their meetings, or what he will tell them Saturday night in their hotel in Indianapolis or Sunday morning before kickoff at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Basically Haley’s answers have been that he just hopes his team can be competitive with the Colts, that despite their record the Chiefs are not a good team, just one in transition to being good, and that a team like Indianapolis knows all about winning, while his bunch of boys is just learning.  

“We are far from accomplished,” Haley said on Thursday, after his team enjoyed what he said was a good practice session in preparation for the Colts. “We are working to become a good team. The Colts are a good team.

“You are talking about apples and oranges between the teams. We are just trying to get better so we can go out there on Sunday into their place and be competitive.”

Now, that’s not the kind of speech that’s going to send 45 guys rushing out of the locker room on Sunday to take on Peyton Manning and the horseshoes. There isn’t anything in Haley’s words that are incorrect or out of whack. Despite their record, the Chiefs are not an accomplished team, there is no comparison between them and the Colts and whether or not they can be competitive on Sunday is one of the weekend’s biggest questions.

It’s just that you usually don’t hear an NFL head coach talking in this manner, at least not publicly. Is there method to Haley’s madness? There almost always is, and it makes sense for his team and the franchise at this point in the “process.”

Here’s why – essentially the Chiefs have shown right now they are the not ready for prime-time players. Yes, the Chiefs Nation loves that 3-0 record. But it was put together against teams that are now 3-9 on the season. Many of the players are walking in areas where they’ve never been before, and no one knows how they will react. Depth is shallow and inexperienced. Their quarterback has yet to prove himself and despite Matt Cassel’s three TD passes two weeks ago against the 49ers, they are a one-dimensional offense, with a defense that has no consistent pass rush and doesn’t force many turnovers.

No one, absolutely no one, knows all this more than Haley. The man has great confidence in his beliefs and the methods the organization has used to get the team to this point. But expectations have killed more than one player or team over the years. It’s the cart ahead of the horse, the dessert before the entrée or any other cliché you’d like to use. Right now the Chiefs are at an emotional point in their development where it would be easy to see them take two steps forward, one step back. Or, one step forward, two steps back.

What Haley is stressing with his constant harping on “getting a little bit better every day” theme is to keep the steps going forward. Maybe they are just baby steps, but putting a team in drive is always better than shifting into reverse.

Some of the most veteran players on the team understand this concept. Guys like G Brian Waters.

“To be honest with you, if you look at the circumstances, you look at the schedule and there are all sorts of reasons we are 3-0,” Waters said. “All we can do is play. All the things you want as a football team, the respect and all the other things, that comes.

“If by the grace of God we do some things, we win more games, then we are going to have to change our mentality,” Waters added. “That’s when we become the hunted; we become the team that everyone wants to beat. We are not there yet.”

That comes with winning, is what Waters means. There are all sorts of challenges the Chiefs must show they can handle against the Colts in the view of OLB Mike Vrabel.

“Can we continue to play defense like we have the first three weeks?” Vrabel said. “Can we continue to have success running the ball and converting on third down? Can we get them off the field on third down? This is a big test.”

Waters agrees it’s a big test. But it’s not a spot in the season where the team can hang its hat.

“It’s important we have consistency,” Waters said. “You can’t start making them “got-to-win games” or “we’ll-see-what-type-of-team” games, because you know what – you’ve got to come right back the next week and Houston is just as good. And then, you’ve got to come right back and play the team that just beat this team in Jacksonville. You start doing that and you start riding an emotional roller-coaster.”

Hence the words coming out of Haley’s mouth; there will come a time when he will talk up a game and how the Chiefs can match-up with a talented and good opponent because they are no longer in transition.

That time is not now.

NFL PERSONNEL FILE FOR THURSDAY, OCTOBER 7

  • BEARS – named Todd Collins their starting quarterback for Sunday’s game against the Panthers. It’s his first start since 2007.
  • COLTS – signed RB Javarris James off the Redskins practice squad; released LB Tyjuan Hagler.
  • PACKERS – placed SS Morgan Burnett on the injured-reserve list (ACL), ending his season; signed LB Maurice Simpkins off their practice squad.
  • REDSKINS – placed P Josh Bidwell on the injured-reserve list (hip), ending his season.
  • TEXANS – released DE Ryan Denney.

3 Responses to “Spinning With Haley … Friday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • October 8, 2010  - Nate says:

    Things are not as good as they look and they are not as bad as some people think. The truth lies somewhere in the middle. If the chiefs get blown out in Indy it is just one loss in a long season. A lot of “good teams” have gotten their butts kicked in Indy. Take a look at their home record over the last several years. I know this, the chiefs are going to do a lot of butt kicking in the coming years, because they are a team on the rise!


  • October 8, 2010  - Ernie says:

    Agree Nate! While I would love to see a win in Indy the fact is we ARE a competitve team this year. Long season. I want us to be in the playoff hunt in December. Since I love to bash the Donkeys at any opportunity: just ask them about 2009.Heh heh!6-0 huh??


  • October 8, 2010  - jim says:

    He says what he says publically to take some pressure of his kids, and to give the Colts their due, but believe me, in te locker room he has that little wiry grin on his face and whispering into the players ears that “we can get this done if we do what we know how to do, and do it EVERY TIME”.

    I truly like the “compliment the other guys and talk about how much farther we have to go” tact. It gives the opposition nothing to hang on their board and “relaxes” their attitude somewhat. Crafty. I like it. Go Chiefs!!




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