Breaking the Mold
Todd Haley is doing things his way.
Todd Haley is doing things his way.
Warpaint Illustrated Columnist
Posted Oct 28, 2010


With Herm Edwards, it was playing smart and being patient. With Dick Vermeil, it was all about numbers and statistics. But the new guy Todd Haley throws caution to the wind when making decisions on Sunday. And that means that old school football philosophy is out the door.

There has been a lot of banter on the Warpaint Illustrated.com Message Boards this week over Haley’s fourth down call early in the fourth quarter last Sunday. But fans better get used to it because he’s not about to stop and go back to the status quo. This is who Haley is, and as the Chiefs forge their own identity and separate themselves from the “Patriot way”, Haley has his squad doing it the “Chiefs way”.

And that means staying aggressive on all fronts, from the top of the organization to the very bottom.

Chairman Clark Hunt was aggressive in luring the top Scott Pioli away from his cushy job in New England. In turn, Scott Pioli was aggressive in assembling a coaching staff of brilliant football minds, full of ego at the risk of implosion, without batting an eye.

And as the new standard in this organization trickles down to Haley, it should be no surprise to see the head coach making calls that have fans scratching their heads.

But that’s not a knock on the Chiefs skipper. I love this stuff! We haven’t seen this amount of intestinal fortitude around Kansas City since the Chiefs started playing games at the Truman Sports Complex.

It would appear that Haley has pretty thick skin and guts of steel. And around the NFL teams are taking notice that Haley could gamble at any point in a game. And it serves as a huge advantage to Haley, because how do other teams game plan against the unpredictable?

Chiefs Head Coach Todd Haley drove Derrick Johnson to the point he's playing at an All Pro level this season.
Getty Images



It’s like trying to play poker with a newcomer. You’ve all have been there, right? Your buddy brings one of his co-workers over to your house and he gives you the “be easy on him…he’s new” bit. Next thing you know, you’re dumbfounded as he’s taking away all your chips.

So far, in regards to Haley, all bets are paying off. So far not one of his wild calls has cost the Chiefs a game.

But more importantly, his players seem to be responding to the pedal to the medal approach of their head coach.

But he’s not alone. This entire organization is about doing things their own way and throwing conventional wisdom out the window. And it’s very refreshing.

Just look at the defense. A year ago he benched his best defensive player, Derrick Johnson. Then after working with him the entire offseason, he turned him over to Romeo Crennel and you can see the results that have made him a major factor in the revamped defense this season.

Then there’s the case of Shaun Smith who got the message of Haley’s “play outside the box” memo. So he implemented some clever mind tactics that had opposing lineman screaming foul. Either way, Haley has his guys buying in. Just take a look at how the Chiefs have distributed the ball this season. Fourteen different players have already gotten their hands on the ball offensively, making this Charlie Weis led offense anything but predictable. And just for more emphasis on the matter, can you guess who the Chiefs number one target in the passing game has been this season?

Chiefs Rookie Tight End Tony Moeaki has made the most of his opportunities this season.
Getty Images



Then there’s the play of the kid from Iowa. Former Hawkeye, Tight End Tony Moeaki, is not going to win you many fantasy points, but his presence on third downs and in the red zone has been immeasurable to the success of this offense.

But the cherry on top has to be the scouting department’s evaluation of Dexter McCluster. This guy is a tweener that could have easily slipped through the cracks, but Pioli and his staff recognized his value very early on in their off season discussions.

He’s averaging nearly eight yards every time he touches the ball. In all, he’s touched the ball 26 times running and receiving. Plus he’s lined up in the Wildcat formation to either run or hand the ball off to one of his teammates.

But the little guy doesn’t need to touch the ball to affect the game – his mere presence on the field is enough to create havoc for any defense.

But this is who the Chiefs are. They don’t have Pro Bowl quarterback or a diva wide receiver. They don’t have a “go-to guy” or any one player on the defense that you can point to for their drastic turnaround. No, these guys are just part of a well coached Chiefs football team.

The group Pioli and Haley have assembled are team guys and each share that “outside the box” approach to playing winning football.

And although many of the Chiefs coaching fraternity may not approve of Haley’s risk taking game in and game out, it matters very little to the men whom Haley asks to play with that reckless abandonment. Those would be his players. They don’t seem to mind one bit.


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