After the work he did in his second season as the head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs, it seemed unlikely Todd Haley could be an in-season causality.
Yet, in his first NFL head-coaching job, Haley has seen his time in Kansas City end with three games remaining in the third year of his four-year contract. Haley was fired after months of speculation of a rift between him and Kansas City general manager Scott Pioli and a day after the Chiefs were blown out, 37-10, at the New York Jets. Coincidentally, it was with the Jets where Haley and Pioli began their working relationship in the 1990s.
The loss Sunday was Kansas City's fifth defeat of 27 points or more this season. The Chiefs are 5-8. There was a school of thought that Haley would get a pass because the Chiefs have been decimated by injuries and have seen stars Jamaal Charles, Eric Berry, Tony Moeaki and quarterback Matt Cassel go out for the season. Plus, some thought Haley built up some good faith by leading the Chiefs to a surprise AFC West title in 2010 in his second season as they went 10-6. Kansas City won a total of 10 games in the three previous seasons.
Yet, in the end, last season’s performance didn’t buy Haley any time. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Haley joins former Minnesota coach Brad Childress and former Dallas coach Wade Phillips as coaches who were fired the season after they won their first division title.
In the end, Haley got into trouble for a few reasons. It started with the team’s inability to stay in games. The blowouts got to management and to the fan base.
Plus, Haley has had a long history of having trouble getting along with people he worked with, even if they were temporary flare-ups. In addition to his reported issues with Pioli, Haley went through three offensive coordinators in Kansas City.
He fired Chan Gailey (now the head coach in Buffalo) during camp of his first year in Kansas City. Haley took over for the rest of the year. He then hired old friend Charlie Weis to run the offense last year. The Chiefs’ offense had great success under Weis, but he took off after less than a year on the job to take the same position at the University of Florida amid speculation that Weis and Haley couldn’t get along.
Both parties denied it, and Weis said the move was family-related. Last week, Weis returned to the area as the head coach at Kansas. Bill Muir became Haley’s offensive coordinator after a long search this offseason.
Haley -- who had dust-ups with players as an assistant in Arizona and in Dallas -- had some issues with players in Kansas City as well. He and Cassel had their issues on occasion during games.
Haley’s in-game decisions were often questioned. Sometimes, he gambled wildly. Other times, he became conservative.
His training camp approach this summer was also questioned. Because of the lockout, Haley used training camp as basically extended walk-though practices. He even used the first few preseason games that way. However, Kansas City’s starters played extensively in the final preseason game (it is traditionally a game where starters play little if at all), and Moeaki blew out his knee.
Kansas City was beaten by a combined score of 89-10 in the first two games of the regular season. This team did fight during this lost season, and Haley deserves credit for that.
He is a good football man, and I think he has a future. There has already been speculation he could be in the mix for the head-coaching job at Arizona State.
Wherever he ends up, Haley must take solace that he did some good things in Kansas City, but he also has to learn from his mistakes he made there.