Chiefs on pace of reaching goal

I had an opportunity to catch up with Kansas City Chiefs coach Todd Haley on Thursday afternoon. Like the past two lengthy conversations I’ve had with Haley in recent months, he was extremely upbeat.

What makes Haley’s positive attitude significant this time is that he has results. In June, Haley was happy after a strong offseason. In August, Haley was pumped after a strong training camp. In mid-October, Haley is pleased because his team is 3-1.

Like most NFL coaches, Haley breaks down the season in four quarters. Haley wants his team to go 3-1 in each quarter of the season.

“If you win three out of four games every quarter, you will be in the playoffs,” Haley said. “I’m extremely happy we have reached our goal after the first quarter.”

Here’s some other topics Haley hit on Thursday:

Feeling good after the Colts’ loss: Haley made it clear the only reasons his team flew to Indianapolis was to win. But after his defense stood up big against Peyton Manning and the Chiefs competed all day, it gave Haley and his team confidence moving forward.

“We’ve improved each and every week,” Haley said. “We didn’t play at our best we were still in the game. To me, that’s a good sign.”

The onsides kick: Haley opted to start the Colts’ game with an onsides kick. It didn’t not work and the Colts ended up kicking field goal to take a 3-0 lead. Haley knew that the Colts have long been the best team in the NFL on scoring in their first possession, so he figured the Colts could have scored even if the Chiefs kicked it away.

“I told the team the night before the game that I going to do it,” Haley said. “I told them the game would not be won if it worked and it wouldn’t be lost if it didn’t work.”

Backing up Cassel: Quarterback Matt Cassel has become a whipping boy in Kansas City despite the Chiefs’ fast start. Haley clearly thinks the intense criticism is unwarranted.

Haley credits Cassel for leading the team to the 3-1 record, for working with the offensive line (he’s been sacked just three times) and for working to improve every day.

“I haven’t been in the habit of defending players but for Matt, (the criticism) has been a little over the top here,” Haley said. “The No. 1 thing I look at quarterbacks is wins and losses. We’re first in the NFL in negative plays and Matt has a lot to do with that. He is getting better every week.”

The defense: Haley saw this unit start to play well last season and it has carried over to this season under the guidance of coordinator Romeo Crennel. Veterans like defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey and linebacker Derrick Johnson and rookie safety Eric Berry has made a huge impact on this unit.

The Chiefs are No. 1 in the league in allowing plays of 10 or more yards. Also, Kansas City scored 27 points off turnovers while not allowing any points off of turnovers.

“It’s a full team effort,” Haley said. “We still have work to do, but it’s all part of the process.”