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Examiner
  • Porter: Haley continues to defy traditional wisdom and win

  • Todd Haley might catch a great deal of flak for his insistence of eschewing points and going for first downs on fourth down, but the second-year head coach is showing the potential that made him such a hot coaching commodity during his stint as offensive coordinator in Arizona.

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  • Todd Haley might catch a great deal of flak for his insistence of eschewing points and going for first downs on fourth down, but the second-year head coach is showing the potential that made him such a hot coaching commodity during his stint as offensive coordinator in Arizona.
    From the onset of his first two years as the head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs, Haley has said repeatedly he wants to set an identity with the Chiefs that is personified by his willingness to defy traditional football wisdom.
    And those gambles don’t always pan out, as it didn’t during the third quarter of the Chiefs’ 10-6 win over the Denver Broncos.
    Early in the quarter, Haley decided on bypassing a possible three points and attempted a fourth-and-2 conversion from the Denver 2-yard line, only to see quarterback Matt Cassel sacked for a 13-yard loss.
    “We were in four-down mode before we even crossed the 50 (yard line) in that series,” Haley said after Sunday’s game, which despite frigid temperatures drew 67,000 plus fans to Arrowhead Stadium. “We’re trying to get in a mindset there. What you can’t do is, you just can’t take a sack.
    “The thinking is, if you don’t get it there, they’re on the 1-yard line and they have to go 99 yards. That’s something we just have to do a better job of coaching in that situation.”
    The Chiefs’ defense forced Denver to punt on its next possession, but it was something that happened away from the field that served as a glowing example of why Haley’s “arrow is pointing up” in his second year at the helm.
    On the play before the third quarter gamble, Kansas City offensive tackle Barry Richardson was taken out of the game after being called for a false start penalty. An irate Richardson snatched his helmet off as he reached the team’s sideline, had a few choice words with offensive line coach Bill Muir, then shoved away an unassuming sideline assistant (special teams coach Steve Hoffman) before heading to the end of the Chiefs’ bench.
    With the Chiefs’ defense on the field holding steady, a calm, cool and collected Haley had a brief heart to heart with Richardson, his massive right tackle.
    “I think that what you are seeing out of our guys, and what is an exciting thing for me as a head coach, is we have a lot of guys that really care,” Haley said. “We had a penalty in the red (zone) and I think coach Muir and the offensive staff just wanted to calm him down. He’s a prideful guy that didn’t want to be out. He was upset with himself and that’s a good thing.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Part of coaching is more than just X’s and O’s. In the NFL, a coach and his staff has to deal with a lot of competitive egos, and has to handle each player in a different manner. Haley has grown in that department over the last two seasons, evidenced by his handling of Richardson, who was the first Chiefs’ offensive player on the field on the next possession.
    “These guys care,” Haley said, “and that is such a refreshing, positive thing out of this group. That’s what makes it so much fun to go to work every day. This is a fun group.”
    On a day when the Chiefs’ offense sputtered – the en fuego Dwayne Bowe was held without catch – coaching was at a premium.
    Weeks after a 49-29 drubbing in Denver, Haley and his staff had the Chiefs ready to claim their eighth win of the season in 12 games and stretch their AFC West division lead over San Diego to two games.
    “I told the guys this was our best week of practice,” Haley said. “We were focused. I thought we were focused (Sunday) in pre-game, which is what we’ve been doing a great job of.
    “The guys were focused and I think that’s a great compliment to the staff. I don’t think too many people were thinking about anything other than the game today.”
    The Chiefs held Blue Springs High School graduate Brandon Lloyd, the NFL’s leading receiver in yards coming into the game, to just 31 yards on two receptions. They don’t do that without good coaching, led by Haley and trickling down to his coordinators and assistants.
    “They embarrassed us last time,” said Chiefs’ cornerback Brandon Carr, who was credited with five pass breakups in the game. “We remembered that. We watched film, corrected it, and we knew we had to shut down the big plays.”

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