Then they spent the offseason signing a trio of players from the Baltimore Ravens (Jared Gaither, Kelly Gregg, and Le’Ron McClain) and added the No. 2 wide receiver they needed in Steve Breaston. But everything got turned around on them this season.
Losing S Eric Berry, Charles and Cassel to injuries was a major blow. If that wasn’t enough, Haley was on his third different offensive coordinator in three seasons, and he was rumored to have a poor working relationship with team GM Scott Pioli, which left the team’s chemistry suspect.
It was clear his days in Kansas City were numbered.
There were two points that really stood out in his downfall.
First was the Chiefs final 2011 preseason game against the Packers. Typically, most teams sit their starters early in that final preseason game in order to give their backups one final chance to earn a roster spot. But the Chiefs kept their starters in for most of the game. Even after Cassel was injured and had to be replaced by QB Tyler Palko, it was clear that he was only on the bench because he was hurt. Every other starter appeared to be on the field well into the fourth quarter. And they still lost to a collection of backups by a score of 20-19. This game made it clear that the Chiefs weren’t as good as I expected. And the decision by Haley to play his starters for so much of the game was baffling.
Second was Haley’s final game as Chiefs head coach — a 37-10 beating at the hands of the Jets on Sunday. Now the Jets have a very good defense, but it was shocking that the Chiefs were held to minus-19 yards of offense in the first half. That’s an amazingly bad performance. When I first noticed that stat on Sunday afternoon, I commented that someone should be benched or fired for it. Kansas City mayor Sly James thought the same thing, and tweeted that he wanted to see backup QB Ricky Stanzi. And while Stanzi never played, Haley was fired the next day.
Recently Haley had mentioned in private that he considered resigning so he could speak freely about the chaotic atmosphere in the Chiefs organization. While Haley might not deserve all the blame for such chaos, it’s hard to imagine he deserves none of it. I don’t know if Pioli is the right GM for the job, but something had to change in Kansas City, and I’m not surprised the first move was Haley’s firing.
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