The Todd Haley Experiment: What the Chiefs Need To Do This Offseason

Charles PennContributor IFebruary 9, 2009

The Kansas City Chiefs have been in a coaching carousel for the past couple of weeks as Chiefs fans were anxious to see what Clark Hunt and new GM Scott Pioli are going to do about the coaching situation in Kansas City. They had a pretty good idea of which path they wanted to take, as they fired Herm Edwards a week before the Super Bowl.  Following, a dismal 2-14 season—worst in franchise history.

The Chiefs decided to wait until after the Super Bowl to get their leading candidate interviewed and end the coaching process in a hurry. 

His background alone was good enough to get the job.

On Friday morning, the Chiefs hired Todd Haley as the new head coach. You can thank Cris Collinsworth for doing his homework and research.

Todd Haley is the former Arizona Cardinals offensive coordinator that helped lead them to their first Super Bowl appearance in franchise history. He was on Bill Parcells staff with the Jets and Cowboys and as some people should know, Scott Pioli is married to Bill Parcells' daughter. He is also the son of the great Dick Haley, who was the Pittsburgh Steelers personnel director during the Steeler Super Bowl dynasty in the 1970s. 

Haley has been a long-time coaching assistant in the NFL and at 41 years old, the perfect opportunity finally came as he will try to lead the Kansas City Chiefs back to their winning ways.

He brings toughness and tenacity to his coaching to get the best out of his players. An excellent play caller that will help a lot of QBs in the NFL. Now that Haley and Pioli are the new faces of the Kansas City Chiefs organization, it's time for them to work their offseason magic to prepare this team for the 2009 NFL season.

Here's what the Chiefs need to work on in the offseason:

Who will be on Haley's coaching staff?

As far as the offensive coordinator position, Chan Gailey can stay because him and Haley could have some chemistry running the "wildcat" and "pistol" formations. The Chiefs were still able to score points on occasions with this type of offense. The only thing Haley will do with the offense is add his little twist by putting a few more formations in the playbook.

Who will run the defense?

The two-front runners are Romeo Crennel and Clancy Pendergast. Romeo Crennel was under former Patriots VP Scott Pioli and Bill Belichick's coaching staff as the defensive coordinator in New England when the Patriots won three Super Bowls. Crennel was currently fired from the Cleveland Browns. He runs a 3-4 scheme which was mostly effective in New England but in Cleveland, he never had the talent to run the defense.

Clancy Pendergast is another possible candidate as he was fired from the Arizona Cardinals on Saturday. Pendergast led the Cardinals to being the 19th best defense in the NFL.

Don't let those numbers fool you.

The Cardinals had one of the top defenses in the postseason only to come up short against Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl. Pendergast also runs a 3-4 and since he was in Arizona along with Haley, he could be another guy that can help out the Chiefs defense.

As far as Special Teams is concerned, are there really any good candidates out there?

Free Agency

The Chiefs need to go young if they want to spend on free agents. The Chiefs currently have the largest salary cap in the NFL and this offseason is the perfect time to spend on key positions that they need.

DE- Julius Peppers is the front-runner for this position. He's in his late 20's and still gets 10+ sacks a year. Peppers says he wants to be in a 3-4 scheme, but baffled his statement a bit during the Pro Bowl saying he wouldn't mind being in a 4-3 defense again, but he feels that he can do better things in a 3-4 defense. The two defensive coordinators I just mentioned could attract Peppers in coming to Kansas City. The Chiefs could get their "Jared Allen" back and the pass-rusher they desperately need. The Chiefs now hold the NFL record with the fewest sacks during a regular season.

LB- Any of the three Baltimore LB's (Suggs, Lewis, and Scott) or Karlos Dansby are possible guys the Chiefs could be looking at to help Derrick Johnson in the linebacking core. Ray Lewis is 34 years old and still playing at the top of his game, but due to his age and the history of the Chiefs going after free agents who are past their prime, he probably will not be coming to Kansas City.

Lewis would make a great impact because of his play and leadership, but the age factor and the risk of his production slipping away. If Lewis does come to KC, how will DJ fit in the 3-4 scheme? Will he go back to outside linebacker or get less playing time in the middle?

Terrell Suggs is young and has become one of the best outside LB's in the NFL. (You can thank Ray Lewis later) He has the speed and burst to get around the edge and sack the QB on different blitz packages. His tackling has improved over the years he's been in the league. Suggs would be a great compliment to Derrick Johnson.

Bart Scott will be a great fit for a 3-4 if everything goes according to plan with the new defensive coordinator in Kansas City. The playing time would be a concern because him and Derrick Johnson play the same position. He has progressed well in Baltimore as he is one of the hardest hitting linebackers in the NFL.

Karlos Dansby was the leader and biggest impact defensive player for the Arizona Cardinals. He is a great, young, tackling outside linebacker that can get to the quarterback with his speed and agility and he is also a playmaking force with his ability to force fumbles and make interceptions. I think he will be the best fit for Kansas City because he is still young and his better years are yet to come.

That is all the Chiefs need to worry about as far as making free agent acquisitions.

2009 NFL Draft

The Kansas City Chiefs have the third first-round pick in this year's draft. The Chiefs have many options they can do with the draft, but I believe this is route they should go in.

First Round: QB Mark Sanchez USC (Ranked #13 on Scouts Inc.) or OLB Aaron Curry Wake Forest (Ranked #2 on Scouts Inc.)

This selection can go either away only if GM Pioli decides not to go after a free agent linebacker. I believe he will and in that case I'm leaning towards the Chiefs drafting Mark Sanchez in the first round.

I have taken a few shots at Sanchez for coming out early. I think just because you have one spectacular game in a BCS Bowl does not mean you should declare for the draft, especially if you only started 16 games in your college career. Sanchez was average for most of the season until the thrashing he put on Penn State in the Rose Bowl.

I thought that he would actually stay at USC after hearing his post-game interview on how he loves USC and staying in the Los Angeles area. The upside to Sanchez is that he has the best arm out of all the quarterbacks in this year's draft and played in a pro-style offense under Pete Carroll.

I think the Chiefs make this selection and give Tyler Thigpen some competition before the season starts just to see if he can prove himself worthy of being the starting quarterback for the '09 season.

Aaron Curry won the Butkus award for most outstanding linebacker. Hmmm...does that sound familiar to Chiefs fans when Derrick Thomas won the award coming out of Alabama to only become one of the best outside linebackers in NFL History and one of the best franchise players in Kansas City?

Curry had 101 tackles (15 TFL), three fumble recoveries, a forced fumble, an interception to go with 2 sacks. He's a great tackler with outstanding pursuit to the football. His pass coverage and play recognition needs a little fine tuning, but other than that he will make a huge impact on the Chiefs defense.

Second Round: RB Shonn Greene Iowa and DE Michael Johnson Georgia Tech (from New England, 2nd Round Selection #47)

Since there is a possibility that Larry Johnson could be out the door in Kansas City, the Chiefs need to address the running back position. Jamaal Charles is a nice third-down back, but he is not a guy built to carry the full load in Kansas City. Shonn Greene would be a nice compliment to Charles as he can break tackles and fight for extra yards with his power. Greene rushed for over 100-yards in every game this season including the biggest win of the season for Iowa over Penn State.

Since I believe LJ will be gone, he will go to the New England Patriots for their 2009 2nd Round Pick and 2010 3rd Round Pick. The next selection would be Michael Johnson from Georgia Tech. He did not have a good bowl game vs. LSU and he did not play in the Senior Bowl. His stock dropped as a result and there might be a chance that he could slip down to this draft position.

The Chiefs would get a big plus to compliment Peppers if everything goes well in the offseason. Johnson is 6'7'' and weighs 258 lbs. with good pass rushing ability to fit a 3-4 scheme. This means Tamba Hali could be out the door at any minute.

Third Round: C/G Antoine Caldwell Alabama

Since all of the good young tackles will be gone by time this round begins, the Chiefs can start to address the center or guard position and Antoine Caldwell is the right guy to replace Niswanger in the middle or Wade Smith on the right side of the offensive line. Caldwell brings great size and strength with speed and agility to use his quick feet. He's better known as a run blocker so his pass blocking skills can use some work. He would be a great steal in the third-round for the Chiefs.

Fourth Round: RT Jason Watkins Florida

Jason Watkins did a nice job of protecting Tim Tebow while at Florida. He could be a replacement for Damion McIntosh in 2010. At 6'6'' and 310 pounds, he has great height with strong hands. Does a nice job of moving laterally and getting to the second level. His weakness could be his inconsistency and his run blocking skills. With proper player development, he could a decent right tackle for Kansas City.

Fifth Round: S Chris Clemons Clemson

He can give Jarrad Page some competition before pre-season begins. Has some playmaking ability and can make tackles. He currently runs in the low 4.5 range which might be a bit slow to play safety. Has the potential to be a solid player.

Sixth Round: CB Donald Washington Ohio State

He will be a career slot corner in the NFL. He has the potential to be decent in nickel or dime situations. Playing along side Malcolm Jenkins at Ohio State might help him stay on a roster. It will depend on his work ethic.

Seventh Round: G Jaimie Thomas Maryland

The Chiefs need somebody to a backup to Brian Waters, Antoine Caldwell, or Wade Smith.

This draft grade would get an A- for sure and with this type talent the Chiefs can be one step closer from being a playoff contender. If the Kansas City Chiefs can make the right moves in the offseason and handle the Tony Gonzalez and Larry Johnson situation well, they will be back to their winning ways in no time.

Chiefs Nation wishes you well Todd Haley and Scott Pioli. Bring us a championship back to Kansas City. Let the offseason games begin!


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