Kansas City Chiefs: Why Firing Todd Haley Was a Mistake

Brett GeringCorrespondent INovember 9, 2012

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 11:  Kansas City Chiefs head coach Todd Haley stands on the sidelines during a game against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on December 11, 2011 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

Todd Haley, now the Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator, will pace the opposing sideline of his former team on Monday Night Football. If Clark Hunt could have foreseen the Kansas City Chiefs' nosedive of disappointment this season, Haley's home away from home would still be located at One Arrowhead Drive. 

In his three seasons as Kansas City's head coach, the hot-headed play-caller posted a 19-26 regular-season record.

He verbally jousted with starting quarterback Matt Cassel and accused general manager Scott Pioli of in-house wiretapping—a claim echoed by former employees (The Kansas City Star).

Aware of Peyton Manning's knack for surgical opening drives, Haley once called an onside kick to begin a game. He also presumed that Josh McDaniels was purposely running up the score on his team, thus greeting McDaniels' empty postgame handshake with a scolding finger more pointed than junkyard Doberman ears.

A sub-.500 record and wildly erratic antics aren't ringing endorsements. But looking in the rearview, that fiery bravado is exactly what the Chiefs are in dire need of. 

Haley's on- and off-field persona isn't everybody's cup of tea. In fact, he would probably label you a wuss for drinking it, then lob a Red Bull and Budweiser toward your unsuspecting hands.

At first glance (and second...and third), he looks like the kind of guy that would throw a bottle in an '80s bar fight after somebody yelled, "Skynyrd sucks!"

Make no mistake, Todd Haley's mind ticks with a special flavor of crazy.

But before 2011's slew of crippling injuries, his off-kilter approach sparked a 2010 playoff run in Kansas City.

This year's squad, which largely consists of 2010's starters, has yet to capture a lead throughout regulation in eight weeks of football—nine, counting the bye week. To be meticulously critical, Kansas City's scoreboards have cycled through 480 minutes—excluding overtime—and the Chiefs have never established a lead.

Romeo Crennel—the Chiefs' current head coach and Haley's former defensive coordinator—is universally beloved by his players. After humbling the previously undefeated Green Bay Packers, Crennel's likability boded well for him.

Two wins and eight losses later, that same compliment has regressed to a stigma. 

Sloppy fundamentals plague an anemic offense that commits turnovers and penalties on cue. The defense regularly blows coverages and looks as inspired as your grandpa filing taxes. 

By all means, Crennel is a stand-up guy. But when given too much responsibility, he drops the ball—a trend that his team has seemingly adopted after committing 29 turnovers. 

Haley's the polar opposite of his successor: He's a hard-nosed disciplinarian that, at times, rubs people the wrong way. But when combing through the list of today's successful coaches, Haley's no-nonsense demeanor isn't as atypical as one may think. From Tom Coughlin to Mike Tomlin—who Haley currently answers to—the NFL's most revered minds are a little rough around the edges. 

When the last whistle punctuated the Chiefs' 2011 season, Kansas City had turned the ball over 28 times—one fewer than its ongoing tally heading into Week 10. 

Despite cornerstones Jamaal Charles and Eric Berry being removed due to season-ending injuries—along with Tony Moeaki—Haley's club still managed a 4-4 record at this time last season. The local injury bug then chewed its way through the quarterback chart, and Tyler Palko started the following four matchups.

You know the rest.

But even with a roster that was ruthlessly decimated by cringe-worthy injuries, the Chiefs still showed a hint of competitiveness. 

Strike a line through Charles' name in Week 3, and Crennel's 2012 team would not only be disappointing, but winless. 

Two stubborn heads butting ultimately led to a power-hungry general manager handing Haley his walking papers. And as long as Pioli oversees the organization's day-to-day activities, fans' Sunday daydreams of Bill Cowher or Jon Gruden scanning the local real estate market will never see the light of reality. 

According to forecasts, this week's Steelers game is expected to dip to 43 degrees. 

But if Todd Haley dishes out his revenge, Monday night's low will reside in Scott Pioli's press box. 

Statistics provided by NFL.com.