Todd Haley's Best Move as Chiefs Head Coach: Letting Gailey Call the Plays
The last few weeks have been fairly quiet leading up to the beginning of training camp this week in River Falls for the Kansas City Chiefs.
And just when I thought the biggest news leading up to the opening of camp would be the waiving of kicker Connor Barth, Kansas City Star writer Adam Teicher reported earlier this week the best news I've heard since owner Clark Hunt announced Scott Pioli as the team's new GM.
Teicher reported Monday that new head coach Todd Haley has made up his mind for 2009, Chan Gailey will be making the team's offensive playcalls this season.
From the moment Pioli introduced Haley as the team's head coach, many fans thought the Chiefs were destined to run the same pass happy offense Haley ran all the way to the Super Bowl last season in Arizona.
These same fans lobbied back in April for the Chiefs to draft Michael Crabtree or acquire a playmaking receiver like Anquan Boldin, or a veteran former superstar like Torry Holt or Marvin Harrison.
And while moves like those might make sense were Haley to insist upon implementing the exact same offense he ran last season, they simply don't make sense given the rest of the personnel on this Chiefs team.
In fact, during his tenure as the offensive coordinator with the Cardinals, Haley was blessed with a veteran Super Bowl winning quarterback in Kurt Warner and two of the NFL's best young receivers in Larry Fitzgerald and Boldin.
In those two seasons (2007-2008), aside from a quarterback battle between Warner and former Heisman trophy winner Matt Leinart, Haley never had to alter his offensive philosophy for personnel or injury reasons, and his offense was a perfect fit for the talent in place when he became the offensive coordinator.
On the other hand, Gailey has spent 15 NFL seasons as both an offensive coordinator and head coach with five different teams, including the Chiefs. He also spent six seasons away from the NFL as head coach at Georgia Tech.
If Gailey is accustomed to anything, it's ever-changing personnel and dealing with the knuckleballs a long season can throw at you.
For this reason, it shouldn't be any surprise that Gailey is regarded across the NFL and college ranks as one of the most innovative and resourceful coaches in the game. He is a coach who gets the most out of the talent that is available to him, and has proven he can win with that talent.
Chiefs fans got to see Gailey's resourcefulness in action last season when starting quarterback Brodie Croyle went down with a season-ending injury. Gailey implemented a spread offense that not only took advantage of the things backup Tyler Thigpen did well, but it lessened the impact of things he didn't.
When it comes down to it, while Haley and Pioli may be shrewd judges of talent, Gailey is the best coach on the Chiefs staff. And while Haley was able to parlay his success the past two seasons into his new job with the Chiefs, Gailey has proven over a 35 year coaching career that he should be calling the plays.
So what does this decision mean for the Chiefs offense in 2009?
Well, if Gailey continues to do what he does best, it means he'll design and call plays that will take advantage of what his offensive playmakers do best:
- Matt Cassel will be asked to manage the Chiefs offense, make smart decisions, and move the team methodically down the field. He will not be asked to throw the team on his back and sling the ball all over the field.
- Larry Johnson will pound the defense 15-20 times a game and gain at least 1,000 yards on the ground.
- Mark Bradley, Bobby Engram, and Dwayne Bowe will be asked to run solid routes and gain yards after the catch. At least one of them should have 1,000 yards receiving and don't be surprised if Bowe has his best season as a pro.
- Jamaal Charles will be this team's Reggie Bush and get 5-10 touches a game running the ball and catch at least 30-40 balls in the passing game.
- Brad Cottam and Tony Curtis will primarily be asked to block well in the running game and make the occasional chain-moving catch on third down or in the red zone.
All things considered, this could mean a better-than-expected season for Chiefs fans. With Cassel at quarterback, a healthy Johnson in the backfield, and the addition of veterans like Engram and Mike Goff, Gailey has more to work with in 2009 than he did in 2008.
Sure, the Chiefs let go of the NFL's best tight in Tony Gonzalez, but they have improved the receiving corps, the offensive line, and young talented quarterback that's a major upgrade over anyone who took a snap for the team last season.
The Chiefs will be better in 2009, and it will be due in large part to a humble Todd Haley letting his best coach do his job.
Training camp is here...let the fun begin!
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