Speaking at the 2011 NFL Combine in Indianapolis, Kansas City Chiefs Head Coach Todd Haley took the podium around 12:15 p.m. and immediately opened the floor to questions.
Adam Teicher of the Kansas City Star kicked things off with the following question: "Todd, are you going to call the offensive plays?"
What happened next was a five minute and 46 second response that never answered the question, but did provide a lot of information.
These long answers, or responses, are nothing new for Haley. Back in October, Haley went on ESPN's Jim Rome Is Burning and was asked a question. Haley's answer wasn't simple. In fact, his answer took three minutes and nine seconds.
When a head coach gives this kind of response, even if the question is not directly answered, a lot of insight into the coach’s inner thinking can be found. So without further ado let’s get to the answer Haley gave Teicher at the combine, followed by my interpretation of the response.
“Adam, you’re relentless. What I will say on that is that I'm truly excited about the steps we were able to take this offseason with the appointment of Bill Muir as offensive coordinator. Quickly on Bill, a guy that's been in the league for 40-plus years, has been a defensive coordinator [and] an offensive coordinator in the league at different places, [and] has won a Super Bowl as a coordinator. I'm really excited about the opportunity and the ability, in a difficult situation, again, a pretty thorough search, both in-house and out.”
"I've got a couple of really good guys on staff already in Mo Carthon, who has been in that position and has been one of my close friends, co-worker and peers more than anyone else on staff going back to the New York Jets. Mo is a great coach. He's been a big part of what we've been able to do successfully throughout the team. He's the assistant head coach. He's had such a big impact on our running game, in the development of Jamaal Charles, integrating Thomas Jones into the mix, and the continued development of some of the guys already on our roster.”
"It was a difficult decision but Bill Muir is deserving of the opportunity. He will do a great job. He's already off to a fast start. He runs a tight ship. But, again, one of the important factors in that decision for me, going into the future, was the development of not only our players, which has been going very well, but the development of our coaching staff.”
"One of the things that I'm really excited about with our staff is the mix of veteran coaches like Maurice [Carthon], Bill Muir, Gary Gibbs, Emmitt Thomas, some of those guys, and then an up-and-coming group of bright, young coaches that have a real future in the NFL. The development of those guys will be very critical to the Kansas City Chiefs success. It takes the right fit and mix, so to speak, to allow that to happen.”
"I think it's happening on defense with our young coaches on defense like Otis Smith, Adam Zimmer, Anthony Pleasant, and I know it will really begin to happen with our young offensive coaches like Richie Anderson, Bernie Parmalee, Nick Sirianni [and] Pat Perles. So I'm excited about Bill Muir.”
"In addition, to be able to get a guy like Jim Zorn, who though we've never worked together, he's a guy who I've always admired from afar. I've always been very, very impressed with Jim and the work he has done with quarterbacks specifically. Along with what I just spoke about the development of our coaches, the other equally most important aspect of these hiring’s was that we got somebody to specifically coach Matt Cassel and our quarterbacks because their development is also equally critical to our future success. I just thought it was very important to have truly a quarterback coach, who has a unique perspective.”
"One of the top quarterback coaches in the league, in my opinion, from the standpoint of getting guys better both mentally and physically, The physical part is a big aspect of this because there are very few quarterback coaches in the league, in my opinion it's like the golf swing, you can see something's wrong at times with different quarterbacks but how you go about correcting, improving and changing is a delicate line with quarterbacks on any level. I'm really excited about Jim Zorn. He's got head coaching experience in the league which was another important aspect of offering him the job.”
"But No. 1 is coaching the quarterbacks; he's very good from an offensive standpoint, ideas and game planning. He's been there and done it. Played the position for 11 years in the NFL. Coached in college for another nine or 10 years and I think we came into the league about the same time in 1997 or so as coaches. This is an experienced guy, energetic and excited about the opportunity.”
"I really feel like we made progress as a staff and I feel like we've done that each and every year. The changes have become less, which is important also. When you start in late February like I did a couple years ago, and this is no disrespect to anyone who has coached for us, but it takes a little time to get this thing the way you want it and then when there's changes that come up it makes it a little more difficult. But I'm really happy with the way things went and I'm excited to see how it all plays out."
Wow, after taking in that response for a few days, there are several remarks that stick out to me.
First, Haley discusses his excitement about the mix of young and veteran coaches throughout his staff, but at the same time says that it was, “a difficult decision but Bill Muir is deserving of the opportunity.”
To me that sounds like Bull Muir was not the first choice for Haley as his offensive coordinator. However, I do not think Haley was looking outside of the current Chiefs staff.
My feeling is that Haley thinks there is a young coach, perhaps Nick Sirianni, who could be a good offensive coordinator but is not ready for the position at this time.
I believe that Muir, who is 68, was a temporary hire in order to buy the Chiefs some development time with their young staff.
Perhaps Haley is surrounding Sirianni with several veteran coaches in Carthon, Muir and Zorn, so that he can be groomed into the offensive coordinator position. By doing this Sirianni can learn the running game from Carthon, the inner workings of the offensive line from Muir and the passing game from Zorn and Haley.
The focus by Todd Haley to not only develop his players but his coaching staff as well, is something I feel is drastically under-appreciated in the NFL. It shows that Haley truly understands what it takes to be a good head coach in the NFL.
By focusing on developing his staff, Haley is ensuring success in Kansas City for years to come. All of the powerhouse teams throughout the history of the NFL have had huge coaching trees following them.
The Marty Schottenheimer Tree includes: Bill Cowher, Mike Mularky, Marvin Lewis, Tony Dungy and Herm Edwards. The Mike Holmgren Tree includes: Jon Gruden, Steve Mariucci and Andy Reid. The Bill Parcells Tree includes: Bill Belichick, Romeo Crennel, Tom Coughlin and Todd Haley. The coaching trees go on and on and Haley wants one of his own.
So to get back to the original question by Adam Teicher, “Todd, are you going to call the offensive plays?"
Haley is the only man who knows and will eventually answer that question. However, until Haley’s true offensive coordinator is groomed properly, I believe Haley, not Bill Muir, will be calling the offensive plays in 2011.