Was Haley Over Aggressive?

You have to applaud the aggression Todd Haley wrote into his game plan this week. But if he had stuck with the conservative game plan we saw early in the season, would the Chiefs have left Indy on Sunday with a different result?

Haley was aggressive, and you can't fault him for that. But when coaching with this conservative "don't put the ball on Cassel's arm" approach, he simply can't put the offense in a position where they are forced to play from behind early in the first quarter.

The onsides kick appeared to be a well researched move on the part of Haley and special teams coordinator Steve Hoffman. As Haley said in the post game conference, "Going back to 2000, teams that have opened with an onside (kick) have had +60% winning percentage whether they got it or not. We felt good about that play. We knew we were going to have to probably steal a possession during this game – a couple of different ways."

Look, if Succop kicks the ball ten yards, then the game probably turns out a little different and we are praising Haley's crafty coaching as opposed to overanalyzing his blunders. But the same logic can be applied to all of Haley's risky business.

In the first half, the Chiefs had an opportunity to tie up the contest with a short field goal but Haley -- perhaps blinded by the fire in his eyes -- recklessly opted to go after 7. Again, if Cassel looks off the one receiver that is covered, we are talking about the intestinal fortitude of Haley, not the missed opportunity.

My main problem on the fourth down attempt was not necessarily the decision to go for it, but rather the fact that Haley and Charlie Weis went away from the running game that got them there in the first place. The Chiefs needed two yards, not a forced pass in the end zone.

So is this a sign of the offensive coaching staff's lack of confidence in the young running back out of Texas?

A late second quarter fumble may explain the coach's conservative usage of Charles.

Just as Weis began to funnel the offense through Charles, the third-year running back coughed it up inside the red zone, killing another possible scoring drive. Charles was not seen after the fumble and neither were any signs of life from the offense as a whole.

Ultimately, the three points surrendered would have allowed the Chiefs to go for the 1st down on the last possession of the game, instead of forcing a struggling Succop to attempt a 51 yard field goal he has yet to prove he is capable of making.

Charlie Weis called a very poor game for the Chiefs on Sunday.
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Regardless of the outcome, however, Haley is allowed to bet the farm because Romeo Crennel's defense is providing him with some considerable cushion. Haley doesn't attempt the onside kick or go for conversions on fourth down without the security and confidence he has found in his defense.

But as Sunday proved, a staunch defense is not going to be enough.

The yelling and cursing Chiefs fans have witnessed from Haley the last year and a half is indicative of his coaching style. Haley is fiery, but overall his philosophy is that an aggressive approach is what will lead his young squad to victory.

Each week we learn a little bit more about Coach Haley; who he is as a coach and what he believes will lead this team to victory. But Haley's most glaring attribute at this point seems to be the demeanor and attitude that, each week, he comes to win.

Why did Terrence Copper get more reps than Chris Chambers?
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Week-in and week-out however, if this team wants to continue to add ticks to the winning column, and allow Haley to be the aggressive coach he is, QB Matt Cassel and his group of receivers are going to have to get on the same page.

Haley's aggression didn't lose this game -- that lies squarely at the cleats of the QB and his shoddy group of wide receivers. But the defense won't be able to continue saving the day without some sort of down the field production. If the offense continues to struggle, Haley will continue to be handcuffed.

Some of the decisions made by Haley on Sunday proved to cost the Chiefs dearly in the end but it also sent a message to his team. When Haley puts his neck on the line, regardless of the outcome, it tells his players that he too is in the lion's den with them.

By taking these risks, Haley is building camaraderie with his players, which in turn should lead them to play harder, faster, and with more aggression.

With the loss of both the Chargers and Denver on Sunday, it gives the Chiefs a two game lead over the entire AFC West. If they hope to keep this lofty distance, in Houston next Sunday they will have to take all the chances they can get.

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