Haley's in Charge

KANSAS CITY, MO - All week Todd Haley was the hot topic in the NFL. After "Snub Gate" put all the attention of last weekends loss on the second year head coach, he went back to the basics this week in practice. That bold move paid dividends as his Chiefs routed the Cardinals 31-13 and now his team sits atop the AFC West.

Don't tell me that Haley doesn't have some Bill Parcells in him. His mentor had to be proud of the way he handled his team this week after losing back to back division road games that saw their lead in the division disappear.

Haley took a lot of grief for what happened last Sunday. Today, he should get an equal amount of attention for the way he put the onus of last week's bitter defeat squarely on his shoulders.

The Chiefs came out Sunday with an attitude and fire that had been missing in recent weeks. That they were able to put up 31 points against a very opportunistic Cardinals defense was very impressive.

Sure, the Cardinals had lost four games in a row coming into Arrowhead. But a team that wants to go to the playoffs should be able to dissect a struggling opponent at home.

Haley deserves major kudos for pushing aside his issues with offensive coordinator Charlie Weis this week. The two reportedly have been bickering behind the scene. The dispute has been rumbling since the Texans game.

But whatever was said behind closed doors, the two strong-minded coaches designed a solid offensive attack that saw them throw the ball 24 times and run it 29. That's the kind of balance that had been lacking in back-to-back road losses at Oakland and Denver.

Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel threw another pair of touchdowns to Dwayne Bowe. On the season, the embattled signal caller has now thrown 18 on the season. Combine that with just four interceptions and one could argue that Cassel is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL.

Bowe now has 11 touchdowns on the season, and if there is one man that is responsible for his breakout performance, it could be Haley.

Earlier in the week, Cardinals' receiver Larry Fitzgerald sang the praises of his former offensive coordinator. After Bowe scored his second touchdown, Haley was the first to get in his face to unleash the kind of smile that shows the respect he has for his suddenly viable All Pro receiver.

It just goes to show that his impact as a head coach is making stars out of his offensive playmakers. In one offseason under Haley, Bowe, Cassel, rookie tight end Tony Moeaki and running back Jamaal Charles have shined under Haley's tutelage.

Matt Cassel has thrived under Todd Haley's confidence and leadership.
Getty Images.

Some credit should also go to Weis, but it's Haley – who has grown so much this season – that deserves much more of the praise. Weis was supposed to be a genius. On the other hand, many felt Haley would fail in his second year.

But that's not been the case. Sure, the team had a pair of disappointing stretches on the road. However, at home, they're now 5-0 and could run the table. Last time they did that was in 2003 when the won the AFC West.

It was also the last time the Chiefs had a home playoff game.

Still, Haley's steady hand on the sidelines today likely had much to do with his familiarity of the Cardinals. Sometimes that can be a detriment, but that wasn't the case on Sunday as Haley guided his team through some muddy waters.

Even though Haley said this week that this wasn't a must win, had the Chiefs lost it might have put a dagger into their postseason hopes. Doubt would have creeped in and the national experts would have likely handed the AFC West crown to the surging San Diego Chargers.

That's not the case now. With six games left in the season, Haley has his team in control of their own playoff destiny. Should they win out, they'll likely get a first round bye.

That's not very realistic, but if they can finish with a 4-12 mark down the stretch, that would give them ten wins and likely lock up the AFC West.

It's hard to fathom that a playoff game in Kansas City was even possible this season. But it is and Haley, more than any other person in this organization, has proven to be a more gifted leader than anyone thought he'd be at this stage of his coaching tenure.

Right now, he's the team's MVP.

WarpaintIllustrated.com Top Stories