Haley's Plan

It's been a few days since the Chiefs resounding 27-13 victory over the St. Louis Rams on Sunday. But what not many people are talking about is just how far Head Coach Todd Haley has come in his second season in Kansas City.

A year ago he came to the Chiefs with a fire and brimstone attitude. For that he caught the ire of some of his players and had fans scratching their heads and questioning if he was really the man to resurrect this once proud football franchise.

But this season, with his team atop the AFC West with two games to play, it appears that the second year head coach knew far more than anyone else about his football team.

Shortly after General Manager Scott Pioli hired Head Coach Todd Haley in February of 2009, All Pro Guard Brian Waters flew up from his Texas home unannounced to meet his new head coach.

However, Haley wanted no part of that meeting. Reluctantly, the two men spoke briefly outside of his office. And in the aftermath of that chat, it became clear; Haley wasn't about to listen to anything his players had to say.

And that refusal to talk with Waters probably had something to do with what Haley saw on film from the 2008 Chiefs season. He knew early on that it wasn't going to be easy to change the losing culture and the undisciplined approach the players had on game days under the previous coaching regime.

Thus after the brief exchange, Waters left in a huff. Then he spoke to the Kansas City Star about the flap. Waters told the local newspaper that Haley wasn't interested in meeting with him and uttered the infamous quote that set the tone for Haley's 2009 season.

"22 guys off the streets could win two games," Waters relayed to the Kansas City Star about the reference Haley made about the Chiefs 2008 win total.

Now some 22 months later all that has changed. With two more wins this season, the Chiefs can claim their first division title since the 2003 season. And that's because Haley has successfully guided his team out of the abyss.

And when you look at their most recent victory in St. Louis, it's clear that Haley's approach at the beginning of his coaching tenure in Kansas City has paid huge dividends for the Chiefs success in 2010.

"We're trying to instill and create and lay the foundation of a tough-minded football team," Haley said to reporters on Monday afternoon.

And he's certainly accomplished that this season. But that's just part of what it takes to turn around the culture of a football team, especially one as bad as the Chiefs.

If Kansas City wins on Sunday against the visiting Tennessee Titans, the Chiefs will climb their season win total to ten games. That's the same total of wins they had the previous three years. And that's because, to Haley's credit, players on his 53-man roster understand their role on this football team.

"I think it's an undervalued aspect of what we have to do as coaches and what players have to do," he said.

"But I think the more they understand their role within the team and when it's clear to them what they are supposed to do and then they execute and put their focus into it but they have to understand the role first before they can really focus on what they have to do in that role."

Well it's become abundantly clear that his players are doing just that. On Sunday by maintaining their one game lead over San Diego, they showed themselves that they are a good football team. And if they remain united, they can overcome any obstacle in their path.

Now they're in a position to win the division, which is something, not many people felt they could do. And that's because the players have accepted the things that Haley's been preaching to them for nearly two years.

"I'm just seeing more and more guys that really get it," Haley said.

WARPAINT ILLUSTRATED MESSAGE BOARDS:
Is Todd Haley KC's MVP this season?

EDITORS NOTE: Warpaint Illustrated Publisher Nick Athan will be subbing in for Nick Wright on 610 Sports Friday afternoon December 24th from 2:00 to 6:00 PM.

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