Chiefs Need Haley's Attitude

People still can't stop talking about how different the Chiefs are going to be under Scott Pioli compared to Carl Peterson, but the biggest change has nothing to do with the front office. That's because Todd Haley is going to flip the coaching philosophy at Arrowhead Stadium on its ear in a way most of us have never experienced.

Consider that for 18 of the last 20 years, the Chiefs have been coached by men who were largely regarded as "player's coaches." Marty Schottenheimer, Dick Vermeil and Herm Edwards all had great big soft spots in their hearts and often showed it.

For 10 years Marty couldn't stop talking about gleams, gave inspiring locker-room speeches and practically rubbed noses with any number of players. Vermeil treated his players like sons, popped vintages with them, babied Dante Hall, Trent Green and Eddie Kennison and squeezed more tears than anyone can count. Herm Edwards kept practices short, spewed more positive vibes than is humanly possible, and made everyone feel great about themselves no matter the score.

The Chiefs were good enough, they were smart enough, and gosh darn it, people liked them!

The only problem with that philosophy is that daily affirmations don't win Super Bowls. Should we really be surprised the Chiefs haven't won a playoff game in 15 years? There just wasn't enough tough love going around.

A lack of tough love let the 1998 Chiefs get out of control under Schottenheimer, who lost control of the locker room and eventually resigned. A lack of tough love prompted Vermeil's loyalty to override his logic on any number of cases – Greg Robinson, Eric Hicks, Samie Parker, take your pick. A lack of tough love gave Larry Johnson license to walk all over Herm Edwards.

Too many hugs, not enough Haley-style authority. Now it's all about to change. At least we can hope it will, anyway.

I'm talking, of course, about the way Haley has handled players who get a bit too big for their spandex britches in the past. Everyone is familiar with his confrontations with Terrell Owens in Dallas and Anquan Boldin in Arizona, not to mention Kurt Warner. To put it bluntly, it appears Haley isn't afraid to mix it up with a player, and won't put up with anyone who reflects poorly on the team.

If Haley is who we think he is – a chip off the old Bill Parcells block – the locker room at One Arrowhead Drive is about to be shaken up like never before. Unlike previous regimes, no player will be coddled, no individual will be placed before the team, and an environment will be created where the head coach is both feared and respected.

That doesn't mean Haley is just going to scream at anyone who drops a pass or blows an assignment. He's not Gunther Cunningham. But when players act in an unprofessional manner, sometimes they need to be reminded of who's really in charge.

So the question now becomes – what does Haley do with Larry Johnson and Tony Gonzalez? Recently, both have done their best to distract attention from the real news, the Chiefs' search for a new general manager and head coach.

For two years now, the way Johnson has conducted himself on and off the field has embarrassed the Chiefs. Will Haley put up with a player who spikes the ball on the field after being thrown for a loss? We know Edwards was far too lenient when that act first went down in September 2007, against the Vikings at Arrowhead.

How long will Haley wait until he's had enough of a player who shows up late to team meetings and involves himself in altercations out on the town? We know Edwards waited far too long. By the time Johnson was suspended last season, it was too little, too late.

And now Johnson has reiterated his desire to play elsewhere. Why? What is the point of trying to jump ship when it's changing course midstream?

We can't compare Gonzalez to Johnson, of course, but in his own way the future Hall of Fame tight end has done plenty to embarrass the franchise. Publicly requesting a trade at midseason last year, and then actually turning down two trade offers, didn't look good. We don't need to recount the specifics of Gonzalez's quest for individual records.

With the right head coach – perhaps the Haley brand – it's entirely possible none of the above ever takes place. Can you picture Ben Coates whining about some insignificant record that will be broken sooner or later anyway? What about Curtis Martin, spiking the ball after a bad play with Parcells on the sideline?

While we are talking about two totally different running backs, with totally different attitudes, just imagine the attitude Johnson might have now if he had been drafted and matured professionally under a coach like Parcells. We might be talking about a completely different player at this point.

With any luck, that is the type of player the Chiefs be cultivating with Todd Haley now coaching the team. He'll save the hugs for the Super Bowl celebration.

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