Haley's Bunch Has Heart

Now we know one thing about Todd Haley – he isn't going to let his football team believe they can't win any game they play this season. Though the Chiefs lost, 38-24, to the Baltimore Ravens Sunday, we saw enough positives to gain some respect for Haley's Bunch. We saw heart from his players, who left everything they had on the field in their 2009 opener.

Quarterback Brodie Croyle turned some heads, throwing two touchdowns and raising some questions as Kansas City prepares for their home opener at Arrowhead Stadium next Sunday against the Oakland Raiders. Should Matt Cassel, who rested his injured knee against the Ravens, remain on the bench?

Defensively, the inability of KC's cornerbacks to play bump and run coverage was an issue. It's too bad Brandon Carr and Maurice Leggett were not more physical, because if they had been, and Brandon Flowers had suited up, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco would not have thrown for over 300 yards. The Chiefs just played too soft - especially on third down.

But the failures in the secondary had everything to do with what's really going to plague the defense all season long. The Chiefs simply don't have any consistent pass rushers. Apart from a sack by Tamba Hali, KC's defense didn't come close to getting to Flacco, which allowed him to pick apart the secondary like a surgeon.

Kansas City's terrible pass rush further drives home my displeasure over general manager Scott Pioli passing on former New England Patriots' defensive end Richard Seymour, who finally joined the Raiders Saturday. Would Seymour have made a difference Sunday? Yes.

The Chiefs' linebackers struggled at times, led by Corey Mays, who failed to make big plays and missed tackles, making Ravens' tight end Todd Heap look like a Pro Bowler. But with no pass rush it's hard to be critical of the players in the back eight.

At times, Kansas City's defense did stand up to the Ravens, but they couldn't close the deal and that's disappointing. I thought they could win Sunday and had they, the Chiefs would have been the story of Week 1.

However, we should temper our disappointment with the fact that Haley's Bunch showed so much heart. In the end, they succumbed to their lack of talent, but Haley is clearly going to squeeze maximum effort from his entire team. It's the only card he can play and all he has going for him right now as his team tries to learn how to win again.

The Chiefs were at a disadvantage talent-wise at virtually every single position on the field Sunday and for the most part that will be the norm in each of the next 15 games. That doesn't mean they'll finish 0-16 either, and I still say they can win eight games. They're a better team right now than they were at any point the last two seasons.

Some tough decisions await Haley, especially at quarterback. I'm not sure if Cassel would have made a difference Sunday or not. Croyle was frequently under pressure, but he can make throws off the back foot that Cassel can't. Even if Cassel is healthy, Croyle should start against the Raiders.

Who knows what Haley will do, but it should make for an interesting week of media speculation.

In the end the Chiefs made a game of it and won some respect from the fan base. They showed they could hang with an AFC power on the road. Haley can use these four quarters as a building block and from his antics on the sidelines, it's clear he desperately wants to win this year. It's rubbed off on his players, and that's the best thing to come out of Sunday's game.

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