Haley Ready For Season's Second Quarter

Todd Haley wants everyone to believe Wednesday marked the start of the season's second quarter, and the Chiefs are 0-0. When most people were in school, they were handed quarterly grade cards - two a semester. Haley wants everyone to throw out the F-laden grade cards from the opening quarter and focus on the next one.

"We've officially started preparation for the second quarter of the season today," he said. "Always tough coming off the weekend, but we are making this a fresh start for ourselves, knowing and hoping that we're taking from that first quarter of the season the fact that some of the competition that we played, those teams are pretty good teams."

So, keeping with the analogy of quarterly grade cards, what Haley's saying is, the Chiefs had to take Honors Algebra, AP Chemistry, Ancient British Literature and French all in one quarter. It's been difficult, and Haley compared it to what his Arizona Cardinals did a year ago when, like the Chiefs, they also lost to the Eagles and Giants. Arizona also lost to the Redskins, and barely beat the Cowboys by way of a blocked field goal.

"(The Cardinals lost to) the teams that we're playing right now, they just weren't all in a row," said Haley. "That's the way it is. Now, there's other teams in that mix in the first quarter of the season. Point being, if you stay in the present tense and you understand that it's a long season and you just try to get something positive going, you don't know what's going to happen."

This idea of quarters is interesting. At the end of the season, the first four games matter just as much as the last four. The Chiefs' record is 0-4. There's no escaping that reality. It doesn't matter whether you break the season down into trimesters, halves, triads or sixteenths.

The idea of quarters is to keep the players, coaches, and even fans to some degree, in the present tense. If Jamaal Charles can write off last week's fumble as a first quarter mistake, he can play a little more carefree the rest of the way. If Matt Cassel can shake off his not-so-hot performance from the last three weeks and chalk it up to his first quarter leading a new team, he'll have a renewed sense of confidence moving forward.

Where the problem lies with the "quarter system" is with the players who have been in Kansas City the last few years. Brian Waters, Rudy Niswanger, Larry Johnson and Tank Tyler haven't experienced a winning quarter since the second four-game quarter of 2006. That's seven consecutive losing quarters, and Haley realizes the quarter system may be irrelevant to players who have experienced so much losing.

"The tough part is to sell it to a group of guys that haven't had success," he said. "But that's the way I've thought for a long time - just to try to stay in the present tense, knowing that if you can win each quarter, 3-1, 3-1, 3-1, then you're probably making the playoffs most times, but it's a tough sell, but it's what you have to do it. It's the way that you survive."

"It's not written in stone right now that because we had the first quarter of the season we had that it's going to end up a certain way. It's not. It's not scripted. Anything can happen. Teams have proven that every year, so we're in the present tense. It's the start of the second quarter, so if you get something positive going and you gain a little confidence, you don't know what's going to happen."

It's true. Just because the Chiefs are 0-4, it doesn't necessarily mean they can't finish 9-7 or even 12-4. However, in Kansas City, where the Chiefs are working on one of the worst three-year stretches in NFL history, you're not only fighting other teams and a lack of talent, you're fighting a losing mentality. When the media has asked if this season feels like last year or if there's a losing mentality, players have uniformly said no. Today, Haley admitted what we all know.

"It's the whole building," he said. "It's not just the players, it's not just the coaches, it's marketing, it's everybody, because it's human nature to kind of fall into that trap. I'm grateful for my past experience, having been places that have turned around a lot of losses."

Haley's experience with turning around a losing program started in New York, where the Jets won four games his first two seasons before finishing 9-7 and 12-4 the next two years. But he said what happened in Arizona – where a perennial loser qualified for the Super Bowl last season – was the greatest example.

"There wasn't a lot of people in that building that believed things were going to change," said Haley. "It was ‘Oh, here comes another group of coaches. Here we go again.' It is a fight, but you need to believe in the right way, believe in your way. There's obviously a bunch of different ways to do it, but you need to believe that you've been part of that, you know what it takes, convince your players of that, and get something positive to happen. That's the thing hurting us right now."

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