That's how Haley appeared in the preseason when he demoted Dwayne Bowe, Jarrad Page and Derrick Johnson. That's how he appeared when he cut former Chiefs' draft picks Will Franklin and Bernard Pollard, and made Glenn Dorsey work his way through veritable fat camp in River Falls - Todd "The Hun" Haley.
Just one week ago, he challenged punter Dustin Colquitt - who leads the league in net punting yards and is third in net punting average - by saying that even he needs to improve. Haley was pulling no punches. Earlier this season when the media started to question his confidence in Matt Cassel, Haley didn't jump down their throats and coddle the quarterback, not instantly at least. He's said repeatedly no one should be comfortable.
But during this week's press conference, Haley seemed much softer than his reputation.
"I think it's critical that we recognize some of those positives in the game," he said. "There were a lot of guys playing real, real hard for the whole game and it didn't go our way, so it's time to move on and get ready for the Washington Redskins."
One of the reasons so many Chiefs fans fell madly in love with Haley was his reputation as a bulldog. "He's going to whip these pampered athletes into shape," they'd say, or "He won't baby them like Herm Edwards." Edwards was a player's coach, Haley was supposed to be a winning coach.
It's still too early to deem the hiring of Haley as a success or failure, and certainly too early to pit his reign up against Edwards. He's only five games in, is installing a new offense, defense, has a new starting quarterback, and inherited a bad team. However, the comparison to last season is something to monitor as the Chiefs barrel towards a historically low point.
This time last season, Edwards' team was 1-4. Heading into Week 6 this season, the Chiefs stand 0-5. Both teams lost a disappointing game to Oakland. Last season, the Chiefs were outscored 65-131 at this point; this season, 84-138. The records and scoring differential aren't all that different.
The drastic difference is in the personnel. Edwards won two games in what was deemed a rebuilding season with rookies playing significant roles - Branden Albert, Glenn Dorsey, Maurice Leggett, Brandon Carr, Brandon Flowers, and Jamaal Charles. Now, all are second-year veterans playing significant roles.
Last year, the Chiefs opening-week starting quarterback, Brodie Croyle, hadn't played a full half, and now-retired veteran Damon Huard and Miami Dolphin backup Tyler Thigpen were riding the quarterback carousel. This season, Cassel has missed one game but started four. This time last year, Huard had steered the Chiefs to a win, whereas Cassel hasn't.
Earlier this season, Yahoo's Charles Robinson created a significant amount of buzz surrounding the statistic that Scott Pioli and Haley had either cut, released or traded 31 of Edwards' players, with only four making other active rosters. Those numbers may have changed slightly at this point, but don't they say something favorable about Edwards? That even with what is becoming considered a far inferior roster, he was able to win more, at this point of the season, than Haley?
Perhaps all of this is moot. Haley is in year one and Edwards was in year three, but wasn't Edwards in his first season of implementing the youth movement he'd been campaigning for since he came to Kansas City? Wasn't Chan Gailey in his first year as the offensive coordinator after Mike Solari, a holdover from the Vermeil era, was ousted?
What makes this whole observation the most interesting is the rumored Haley quote - "I could take 22 players off the street and win two games." We'll never know if he said that, but at this point he's not working with 22 players off the street. He's working with what's left of last year's 13-player draft class, his first draft class, a highly sought-after quarterback, and some of his own handpicked free agents. All things considered - the coaching staff, philosophy changes, personnel - should the Chiefs truly be this bad?
Kansas City's sole impressive, sustained offensive drive against the Cowboys Sunday came via a predominantly no-huddle, shotgun offense. Does that sound reminiscent of last year's offense? Did Todd Haley "relieve" Gailey of his duties, simply to find out on his own what Gailey learned the hard way last season - with this offensive line, the only way to succeed is by spreading the offense out and running trick plays, regardless of the quarterback? It's something to keep an eye on as the season continues.
Haley vs. Edwards: What's The Difference?
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