Hey Haley – Show Us Something!

It would be a waste of time to watch the Pittsburgh Steelers, analyze their offense and defense and spit out a synopsis of how they match up against the Kansas City Chiefs. We don't have to watch a single frame of footage to know our Chiefs are completely overmatched (except perhaps on special teams) as the Steelers roll into Arrowhead Stadium tomorrow.

So, we'll skip our regular "Matchups" column out this week for a different brand of game preview. This week we're going to drop a challenge in front of the Chiefs. More specifically, we're going to challenge head coach Todd Haley.

The challenge isn't beating the Steelers. We already know that's impossible. Pittsburgh arrives in Kansas City fresh off a loss with huge playoff implications. Already a game behind their division rivals, the Cincinnati Bengals, Mike Tomlin and his players can't afford to lay an egg against a bottom feeder like the Chiefs.

Because they have now dropped two games to Cincy, Pittsburgh may need a seven-game winning streak to take their division. No doubt they'll arrive in Arrowhead focused, prepared and eager to crush a team that hasn't won a game at home all season.

The Chiefs can't beat the Steelers. But showing up would be nice.

If you recall, the last time we saw the Chiefs at home, they dropped a 37-7 stinker to the San Diego Chargers. It was completely disheartening, especially coming against a Chargers team that was in disarray, which was compounded by the fact Kansas City had just beaten a team (Washington) in a similar state of disarray.

Against the Chargers, the Chiefs did not live up the standard they set for themselves by playing decent, competitive football against the Dallas Cowboys in their prior home game. They looked as clueless and inept as any team Carl Peterson and Herm Edwards fielded last season, and right then is when more people started asking the question that a minority of voices had already raised – is Todd Haley in over his head?

Last week's win over the Oakland Raiders was perhaps a step in the right direction. But if the Chiefs are truly going to make progress this season, it starts tomorrow against the Steelers. They need to show up. What's the challenge?

Two touchdowns.

Based on everything we know about the 2009 Chiefs, scoring 14 points against the Steelers should be as impossible as actually beating them. A sobering statistic – Haley's offense is averaging just 13.25 points at home this year, and that includes garbage-time scores against the New York Giants. Considering Haley won't have the services of Dwayne Bowe and the Steelers have held six of their nine opponents to 18 points or less this year, it becomes fairly obvious – 14 points would be a huge accomplishment.

It's time for Haley to show us something. Good offensive coaches – particularly when they're head coaches – find ways to make something out of nothing, to maximize what they do have. We don't need to reiterate all the spread offense revelations that Chan Gailey engineered a year ago. Yeah, maybe it was gimmicky, but it was productive and even somewhat consistent. The Chiefs were marginally successful on offense despite their lack of talent. At one point, they even slapped 27 points on a top 10 defense (Tampa Bay).

Gailey found a way. Haley, in dumping Gailey, said his way would be better. So far, it hasn't been.

We should realize that the Chiefs have made offensive progress the last two weeks in scoring 21 against the Jaguars and letting Jamaal Charles and the running game loose in Oakland. But in the midst of what qualified as a two-week torrent of offensive output, it's important to recognize that the Chiefs converted only five of 28 third-down opportunities. They scored with big plays.

The Steelers, in typical fashion, are near the top of the league not allowing big plays this season. Can Haley's offense sustain a couple of 11 or 12-play touchdown drives? That's the challenge.

It may be difficult without Bowe. But the Steelers aren't completely healthy – Pro Bowl safety Troy Polamalu will miss the game. A creative offensive mind would take advantage. Can Haley?

Since the beginning of the season, the Chiefs have replaced their starting right guard and right tackle, have a new receiver in Chris Chambers, and inserted Charles into the starting lineup. The playcaller remains unchanged, but there's reason to believe the offensive output should improve. Can Haley?

About a year ago, the Steelers couldn't stop Haley's offense, especially when it mattered. Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald and the rest of the Cardinals ran up and down the field in the Super Bowl - 440 yards and 23 first downs. Pittsburgh had no answer for Haley's apparent offensive wizardry. Can Haley conjure that magic up again?

Tomorrow, we're not asking for magic. We're asking for a card trick. Two touchdowns. If we're feeling generous, one touchdown and a couple of field goals might even qualify as some sort of small moral victory. To be honest, the specifics don't really matter.

Whatever the Chiefs do against the Steelers, they can't lie down and embarrass the 40,000 Chiefs fans (the other 40,000 will be Pittsburgh fans) that bother to show up at Arrowhead tomorrow. They need to bring something new to the table. Haley has to show some of that supposed ingenuity and creativity that made him Scott Pioli's guy. Otherwise, he's just someone entertaining us by screaming on the sideline.

Impress us. Show something. Another 37-7 disaster is a waste of everyone's time.

WarpaintIllustrated.com Top Stories