The Sparano-Haley Connection

Dolphins coach Tony Sparano has had a difficult time this season figuring out which of his teams might show up from week to week — or even from quarter to quarter. Will it be the Dolphins who have looked good early against the Jets and the Giants? Or the Dolphins who have given away fourth-quarter leads three times on their way to defeats?

But Sparano at least should have a good idea of what to expect on Sunday out of the Kansas City Chiefs, who are coached by Todd Haley — one of Sparano's closest friends in the coaching profession. Sparano and Haley worked with one another from 2004 through 2006 with the Dallas Cowboys.

Sparano was the offensive line coach and the running game coordinator. And Haley the receivers coach and passing game coordinator. The Cowboys' offenses those years were always among the top 15 in the NFL — and in 2006 the Cowboys finished with the fifth-ranked offense in the league.

"I think philosophy-wise we're pretty familiar with each other," Sparano said. "I would say we both obviously grew up around a lot of the same people in this business."

And by "people" Sparano is referring actually to one person: Bill Parcells. During his days with the Cowboys, Parcells gave both Sparano and Haley their biggest breaks. Sparano left Dallas after the 2007 season to become the Dolphins' head coach and Haley in 2009 became the Chiefs' head coach.

Both helped lead their teams to historic turnarounds. The Dolphins in Sparano's first season went 11-5 in '08 after finishing 1-15 in 2007. And in Haley's second season, he led the Chiefs to a 10-6 finish after they'd gone 4-12 in 2009.

Both seem to be opposite paths now, though. Haley's Chiefs have won four consecutive games after starting the season 0-3. And the Dolphins, of course, are 0-7 and have lost 10 consecutive games dating to last season.

"Anybody you care about that has to go through some of that you feel for," Haley said. "But at the same time we're all coaches in the NFL and we know that it comes with the territory and Tony's a pretty tough-minded guy ... just knowing his experience and background, he's a tough guy that it's going to be hard to get him to crack."

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