Todd Haley had a rough season last year. Sure, he was named Kansas City Chiefs head coach in February, but Kansas City lost the first five regular-season games of his tenure (not to mention all four preseason contests). Then, the Chiefs lost seven of their last 11.
Don’t forget about cantankerous RB Larry Johnson, who publicly questioned Haley’s credentials on Twitter. Something about how Johnson’s father had played for the coach of “Remember the Titans” and then went on to a brief career with the Redskins and that Haley had played … golf.
(In fact, the week of the Bengals-Chiefs game – Johnson had been released by the Chiefs and picked up by the Bengals – when the Cincinnati beat writers talk to the opposing coach and a player on teleconference, it was all we could do not to ask Haley about his golf game. We figured that would not have gone well.)
Last year, Haley recently told the Kansas City Star’s Kent Babb , was a lonely experience. Before he took over Herm Edwards’ job, he had no idea how much burden the head coach actually takes on his own shoulders following a loss.
“There was no possible way to recreate the circumstances that I was going to be in,” Haley told the Star. “You have to live it. No matter how many mentors and guys I could call and talk to who would help me, there was no way to recreate being a head coach and all the things that came with it.”
So, how have things changed in Haley’s second year? Well, basically, he’s stopped being such a hard-ass. He’s stopped being so much like his mentor, Bill Parcells.
From Babb’s story:
Haley is more polished now, more comfortable in his own skin. The profanity-laced outbursts that in part defined Haley’s first season have, at least for now, quieted. The tightness that followed his first discipline-fueled months has eased.
Players smile now, and Haley smiles back at them. When quarterback Matt Cassel performed a perfect read and pass Saturday, checking off covered receivers to his left before finding an open Dwayne Bowe running toward the right corner of the end zone, Haley jogged toward Cassel and high-fived him.
But perhaps the best part of Haley’s new attitude – at least in the short term? He cut short the last practice of mini-camp, and then he canceled the final OTA of the offseason.
“I cut it short because of the progress we made this weekend, the fact that some of it was going to be review and as much as these guys have put in here over the last few months, I thought it was worth giving something back to them which I think they appreciated,” Haley told the team’s official web site .
The Chiefs don’t return to the field until the first day of training camp on July 30 where Haley likely will welcome back his squad with bear-hugs and an assortment of baked goods.
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