AFC West: Todd Haley fired

Who is affected by Haley firing?

December, 12, 2011
Whenever a coaching change is made, it puts the future of some players in question. That is the case in Kansas City when the Chiefs fired Todd Haley on Monday. Let’s look at some players on the Chiefs’ roster who could be affected by the change:

Dwayne Bowe, receiver: He is a free agent at the end of the season. Bowe had his moments with Haley and was in the coach’s doghouse for a while. But Bowe responded and played well under Haley. The question is whether or not Bowe will be moved by Kansas City general manager Scott Pioli, and I don’t think the coaching change will play a big role.

Matt Cassel, quarterback: Cassel is tied more to Pioli than Haley. Cassel and Haley clashed at times, but Haley made some strides under Haley. I think Pioli is still behind him. I think the only way Cassel could be in trouble is if a strong coach is brought in and he dislikes Cassel enough to convince Pioli to make a change. If Josh McDaniels is the hire, Cassel is in great shape. The two had great success in New England and the entire Jay Cutler fiasco started because McDaniels wanted to continue to work with Cassel.

Kyle Orton, quarterback: He is a free agent at the end of the season. If McDaniels is brought in, I think he’d prefer Cassel over Orton. Remember, McDaniels drafted Tim Tebow in the first round after one year of working with Orton.

Ricky Stanzi, quarterback: He could be golden if his coach at Iowa, Kirk Ferentz, ends up in Kansas City. Otherwise, I don’t think Stanzi is affected by the hire.

Meanwhile, in Haley-firing related news:

The Kansas City Star reports Haley considered resigning as the Chiefs’ head coach last week. Haley made the right decision. I don’t think anyone would ever want to hire someone who quit on his team.

Another name to consider to replace Haley is new Miami interim coach Todd Bowles. He has Bill Parcells ties and that is important to Pioli. He is the son-in-law of Parcells. Haley was also a Parcells protégé.

Meet Romeo Crennel

December, 12, 2011
New gig: Romeo Crennel is Kansas City’s interim coach for the final three games of the season. He replaces Todd Haley, who was fired in his third season of a four-year contract. The Chiefs are 5-8.

Previous job: Crennel was in his second season as the Chiefs’ defensive coordinator.

Age: 64. (He is the second-oldest head coach in the NFL behind Giants coach Tom Coughlin, who is 65.)

Coaching history: Crennel was the head coach of the Cleveland Browns from 2005 to '08. He was the defensive coordinator in New England during its dynasty days early last decade.

Playing history: He was an offensive and defensive lineman at Western Kentucky.

Known for: A hard worker who is a quiet professional and for whom players enjoy working.

Chances of becoming permanent head coach: He’ll be considered. The Chiefs’ defense has played hard for Crennel. He has strong ties to Kansas City general manager Scott Pioli. I think the Chiefs would love to see Crennel stay as defensive coordinator if he doesn’t get the full-time gig.

Handicapping early K.C. candidates

December, 12, 2011
Let’s look at some of the early candidates Kansas City Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli may look at to replace Todd Haley, who was fired Monday. Many more names will surface, but here are a few who could interest the Chiefs, listed in alphabetical order:

Tom Cable, assistant coach, Seattle Seahawks

Why there could be interest: Cable impressed folks in Kansas City with the toughness he brought to the Oakland Raiders as its head coach.

Upside: He’s tough, he works hard and he would likely be very happy to work in Kansas City.

Downside: He doesn’t have much cachet, and his inexperience may not sell in Kansas City. He’s a long shot.

Romeo Crennel, interim head coach, Chiefs

Why there could be interest: He has head-coaching experience, he’s been part of this program and he’s well-liked in the organization.

Upside: The Chiefs’ defense plays hard, and he was the former head coach of the Cleveland Browns.

Downside: Crennel may be one of the coaches who is best suited to be a coordinator rather than a head coach. Plus, the Chiefs may feel they can keep Crennel as defensive coordinator.

Kirk Ferentz, head coach, Iowa

Why there could be interest: Ferentz and Pioli are old friends.

Upside: Ferentz has long been considered an NFL coach-in-waiting. He’d reunite with quarterback Ricky Stanzi and tight end Tony Moeaki in Kansas City,

Downside: Ferentz has turned down many overtures before. I don’t know whether he’d be interested in waiting several weeks for this job because of recruiting issues.

Jeff Fisher, former Tennessee Titans head coach

Why there could be interest: Fisher is considered one of the best coaches on the market.

Upside: Fisher is experienced and is a consummate professional. He’d probably be open to working with general manager Pioli, and he would bring instant credibility to Kansas City.

Downside: Fisher might be out of the Chiefs’ price range, and he may get a better offer.

Eric Mangini, former New York Jets and Browns head coach

Why there could be interest: He has experience and a history with Pioli.

Upside: He’s a strong defensive coach who knows what Pioli wants from a coach.

Downside: He quickly burnt out of two jobs. If Mangini failed in Kansas City, Pioli would be in trouble.

Josh McDaniels, offensive coordinator, St. Louis Rams

Why there could be interest: McDaniels and Pioli have a good working relationship.

Upside: Pioli was a big fan of McDaniels, and Pioli saw Bill Belichick have great success in his second job after failing in his first. McDaniels and Matt Cassel have a great relationship. Crennel could stay on as well.

Downside: McDaniels was a disaster in Denver, and the Rams’ offense is faltering under his guidance. He could be a tough sell.

Bill O’Brien, offensive coordinator, New England Patriots

Why there could be interest: He fits the Patriots’ Way from which Pioli has molded the Chiefs.

Upside: He’s a young, talented coach who is considered a future star.

Downside: He may not be ready. Pioli needs to hit a home run with this hire. Hiring O’Brien may be risky.

Ferentz or McDaniels in mix for Chiefs?

December, 12, 2011
Kansas City Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli can’t gamble in trying to come up with the replacement for Todd Haley, who was fired Monday morning as head coach.

That’s why he likely will hire someone he knows. The easiest answer will be the hardest sell. Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz is a close friend of Pioli’s and would be his first-round draft choice, but Ferentz is reluctant to leave the college ranks. NFL general managers have long believed that Ferentz could be successful in the NFL because he was a former NFL offensive line coach. NFL friends and admirers have taken runs at Ferentz without success for years. Pioli may find the same resistance, so if that doesn’t work, he must have alternatives.

[+] EnlargeJosh McDaniels
AP Photo/Jeff RobersonJosh McDaniels could be a candidate to replace Todd Haley as Kansas City's head coach.
While this may sound strange, the next-best fit would be former Denver Broncos head coach and current St. Louis Rams offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. McDaniels failed in two seasons as an NFL head coach, mostly because he was young and was given too much personnel power. In Kansas City, Pioli picks the players. Because he and McDaniels worked with Bill Belichick in New England, the fit couldn’t be better.

When McDaniels was in Denver, one of the first things he thought about was acquiring current Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel, who took over for an injured Tom Brady and had an 11-5 season in 2008. Once that story became public, though, it ruined his relationship with Jay Cutler, the Broncos’ quarterback at the time. McDaniels ended up trading Cutler to the Bears for Kyle Orton and draft picks.

Hiring McDaniels would reunite him with Cassel and give him a chance to grow the offense. It’s also not out of the question for the Chiefs to re-sign Orton, whom they picked up on a waiver claim.

Getting McDaniels also would allow Pioli to keep Romeo Crennel as his defensive coordinator.

If Pioli can’t sell a McDaniels hire, he might turn to Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien or perhaps Seahawks offensive line coach Tom Cable, the former Raiders head coach.

Haley was an offensive coordinator who was given a chance at his first head-coaching job. This time, odds favor Pioli hiring a man who has been a head coach before.

John Clayton, a recipient of the Pro Football Hall of Fame's McCann Award for distinguished reporting, is a senior writer for

Haley couldn't keep up 2010 success

December, 12, 2011
Todd HaleyDavid Butler II/US PresswireJust one season after winning a division title, Todd Haley has been fired by the Chiefs.
After the work he did in his second season as the head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs, it seemed unlikely Todd Haley could be an in-season causality.

Yet, in his first NFL head-coaching job, Haley has seen his time in Kansas City end with three games remaining in the third year of his four-year contract. Haley was fired after months of speculation of a rift between him and Kansas City general manager Scott Pioli and a day after the Chiefs were blown out, 37-10, at the New York Jets. Coincidentally, it was with the Jets where Haley and Pioli began their working relationship in the 1990s.

The loss Sunday was Kansas City's fifth defeat of 27 points or more this season. The Chiefs are 5-8. There was a school of thought that Haley would get a pass because the Chiefs have been decimated by injuries and have seen stars Jamaal Charles, Eric Berry, Tony Moeaki and quarterback Matt Cassel go out for the season. Plus, some thought Haley built up some good faith by leading the Chiefs to a surprise AFC West title in 2010 in his second season as they went 10-6. Kansas City won a total of 10 games in the three previous seasons.

Yet, in the end, last season’s performance didn’t buy Haley any time. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Haley joins former Minnesota coach Brad Childress and former Dallas coach Wade Phillips as coaches who were fired the season after they won their first division title.

In the end, Haley got into trouble for a few reasons. It started with the team’s inability to stay in games. The blowouts got to management and to the fan base.

Plus, Haley has had a long history of having trouble getting along with people he worked with, even if they were temporary flare-ups. In addition to his reported issues with Pioli, Haley went through three offensive coordinators in Kansas City.

He fired Chan Gailey (now the head coach in Buffalo) during camp of his first year in Kansas City. Haley took over for the rest of the year. He then hired old friend Charlie Weis to run the offense last year. The Chiefs’ offense had great success under Weis, but he took off after less than a year on the job to take the same position at the University of Florida amid speculation that Weis and Haley couldn’t get along.

Both parties denied it, and Weis said the move was family-related. Last week, Weis returned to the area as the head coach at Kansas. Bill Muir became Haley’s offensive coordinator after a long search this offseason.

Haley -- who had dust-ups with players as an assistant in Arizona and in Dallas -- had some issues with players in Kansas City as well. He and Cassel had their issues on occasion during games.

Haley’s in-game decisions were often questioned. Sometimes, he gambled wildly. Other times, he became conservative.

His training camp approach this summer was also questioned. Because of the lockout, Haley used training camp as basically extended walk-though practices. He even used the first few preseason games that way. However, Kansas City’s starters played extensively in the final preseason game (it is traditionally a game where starters play little if at all), and Moeaki blew out his knee.

Kansas City was beaten by a combined score of 89-10 in the first two games of the regular season. This team did fight during this lost season, and Haley deserves credit for that.

He is a good football man, and I think he has a future. There has already been speculation he could be in the mix for the head-coaching job at Arizona State.

Wherever he ends up, Haley must take solace that he did some good things in Kansas City, but he also has to learn from his mistakes he made there.
We knew Scott Pioli wasn't going to lose this battle.

There have been rumblings of a major rift between Pioli, the Chiefs' GM, and Kansas City coach Todd Haley since shortly after the Chiefs were bounced in the first round of the playoffs last season. The talk continued through the offseason and into training camp. Reports of problems between Pioli and Haley churned nearly on a weekly basis during this season of disappointment for the Chiefs.

[+] EnlargeScott Pioli
Denny Medley/US PresswireKansas City GM Scott Pioli will have plenty of names to choose from as he prepares to hire his second head coach for the Chiefs.
It reached a head Monday morning when Haley was fired after posting a 19-27 record in Kansas City. His four-year contract expires after next season. The Chiefs clearly didn’t feel that they could move on with Haley after they were blown out 37-10 by the New York Jets on Sunday. It was the Chiefs’ fifth loss of 27 points or more this season. They are 5-8 and have the toughest remaining schedule in the NFL, starting with a home game Sunday against 13-0 Green Bay.

Now that the Chiefs are moving on without Haley, the focus is solely on Pioli. He needs to get the next move right to keep this program on the right track. Despite the team’s poor record and its inability to compete in many games, I believe the Kansas City program is heading the right direction in the big picture. I realize the NFL has become a microwave league where fast success is now expected. But Pioli has built a good core group that has a chance to compete for several years.

I pin this poor season on injuries that decimated this team. You can’t expect to compete when youngsters Tony Moeaki, Eric Berry and Jamaal Charles were all lost for the season with knee injuries before October. Plus, quarterback Matt Cassel is out for the season.

So, the Chiefs have a chance to get better quickly when these players return. It’s all on Pioli.

He has to ensure that the Chiefs rebound in 2012. If not, he could soon be on the hot seat.

He was the one who hired Haley, so he must take responsibility for it. Hiring Haley -- an old colleague from their shared Bill Parcells days -- was Pioli’s first move in Kansas City after being hired in January 2009.

If they couldn’t get along, it is partly Pioli’s fault. He must be able to get along with his head coach. That’s why it is so important that he makes the right call with his next hire. If the next coach is a failure or if Pioli butts heads with him, it probably will be Pioli’s turn to pay the price.

We will hear plenty of names connected to this job, including former Broncos coach Josh McDaniels, Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz and former NFL coach Eric Mangini. Expect Pioli to take his time as he tries to get his second coaching hire right.

Pioli has to know his long-term future in Kansas City is reliant on him making the right call.

Would Chiefs target Rams' Josh McDaniels?

December, 12, 2011
Todd Haley's firing from the Kansas City Chiefs pushes St. Louis Rams offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels into the spotlight as a potential replacement.

Last offseason, the Rams lost coordinator Pat Shurmur to Cleveland largely because Browns president Mike Holmgren knew and trusted Shurmur.

McDaniels' strong ties to Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli make him a person to watch even though the Rams' offense has averaged fewer than one touchdown per game.

The Chiefs named no replacement for Haley in announcing the firing. McDaniels is in Seattle for the Rams' Monday night game against the Seahawks. He worked with Pioli in New England. McDaniels was the New England Patriots' offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach when the team went 10-5 with current Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel in the lineup.

The fact that two people worked together in the past doesn't necessarily make them a match. But if the Chiefs wanted to stick with Cassel, McDaniels could make sense for them.

Chiefs end Todd Haley era

December, 12, 2011
The Kansas City Chiefs have fired coach Todd Haley.

The move is surprising in one sense that Haley led the Chiefs to a 10-6 record last year and the Chiefs have been decimated by injuries this year as they sit at 5-8. The Chiefs were 19-27 under Haley. Haley's contract expires after next season.

However, the move was expected in another sense because the Chiefs have lost by at least 27 points in five games this season, including Sunday in a 37-10 loss at the New York Jets. There had been several reports in the past few months that Haley – who clashed with several players – and general manager Scott Pioli had problems.

“This was a difficult decision but one that we feel is best for the future of the Chiefs,” Chairman and CEO Clark Hunt said in a statement. “Although there have been bright spots at different points this season, we have not made meaningful progress and we felt that it was necessary to make a change. We appreciate Todd’s contributions during his time with the club, and we wish him well in the future.”

Added Pioli: “Todd helped this team in many valuable ways over the past three seasons, and I am thankful for his contributions. Unfortunately, we have not been able to establish the kind of consistency we need to continue to build a strong foundation for the future and we believe a change is important at this time.”

The Chiefs have not announced who will be the interim coach, but I would not be surprised if defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel takes over for the rest of the season. The Chiefs host 13-0 Green Bay on Sunday.

UPDATE: ESPN's Adam Schefter is reporting Crennel will be the interim coach.

I will have more on this story later.

Chiefs fire coach Todd Haley

December, 12, 2011

The Kansas City Chiefs fired coach Todd Haley on Monday, effective immediately.

The team did not name an interim coach in their statement announcing the move.

"This was a difficult decision but one that we feel is best for the future of the Chiefs," Chiefs chairman and CEO Clark Hunt said in a statement. "Although there have been bright spots at different points this season, we have not made meaningful progress and we felt that it was necessary to make a change. We appreciate Todd's contributions during his time with the club, and we wish him well in the future."