Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Best of NFL: AFC West coaches
By Bill Williamson
As part of Best of the NFL Week on ESPN.com, here are five bests for the AFC West:
Todd Haley is an in-your-face coach which has allowed him to keep the Chiefs in check.
Best ego manager: Kansas City's Todd Haley is an in-your-face coach. He is scared of no one. His demeanor has led Haley to clash with players, and player-coach sideline disagreements are not rare. But his style works. Players respond to Haley and he gets their respect. When he became the head coach in Kansas City in 2009, Haley wasn’t looking for any friends, and he broke down several players, including former first-round picks Dwayne Bowe and Derrick Johnson. Both players responded well and played at a high level in 2010. Haley has dealt with several high-profile receivers in his career, such as Keyshawn Johnson and Terrell Owens. He survived them both. That is one of the reasons the Chiefs had no reservations about taking Pittsburgh receiver Jon Baldwin, who has a reputation as a diva, in the first round this year. Haley is prepared for Baldwin.
Best motivator: We’re taking a leap here because the Raiders' Hue Jackson has never been a head coach, but I’m confident he will be a premier motivator. He surely was as the Raiders’ offensive coordinator last season. He is very positive and often talks up his players. He is very vocal on the practice field. He also produced instant results last season -- Oakland’s offense was leaps and bounds ahead of the 2009 version. Jackson’s players always speak well of him, and he has them believing the Raiders are on the doorstep of big things. Something must be working.
Best coach-GM tandem: This is a potentially strong group of front-office types and coaches. In San Diego, GM A.J. Smith and coach Norv Turner work well together. Jackson and Oakland owner Al Davis appear to be very chummy and work well together. The early vibe on the John Elway-Brian Xanders-John Fox trio in Denver appears to be strong. But we’re going to give the nod to Kansas City’s tandem of Haley and GM Scott Pioli. The two have a strong working relationship, and they have turned the Chiefs around quickly. In their second season in Kansas City, Pioli and Haley built a division winner. The Chiefs are set up well for the future, and this tandem is the primary reason why.
Best delegator: The ability of Turner to to delegate in San Diego is one of his strengths. Smith has complimented Turner’s in that area in multiple discussions with this blogger. Turner is a premier play caller and quarterbacks coach. He knows his role, and he allows his coaches to work and coach. He is not a dictator or the type who needs to have his thumbprints on every minor detail. He lets his coaches do their jobs, and trusts they will get things done.
Best X's and O's: I’m going to give the nod to Fox, the new head man in Denver. Don’t be swayed by the fact that the Carolina Panthers were awful in 2010. Fox earned a strong reputation as fine coach in his nine seasons with the Panthers. He is a defensive specialist who is aggressive and detailed-oriented. On offense, Fox is a big believer in running the ball down opponents’ throats. He sticks to his plan and is very organized. The Broncos will be well-coached in 2011.