When Todd Haley first relieved Chan Gailey of his offensive coordinator duties, he said there wouldn’t be any drastic changes. But as Kent Babb reports, the Chiefs did in fact junk the entire offensive playbook.
The thick binder that, for four months of practices, contained dozens of formations, routes, shifts, terms, assignments, fakes, cadences, protections, quarterback drops, options, plays and audibles — it all went out with Gailey. P layers were presented with a new playbook to learn, as well as a new, faster, more complex system. The regular season started in 13 days.
“We tried to leave some things,” Haley says, “but as we’ve gone, we’ve just said: ‘Let’s get going in the direction we’re going to go.’ ”
Haley says he understands that for every Andy Reid, Philadelphia’s head coach who successfully called offensive plays for a decade, there is a Jim Zorn, the embattled Washington coach whose questionable play-calling has dissolved his job security after 18 regular-season contests. Haley’s situation now is closer to Zorn’s than Reid’s.
Reid — before handing the duties off this season to coordinator Marty Mornhinweg — says he made it work by knowing that if his way stopped working, there was always someone to whom he could delegate if the Eagles needed a temporary change. Haley has no such person.
Reid says he understands Haley’s thinking. Like Haley, Reid decided his first season to shoulder all burdens. But as years passed and experience took hold, Reid learned to distance himself from the minute-to-minute operations.
“I absolutely did everything,” Reid says. “I made sure of every play, every drawing; everything was the way I wanted it. You build a foundation that way. I know exactly what Todd is doing.”
Another great read from Babb and one that should give everyone hope for the Chiefs offense. I’ve been as critical of their performance as anyone, but now knowing that they have only been with their playbook for a month should relieve some nerves.
I’ve assumed all along we would see progress as the season went along, but with the plays and terminology still brand new for the offense, the biggest improvements should be on that side of the ball.
Michael Vick had arguably the best season of his career playing under coach Dan Reeves. The former Falcons coach is convinced that Vick can regain the form that made him one of the most electric players in the league.
“I know it’s tough coming back not playing for two years,” said Reeves, an NFL analyst for Westwood One radio. “But Mike’s still a young man, and looking at the positive side of it, he hasn’t been banged up the last two years, so he should be healthy. Certainly it’s going to take some time to knock the rust off. You don’t get back to the speed of the game and so forth, and he hasn’t had that opportunity in preseason games. …
“I think his natural instincts are unbelievable at that position. That’s what you could see when you looked at him in college, just his unbelievable ability to make plays. And that’s what he showed as we were coaching him. I think he will be able to come back and be an excellent quarterback.”
If anyone knows Vick, it’s Reeves. I have no doubt that he is going to come back and have an impact on the Eagles offense and ultimately get a chance to be a starting quarterback in the NFL again. But after such a long layoff, I don’t think it’s far to say he’ll come back and be an excellent quarterback. Some people would argue he was overrated at that position to begin with.
Vick wants to be starting quarterback again — he has said as much — but right now his best position is the one he will fill with the Eagles for the rest of this season: Jack of most trades.
All of the attention this week has been on Vick’s return and the injuries that the Eagles offense is dealing with. But Philadelphia still has plenty of work to do on defense, especially on the first drive.
Against Carolina and New Orleans, the opposition scored first by putting together a lengthy drive on their first possession. Against Carolina, that was about all the Panthers were able to do, being limited to 99 yards the rest of the game. Against New Orleans, that was just the beginning of a long afternoon.
“There is a feeling-out process every game but at the same time it’s important that the first drive of the game and the first drive of the second half that we are successful,” defensive coordinator Sean McDermott said this week. “We didn’t do a good job of that the first week, nor the second week and that is an area that we want to address going into this week.”
I would love to see the Chiefs come out firing on the first drive and help keep Philadelphia’s defensive troubles rolling. The Kansas City defense has played well this season and Todd Haley might want to take the ball in the second half. Hopefully the Chiefs decide — if they get the chance — to take the ball and try and set the tone for the game with a long drive led by a heavy dose of Larry Johnson.