As the Chiefs wrap up their mandatory mini-camp in Kansas City today, it’s been very clear that head coach Todd Haley is much more comfortable in his second year running the show. The Kansas City Star’s Kent Babb has a fantastic look into what helped Haley make the transition.
Haley had been in coaching for years, but nothing had prepared him fully for being a NFL head coach.
“There was no possible way to recreate the circumstances that I was going to be in,” Haley said. “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.”
Through that first season, Haley learned lessons that he hadn’t considered, endured experiences that he hadn’t fathomed. He said Saturday that, as humbling as that first season was, it has made him a better coach.
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.
“He’s more comfortable,” third-year cornerback Brandon Carr said of his coach. “He knows what to expect. Just like as a rookie coming in, you’re kind of feeling your way through. You’re a fish out of water.
“He’s kind of settled down.”
During his first season, Haley was definitely very polarizing among fans. Every week after the Chiefs played — no matter the outcome — I would have at least a dozen emails from a lot of you out there complaining about Haley yelling and screaming. And yet at the same time there were close to just as many saying they loved that a coach can stay fired up and looking to win in the midst of such a tough season.
While this new approach from Haley is good for May and June, ultimately the best version of Haley during the season will be somewhere in between. I don’t need him hootin’ and hollerin’ on the sidelines for four quarters, but the strong/silent angle won’t get the job done either.
Last year he got up in his player’s faces a bit too much and outside of pregame warmups, I don’t know that Haley ever stood still for more than a minute during a game. If Haley can dial back the screaming and spend some more time quietly analyzing the situation, everything should work itself out.