Kansas City Chiefs head coach Todd Haley was a guest on WFAN in New York earlier today. Haley had a wide ranging discussion with host — and good friend of Bill Parcells — Mike Francesa about his team’s recent struggles, learning from Parcells and a couple of his impressive rookies..
You can stream the interview here.
The highlight for me is Francesa trying to ask Haley about the injured Dexter McCluster. Here’s a hint of how he answered: with silence and invoking Parcells’ name.
On the first tough loss of the season Sunday in Oakland:
We’ve had some tough ones already though, Mike. We had the Houston Texans, a good team down there at Houston and felt like we played well enough to win and ended up not making a couple plays at the end of the game and had to deal with that and bounce back, which we were able to do and come back and get a couple wins.
Going on the road against a division opponent, feeling like you’re in a position to win and letting it get away from you a couple times is disappointing for our young, developing team. I keep saying around here we’re not a good team, we’re a team that hasn’t won very many games here over the years, is laying a foundation trying to become a good team. All these experiences, you have to take them, you have to learn from them and you have to get a little better every day and that’s what we’re trying to do.
On the Chiefs league-leading rushing attack:
As last year went on, one of the things that I was real encouraged about was the fact that it appeared we were developing a couple players, Jamaal being one that looked like he had a chance to be a good running back in the league if he continued to do the things he was doing and Mo Carthon is a big part of that development.
Thomas Jones coming in here is a big part of that development.
Dexter McCluster has a chance to be a good running back in the league. We’ve got a nice mix of players that are all versatile and can run our runs and our line is working well together. A couple veteran guys that came in, Casey Wiegmann and Ryan Lilja have been a big part of that. At the same time the development of Branden Albert, Barry Richardson, the continued improved play of Brian Waters have all been a part of it. I’m just happy we’re doing more and more good things that give you a chance to win football games. We got to learn from last week and tighten it up, so to speak, as we go forward in the second half of the season.
The impact of Romeo Crennel:
I believe to be a successful team you got to have good players and you got to have good coaches, you can’t just do it with one or the other. It’s another thing Coach Parcells continually hammered into my brain. There was no doubt in my mind when I was learning from him that Romeo was a great coach in this league and I never forgot that even though we went our separate ways. Last year when I got the job I tried to entice him to want to come around but he wasn’t quite ready for it. I was just happy that he wanted to come be a part of this.
He’s a good coach and he’s meant a lot to me. He’s allowed me to really do what I wanted to do originally which is be the head coach of the team: coach the offense, the defense and the special teams and my coaches. When you have good coaches, you can do that. When you have coaches you can trust and you’re operating efficiently as a staff, you can do that. I feel like that I’m becoming a better head coach because of it.
On the importance of taking on more of a “chairman of the board” type role:
It’s the reason why I’m so grateful to have been able to be around a Bill Parcells as a young, developing coach. To be able to get 7, 8 years with him and be able to call him a friend to this day because he taught that to me early on that if you ever get a shot at this, be the head coach.
I know Bill was a great LB coach and a great defensive coach, but you wouldn’t have ever known that if someone didn’t tell you when you were actually working for him as a young coach. I learned so much from that. You wouldn’t have known what he coached, you just knew he was a good coach. He was coaching everybody, us included. I learned a lot from that and set my mind to it that’s the way I would want to do things if I ever got the opportunity.
Will Dexter McCluster be available this week?
(silence) Mike, with your dear friend Bill Parcells, you know that I wouldn’t talk about anybody’s health.
On McCluster’s similarities to Dave Meggett:
Mo and I have talked a lot about that. This guy is a unique player. I think what sets him a part, though he’s still learning in this area, when you line him up as a receiver, he’s probably our best route runner we have. To me that’s the thing that makes him even a little more unique from some of the great Meggett, Faulk-type players – in no way comparing him to those guys because they have obviously proved it through time – but as he improves as a receiver and learns the subtleties of the position, I think he is a super versatile player on top of having some special teams return ability obviously that you saw.
Has Eric Berry been as good as advertised?
I think he’s got a chance to be real good. He’s come in here – as have the majority of this young group we have – and they’ve been such a big part of us continuing our process of becoming a good team because none of them, starting with Eric, have had that normal rookie wide eyes or maybe it’s a little too big early on. They stepped right in and they have an edge to them. Eric has an edge to him. A high football character guy that loves to play the game, loves to practice and immediately stepped into the mix and wasn’t afraid of anything, even being around the veteran guys.
Part of that’s us being a team that hasn’t been real good for a little while, so these young guys have an opportunity to come in and play but a lot of that’s him and I think he has a chance to be real good. He’s done a lot of good things for us. He’s been really good in run situations especially which has made such a difference for us from last year.
Though we were ranked so poorly, we were a good 3-and-out team last year on defense. Generally if you’re forcing a lot of 3-and-outs you have a chance to be a decent defense and we weren’t. A lot of that was just we didn’t have anybody that could make up for a margin of error. If somebody missed, to have someone that could save the day, so to speak and to keep a run at 6 yards as opposed to a 60-yard run and that’s what was happening to us last year: 3-and-out or big plays for touchdowns. Eric’s been a big part of us taking a big step defensively just because of that. He increases your margin of error.