Todd Haley Explains Game-Winning Return Decision

(photo via David Eulitt)

On the heels of the Chiefs 21-14 win over the San Diego Chargers, SI’s Peter King talked with Kansas City head coach about his team’s big win.  Haley explained how his new role as just being the head coach helped setup Dexter McCluster’s ultimately game-deciding touchdown return.

[D]uring one of San Diego’s drives, Haley looked over and saw Arenas with his hands on his thighs, bent over, obviously winded; he’d been playing all nickel snaps on defense for the Chiefs.

“Put McCluster back on punt returns,” Haley told special teams coach Steve Hoffman.  Hoffman looked at Haley like he had two heads.  Arenas had returned two punts in the quarter, one for 36 yards and one for 24.  You want me to take Arenas off returns?

“Why?” Hoffman said.  “Javier is doing a great job!”

“He’s tired!” Haley said.

“I understand it wasn’t a normal decision to make,” Haley said this week.  “But because I wasn’t buried over on the bench coaching Matt, I could make a lot of observations the other night.  And when I saw Arenas wearing himself out in the middle of the second quarter, I just thought we could use our resources better.”

A great read from King as we get the most insight into the Haley-Weis relationship that we have gotten since the former Notre Dame coach was hired.  A lot of people (myself included) were worried about how these two strong-willed coaches would work together and the early returns seem to be good.  There’s a long way to go, but Weis seems comfortable just focusing on the offense and most of the time gets free reign.

Also fantastic to get the play-by-play from Haley on the decision to put McCluster back in place of Arenas.  I was very clear during the game that I thought it was a mistake to have anyone other than Arenas handling punt returns.  This is a perfect example of the coach needing to see more than anyone else and now that Haley doesn’t have to juggle being head coach and offensive coordinator, he should be able to better decisions more consistently.

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