Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

12 Dec 2011

Chiefs Fire Todd Haley

The Kansas City Chiefs have fired head coach Todd Haley, effective immediately. Haley went 19-27 as head coach of the Chiefs and won the AFC West last year.

Posted by: Tom Gower on 12 Dec 2011

55 comments, Last at 18 Dec 2011, 5:09pm by Bright Blue Shorts


by dedkrikit :: Mon, 12/12/2011 - 12:47pm

"...and won the AFC West last year."
But what have you done for me lately?!

by apocalipstick (not verified) :: Mon, 12/12/2011 - 1:30pm

It doesn't help Haley that on a personal level he seems to be, how can I say it... oh, yes, a thundering tool.

by Jasta (not verified) :: Mon, 12/12/2011 - 2:35pm

Thundering tool might be putting it mildly... somehow. When you make Josh McDaniels look grounded in comparison, you probably have some interpersonal issues to say the least. That and his "coaching" in the Baltimore playoff game (quite possibly the worst I've ever seen from a professional HC, though calling Haley a professional stretches the word) doomed him before the season started in the front office.

by sundown (not verified) :: Mon, 12/12/2011 - 3:08pm

And the coaching miscues just kept coming! He rested all his starters during the preseason, presumably to guard against injuries. The result? They started the regular season looking terrible and got outscored 89-10 in their first two games...and they still ended up being decimated by injuries!

But his biggest failure was showing Weis the door last year. That was completely on account of Haley's ego and the offense never was the same after Weis left.

by justanothersteve :: Mon, 12/12/2011 - 4:21pm

Say what? Most of KC's starters played most of the last preseason game this year long after the Packers had pulled every starter who didn't have an available sub. Matthews, Jennings, Nelson, Driver, and Finley didn't even play. Cassel was pulled for the Tyler Palko experience, but Jamaal Charles and Bowe were both still on the field in the fourth quarter. Vic So'oto, who made the Packers practice squad, made the KC OL look silly.

by Arkaein :: Mon, 12/12/2011 - 10:14pm

Cassel was actually supposed to play more, but was knocked out of that game with a rib injury.

It was really even more ridiculous than you described. Not one Packers WR who actually made the roster suited up for that game.

Oh, and Vic So'oto actually made the roster. He just never is activated because he's either hurt, doesn't play special teams, or isn't practicing hard enough. And yes, he made the Chiefs look silly.

by Drunkmonkey :: Mon, 12/12/2011 - 4:35pm

From what I hear, it wasn't that Haley showed Weiss the door, but as soon as the season ended, Weiss ran through it like Krispy Kream was on the other side. Haley seemed to just bring out the nutjob in everybody.

I agree that Weiss left because of Haley's ego, and that it was a huge mistake to just let him go, but I think Weiss left of his own accord, not being forced out by Haley.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 12/12/2011 - 1:02pm

The Belichik coaching tree is a kinda' scrawny thing.

by RickD :: Mon, 12/12/2011 - 1:17pm

Haley's not in the Belichick coaching tree.

by Dwayne (not verified) :: Mon, 12/12/2011 - 1:33pm

And his tree does include Jim Schwartz, Nick Saban, Kirk Ferentz, and Pat Hill

by Anonymous(not that one) (not verified) :: Mon, 12/12/2011 - 1:44pm

Um, Schwartz still has a shit record. Saban was a bad NFL coach/GM. BIg 13 wins don't mean shit.

by Danish Denver-Fan :: Mon, 12/12/2011 - 3:24pm

16-29 with steady improvement, after taking over what probably was the worst football team in the history of football. It won't get you into the hall of fame, but it's not a shit record by any reasonable definition.

by zlionsfan :: Mon, 12/12/2011 - 4:41pm

Actually, the 2009 team was arguably worse; they just had more luck than the 2008 team. The 1942 team scored an amazing 38 points ... in 11 games. (That is not a typo. They were shut out five times and failed to score more than once in the remaining games.)

There are other teams that I think were significantly worse, as well, but they played long enough ago that it's hard to indicate that with any degree of confidence ... the '51 Yanks, for example, or the '52 Texans.

But your point is still valid: I don't think it makes sense to look at Schwartz' overall record and use it as proof that he's not a good coach.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 12/12/2011 - 1:49pm

Yeah, I don't see a lot of NFL success there. Nick Saban had a taste of coaching teams without a huge talent advantage for most of his games, and decided it wasn't for him.

by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 12/12/2011 - 6:05pm

How far are we supposed to take coaching trees. Jim Schwartz was a personnel scout under BB for God's sake. Wouldn't he bu more under the Jeff Fisher tree, since he spent 10 years working under him?

by justanothersteve :: Mon, 12/12/2011 - 9:00pm

You could do it like those rock band trees where Jimi Hendrix gets linked to Michael Jackson by the Isley Brothers.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 12/12/2011 - 1:47pm

That's right, he is on the Parcells tree, Weis branch, with a little Pioli thrown in. Got my plants mixed up.

by tuluse :: Mon, 12/12/2011 - 1:55pm

Isn't Belichick on the Parcells tree himself?

by Will Allen :: Mon, 12/12/2011 - 2:05pm

Of course, but on the defensive branch, whereas Haley was on the Parcells offensive branch. Horticulture is hard.

by ebongreen :: Mon, 12/12/2011 - 1:06pm

… just in time for the Packers to come to town. Can we just mark this down as an auto-forfeit and save both teams the embarrassment of showing up and the risk of injuries?

Last year coaches were fired after playing the Packers; nothing like a pre-emptive change-up for "spice".

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Mon, 12/12/2011 - 2:47pm

I'd say teams with interim new coaches are very dangerous. The players are often glad to get rid of the loser-HC and the interim just says "I haven't got time to start lecturing you so just go out and play your best". There's a general feeling of optimism and happiness that carries out on to the field.

I may be wrong but I have a feeling both Minnesota and Dallas won last year after dumping Childress and Phillips.

by RickD :: Mon, 12/12/2011 - 11:10pm

The only way the Chiefs had a chance against the Packers was if something like this happened.

I still don't see it happening unless Aaron Rodgers shows up drunk.

That makes me wonder - how would being drunk change the play of various QBs. I don't think Favre would change at all. And I seem to recall reading Dr. Z saying that Stabler actually did show up for some games drunk.

by dryheat :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 1:09pm

Have we absolutely ruled out that Ken Stabler is not Raider Joe?

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Sun, 12/18/2011 - 5:09pm

Well ... that didn't go too well for the Packers did it?

by Bernie (not verified) :: Mon, 12/12/2011 - 1:10pm

Somewhere, Larry Johnson is smiling.

by BJR :: Mon, 12/12/2011 - 1:12pm

Does Romeo Crennel take over in the interim, or perhaps permanently?

by Mr Shush :: Mon, 12/12/2011 - 1:24pm

In the interim, yes.

by Richie :: Mon, 12/12/2011 - 2:00pm

He took over a crappy Chiefs team, and 2 years later went on a miracle run and won the division. Then he comes back the next year and has injuries to some of his best players:
Jamaal Charles
Matt Cassel
Eric Berry
Tony Moeaki
and the team is not good. Are we surprised?

Yeah, he sometimes seemed like a jerk from the outside, but seems a little premature to fire him. Maybe he deserves some blame for not having a better backup QB?

by tuluse :: Mon, 12/12/2011 - 2:07pm

I would have fired Pioli for giving Cassell that contract personally.

by San O (not verified) :: Mon, 12/12/2011 - 4:59pm

You might be on to something. @DougFarrar mentioned the same thing and the roster would be on the GM.

As for Cassel "excelling", that's a relative term for a system quarterback, but you could say that Weiss is one of the few coaches that screwed up both of his quarterbacks (Chiefs and Gators) before jumping ship for a new job (Kansas).

Good luck, Jayhawks.

by LionInAZ (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 7:43pm

With the right players around him, Cassel has shown he can "excel" in the same way that Alex Smith is 'excelling' right now. I thought Cassel's best asset last year was that he didn't make many mistakes (i.e., INTs). Sometimes that's good enough, but sure couldn't do that without a healthy Jamaal Charles.

by greybeard :: Thu, 12/15/2011 - 1:34am

Alex smith has the right players around him?
You learn something new on the internets everyday.

by Ben :: Mon, 12/12/2011 - 2:13pm

Can anyone explain to me the point of firing coaches late in the season? What advantage does it have over waiting until the season is done, other than signal that you've given up completely?

by ebongreen :: Mon, 12/12/2011 - 2:20pm

The major on-field "plus" I can see from an owner's perspective is that when the coach is fired, the players may think that they are now playing for their own jobs, rather than to save their (ex-)coach's job. New coaching regimes have the option of cleaning the house and dumping players they don't think fit or perform - so if you-Mr.-Player hated the old coach and still have a passion for the game, you'd better begin playing like it.

It almost becomes pre-season - everyone's now playing for a roster spot on some team, even if it's not the current one. It might be very-short-term adrenaline for a team already on life support.

Off-field, it mutes the fanbase and media roars of disgust and "Throw the bums out!" - because the head bum has been thrown.

Beyond that, your guess is as good as mine.

by BJR :: Mon, 12/12/2011 - 8:28pm

It also gives the organisation the chance to audition an in-house candidate as the next head coach. Romeo Crennel likely has a decent chance of landing the job if he can coax some good performances out of the team before the end of the year. The Chiefs defence has some good young talent and has performed pretty well this season in the face of some abysmal play by the offence. Certainly those that witnessed their recent prime-time games against New England and Pitts will testify that they have been playing hard. It might be wise to maintain some consistency there, even if he is not necessarily the most inspiring choice.

by tuluse :: Mon, 12/12/2011 - 2:23pm

You get a slight jump on hiring a new coach, especially if you go after a college coach. You can give the interim coach an opportunity if you are considering him. And you can signal to the players that you are making changes, which could have some kind of effect.

by sjt (not verified) :: Mon, 12/12/2011 - 2:23pm

I'm sure there's a bit of temporary personal satisfaction for the owner. Especially if you get to fire a charmer like Haley.

I suppose it also lets you start looking for a new coach asap without the akwardness of still having the current guy there.

by Mr Shush :: Mon, 12/12/2011 - 10:28pm

I believe there is a screwed up ball of paper in Clark Hunt's circular file, which if smoothed out would read:

Should I fire Haley now?

Pros: An extra month of not having to talk to Todd Haley

Cons: Who cares?

by dryheat :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 1:14pm

Yep. Both the Chiefs and Dolphins can start wooing Bill Cowher without fear of consequences if said wooing is leaked. In fact, I'm willing to bet that if Haley wasn't fired, Sparano wouldn't have been either.

(Note: If Sparano was fired first, reverse those names)

by sundown (not verified) :: Mon, 12/12/2011 - 3:13pm

Interestingly enough, it probably gives Haley a better shot at landing a job somewhere else than if they'd waited. It at least gets his name out there sooner which can't hurt. There will be some coordinator jobs opening up soon. Ironically, one of them could well be Josh McDaniels' job in St. Louis. And profootballtalk is claiming McDaniels might land Haley's old job.

by Dull Science (not verified) :: Mon, 12/12/2011 - 2:52pm

Check out the tweets from @CharlesRobinson. He details the Haley-Pioli-Weiss split. Basically everyone made mistakes and they couldn't move past it (that's the real simple version). Reading his tweets is like watching a train wreck in slow motion and it's incredible this didn't happen sooner.

by sundown (not verified) :: Mon, 12/12/2011 - 3:25pm

Thanks for the tip. Very interesting, assuming Robinson is correct on all his stuff. The one thing he says I can't really buy is that Cassel didn't excel under Weis. Even if Haley was the one working with Cassel, as Robinson claims, he was still excelling under Weis' playcalling. If Haley was the reason Cassel and the rest of the offense was playing so well last season, why the decline the moment Weis left?

by tuluse :: Mon, 12/12/2011 - 3:50pm

Could have something to do with that running back they had getting hurt.

Also, I think it's a stretch to call what Cassell was doing "excelling."

by sundown (not verified) :: Mon, 12/12/2011 - 11:03pm

27 TDs vs. 7 INTs for 2010 with a QB rating over 90. How much better would he have had to of played to reach that level for you?

by RickD :: Mon, 12/12/2011 - 11:19pm

FO has Cassel as the 14th best QB (by DYAR, 16th by DVOA) for 2010. His numbers would have excelled for a QB in the 80s, but standards are very high for QBs these days.

My list of QBs that "excelled" in 2010 would be: Brady, Manning, Brees, Rodgers, and Rivers. That's from arbitrarily drawing a line at 65% completion rate.

If you wanted to do some kind of clustering analysis, the natural divide would be after Brady, Manning, and Rivers. Hmm...it's hard to justify including Brees and excluding Ryan. Oh well.

by sundown (not verified) :: Mon, 12/12/2011 - 11:57pm

The only other QB last year who had 20 more TDs than INTs was named Brady. That's incredibly impressive...so much so that it was only the second time in Brady's career that he'd done it. Brees, Rodgers and Rivers have done it once each for their careers, Manning has only done it twice, Matt Ryan has never done it.

by Mr Shush :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 6:46am

From which I think we conclude that 1. Cassel played an incredibly soft schedule in 2010 and 2. TD-INT differential is an almost worthless metric.

by Nathan :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 8:41am

It's an extremely good descriptive metric. Not a good predictive metric.

by markus (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 11:09am

Given the choice of having a guy complete 65% of his passes or throw single digit interceptions and/or throw 20 more TDs than interceptions, every coach on earth would take the latter. The easiest way to lose games is to give the ball away. If completio percentage were a good metric, Kyle Orton would still be starting in Denver and they'd still be in last place.

by Mr Shush :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 12:22pm

Completion percentage is not a good metric, I completely agree. If you want something basic, yards/attempt is not at all bad (though obviously far from perfect).

Clearly that's what a coach would want, because it would mean he'd probably won a bunch of games. It just wouldn't tell him very much about the skill of his quarterback.

by Kyle D. (not verified) :: Tue, 12/13/2011 - 2:23pm

How is yards per attempt any better or more basic than TDs vs. interceptions? It doesn't get any more basic than that: Good QBs (which I'd equate to "skilled" QBs) throw considerably more touchdowns than interceptions. That wasn't really the case in the days before the pass interference rules were changed, but it's an absolute in today's game. It may or may not be predictive of future performance--though I don't know if yards per attempt is any better--but it certainly tells you if your QB played well or not.

by Mr Shush :: Thu, 12/15/2011 - 7:05am

It isn't any more basic, but it's a much better indicator of how well a quarterback played (and certainly much more predictive).

For an illustration of how a bad game from a bad quarterback can produce a good TD-INT differential, see here.

by theslothook :: Mon, 12/12/2011 - 3:25pm

this feels like a scapegoat type of deal. I actually think in many ways, the chiefs have exceeded expectations. Not only did 99 percent of the population outside KC think this team was going to regress big time, they managed to remain relatively competitive while losing so many players to injury early- cassell(even tho he sucks), moeki, berry, charles...i mean, hard to imagine even bill belicheck making anything of this roster.

by RickD :: Mon, 12/12/2011 - 11:20pm

Unless a lot of people are misleading us, Haley really could have been fired 12 months ago and only saved his job by winning the division.

I've heard nothing good about his management or other interpersonal skills.

by Michael LaRocca (not verified) :: Mon, 12/12/2011 - 7:44pm

I don't believe he deserved to be fired. But now that it's happened, if the Chiefs offered me his old job, I would not want it. (The money, sure, but not the job.)