Todd Haley didn’t have a chance. Neither did the terrible sweater and hat combo that he loved to wear.
Hopes were high for the Chiefs this season, with running back Jamaal Charles looking to entrench himself amongst the elite running backs, and Dwayne Bowe entering into the realm of big play receivers. After a surprise berth in the 2010 postseason, the Chiefs seemed poised for another playoff run. But it was simply not to be this year, and little of it was Haley’s fault.
Big time safety Eric Berry went down for the year, and while many questioned the team’s choice of picking him 5th overall in 2010, it would be hard to question his value in the secondary. Tight end Tony Moeaki, fresh off a stellar rookie campaign, went down as well. Then Charles blew out his knee and the team was left with some combination of Dexter McCluster, Thomas Jones and Jackie Battle to carry the ball. All this before the first game of the year ended. As if it couldn’t get worse, Matt Cassell took a hit and was lost for the season as well.
Enter Tyler Palko.
Who? Well the league has come to know Palko over the last few weeks, and the results have been nothing short of a disaster. He has mastered the art of hitting his receivers’ feet square on. Bowe has vanished. Rookie Jonathan Baldwin, after his hand healed from trying to fight Thomas Jones in the pre-season, had one big game, then disappeared as well. Steve Breaston? Little here and a little there, but when Mr. Palko is throwing the ball, life is not easy for a receiver.
So simply put, the Chiefs had no chance this year. Their roster is littered with high draft picks who are getting paid too much to do too little. Glen Dorsey and Tyson Jackson were both top-5 picks, but they have had next to nothing in terms of success on the defensive line. Tamba Hali is a threat off the edge, but he can’t do it all himself. Brandon Flowers is one of the most underrated cover corners in the league, but he is often left out to dry down the field, on a proverbial island.
What was Haley to do this year? After winning the AFC West last year, many thought the Chiefs could make a serious run in the AFC this year. But how do you blame a coach for all of his star players getting injured? Next year, barring more disasterous injuries, the Chiefs could return to the limelight. They will add some more players via the draft and Charles will hopefully slash the league to pieces once again.
But it will be under the direction of a new coach. Who will that be? It is much too early to speculate, but Scott Pioli and the Chiefs may be wise to go for a tactitian this time around. Nevermind the character and attitude. Get someone who knows how to coach the game, and get the most out of their players. And magically find a way to keep them healthy.