For the last couple of weeks, when asked about the reason behind LB Derrick Johnson's diminishing playing time, Kansas City Chiefs head coach Todd Haley pulled out the line that the right 53, not necessarily the best 53, will play. He also said, on both occasions, that Johnson has been a little nicked up.
It's been a few weeks as DJ gets over a minor ankle sprain and a groin injury, and is seemingly healthy, so what gives?
Here's an exchange between Haley and a reporter when asked about DJ.
What is going on with Derrick Johnson? Just straight forward, he's healthy enough to play special teams but can't get onto the field.
"You're the Derrick Johnson question guy, aren't you? We're going to label you Derrick Johnson question guy," Haley responded. "There's a lot of factors that go into it.
"Right now, I'd rather you be talking about Demorrio Williams because that guy came out and played a heck of a game. They happen to play the same position. We're going to play the guys that give us the best chance to win. Period. Like I've said from the start."
"53. Talk about him," Haley said a little stronger than usual. "That guy busts his butt. How many tackles did he have, do you know?"
Seven, the reporter responded.
"Good production. We'll play the guys that give us the best chance to win. Period."
So this week it's not a nicked up issue, it's a production issue?
"53 got a chance to play however he got in there and he's playing well and giving us a chance to win," he continued. "I thought Demorrio played a game good enough for us to win. He was one of the guys above the line of 'Did you play good enough to win, did you play in the middle somewhere and hold the fort, or did you probably hurt our chances to win? Demorrio was above that positive line."
The exchange certainly wasn't an overabundance of emotion, and it won't make national headlines, but it was one of the stronger responses we've heard from Haley since he was hired.
The question becomes, did Haley respond like that because:
A) He felt that strongly about Demorrio Williams' play
B) He was making a point to ignore Derrick Johnson
Judge for yourself by watching the video here (courtesy of David Eulitt of the Kansas City Star).