FanPost

The Blame Rests on Haley

From the FanPosts. -Chris

From the beginning of the season, optimistic Chiefs fans looked to the Week 14 game against the Buffalo Bills at Arrowhead Stadium as winnable - if not an outright shoo-in.

Even though the Bills arrived in Kansas City with a record only one game better than the Chiefs, half of their losses were by a total of 10 points - while the Chiefs had lost their two previous games by a total of 60 points!

Despite this, three of four respondents in the AP prediction poll for the game believed the Chiefs would win.

So it's no surprise that so much anger is being expressed over this loss.  Simply put… it sucks to be wrong.

And if you're blaming this loss on Matt Cassel - or Chris Chambers - I'm not going to make it any easier for you.  Because I think you're wrong about that, too.

Make no mistake: Matt Cassel didn't play very well on Sunday.  Four interceptions - two of them very bad decisions by the 63 Million Dollar Man - gave him a truly awful quarterback rating of 35.4.  But hidden in that number is the fact that Matt Cassel completed 60% of his passes for 224 yards.  He started the game completing seven of eight.

Nor should we excuse Chambers' dropped pass in the fourth quarter.  It was a ball he should have caught, and it could have made the difference in the game.

But in the final analysis, the Chiefs lost this game because of their head coach.

Item:  with no score in the game, the Chiefs faced fourth and 11 at the Buffalo 35 with 7:16 left in the first quarter.  Rather than try a 52 yard field goal with Mr. Not So Irrelevant, they punted.

Item: a few minutes later in the first quarter - still with no score in the game - the Chiefs faced a fourth and 1 at the Buffalo 1.  Rather than have Mr. Not So Irrelevant put through a chip shot, they called a time out, and then called a misdirection roll out keeper for Cassel - with two linemen reporting eligible - that the Bills sniffed out and crushed.

Item: facing a fourth and 9 at the Buffalo 37 - trailing just 7-3 with 9:36 left in the half - Mr. Not So Irrelevant sat out a chance to try a 54 yarder.  And the Chiefs punted.

Now… I understand perfectly well that 50+ field goal tries on natural turf in December are a bit chancy - even with Mr. Not So Irrelevant lining up to try them.

But after the game, when the Star's Randy Covitz asked Todd Haley to explain the reasoning behind these three decisions, did Haley say that pregame warm-ups had shown Succup couldn't make a 50+ field goal in the existing conditions - which would have been a perfectly reasonable explanation?

No.

Haley explained the punts by saying that he thought it "was a field position game," and that he believed in Dustin Colquitt's ability to pin the Bills back.

But it was his explanation of the second one - the fourth and 1 at the 1 - that really shook me.  Haley said, "As the head coach you've got to make some of those decisions early in the game. Just outside the one yard line it was a great opportunity for us to make a statement."

Excuse me?

Please allow me to explain something, Coach.  Your job isn't to make "statements."  I was under the impression you already knew this, because you have repeatedly described your job in much different terms.  Surely, Coach Haley, you'll recall telling us that your job is to win football games?

And when you leave points on the field - particularly against a team that has scored only nine points more than your woebegone squad during thirteen games this season - you have hurt your team's chance to win.  Period.

Besides… if fourth and 1 at the Buffalo 1 was the time to make a "statement," then why wasn't your later fourth and 1 at the Bills 3 a good time to make a "statement," too?  Otherwise, it is beyond my understanding why, at that point, you sent Succop on to the field to kick his first field goal of the game.

I'm not even going to go into the fact that the Chiefs completely wasted two timeouts in the first half.  Apparently the first was used to decide on the tricky play that didn't fool the Bills for one second. The other one was blown on a hopeless effort to get the referees to move the ball a full yard further downfield.

But hey… let's just forget about what the Chiefs might have been able to do with those two timeouts when they got the ball back just before the half… like maybe get close enough for Succop to kick a field goal.

Because, you see… it isn't about winning the game.  It's about making "statements."

Unfortunately, I'm now starting to believe Haley's mania about making these "statements" goes much deeper.  He repeatedly writes checks that Matt Cassel and his receivers simply can't cash.

It's hardly a secret, you know, that Matt Cassel's biggest weakness in New England - even with top flight receivers like Randy Moss - was the long ball.  He's done nothing in Kansas City to disprove that impression.

Let's be realistic: Matt Cassel is no Peyton Manning, Drew Brees or Tom Brady.  But that's OK, because he doesn't need to be.  In truth, he's really a lot more like Joe Montana - a guy who can keep the team moving down the field, and can come up with big plays late in the game - that is, IF the head coach is smart enough to play to his strengths, instead of his weaknesses.

And you know something?  Even with Willie Davis and Derrick Walker instead of Jerry Rice and John Taylor, that Montana guy was pretty darned good.

Yet on second and 3 at the Bills 37 - rather than call a running play or two with his shiny new weapon Jamaal Charles to get a first down - Haley called a deep ball to Bradley that went incomplete.  And the Chiefs ended up punting.  Then, after getting the ball at his own 41 after a missed field goal, Haley immediately called a deep route to Chambers that went incomplete… rather than simply start moving the ball down the field.  On that drive, Cassel was intercepted on the ensuing third and 3.

I could go on… but I think you get the idea.

It's pretty simple, really.  Todd Haley is so busy trying to prove that he's an offensive genius - and that Scott Pioli made the right decision to give Matt Cassel a big contract - that he seems to have forgotten that his job is to win football games.

So if you like, you can blame Matt Cassel and Chris Chambers for this loss.  Lord knows that if Cassel had played a little better - or if Chambers could have caught that ball at the end - the Chiefs could have won this game.

But this game was really lost because their head coach was too focused on making big "statement" plays, instead of taking care of the business at hand: winning today's game.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Arrowhead Pride's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Arrowhead Pride writers or editors.

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