Watching Chiefs' football this season, most fans and many a commentator have been torn between viewing Todd Haley as either crazy or an absolute genius with plenty of skeptics in between. With the Chief's making a near miracle turn around and heading to the play offs, some of Haley's detractors are starting to skew reluctantly towards "genius" with a lot of "crazy" thrown in.
It's time to face the truth: Todd Haley is crazy...like a fox.
Everyone is talking about the players, the offense and the defense with a few bones thrown to the coaching staff, but one of the factors that has made it all possible is Haley's play calling. He can be unpredictable and that is an extra advantage when playing against consistently good defenses.
Who can forget the early season flea flicker against the 49ers? In an after game interview, Haley explained that the Chiefs had to work with the tools they had and that meant they were going to have to be unpredictable to make up for any short comings. All around the NFL world and fans at home dismissed his comments as some kind of cover for an unstable and unnecessary risk taker. That set the tone for the rest of the season. Every time Haley called for the unconventional, like going for it on 4th and long or running the ball on 3rd and long or even attempting a touch down when a field goal would have made a nice addition to the score and maybe put the game that much further out of the opponent's reach, the nay sayers were convinced that it was proof of Haley's insanity. Especially when the plays didn't work out.
Even Sunday's benching of Cassel had fans scratching their heads and wondering what the head coach could be thinking.
The problem has been that many confuse predictable with consistency. Everybody wants their football team to perform consistently. Pass consistently, catch consistently, rush for plus yards consistently, score from the red zone consistently and defense to stop the run consistently, break up pass plays consistently and keep the opponent out of the red zone. Consistently.
That doesn't mean running the same six to ten plays over and over or only show three defenses. That's predictable and everybody knows a predictable team's play book. When everybody knows a team's play book, that team gets shut out of the play offs. Year after year after year.
Anybody remember "Schottenheimer Ball"? If it was 3rd and one, everybody knew the Chiefs were running the ball. Third and long, it was a pass. There was no question who was going to carry the ball or receive. The opponents didn't have to work hard to come up with a proper defense or figure out where to double up coverage. Schottenheimer and company were so worried about not losing the game they would forget about trying to win it.
That is not quite the case with Haley at the helm. Unpredictable means the Chiefs' opponents have had to thin out their defense to cover all potential plays. A thin defense makes any play possible.
Yes, to get to the play offs in a "rebuilding year" the Chiefs have had to check off a lot of boxes in developing players, building team unity and putting the right coaches in place. They did it. But Haley's tangent towards the unpredictable has helped fill in a couple of holes that might not have been corrected until 2011 or 2012.
So, while everyone else is giving props to the players, put me in the "Todd Haley is a coaching genius" category and the next time Haley calls a play that has you scratching your head, think about this: the coaches on the other sideline are scratching their heads, too.
On a side note, I wonder if Haley ever read "The Art of War". Sun Tzu says: Attack him (the enemy) where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected.