This team seems happy with the coaching change. Let's make one thing clear: The Chiefs weren't 7-9 last year because they didn't like their coach. They were 7-9 because they were a M*A*S*H unit by midseason, because Matt Cassel was just OK when he did play, and because Tyler Palko threw a third of the team's 2011 passes. In many way, they're fortunate to have won seven games. But there's little doubt these players are breathing easier with a coach they like and respect more than Todd Haley. "It had to happen,'' one player said of Haley leaving and Romeo Crennel replacing him. "Players were afraid of speaking up. The environment just wasn't healthy. I think it really wore on Matt.'' Todd Haley and Cassel argued on the sidelines at least twice in view of network cameras, and their relationship always seemed on edge. When I spoke with Cassel, it was as much what he didn't say about Haley as what he said about how he's being coached now by new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll. "I like how he lets me play the quarterback position,'' Cassel said. "I'm not afraid to give my opinion, or to change the play. Some other times, I've been afraid to do that. But [Daboll] says, 'You're the quarterback. If you see something different out there, you've got to act on it.' ''