Sunday, December 18, 2011

As crazy as it sounds, Chiefs have shot at playoffs in spite of Haley

The legacy of former Chiefs head coach Todd Haley and the circus he ran while in Kansas City will be fully realized in the season's final two weeks.

Because, as crazy as it sounds, this team has a real chance to defy the odds and make the playoffs without him.

It's absolute insanity, really, but so is entertaining the thought of Tyler Palko starting an NFL game at quarterback (and, for that matter, witnessing him win an NFL game at quarterback).

Let's back it up a bit.

After the Denver Broncos cut Kyle Orton last month, I argued the Chiefs would be idiots not to claim the veteran quarterback. It was a win-win situation. Either Orton would play well, make the rest of the season interesting in terms of playoff possibilities in the sub-par AFC West, and give GM Scott Pioli some perspective on just how mediocre incumbent starter Matt Cassel is — OR — Orton would flop, the team would struggle (as they would without him), and waste $2MM of Clark Hunt's $30MM-plus cap space on a calculated risk.

The move made sense.

Unfortunately, as we'd learn quickly after his ousting, Haley was never interested in playing Orton. He knew Pioli had already made up his mind on the future, and the lame-duck coach wasn't going to be a part of it. Haley even contemplated resigning earlier in the season because of it.

Instead, he chose to go out guns a' blazin'. Enter the beard, the ratty clothes, and the Palko love — the collective middle-finger to Pioli and Chiefs management whom Haley considered to be the real problem.

Thursday, fresh off a shave, he appeared on ESPN's "Audibles" to play the role of victim in his spat with Pioli. He took his shots. It seemed to work.

But after watching the Chiefs shock the previously undefeated Green Bay Packers Sunday, Haley's "victim" campaign lost most of its cogency.

Quite honestly, now he just looks like the idiot who was holding the team back.

With Orton in, the Chiefs immediately returned to respectability. The running game benefited from the previously unthinkable possibility of the quarterback throwing the ball down the field. Orton eased through his progressions (you know, like a real NFL quarterback).

The offense sustained drives. For the first time in awhile, the players resembled a group that felt it could win.

And, well, they did.

You could argue the difference was interim head coach Romeo Crennel, but remember — Sunday wasn't the first time the defense stepped up for this team. That happened in losses against Denver, Pittsburgh, and San Diego.

The difference in the result against Green Bay was the offense, and more specifically, Orton.

My dreams of Pioli dreaming beyond Cassel have taken a very important first step, but we'll get to that at a later date.

For now, we get to sulk in what could have been had Haley given Orton a chance at all. Would the Chiefs have beaten the Steelers? Maybe. The Patriots? The Jets? Probably not.

Still, real NFL games were wasted in Haley's attempt to defy Pioli. Now, the Chiefs sit at 6-8, and the biggest hurdle from an Orton vs. Tebow for-the-division matchup in the season-finale is a must-have Broncos loss versus the Bills next week on Christmas day.

As predicted, this thing just got interesting. In spite of Haley, the season's final two games matter.

It's hard to believe, but had Orton started from the moment he arrived in Kansas City, the Chiefs would possibly be in the driver's seat to win the division.

It's crazy.

Of course, it's more likely the aftershock of Haley's immaturity will be too much to overcome, and they'll come up short.

But you know, when it comes to this team, banking on predictability is pure ignorance.

Maybe the craziest possible conclusion to what has been the craziest Chiefs season in recent memory is exactly what's in store.

1 comment:

  1. Don't drink the red and gold Kool-Aid quite yet.

    The WORST thing that could possibly happen to this franchise is to win out, to make the postseason, and to provide our nonchalant GM and our cheapass owner a handy excuse to DO NOTHING, something that our franchise is quite adept in.

    2 wins and a combination of rival losses means: NO FISHER, NO COWHER, NO PURSUIT OF A FRANCHISE QB, and yes, A WORSE STANDING IN THE DRAFT. My apologies for the CAPS LOCK on these points, but these are all glaring necessities for a team that has been thru an 'accountability malaise' in several seasons gone by. This team does not (or will not) spend, this team cannot scout talent, this team releases talented players as though they have no need for playmakers: Tynes, Kawika, Jared Allen, Gaither, Pollard, to name but a few....

    Should "Players coach" Romeo bust off a late season rally, the Chiefs will blame the lost season on both the injuries and ex-coach Haley. This last one is ridiculous, as it was Pioli who both
    A. made the initial hire
    B. Stood by while Tyler Palko trotted onto the field and our coach stopped bathing and grooming himself

    Romeo would be begrudgingly accepted by a too-patient fan-base (and hasn't this patience been serving approx 40-some years?), and surely, Clark "Penny Pinching" Hunt would appreciate the lesser-salary to dole out. And, yes, the Chiefs marketers would trumpet the "AFC WEST back-to-back CHAMPION" tagline, all while raising parking into the $30 range.

    Fuck 'em.

    Lose out, grab for positioning in the draft, and keep the heat turned up on both our sadsack GM (who should be in the crosshairs of the next termination), and our owner, who's interest in his football franchise is likely laughed -upon by fellow owners, who put their money and thier hearts into building winning franchises.