When listing the coaches on the hot seat for 2011, it’s easy to overlook Chiefs coach Todd Haley. After all, Haley led the Chiefs to an unlikely 10-win season, even if it ended with a more likely (for the Chiefs) one-and-done playoff appearance.
As Kent Babb of the Kansas City Star points out in a start-of-the-season interview with Haley and several other members of the organization, the third-year head coach is entering the next-to-last year of his contract. Thus, there’s a chance that, based on the team’s performance in 2011, he’ll either be extended — or excommunicated.
And Haley seems to know that last year won’t matter if this year ends up being a debacle, invoking the “what-have-you-done-for-me-lately” cliche when discussing the new NFL.
He’s right. And though there are aspects of his style that command respect — creativity, decisiveness — it’s the people skills, or lack thereof, that could fail to get Haley the benefit of the doubt if he doesn’t get results in 2011, regardless of whether his mentor was Bill Parcells, Tom Landry, Vince Lombardi, or Amos Alonzo Stagg.
The broader question is whether, and to what extent, Haley’s fate is tied to G.M. Scott Pioli. In some cities, the G.M. gets at least two shots at hiring a head coach before the G.M. lands in hot water. In other cities, the coach and personnel guru soar or sink together.
Either way, Haley, Pioli, and the Chiefs now have to deal with something that has been fairly foreign to the franchise in recent years. Success begets an expectation of more, and greater, success. Thus, a 6-10 record in 2011 will sting a lot more than it would have stung in 2010.
The question is whether Haley, and possibly Pioli, will get stung right out of town if the Chiefs fall apart this season.