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Surprise, Chiefs suddenly winning again
Is there a more clueless player in the NFL than Reggie Bush?
Does T.O. still think he's relevant?
Plus, we say "Hail to the Chief," even if it isn't a very popular notion, recognize the Super Bowl favorites and wonder if the NFL should eliminate the postgame handshake.
It's time for our weekly Sizzle and Fizzle in the NFL.
After the wretched start, the critics were already writing the epitaph on Haley's career in Kansas City. One report said the favorite to replace him was nemesis Josh McDaniels, who ran the Broncos into the ground.
Then a funny thing happened on the way to termination and oblivion. Haley's Chiefs rebounded from a 0-3 start and started winning.
Haley is a regular guest on my SiriusXM NFL Radio show. Throughout the bad times, he kept stressing to us how much he loved the character of the Chiefs players. He stressed it Wednesday when he told us, "I just felt it deep in my heart that there was something special and unique about this group. We went through that early test. We lost great young players (Eric Berry and Jamaal Charles for the season with injuries). But these guys never stopped believing in each other. I kept telling these guys that good things can happen, and they have worked hard."
Earlier in the season, we grilled Haley as to why he wasn't calling the plays. Now he insists, for superstition, that I ask the question every week. And he won't shave. But there has to be more to the Chiefs winning ways.
Haley told us, "We are getting better in doing less of the things that cause you to get beat."
It's simple, but it's accurate. It's also a credit to Haley and his staff and the mentally tough players Scott Pioli picked.
The Chiefs are 3-3 after picking off the Raiders six times and winning in Oakland. They have 4-2 San Diego in a showdown at Arrowhead on Monday night.
If Kansas City — clearly a more mentally tough team than the Chargers, though not as talented — wins on Monday, will the critics finally get off Haley's back?
No Charles. No Berry. Tony Moeaki was lost for the year in the preseason. First-round pick Jonathan Baldwin got in a fight and has been a non-factor. All the odds are stacked against the Chiefs. Let's give Haley some credit.
Mike's a perfectionist. That's why there is going to be a street named after him. That's why he won the Super Bowl. That's why he is winning another one, and why the Packers are going undefeated.
When talking to McCarthy this week on the SiriusXM Blitz, he was lamenting the third-down efficiency on offense and giving up too many big plays on defense. He's talking about the Packers! McCarthy knows how to keep his team supremely motivated after the bye week.
On the flip side, McCarthy did cite positives in the 7-0 start. He said, "Aaron Rodgers is playing at an extremely high level. We deal with adversity well in games. Our red zone defense has been strong. So has our defense after a turnover." McCarthy added, "Our team does a great job staying in tune with reality and a great job in preparation."
With McCarthy, defensive coordinator Dom Capers, and leaders like Rodgers and Charles Woodson, the Packers will not ever rest on their laurels or think they have achieved anything unless they win the Super Bowl. It's an incredibly impressive group.
Well, I'm glad we got that settled.
Here's the real story: Reggie Bush committed career suicide, as we predicted, when he asked the Saints to be released. He had a perfect situation in New Orleans, even though he obviously didn't appreciate it. So what if he didn't live up to the hype coming out of USC. Sean Payton, Mickey Loomis and Drew Brees appreciated his skill-set. He had a spark plug role on a great team playing with a great quarterback. Now, he is irrelevant, and he looks like a bust being asked to carry the football on first and second down for a winless team.
Bush has carried the ball 60 times for 233 yards and no touchdowns. He has 17 catches for 97 yards. Reggie Bush is a non-factor.
Bush's replacement in New Orleans is Darren Sproles, who is averaging 7.4 yards per carry this year. He has 289 yards on 39 attempts with two rushing touchdowns. He also has 45 catches for 329 yards and two receiving scores, not to mention domination on special teams.
Or in other words, Bush is clueless, a non-entity and he stinks.
That's right, this still remains a hot topic in the NFL. It's Jim Harbaugh and Jim Schwartz. It was Eric Mangini and Bill Belichick. It seemingly is Todd Haley vs. the world. It's Haley vs. McDaniels one year and Haley against Hue Jackson last week.
Can't we all just get along?!?
I joked to Haley on the radio that we had to spend five minutes of an interview before a Monday Night Football game against the Chargers talking about shaking hands after a game. It's actually a rather wacky state of affairs.
Haley told us he texted Schwartz after his argument with Harbaugh a message that said, "Welcome to Todd Haley Week, Jim."
Haley added, "I crack up every time I walk out there and there's that swarm of media. I was just happy that one my buddies texted me a link to where I guess they ranked all the handshakes and I saw Chuck Noll, who was one of my true idols growing up in that locker room. I remember him wagging the finger at Jerry Glanville, so it made me feel a little more at ease. Then someone brought me down to Earth and said, 'But yeah, he was shaking his hand with the other hand.' So, that's the maneuver I should have used."
But as I explained to Haley, don't blame the media. This seemingly innocent and innocuous handshake has become an event with passionate, crazy coaches like Schwartz, Harbaugh and Haley.
Haley said, "It's not a big deal. It's a very emotional game. It's hard to win these games. It's hard to lose them when you have to. You're talking about a couple minutes after a lot of crazy things just went on in the game. I don't blame any head coaches for anything that they have to go through."
I can appreciate that take, as I used the same logic in defending Harbaugh and Schwartz. But the league is frowning on the spectacle this has become. To control it you do either one of two things: You either fine coaches or you eliminate the postgame handshake. I credit John Madden for suggesting eliminating the handshake to me on SiriusXM NFL Radio. Madden said when he was coaching, there was no handshake. I'm all for cutting it out.
In Sunday's Schein 9, we blistered Joe Flacco for his horrendous, wasteful performance against the Jaguars. The Ravens defense was dominant, yet Baltimore couldn't beat Jacksonville because Flacco couldn't hit water if he fell out of a boat.
Flacco deserves heat for his fraudulent season, where he looks great against Pittsburgh and St. Louis, but horrendous against the Titans, Jets and Jaguars. But offensive coordinator Cam Cameron deserves a lot of the blame, too.
I keep screaming that the Ravens offense needs to go through Ray Rice. Just because he's stopped early, just because he fumbles early, doesn't mean you abandon the run. Cameron does this way too often. Rice is an elite running back. Flacco isn't consistent enough. It's really that easy. Heck, even Jaguars linebacker Daryl Smith admitted to us on the SiriusXM Blitz on Tuesday that he was surprised Rice didn't get more carries.
Jim Harbaugh needs to control his offensive coordinator, or watch a potential Super Bowl season slip away.
It's the age-old question: If an NFL player works out for NFL teams and nobody from the NFL shows up, is it actually a workout?
I give T.O.'s agent Drew Rosenhaus a ton of credit for staging an event. He suckered the NFL Network into breaking into programming for over an hour to cover Owens' workout live! ESPN and ESPN2 also provided live coverage of an event not a single NFL club deemed worthy. What a pathetic state of affairs.
Tuesday's made-for-TV event proved something I've been saying for a while: T.O. is a sideshow act. He's a reality TV personality. Owens, who has a Hall of Fame resume, is shot as a premier player. And you don't want Owens hanging around your practice field or polluting your locker room as a No. 3 or 4 receiver, coming off a torn ACL. He's been a quarterback killer and coach killer in his NFL career. He's a diva. If you don't believe me, ask Jeff Garcia, Donovan McNabb, Bill Parcells, Tony Romo or Dick Jauron.
Bag it, T.O.