Cardinals-Chiefs Preview

BY foxsports • November 19, 2010

Todd Haley made headlines for what he did after last week's game. The spotlight certainly won't come off him leading up to this one.

Working for the Arizona Cardinals led to his hiring as Kansas City Chiefs coach, and Haley's former offense is doing a lot worse than his new one going into the volatile leader's first game against his old team Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium.

"Any time you have a lot of ties on an another team, I can't say it changes how you prepare or do anything," Haley said. "You just always want to win. And any time you can beat your friends it feels a little better."

Haley served as Cardinals offensive coordinator in 2007 and 2008 and helped them to the verge of a championship in his second season. Arizona had the NFC's second-ranked offense that year and set a franchise record with 427 points, key reasons why Kansas City (5-4) named him coach just five days after the Cardinals' Super Bowl loss to Pittsburgh.

Haley has been a controversial figure going back to his days in Arizona - he had an infamous sideline blow-up with receiver Anquan Boldin during the NFC championship game - and that reputation grew last Sunday. He refused to shake the hand of Denver coach Josh McDaniels after the Chiefs' 49-29 loss, instead pointing his finger at him and stomping away.

A day later, Haley was sorry for the incident but wouldn't say what prompted his behavior.

"I do believe in doing what's right and that was not right," Haley said. "Probably let the emotions of the situation get me too much. And I apologize."

His former boss in Arizona (3-6) is receiving a fair share of criticism as well. It was coach Ken Whisenhunt's decision to release Matt Leinart in the offseason, and the Cardinals' quarterbacks have been mediocre - a big reason Arizona shares last place in the NFC West after winning back-to-back division titles.

The Cardinals, losers of four straight, are second-to-last in the league in total yards per game (289.1), offensive touchdowns (13) and passer rating (61.7).

"We've set the standard here of making plays in critical situations and now what's happening is we're not making enough plays in all facets of our game," Whisenhunt said. "I think that's carrying over because we're seeing other teams make plays on us but we're not answering those plays."

While Kurt Warner's offseason retirement has played into the Cardinals' struggles offensively, his presence keyed Haley's success in Arizona, but the fiery coach has rejuvenated the Chiefs' offense with a less heralded quarterback.

Matt Cassel is the NFL's ninth-rated passer - throwing 12 touchdowns and one interception over the last five games - and Kansas City ranks among the upper half of the league in scoring and total offense. However, the Chiefs have stumbled since their 3-0 start, losing two straight and four of six.

"We have had some success but we are not a good team yet because good teams show certain traits on a consistent basis and do things a certain way on a consistent basis and we are just not there yet," Haley said. "It is going to be difficult and there are going to be bumps in the road. The key is that we handle those bumps and that adversity and show the ability and resiliency to bounce back."

Haley wants his team to rebound from an embarrassing start last Sunday, falling into a 35-0 hole in the second quarter. Cassel threw for four touchdowns and a career-high 469 yards, but the Chiefs were never in the game.

Kansas City's top-ranked rushing attack has been slowed down. A week after setting what were season lows with 104 yards rushing and 3.1 per carry in a loss to Oakland, the Chiefs ran for 51 yards and 2.3 per attempt against Denver.

Arizona's ground game has been virtually non-existent, failing to crack 55 yards in two straight games and four of six.

That's made things tougher on Derek Anderson, who has taken the starting quarterback duties back from rookie Max Hall but hasn't been very effective.

The Cardinals are riding their longest losing streak since an eight-game skid in 2006.

Kansas City is 4-0 at home - its best start at Arrowhead since 2003 - while averaging 213.0 rushing yards. Cassel has averaged just 165.8 passing yards at home.

His favorite target, Dwayne Bowe, set career highs with 13 receptions and 186 yards last week, and he can break a team record Sunday by catching a touchdown pass for the sixth straight game.

The Cardinals have lost all three of their games at Kansas City since a 6-6 tie in their first visit in 1970 as the St. Louis Cardinals.

 



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