Chiefs at new low with embarrassing loss to Browns
If Todd Haley is contemplating any coaching changes when this miserable season finally comes to an end for Kansas City, he's keeping his thoughts to himself.
On Monday, in the wake of an embarrassing 41-34 loss to the lowly Cleveland Browns, Haley was evasive and defensive when asked if coaching had anything to do with the many problems and shortcomings plaguing his team.
``I'm not going to speculate into that,'' said Haley. ``We've got our biggest game of the year coming up, in Cincinnati, going back on the road after three very disappointing home games.''
The loss to the troubled Browns dropped the Chiefs in Haley's first season as a head coach to 3-11 and closed out a second straight 1-7 home season. Going back to early in the 2007 season, the Chiefs are 5-34.
They're sure to be big underdogs in their final two games, on the road at Cincinnati and Denver. Instead of getting better in the first year of the new regime headed by Haley and first-year general manager Scott Pioli, they appear to be getting worse.
Haley insisted that was not the case.
``I wouldn't take that stance,'' he said. ``I think that result yesterday wasn't good enough. We have to do a better job. But again, I think there's been progress in enough areas to know we're making progress now. Some of it has been more `yo-yoish' than I would like. But I expect those guys up front to bounce back.''
On Sunday, a running back who had barely gained 300 yards all year ran through, over and away from the Chiefs' defense for one of the greatest games in NFL history.
Jerome Harrison, making a mockery of Kansas City's run defense, romped for 286 yards. He erased Jim Brown's franchise record, which had stood for 52 years, and rolled up the third-best one-game total in NFL history.
Also on one of the most humiliating days since the Chiefs were founded in 1959, Cleveland's Josh Cribbs returned two kickoffs for touchdowns, breaking and then extending the NFL career record.
Coming under scrutiny as much as anyone on Haley's staff will probably be defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast, who was released from the same position last season by Arizona. Also under fire from fans and other critics is defensive line coach Tim Krumrie, who held the same position last year when the Herm Edwards-coached Chiefs set an NFL record-low with 10 sacks.
In three of their last four games, the Chiefs have given up 40 or more points. In the three-game homestand against Denver, Buffalo and Cleveland, they yielded almost 800 yards rushing. Cleveland's 351 yards rushing was the most any Kansas City defense ever yielded.
But it's not as though the Browns were the only ones who've had record-breaking days in KC. In a 26-20 Cowboys win over the Chiefs in October, Miles Austin erased Hall-of-Famer Bob Hayes' franchise record for yards receiving. Two more Hall of Fame players, Gale Sayers and Ollie Matson, were among those who had shared the record for career kickoff returns for touchdowns that Cribbs obliterated.
``We did not win the line of scrimmage on defense, and when you don't win the line of scrimmage on defense, you're going to have problems,'' Haley said.
Also worrisome has been the play of defensive linemen Tyson Jackson and Alex Magee, the top two choices in the first draft of the Pioli-Haley era. Jackson has had little impact although he was the taken No. 3 overall, and Magee, making his first start on Sunday, was part of the problem in the Browns' record-smashing win.
Was it poor talent? Or poor coaching?
``I think that question is a little too black and white,'' Haley said. ``It's a group effort. Doing things the right way. Our coaches getting the players to do it the right way and our players doing it the right way and doing that at a high enough level in a game situation to be effective. And yesterday, we were not.''
And if all that weren't enough, the Chiefs also kept up their season-long habit of dropping passes. By Haley's count, 10 were dropped Sunday, keeping quarterback Matt Cassel from having a huge game and probably preventing a win.
``This drop thing is as frustrating as anything in coaching I've had to deal with,'' said Haley.