Plan B? Todd Haley’s ‘Plan’ goes haywire

September 12, 2011


— Kansas City Chiefs coach Todd Haley preached about “The Plan” all through training camp, referring to the unusual approach he took after a most unusual offseason.

Rather than hit the ground running like most teams did after the lockout, Haley took a more deliberate pace in practice. He played his starters sparingly in early preseason games, slowly trying to build toward the regular season opener against Buffalo.

Well, “The Plan” sure appeared to flop on Sunday.

Ryan Fitzpatrick threw four touchdown passes, two of them to journeyman tight end Scott Chandler, and the Bills romped to a 41-7 victory at Arrowhead Stadium. It was the most lopsided season-opening loss in franchise history, and the Chiefs’ worst home defeat since a 45-0 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers 35 years ago.

“I’m taking 100 percent responsibility for our team not being ready to go,” Haley said. “You can point the finger right at Todd Haley. I’m taking responsibility.”

Not that there wasn’t plenty to go around.

Dexter McCluster fumbled the opening kickoff and the Bills turned it into a touchdown. Jamaal Charles fumbled later in the game to set up a field goal.

Matt Cassel was dropped for a sack after a video review by the officiating crew wiped away a would-be touchdown pass to Leonard Pope, and the lost yardage forced Ryan Succop to try a 49-yard field goal that he pushed wide right.

“We didn’t execute today,” Charles said, “and that’s on us.”

Cassel threw for 119 yards with a touchdown and an interception, while Charles was held to 56 yards rushing by a defense that ranked last in the NFL in stopping the run in 2010.

The Bills didn’t have much problem stopping it Sunday.

They didn’t have much problem with anything.

Fitzpatrick needed only five plays after McCluster’s fumble to hit Chandler from four yards out for a 7-0 lead, and Buffalo scored again late in the quarter when he hit Steve Johnson in the back of the end zone.

Even when Kansas City started to find its rhythm, things went haywire.

Cassel engineered a nice drive that looked like it would result in a touchdown pass to Pope, but the big tight end’s knee came down out of bounds while he was still juggling the ball. Then came Spencer Johnson’s sack of Cassel and Succop’s missed field goal.

Buffalo promptly went 50 yards for a field goal and a 17-0 lead, and added another field goal after Charles fumbled on the first play of the Chiefs’ ensuing possession.

The Bills scored 20 or more points four times last season; they had that many with 5:38 left in the first half Sunday.

“When things started going bad, they just went bad,” Chiefs defensive tackle Kelly Gregg said. “Landslide”

Kansas City finally mounted a scoring drive that Cassel finished off with a short touchdown pass to Charles on third down, but the Chiefs still trailed 20-7 at halftime.

“Any time you score only seven points and your opponents put up 41, you’re not having an effective day,” Cassel said. “We’ve got to get back on the drawing board.”

Chandler added his second TD grab after halftime, which came after a pair of penalties turned third-and-goal at the one foot line into third-and-goal at the 11. Fitzpatrick added his fourth touchdown toss of the game to Donald Jones later in the third quarter.

There was a somber atmosphere at Arrowhead most of the day, and not just because of the score. As one of the main venues selected by the NFL for Sept. 11 tributes, a field-sized American flag was unfurled before the game. American Idol winner David Cook sang the national anthem, and military flyovers were conducted before kickoff and again at halftime.

“I know that we weren’t ready. The Buffalo Bills were better prepared today than the Kansas City Chiefs,” Haley said. “We got to be better next week, but for today, we were not prepared. And I’m taking full responsibility for that.”

Notes: The Chiefs were 7-1 at Arrowhead last season. ... Kelvin Sheppard’s recovery of McCluster’s fumble was the first by a Bills rookie in a season opener since Dan Jilek and Ken Jones each had one against Miami on Sept. 13, 1976. ... Chiefs S Eric Berry left in the first quarter with a knee injury. ... Bills CB Terrence McGee also left in the first quarter with a hamstring injury.


cato_the_elder 6 years, 8 months ago

Haley is a frat-boy golfer, not a football coach. The little he knows about football he knows only because his daddy was a coach and he grew up around it. He's the worst NFL head coach (I use that word advisedly) ever hired. Pioli needs to admit he made a mistake, fire him at the end of the season, and start over.

kujayhawk 6 years, 8 months ago

I'm no Haley fan and I wish the Chiefs would get rid of him, but just because he played golf doesn't disqualify him as a football coach. Coaching in the NFL is like being in a fraternity and his dad was able to get him a job. It's obviously not rocket science, that's why you see entire families coaching in the NFL (cough, Schottenheimers, cough).

cato_the_elder 6 years, 8 months ago

Kujayhawk, I believe you've proved my point.

lvlndhawk 6 years, 8 months ago

Worst ever? As a Colo resident, let me refer you to the late Josh McDaniels, who took the Broncs way down in the won-loss catagory and made the worst personel decisions ever!

cato_the_elder 6 years, 8 months ago

Granny: You might consider keeping with the topic at hand, which is NFL football.

Of course, I'm sure you know as little about that as you know about high school football, so your boring rants will probably continue.

sobchaksecurity 6 years, 8 months ago

Huh? I thought you were already in the "Haley is a Joke" club.

Seems like you just wanted to take an unsolicited shot at Wedd. Or cato.

jaywalker 6 years, 8 months ago

Yesterday's catastrophe begs one question...........When does 'Hawks basketball tip off!!!!!?

If there is a silver lining to what looks like an unbelievable long football season now, perhaps we might sink low enough to get into the Andrew Luck sweepstakes. I don't want to write off Cassel just yet because his rib injury may have kept them from trying to throw downfield, but that was an embarrassing display from almost every angle.

And cato, the worst head coach ever hired doesn't take a team to the playoffs in his second year. Sorry.

Mike Gammill 6 years, 8 months ago

Although I don't see them on TV as much since I live out of state, this has to be one of the worst showings the Chiefs have ever put on in front of the home crowd.

I don't see Haley and his coaching staff much interested in winning. Even the players seem to shrug off losses as "we didn't execute". That excuse is wearing old. So is the excuse of "I didn't have them ready". In their glory days, the Chiefs took each loss very personally and very hard. They learned from them, and it paid off in SB4. Even pre-season losses were not well tolerated. Haley and his gang (players included), have had two losing pre-seasons thus far in his tenure. Their excuse is "we're evaluating talent". They are punchless on offense, a sieve on defense, and cannot afford even one turnover due to their inabilities.

It's been 41 seasons since 1969, and at the pace they're going, it'll be another 41+ before they see the SB again. I, for one, miss those days. This pathetic team shouldn't even wear Chiefs' colors.

dwheidrick 6 years, 8 months ago

yes it is true that Haley took us to the playoffs, but your memory is playing tricks on you. The last two games last year was by far the worst coached game I have ever seen. It was Crennel and Weis that made the chiefs successful last year...not Haley! The chiefs do need a new coach. A winning coach like Gruden or Cowher. Cassel has also proven to be a joke. People say that he is good because his completion percentage is high and he doesn't get INTs. That's only because he cant throw further than five yards down the field. He gets scared every time and checks down and when he does throw down field he overthrows them by 5 yards. His average for sunday was a little over 5 yards per reception...pathetic! A good QB would let a batted ball hit the ground for an incompletion...what does cassel do? He catches it for a loss..Moron!

jaywalker 6 years, 8 months ago

Would have liked for him to swat the ball down, but ya gotta chalk it up to instinct. And like I said before, his ribs were probably the reason he wasn't winging the ball around. As for the last two games of last year, again it was Cassel's health that was more the issue than anything else. Guy comes back after 11 days from an apendectomy? Please. He wasn't close to full strength.
I'm not a big Haley fan....yet. And I figured coming into this year that we'd know a lot more about how good a coach he is after this particular season. I'm gonna reserve judgement for now.

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