From River Falls, Wisconsin
The Chiefs are getting ready to break camp here in the northwoods.
Pause with me for a moment and think about the last three weeks. Can you remember a single thing that any of the 80 bodies wearing Chiefs uniforms has said during the team’s stay here?
I’m still pondering. Except for a brief trip to Canton, I’ve been here for every practice, every press conference and have seen and heard most everything that the players have uttered for public consumption.
I can’t think of a thing that caused a headline or a stir. First-round pick Tyson Jackson had the quietest contract negotiations in Chiefs history. Players who didn’t pass their conditioning test were not allowed to practice. There was grumbling among the veterans, but it was done under their breath.
No off-field incidents have reached the media. Doesn’t mean there haven’t been any, or that there have been any. There just haven’t been any headlines.
It’s been very quiet … and that’s just what Pioli/Haley wanted in their first camp. The only voice that’s been heard here in the Falls is that of the head coach. Of course, he has met almost daily with the media since the team landed here on July 30th, so his exposure the scribes, throats and hairdos has been far greater than anyone else.
There have been issues and items of a controversial nature that have popped up in camp. Veteran players have grumbled about the contact, about all the running and about Haley’s loud and public rebukes for mistakes and missteps. All that has come off-the-record. There’s the Dwayne Bowe’s been demoted story that has been made into a big deal, yet we’ve yet to hear any comments from Bowe.
Veteran players have been yanked in and out of the starting lineup. They have nothing to say publicly.
Really the only comments from camp that have caused any type of commotion have come from Haley himself. As a first-time head coach, Haley has been careful with his words, going all the way to his opening press conference in February. Since then, he’s grown far more comfortable talking with the media and has displayed a sense of humor and a self-depreciating outlook that make the daily sessions a bit less stiff.
When some read or heard his comment from Tuesday about the Brett Favre situation with the Vikings – “I’m just worried about this house; it’s on fire and I’m just trying to keep it from burning down” – they reacted negatively. But Haley said it with a smile on his face, and the media recording his words took it as another bit of self-depreciating humor.
But one thing Haley said on Tuesday started a brush fire that the young coach will learn from and will help him in the future. Whenever the subject is quarterbacks, the head man always has to be careful about what he says. Something he said this week was translated as a slam on Matt Cassel and before long, there were rumors floating around the NFL grapevine that Cassel was in trouble and Brodie Croyle could be the Chiefs starter.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Cassel and Croyle have both struggled at times in practices here in River Falls. Because he was knocking off some rust after almost nine months of being unable to practice, Croyle started very poorly and has improved his play.
Haley was asked about the play of all his quarterbacks on Tuesday, and whether he was concerned with how they were performing.
“I think in general across the board for us to have a chance we’re going to have to play pretty good football,” is how Haley started his answer. “I don’t know that anyone can play perfect but we’re going to have to play error-free; we’re not going be able to beat ourselves whether it’s poor throws, penalties, turnovers, whatever.
“I’m always concerned with the quarterback. I thought today we threw the ball around a little bit … I thought in the passing games there were some positives.”
Haley was then asked if Cassel was the best quarterback in camp.
“I’ll hold out on answering that right now,” Haley said.
That answer set off warning bells. Had Haley added one more sentence, something along the lines of “It wouldn’t be fair to the quarterbacks because they are all working very hard and making progress” his unwillingness to endorse Cassel would have fluttered into the stack of NFL clutter.
A day later, that’s essentially what Haley did when he was asked whether his comment indicated he was unhappy with Cassel.
“No, I don’t think that’s the case at all,” Haley said. “The question you were referring to, I think, was has he been the best quarterback. My response to that was this is a full-time evaluation. I mean it’s everything that is going on, so you have game situations which one quarterback’s situation may be a little bit different than another’s. The plays called may be different; there are a lot of things that go into the equation that I don’t think it’s fair to any of those guys to answer that question.
“It had nothing to do with my feelings towards anybody. I think that Matt is working hard, is into it, he cares about it. This is training camp and you’re trying to evaluate a lot of guys: running backs, receivers, tight ends; the whole deal. My response was more to be fair to all those guys.”
Nobody, not the fans, not the players, and especially not the Hunts, want to hear anything but platitudes about their $63 million franchise quarterback. But Haley is intent on holding to his stated position that all starting jobs are open, and yes he’s aware that fuels questions about how well Cassel is performing.
“You can make out of that what you want, but what I’ve told this team is every spot is open and I’m going to stay true to my word and we’re going to evaluate every spot and the guys that give us the best chance to win on opening day will be in the starting lineup,” Haley said. “I’m sticking to my word, that’s all.
“I think that Matt is getting more and more comfortable with what we’re doing out there.”
SIGNINGS, INJURIES & MOVEMENT AROUND THE LEAGUE
- BENGALS – released C Dan Santucci.
- BUCCANEERS – signed S Steve Cargile; released CB Michael Hawkins and S C.J. Byrd.
- CARDINALS – signed WR Steve Sanders; released S Dennis Keyes.
- COLTS – DE Josh Thomas signed.
- DOLPHINS – released CB Eric Green.
- EAGLES – released S Rashad Baker.
- 49ERS — signed CB Eric Green (Dolphins).
- LIONS – released S Daniel Bullocks; claimed LB Robert Francois on waivers (Vikings); placed LB Cody Spencer on the injured-reserve list (knee.)
- PATRIOTS – signed S Roderick Rogers.
- RAIDERS – released FB Lorenzo Neal; placed DE Derrick Gray on the injured-reserve list (knee.)
FROM THE PAGES OF CHIEFS HISTORY
On August 20, 1960, the Dallas Texans beat the New York Titans 38-14 in a pre-season game in Abilene, Texas. (More details later today.)
On August 20, 1966, the Chiefs beat the San Diego Chargers 31-21 in front of 36,038 fans at the brand new Anaheim Stadium. University of Southern California product QB Pete Beathard scored two TDs on runs of 1 and 6 yards. WR Chris Burford caught 6-yard TD pass from Beathard, while WR Otis Taylor finished the game with five catches for 144 yards.
On August 20, 1978 the Chiefs dropped a pre-season game to the New England Patriots in Foxboro, 24-7. RB Mark Bailey’s 21-yard run was t he only score for the Chiefs. QB Mike Livingston was 10 of 16 throwing the ball for 137 yards, but threw two INTs. WR Larry Dorsey caught three passes for 55 yards and QB Tony Adams caught his own pass after it was deflected for minus 18 yards.
SAY HAPPY BIRTHDAY …
Born on August 20, 1978 in Douglass, Kansas was LB Monty Beisel. He joined the Chiefs as a fourth-round selection in the 2001 NFL Draft out of Kansas State. Beisel played four seasons with the Chiefs (2001-04), appearing in 55 games, with nine starts and contributing 86 tackles, 3.5 sacks, one interception and 58 tackles on special teams. He signed with New England as a UFA in 2005, moved on to Arizona the next season and returned to the Chiefs as a UFA this year.
Born on August 20, 1942 in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania was OL Tony DiMidio. He joined the Chiefs as a ninth-round draft choice in the 1964 AFL Draft out of West Chester State. DiMidio played two seasons with the Chiefs (1966-67), appearing in 26 games.
Born on August 20, 1961 in Corrigan, Texas was DE Ray Woodard. He joined the Chiefs in the 1987 season after playing earlier in the year in Denver. Woodard appeared in five games with the Chiefs in that ‘87 season. It was his last playing time in the NFL.