Gotta Give Muir A Chance

I’m going to give Todd Haley the benefit of the doubt on his decision to promote line coach Bill Muir to Chiefs offensive coordinator. Hasn’t he earned that?

In my limited contact with Haley – no one on the outside gets real close to the coach – there is no doubt he has a vision for the Chiefs. It’s a winning vision. He has a vision for what his coaching staff should be. He has a vision for how he should operate as head coach.

Haley is a smart guy. He knows it doesn’t matter who calls the plays. It works both ways. The Packers’ Mike McCarthy and Tampa’s Jon Gruden reached the Super Bowl calling the plays. The Steelers’ Mike Tomlin and Patriots’ Bill Belichick have rings without play-calling roles.

Haley knows he was a better head coach in 2010 than he was in 2009. He had two experienced coordinators he could turn the A-B-Cs of game-planning while he monitored the big picture. Who’s to say that is going to change?  

Muir, while not as big a name as Charlie Weis, is an experienced offensive coordinator on a Super Bowl winning team. And who can argue with Haley’s decision to maintain continuity on an offense that was pretty darn effective this season while leading the league in rushing (a Muir strength). No reason to think that strategy will change no matter who is calling the plays.

There seem to be two big organizational challenges for the Chiefs as they continue to move forward. Haley can’t allow himself to become one dimensional and focused solely on offense. And he must find a quarterbacks coach who can help Matt Cassel continue to progress as a quarterback.

As for any other second-guessing, let’s look at decisions people second-guessed at the time they happened and what the outcome was.

● There was the one about how Haley was stupid because he fired his offensive coordinator the week before the season began in 2009. Chan Gailey was not Haley’s choice as coordinator, but by the time Haley was hired he had limited choices. And Gailey, clearly, wasn’t of the same mindset Haley was about offense. While the results weren’t pretty in 2009, the foundation for what Haley expected of his offense was established and late-season improvement in 2009 helped set the stage for the success of 2010.

Would the Chiefs have been as far along if Gailey had remained the entire season and been fired afterward? I don’t think so.

● There was the personnel decision to sign Thomas Jones and have him carry a big load of the rushing attack. Why get Jones when Jamaal Charles was so effective in 2009? Haley was widely criticized when Jones remained a key part of the attack after Charles got off to a sensational start in 2010.

Charles carried the ball 230 times, Jones 245. Imagine how fresh Charles would have been at the end of the year if he had all 475 carries on his shoulders. (Larry Johnson holds the NFL record with 416 carries in a single season, and he was never the same again.) Haley clearly knew how to get the best out of Charles AND keep him fresh despite the Monday morning quarterbacks who thought otherwise last September.

● There was the perception that Haley had to resort to Muir because he’s too hard to work for – a “pain in the spandex” in the words of one pundit. No one knows how hard Haley is to work for except those on his staff. Public perception of Haley’s demeanor comes from his sideline work, the well-documented shouting matches with Arizona quarterback Kurt Warner and the Cardinals receivers . . . his sometimes out-of-control rants at officials.

Was Bill Cowher easy to work for? Not if you make your judgment on his on-field, jaw-jutting, saliva-spewing posture. Or Jon Gruden? “Chucky” personified. Marty Schottenheimer had his sideline moments as well.

Perhaps the problem with a well-known coordinator from the outside or an up-and-comer from the outside is that they want to stamp their own mark on the Chiefs offense because that’s one way to take the next step up the coaching ladder.

Every head coach in the NFL is demanding of his staff. Haley is no different. But don’t judge his demeanor in a meeting room at 2:45 in the afternoon or 10:30 at night by what you see on the sidelines.

● There is also the perception by some that the Chiefs made the wrong choice in sticking with Cassel – particularly in light of his early-season performances.

Cassel was perfect for what the Chiefs needed in 2010. How he develops in the future will be a challenge for Haley. And while Haley needs to be instrumental in Cassel’s development, it is imperative he find a quarterbacks coach who has mastered the mechanics to keep Cassel on the straight and narrow. Years ago I was amazed at how Joe Montana, near the end of his career, went through precise footwork drills every single day to maintain his form.

Are there questions about Haley’s promotion of Muir to coordinator?


Will the Chiefs offense take a step backward?

We’ll find out. The win-loss record might indicate a backward step with next year’s more difficult schedule. Ff the Chiefs are behind and Cassel has to rally the troops, he may have a higher interception ratio than this year. Would that be a step backward, who knows?

Should Haley be second-guessed about this decision?

I don’t think he deserves that until it plays out.

38 Responses to “Gotta Give Muir A Chance”

  • February 4, 2011  - Anonymous says:

    Continued thanks for the balanced perceptive views expressed in your analysis and opinions. Anybody who’s a regular knows you take the team, coaches and organization to task when you feel it’s warranted and also knows you have more reason than most to have a beef with them if you choose to do so. However, you base your work on reality, experience, knowledge and excellent research and synthesis of the facts at hand. I read the fish wrap garbage speculation that’s not based on anything other than trying to garner attention. I guess the past approach to reporting is prologue with less credible sources and when you have nothing just make it up and act like you know and others will believe. No wonder so many papers are being distributed solely to wrap the day’s catch in. If nothing else should come of this season Haley should have earned the right to make his own choice of his staff going forward.

  • February 4, 2011  - Johnfromfairfax says:

    Anonymous should read me. It dropped my handle for some reason.

  • February 4, 2011  - el cid says:

    No one know what goes on inside the Chiefs, the tale will be told on the field. Next season, the team may not have a good record and be still be improved over last. Add free agents and draft picks and the dreaded injury and we will know better. This will take time.

  • February 4, 2011  - ED says:

    Great article totally agree Kent

  • February 4, 2011  - Michael says:

    Nice work, Kent. I agree it will take time to play out. Good football people striving to do it right is a good thing, though. If I were going to put it in such terms, I’d rather say the Chiefs might not have AS good of a record next year as this year’s, but still be an improved team. Or, they may not be an improved team, but manage to have a better record. I don’t know. But I don’t think that way, anyway.

    I’ll wait until after the draft and free agency (whatever that might look like)to begin to get a feel for what I think the Chiefs 2011 fortunes might be. Even that is only a part of it; there’s offseason training sessions (again whatever that might look like), training camp and the preseason (whatever that might look like). To date, nothing has happened to make me anything but positive about 2011.

  • February 4, 2011  - SG says:

    Methinks the schedule being more difficult is likely a spin function to manage the disappointment created by increased expectations. Truth is…we spun Weis as an asset that made the team better. We are now changing tunes to shelter ourselves?

  • February 4, 2011  - Johnfromfairfax says:

    Sorry Kent,

    I guess I should have read the byline. I still stand by everything I said even if i didn’t give you the credit you deserve!

  • February 4, 2011  - COCHIEF says:

    Haley’s ego will be his downfall!

  • February 4, 2011  - SG says:

    Agree with others good thoughts Kent

  • February 4, 2011  - Tim says:

    I agree totally, Bob. We’ll see how it plays out. I’d still be interested in hearing ideas of exactly who Haley might’ve considered outside of McCoy, who stayed in Denver. I just don’t think very many guys were avaialable this year that could maintain a high enough degree of continuity for Haley to be comfortable enough pulling the trigger. Continued development of young coaches will only bode well for long term continuity because as we become more successful, other teams WILL come calling for existing staff.

  • February 5, 2011  - Bob Pritchard says:

    I’m with you, Kent. I’ve never understood this anti Haley vibe in most articles. You hit on the point that I like most about him. He has a clear vision for the type of team he wants and how it will operate, and he’s very consistant. Who knows if he will end up being successful, but that clarity and consistency is required if you’re going to have a winning team in the NFL. It seems like the players understand the expectations and have bought into his approach. I think people that don’t like him because he gets firey are nuts.

    One other point… The factor besides a harder schedule that could lead to a worse record in 2011, is the exceptional luck we had with injuries this year. It would be a miracle if we were that lucky again next year.

  • February 5, 2011  - Jason says:

    Well I’m Saturday morning QB-ing and calling disaster.

  • February 5, 2011  - Butler Go CHIEFS Go says:

    Well I Gotta Go with Our Coach
    He’s our Man = Go TODD Go
    Be a Fan not a Naysayer get on board

    Go CHIEFS Go

  • February 5, 2011  - Tenand6 says:

    Good stuff. To further Kent’s point, Joe Posnanski has a great article on Aaron Rodgers and how to spot the next great QB using Rodgers as the gold standard:

    Joe P. tells in story-form what Pioli/Hali look for in players and coaches. They want guys that are borderline obsessive compulsive. I’ll never forget the story Pioli told about a mistake he made in drafting a player: Pioli goes to ND to scout a tight end. The kid is five minutes late for a meeting because he had to finish up a chemistry test. The Pats draft him in the third round and he doesn’t pan out. Pioli vows to never again draft a player who didn’t put football first. To me, that was a counter-intuitive conclusion, but I get it. Collect obsessive compulsive football players who are team captains. He wants guys who are harder on themselves than any coach, but seek out coaches to help them improve. Fantastic.

    This is my favorite kind of article in that it has been researched and has facts. I enjoy the writing style of Sam Mellinger, Babb, etc… but I don’t respect their opinions. We’ve been told by both of them that Haley is a big ego ass who can’t possibly succeed and every year if he doesn’t do something they suggest then he either made a mistake or if things turn out well, he’s lucky. Haley has his shortcomings but I don’t think these reporters know what they are.

    Today we hear that if Haley doesn’t get a QB coach, all is lost. I think a great QB coach is a terrific idea and I assume the Chiefs will get one if they find the right guy. These “Star” reporters are still stuck in the “we need a guy to fill a position” mode. And that’s what Posnanski’s article was about: Get the right guy. Posnanski sheds light (facts/research) what the right guy looks like. And it just so happens those guys are just like Pioli and Haley— they are obsessed with football. They are obsessed with team. They are obsessed with “getting a little bit better every day.”

    To the credit of Pioli and Haley, they don’t hire players/coaches that, in their opinion, don’t fit that mold. They can be wrong and make mistakes, but that’s what they are desperately trying to achieve.

    Here’s an inconvenient truth for the hacks at the KC Star: Everywhere Haley goes he develops All-Pros. He resurrected Warner’s career; he put Fitzgerald on a path to the Hall of Fame; Keyshawn Johnson can’t stop talking about him; Charles almost sets the all time record for yards per carry; Bowe went from “cut him” to All Pro; Cassel improves his stats in a way no one guessed was possible (Cassel has limited ability and unlimited desire to improve). And then there’s DJ and Hali. And man did that under-talented O line play well!

    The Star is obsessed with the “fact” that no one wants to work with Todd Haley. Romeo Crennel does. Ditto Bill Muir, Mo Carthon and so on. There are certain guys who want to work with Haley and many that don’t. So what? I think Herm Edwards is a hell of a guy and if I was a coach, I’d rather get on with Parcells when he was coaching or Belichick. And from what I can tell, Scott Pioli would be hell to work for. Yet, he has picked up some awards (again) for Executive of the Year.

  • February 5, 2011  - Roger says:

    Since Muir is 68 he’ll probably be the offensive coordinator only for a year or two. The important thing with Muir is continuity of the system – to bridge the gap sort of speak. The future coordinator is already on board or will be brought on board shortly, but first has to learn (or mature in) the Chiefs offensive system.

  • February 5, 2011  - Fleaflicker34 says:

    This article is a perfect examplwe of why you are so well respected by those who subscribe to your website, and you told me earlier in the year to give the Stars new fatlock an chance, but I can’t Bob, he sucks.

    I also wanted to remind you that you were in aggreement when I mentioned I would love a “where are they now ” feature, you said “after the season”.

    If you do that kind of an article the players I most wanna know about are Dale Carter (if he was a little wiser he would be going into the hall before Dion (no tackle) Sanders, Doug (the pitbull) Terry, and Anthony Davis, and my man Marty.

    Love your work Bob and again, if you ever visit Portland Oregon I want to show you my city.

    I’m originally a hillbilly from the Ozarks and have been a Gretzy fan since you 1st cmae to KC.

    Keep up the good work Bob, your the best.

  • February 5, 2011  - el cid says:

    Muir’s age has nothing to do with anything. Where you get the idea he is some kind of “bridge”. He can coach as long as he is effective, what Haley wants, and does not retire. That is not a bridge to something else. While not in love with the idea, he may be just what the Chiefs need for Haley to get the team put together the way he want. Not a bridge but the ritht guy for the job.

  • February 5, 2011  - ChuckP says:

    Iam EXTREMELY DISSAPOINTED in this MUIR choice. First of all the guy is already on staff so we already had his “brain power available”. Second, he is 68 going on 69 years of age!!!! For CHRIST SAKE he is not going to have the ENERGY IT REQUIRES to do the job. Staying up late watching game film + teaching the offense everything they need to know each and every week. I know lots of guys in their late 60′s and I can tell you that most of them are in bed by 8:30PM every night (saturdays included!!!). Mark my words next year with the tough schedule when we go 6-10 or 7-9 they will make MUIR THE SKAPEGOAT. YOU HEARD IT HERE FIRST!!!!!!!!! Pioli really screwed this one up BIG TIME!!!!!!!

  • February 5, 2011  - Dan-NY says:

    Sweet post, Tenand6. Thanks.

  • February 5, 2011  - el cid says:

    ChuckP, sorry to disagree but as I am in that bracket, I promise you I do not go to bed by 8:30 any time. And I am not in the shape of a football coach. If he can do the job Haley wants done, his age mean nothing. May not be hanging out in strip bars with the guys but is that a bad thing.

    Do not know your expectations for next year but doubt 10 wins is a possibility. So 7 wins might be a good year, just saying.

    Lastly, Haley may well have screwed up for 2011 but with 10 wins in 2010, he gets his chance to do it his way.

  • February 5, 2011  - Rin Tin Tin says:

    ca$$el sucketh mightily…so too dinkle berry.

    FIRE egioli & hailme – STAT!

    heh heh heh!

  • February 5, 2011  - cychief24 says:

    Muir did the same job for Gruden when TB won the Super Bowl. They probably will hire another offensive coach eventually.
    Like I’ve said before… I haven’t felt this positive about the direction of our Chiefs since Marty was here.

  • February 5, 2011  - Michael says:

    Great post Tenard6! It’s been said before, but should be said again often, especially on this site. If Haley had hired a young, up and coming coach, guys like ChuckP would say Haley made a mistake not hiring a guy with enough experience. Or, it would be the guy doesn’t have the right kind of experience. Or, the guy is too strong-headed and he and Haley will clash. Or, the guy isn’t strong-willed enough so Haley will walk all over him. Get the picture? Haley and Pioli cannot win with that group. 2010 Chiefs just ruined their year. I think the 2011 Chiefs will do the same. And even if they don’t, 2010 bought the Pioli-Haley combo at least through the 2012 season to see what they can do. Don’t think the naysayer group likes that much either.

  • February 5, 2011  - SG says:

    Michael, agreed they bought time…and they raised expectations. Did they do too much with 10 wins? With 7 or 8 wins, they draft 15 or so in every round instead of 21.

    El Cid, if anyone is using a number like 7 projected wins, I doubt this fan base will accept less than 9 wins to be honest and another season with 2 losses to OAK would bring beats of war drums by far more credible ppl than Rin.

  • February 5, 2011  - el cid says:

    Guess so but the team will face playoff calibre teams, more so than in 10. That has to be taken into account. I believe this will be the year that trys us the most. 10 wins was wonderful but to repeat with what the Chiefs predict to be in 11 is unimagineable. Even with a better draft than 09, I just do not see it. As for wins in the division, since Marty left several HCs do not seem to buy into beating the AFC West. Not sure why. We, fans, may hate raiders but not sure the organization values that all that much. Once again only from what I see, not real knowledge to support it.

  • February 6, 2011  - SG says:

    I hope they do pay attention to this though since we went 2-4 in the Wild West. This I hope will be addressed in the Draft with depth at NT and not cutting what little depth we have at end of preseason. Ron is good but gets tired.

  • February 6, 2011  - el cid says:

    Was supposedly address by free agent Smith. But, I believe, management thought Jackson was a waste of time in first year partially because of DC, Pendergast. They might have felt Crennel could have developed Jackson. Did not happen (of course I am called a hater for suggesting Jackson was not the right guy). So Smith had to move to DE and Jackson only got on the field as a relief. NT is something the Chiefs will address or we will not stop the run or disrupt OL blocking in 2011. Edwards is at the end of a very long career and how much is left in the tank is a question.

  • February 6, 2011  - ChuckP says:

    Michael; SORRY to have to tell you this, but you are JUST PLAIN WRONG. There lots of younger guys I would have been very happy with. Just not the ole GEEZER they picked. Besides, like I said he was already on staff so they already had his brain power available. I think many times that Haleys EGO gets in the way on these decisions. He really wants a Yes man and I think thats what he got in MUIR. YES BOSS, NO PROBLEM BOSS ETC ETC.

  • February 6, 2011  - Michael says:

    I don’t think you’re a hater, el cid, just premature on the evaluation of Jackson.

    Right now the Chiefs 2011 schedule appears to have more of an edge to it than 2010, but you never know. Things aren’t always what they seem at first glance. Also, I believe the Chiefs will be improved enough to match it. KC obviously must do better in the AFC West in 2011 in order to meet or beat 2010 record. All three at home, and at least one on the road would do nicely. It’s a plus getting Packers, Vikings and Steelers at home. Was big reestablishing winning identity at home in 2010. How about 8-0 at home in 2011. We don’t know the schedule dates yet. There might be some plus or minus issues with dates and weather, timing of byes, etc. Injury situation and continued additions to depth will also be big.

  • February 6, 2011  - Michael says:

    ChuckP, having brain power available is one thing; using it in a different capacity is quite another. And, how do you know so much about Haley’s pysche? How do you make those judgements about his motivations? How do you know so much about how he interacts with his staff? Haley has said many times he wants coaches with their own ideas, guys who will argue for their position, guys who will tell him if they think he’s going in the wrong direction. I’ll take him at his word. Also, his coaching staff is filled with some very veteran, highly respected coaches who are anything but pushovers, Muir included. Based on his public displays, Haley may be strong-willed and, at times, hot-headed, but that’s about the most I would conclude from what we see in public.

  • February 7, 2011  - Mark says:

    Wow, a reporter named Kent that covers the Chiefs and is actually fair and uses facts instead of made up stuff to further his agenda. How refreshing. The “other” Kent can learn a thing or 2. Good job.

  • February 7, 2011  - SG says:

    “NT is something the Chiefs will address or we will not stop the run or disrupt OL blocking in 2011.”

    Do you think this failure to address this two seasons in a row is a possible hidden deficiency in our staff’s ability to fairly evaluate our talent (Big Ron could be great for 10 games, but games 11-16 he falls off maybe)? Would that be a function of the head coach, the GM, or someone else? I just don’t understand why we don’t accommodate another roster spot for a backup NT of sufficient quality – especially if we’re supposedly trying to increase the competition at “every position.”

    Note to Don Pioli or Coach Haley, if one of your employees reads this, some of your most loyal fan base would love an answer to this question.

  • February 7, 2011  - SG says:

    Mr. Pulliam,

    I want to go back and ask about a couple issues you threw out there.

    “Would the Chiefs have been as far along if Gailey had remained the entire season and been fired afterward?”

    Would the Chiefs have been further along still if they had cut Chan Gailey loose say…in May or June? Is it a knock on the Head Coach that he wasn’t more decisive sooner?

    “Haley was widely criticized when Jones remained a key part of the attack…”

    The balance might have been valid earlier in the season…but after 136 yards on 23 touches in the Denver game, Charles’ load fell back to 12, 14, 17, and 16 touches for the final 4 games. Did they balance the carries right to keep JONES fresh since his production was very Johnson-esque with 2.8, 2.2, and 1.7 ypc average the final 3 games of the season?

    I say the team is much better after year 2 than most of us projected. I also say that I expect not just good, but the best from our coaches since I dare say we have some of the very best.

  • February 7, 2011  - el cid says:

    SG, what about WR? We have tried every off-the-street guy left with NFL experience. Except for Lawrence, who we cut 2 times, when did Pioli reach out to a “good” WR to add? I bet some will tell you about the ir’d WR, a never was who might not make the roster next year.

    I still say the lack of progress at ALL positions is the Pioli view/plan to take 4-5 years, there is no need to hurry to fill every position. I know I am a hater of Pioli, not really, just think he is determined to do it his way, years be damned. Not need for many free agents, to costly and what if they are not around in the 4-5 years. Double draft positions of need, why spread yourself out think if one is no good. It seems to fit together to me.

  • February 7, 2011  - Michael says:

    The Chiefs need help at WR, no doubt. I agree the Chiefs need to be a lot more active in free agency. Not necessarily the big, big payday guys, but for good players who can really help the team. Pioli has come up short in that area, in my opinion. Hoping this year will be different, but wouldn’t count on it. That’s maddening. But, I guess I don’t understand what your’e saying, el cid. Are you sayinig Pioli would purposely not fill positions so that his rebuild plan will not come to fruition anytime before 4 to 5 years? And, are you saying there has been no progress at any position on the team so far?

  • February 8, 2011  - el cid says:

    Sorry not always able to think and type.

    My point is Mr Pioli’s plan is for 4-5 years. So he has less pressure to put a full compliment of players for every position. Example. Drafted Lawrence for WR, did not work out, went to the street for bodies, some helped many did not. Did he address the WR again in second draft, no. Why because he had other priorities needed filling, and that is his job. But if you are a playoff team you cannot ignor one position because the finished product cannot coverup a missing position. It is not good or bad, he has to do the best he can but not planning on having a finished product for 4-5 years takes the pressure off him to fill every need, you can let one slide.

    As for progress, absolutely. Just who is the 2nd WR, Center of future (both are free agents), DL is that all there is, LB need help. Good additions, yes. Enough after two years, not sold. It is just me.

  • February 8, 2011  - Zach says:

    Great article, Bob!

  • February 10, 2011  - Anonymous says:


    Thanks for reading.

    In response to question of whether Haley would have been better off firing Gailey earlier? Yes, probably. Was in indecisive. I would cut him some slack on that. He got the job so late in the process that most of the good offensive coordinators were already hired. I obviously don’t know because not in the room, but I suspect that Gailey interviewed well and said the right things. He had been and is again a head coach, For a first-time head coach having that experience at your elbow is a plus. But what seems to have happened is that what worked in the off season when there is no urgency of the next game, next game plan, etc., wasn’t going smoothly in the heat of training camp and the upcoming season. Rather than waste time on that battle week in and week out, Haley seems to have cut ties. He had to expend more energy with the offense, but it was in planning, not in a counter productive effort of arguing.
    As I said, don’t know for sure because not in the rooms, but that’s what I think.

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