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 Good Chiefs article

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Frankenchief
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PostSubject: Good Chiefs article   Fri Oct 28, 2011 7:06 pm

Chiefs return from abyss to make noise

http://sports.yahoo....&ysp_frm_woah=1

As far as Missouri Miracles go – and can we all pause for a moment to acknowledge one of the most unbelievable World Series games of all time? – Todd Haley and the Kansas City Chiefs can’t come close to competing with the Cardiac Cards.

The turnaround taking place across the Show Me State, however, has the potential to be one of the more improbable NFL stories in recent memory, depending on whether the Chiefs continue to defy the laws of football inertia.


Two weeks into the 2011 season, they were lower than Lindsay Lohan’s current career trajectory and seemingly as exposed, as the troubled actress is posing for Playboy. Outscored 89-10 in blowout defeats to the Buffalo Bills and Detroit Lions, and reeling from season-ending knee injuries to a pair of Pro Bowl players (halfback Jamaal Charles and safety Eric Berry), it looked as though K.C.’s shot at defending its AFC West title was over from the start.

And now? If the 3-3 Chiefs can defeat the San Diego Chargers at Arrowhead Stadium on Monday night, they’ll be locked in a three-way tie with the Chargers and Oakland Raiders for first place. As that unlikely reality dawned on Dwayne Bowe last Sunday following the Chiefs’ 28-0 thrashing of the Raiders in Oakland, the talented wideout made no effort to downplay the accomplishment.

“That’s amazing,” Bowe said, smiling like a man who’d learned that a scary medical diagnosis had, in fact, been a false alarm. “Now we find out what we are.”

I’d argue that the Chiefs have already revealed their fortitude and resilience, regardless of how the rest of the season plays out. Sure, it could all still unravel, and it’s possible Haley won’t survive to coach a fourth season – a potential casualty of a strained relationship with Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli.

Right now, however, Kansas City is on the verge of becoming the first team in NFL history to win four consecutive games after a 0-3 start – and Haley is a role model for every coach in every sport whose team begins its journey by stepping in a large pit of quicksand mixed with fertilizer.

[ Related: Absurdly premature 2011 playoff picture ]

“I know we believe,” he said after Sunday’s victory over the Raiders, a team that beat the Chiefs twice last season. “I don’t know if anyone else believes. Belief – that got a man to the moon, didn’t it? Can you imagine what people said to that first guy who said, ‘We’re going to the moon’?”

Give Haley and the Chiefs credit for staying grounded after a rocky post-lockout stretch that included a season-ending knee injury to valuable tight end Tony Moaeki in the preseason and the subsequent losses of Berry and Charles. In a 21st-century world of real-time overreaction, Haley reached back into the past to reach his players, reminding them that teams have fought back from horrific starts before.


Haley’s father, Dick, was the Pittsburgh Steelers’ longtime player personnel director. Todd was a college student at Florida in 1989, when the Steelers lost their first two games to the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals by a collective 91-10 margin. Pittsburgh rallied to finish 9-7, snuck into the playoffs as a wild card and won a first-round playoff game over the Oilers in Houston before Bubby Brister and friends nearly shocked John Elway and the Denver Broncos on the road.

Those ’89 Steelers were on Haley’s mind after K.C.’s season-opening, 41-10 defeat to the Bills. He got a text message from Dwight Stone, a backup wideout and special-teams ace on that Pittsburgh team, telling him to keep his head up. Haley asked Chiefs video coordinator Pat Brazil – whose father, Dave, was an assistant coach on Chuck Noll’s ’89 staff – if he could track down a highlight video of that season from NFL Films.

Three days after the Chiefs’ 48-3 defeat to the Lions, Haley began a Wednesday-morning meeting by showing his players the 17-minute video in its entirety.

“Some of the things that were said in the video were unbelievable,” Haley recalled Sunday. “[Former Steelers tackle] Tunch Ilkin said, ‘We didn’t listen to what everybody else told us we were. We believed in what we could be.’

“That resonated with our guys. They’ve been told ‘no’ all their lives. Brandon Flowers, you’re not fast enough. Tamba Hali, you don’t work in this [3-4] scheme. Matt Cassel, you’re a backup, nothing more. Me, you can’t be a head coach – you didn’t play the game [in college].”

The Chiefs’ transformation wasn’t instantaneous. In Week 3, they faced the Chargers in San Diego and trailed 10-0 at halftime – with zero first downs. A second-half rally fell short, and the Chargers escaped with a 20-17 victory, clinching the game on Eric Weddle’s interception with 55 seconds remaining.

Still, Haley was surprisingly upbeat after the game. He felt as though he had his team back. Just in case, however, he invoked a couple of superstitious conventions, deciding to go back to wearing the ratty red baseball cap he’d rocked on the sidelines during the bulk of the 2010 season and to put away his razor until further notice. That explains why Haley showed up in Oakland looking like he’d spent the week at Occupy Wall Street.

“The beard stays,” he said. “My wife likes it. And we’re winning.”

[Related: Haley isn’t shaving until team loses]


The Chiefs defeated the Minnesota Vikings and Indianapolis Colts in successive weeks, pulling out close victories over a pair of struggling teams. They fought back from a 24-7 deficit to win at Indy by a 28-24 score, matching the biggest comeback in franchise history. Following a bye, the Chiefs jumped all over the Raiders, intercepting quarterbacks Kyle Boller and Carson Palmer three times apiece.

“We always felt this was possible,” said Flowers, the young cornerback who had two of those picks – and one of the Chiefs’ two interceptions for touchdowns on the day. “Early on in the season, we didn’t panic. We knew we were a streaky team. We said, ‘We’ve just got to keep believing.’ We never bowed our heads.”

Perhaps most important, at least in Haley’s eyes, was what the Chiefs stopped doing: making brutal mistakes. Their turnover ratio was minus-seven after two games; in the four games since, it’s plus-six.

“Little things were getting us the first two weeks,” said fullback Le’Ron McClain, who signed as a free agent from the Baltimore Ravens over the offseason. “We just buckled down and got back to the basics.

“I knew we had a good team, with good players and a good leader in Todd Haley. I like the aggression that he has. He’s a great leader. We’re behind him 100 percent. He’s always telling us to believe in ourselves, and we buy in.”

Said Haley: “It was very simple to me. We were doing things to get you beat in the NFL. We’re not New England, a team that can do things to overcome turnovers. We’re just not there yet.”

Whether the tenuous Pioli-Haley combination will ever produce a team that gets to that lofty place remains to be seen. In the meantime, however, it’s hard not to appreciate the Chiefs’ improbable ascent from the abyss.

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PostSubject: Re: Good Chiefs article   Sat Oct 29, 2011 12:39 pm

Boom! Super Bowl here we come

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