Did Todd Haley save his job Sunday?
Todd Haley’s two-plus-year tenure in Kansas City has been nothing if not tumultuous. The Chiefs coach landed squarely on the hot season this season, after his defending AFC West champion team started 0-3.
And Haley nearly found himself on the unemployment line, according to a report by Nick Wright, who tweeted Wednesday that “Multiple Chiefs personnel told me Scott Pioli had decided to fire Todd Haley had the Chiefs lost to the Colts on Sunday.”
Wright’s the one who broke the news this preseason that rookie K.C. receiver Jonathan Baldwin had injured his wrist in a locker-room fight with Thomas Jones.
Kansas City trailed the winless Colts 17-7 before rallying to capture a 28-24 win.
Everything including Haley’s record has been topsy-turvy since he became the Chiefs’ head coach prior to the 2009 season. K.C. finished Haley’s first year 4-12, turned that to 10-6 and a division title last season, then struggled out of the gate in 2011.
The drama continued this preseason, with the fight between Jones and Baldwin, and Haley’s controversial decision to extend his starters’ playing time during the fourth and final preseason game — a move that resulted in a season-ending ACL injury for TE Tony Moeaki and a rib injury for QB Matt Cassel.
Haley and Cassel then appeared to get into an argument during Kansas City’s Week 4 game against Minnesota.
Neither Haley nor his team has been helped by a knee injury to star running back Jamaal Charles, which he suffered in an embarrassing 48-3 Week 2 loss in Detroit. The Chiefs also lost star safety Eric Berry to a knee injury, that one occurring during a 41-7 Week 1 loss to Buffalo.
Partially because of those injuries, the Chiefs have big problems — Kansas City is 30th in the league in points scored at 15.4 per game, a terrible number on its own, and doubly bad when you consider that no team in the NFL has allowed more points than the Chiefs (150).
If Kansas City was going to go in a different direction with its head coaching spot, this might have been the week to do it — the Chiefs have a Week 6 bye, and on the rare occasion a head coach is relieved of his duties in season, it often happens when a team has those extra days to prepare for its next game.
How long Haley lasts as the Chiefs’ head coach going forward could depend — especially in light of Wednesday’s report — on what Kansas City does in Week 7 and beyond.
The Chiefs have a chance to turn this up-turn into a streak, with a road game in Oakland, followed by three straight at home (San Diego, Miami and Denver). Even going 3-1 there would give Kansas City some hope of making a run again in the AFC West.
But is this team capable of a spurt like that? Only playing now 1-4 Minnesota and winless Indianapolis back-to-back kept the Chiefs from falling even further behind in the division. And neither of those wins came easy — the Chiefs had to fight off a late Vikings charge in Week 4, then come from behind in Week 5.
Whether or not that tiny bit of momentum is enough to carry Haley’s Chiefs through a bye week remains to be seen.
If it’s not, then Haley might find himself looking for a new gig come 2012.