Early in the first quarter of Sunday’s game at Lucas Oil Stadium,
“All of our big runs that have shown up so far this year, Dwayne’s in the mix somewhere,” Haley said. “Somehow he’s getting a very critical block and having coached receivers for a long time and having been a very big stickler on the ability of receivers to be physical and be football players and not just pass catchers, that’s something that’s real important to me, to us and now to Dwayne and that’s a good thing.
“I know our runners appreciate that, I know everybody on our team appreciates that. That’s the way you earn your right to make some of those big ESPN plays we saw in the San Francisco game.”
Post-Indianapolis, Bowe was the talk of Kansas City for other reasons. His critical drop of a touchdown pass kept the Chiefs from taking a 13-9 lead over the Colts late in the third quarter. The attention to detail in the run game appeared to be there once again, but Bowe would finish the day with as many drops as he had catches (two).
“Dwayne Bowe did so many good things in that game, so many good things – he played smart, he understood the game plan, what he was supposed to do throughout that game plan and he did it at a high level, run game and pass game,” Haley said. “It just so happens that he had an opportunity to make a big play, which is part of his job description, as he did two weeks before, and he didn’t make it.”
Unfortunately, that play has many external fingers pointed solely at Bowe for Sunday’s loss; and that’s a shame. Bowe’s drop contributed to an overall lack of execution that played into the Chiefs missing opportunities at victory, but that drop wasn’t THE missed opportunity.
“I want to be clear that that game did not come down to Dwayne Bowe catching or not catching that ball,” Haley said. “I want to say this as the head coach. It really didn’t because we win as a team and we lose as a team and there were enough situations in that game, before and after that play, that the outcome could’ve changed. “
Bowe has battled plenty of public adversity during his four-season tenure in Kansas City. Some of the attention has come for his performance on the field and some of it has come because things that went on off the field. But he’s almost always had the support of a very loyal fan base. Number 82 jerseys are a staple at Arrowhead on gameday.
Players play for their family, for their teammates and for their fans. When something like Sunday’s drop happens, it usually adds some extra pain. It’s a mentally taxing time when you believe that people close to you are disappointed.
Yesterday morning, players and coaches gathered for workouts and a film session. They made sure that Bowe knew he had their support.
The past 48 hours represent an interesting turn of events for Bowe and the culture shift that accompanied the arrival of Haley some 19 months ago. In his first experience coaching Bowe, Haley spent the majority of the 2009 training camp explaining to media and fans exactly what progress Bowe needed to show in order to return to his starting role.
Bowe, if you recall, ran with the second and third-team offense through much of the preseason that year.
There wasn’t much complexity behind the situation; Haley just wanted Bowe to commit himself to the team by paying attention to detail and developing into the best player possible. He wanted those little things corrected. Things like the overlooked aspects of the game, such as downfield blocking.
Flash forward to present day and Haley is explaining to those same people why he’s got Bowe’s back. That’s quite a change in scenery from 2009, and it’s because of the things that Bowe has committed himself to doing away from the public eye.
Dwayne Bowe remains a critical component of this team, maybe now more than ever. The commitment he’s shown has triggered the commitment that others are showing right back.
“We missed some opportunities that you can’t miss, but we have won with Dwayne and we’re going to continue to win with Dwayne,” Haley said.
The continuation will pick back up in Houston on Sunday.