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Finding A Play-Caller

Posted Jan 12, 2011

Haley leaving all options open in search for new OC

By this time last year, the Chiefs had already hired Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel as the club’s new offensive and defensive coordinators. Of course, the Chiefs also had more time to conduct their search coming off the heels of a 4-12 2009 campaign.

With Weis leaving for the University of Florida, Kansas City is once again in need of an offensive coordinator. Just 48 hours after a season-ending loss to Baltimore, the Chiefs search for Weis’ replacement is well underway.

“I will be responsible for hiring the right person,” head coach Todd Haley said. “It will ultimately fall on me to hire the right guy, but as I do with everything I am going to work like heck to get it right. The thing that I am grateful for is that I have a great staff of coaches. I have said it a number of times and I will say it again, they are the best staff in the league as far as I am concerned.”

Last year’s decision to bring Weis into town was about efficiency and fit. System-wise, Haley and Weis were extremely similar, having worked together in the same coaching circles. Weis’ hiring allowed Haley to run the team as a true head coach without having to re-work the offensive foundation laid throughout 2009.

The results of last year’s hire can’t be argued with. Aside from leading the league in rushing (164.2 avg./game) and winning the team’s first division championship since 2003, the Chiefs also improved in 18 offensive categories.

Improvement areas included points scored (72 more points), fewer sacks (13 fewer sacks allowed), first downs (63 more first downs), total yards (744 more yards), passing TDs (9 more passing TDs), passer rating (19.3 increase) and third-down percentage (9.4% increase).

With a core group of players clearly comfortable operating under the Chiefs current offensive philosophy, Haley faces a hire that’s just as important, if not more important, than last year’s decision.

“I will consider anything,” Haley said. “There is going to be a very thorough evaluation of the entire system. We had a really good coordinator here in Charlie that has moved on to Florida. We have to make sure that we continue to develop our coaches and have good coaches on the staff. That is a critical part of being a successful team year-in and year-out and reaching our goals which is to be a championship team.”

In addition to an external search that has already seen several qualified names surface, considering “anything” also includes the possibility of an internal promotion or possibly even Haley taking over play-calling duties once again.

“I will not discount anything right now,” Haley said. “What I am interested in is getting it right. I feel like last year we got it right.”

The potential of Haley’s return as Kansas City’s offensive coordinator hadn’t carried much chatter prior to Tuesday afternoon’s end of season press conference. When asked directly, Haley said that he wouldn’t rule out the possibility of calling plays.

Based off last year’s coordinator search, its clear Haley values the efficiency that a separate offensive coordinator provides. It’s also clear that he’ll place an emphasis on finding someone who can mesh well with an offensive system that been in place for two full seasons.

“What I want to make sure is that I do what is best for our team and gives us the best chance to succeed,” Haley said. “That will come after a very thorough evaluation and a lot of that has begun. Again, with the guys I have on staff it makes it (a little easier). I don’t think it is every easy to make decisions in this league, but I have guys that will definitely help me and I just want to get it right.”

In house, the Chiefs have a pair of staff members with previous NFL offensive coordinating experience.

Assistant head coach Maurice Carthon owns five seasons of NFL work as an offensive coordinator, handling those duties with the Lions (2002), Cowboys (2003-04) and Browns (2005-06). Haley has publically stated his reverence for Carthon on a number of occasions.  

In addition to his duties as assistant head coach, Carthon also serves as running backs coach and has been instrumental in the development of Jamaal Charles and the Chiefs run game as a whole.

There’s also offensive line coach Bill Muir, who owns more coaching (and coordinating) experience than any coach currently on staff. Muir has served as both an offensive and defensive coordinator during his 33-year NFL coaching career.

Most recently, Muir served as head coach Jon Gruden’s offensive coordinator in Tampa Bay from 2002-08.

Like Carthon, Muir is highly regarded around the league for his ability to construct a strong running game. It isn’t clear if the Chiefs would prefer hiring a coordinator that has previously worked with quarterbacks.

Since Haley’s arrival, offensive coordinators have worked directly with the club’s quarterbacks on the field and in staff meetings.

Chan Gailey did so prior to his preseason departure in 2009 and Haley picked up those duties when he took over as Gailey’s replacement. Over the past year, Weis, Haley and offensive quality control coach Nick Sirianni have conducted the majority of hands-on work with Kansas City’s quarterbacks.

“I will just continue this evaluation process,” Haley said.

Whichever way Haley decides to go, high profile jobs like these never stay open long.

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