I really have a bone to pick with Todd Haley today about game management. The Chiefs really had several chances to win Sunday's game with the Buffalo Bills. Instead they lost 16-10. The defense still gave up a lot of yards. However, it got stiffer many times when it counted, such as after one of the numerous turnovers that the Chiefs committed. Matt Cassel, if not exhibiting his true ability level, is at least in a horrible slump. Receivers dropped critical passes, especially Chambers' drop in the forth quarter. But still, the Chiefs had chances. Right down to the nubs of the forth quarter, the Chiefs had a chance to put this game into OT. But Haley's decision making snuffed out the chance.
First bad choice: All those passes, especially the wide receiver screen, against a defense last in the NFL in defending the rush. Jamal Charles' terrific 76 yard TD dash with 3:00 left in the third quarter was only the 15th running play called against the Bills D by the Chiefs yesterday.
Second bad choice: Going wide with a slow guy on that forth and goal at the one at 4:00 in the first quarter. I agree with ESPN commentator Easterbrook (TMQ) that if you are going short yardage in the fourth down situation, you must use misdirection. But I see a play like the Redskins old "counter-trey" with line and back motion designed to deceive. Either that, or send a fast guy to the corner. The one thing you don't do: run Matt Cassel wide, have him tackled for a 7 yard loss and the Buffalo Bills get the ball on the 8 yard line, not the 1 yard line.
Third epic bad choice: Going for it on fourth down and 10 with around 2:24 left to play. Cassel had just thrown incomplete on third down. Chiefs call a stupid timeout and stop the clock, then go for a 10 yard fourth down conversion. They fail, and Buffalo gets the ball back. Chiefs D is able to stop the conservative Bills and give a final offensive chance for the Chiefs but they have no time outs left and approximately 60 seconds to score a TD. Perhaps if you have Payton Manning this is a good option but there's Matt Cassel dropping back. To the Chiefs offense's credit, they put together a reasonable drive, that falls short. Well, here's another scenario: Incomplete pass, send field goal team on field, get 3 points. Kick off, followed by the defensive stop. Likely, the defense uses the two remaining time outs to conserve the clock. Also there is the two minute warning in there to stop the clock. This gives the offense much more time than 60 seconds, and they only need 3 points to put the game into OT.
Yes, the Chiefs players are not very good, but I do not think the coaching staff as it is now put together is getting the maxium out of the players. Haley is not mature as a head coach decision maker, and he has no one on the offensive side of the ball to contest his ideas and hold him accountable. The Chiefs need an offensive coordinator stat! Oh, Mr. Weis, are you busy next fall?
Looking a little sparse out there at the stadium. (Kansas City Star)
Bills defensive players celebrate after dumping Matt Cassel on fourth and one in the first quarter. (Kansas City Star)
Some hazardous duty pay, please. Lance Long gets hammered once again on an ill fated wide receiver screen pass. Chiefs tried this play at least four times, with little yardage gained. (www.nfl.com)