Kansas City Chiefs head coach Todd Haley said he thought long and hard on how to approach the bye week. He said he began asking players what they liked or didn't like about the bye week and found that veteran players didn't really like it.
"(I’ve had) a lot of different discussions with veteran players through the last year and asking about what parts of bye week they like, what they don’t. I came to the conclusion that veterans didn’t like bye week period. In that time of thought I came up with this thought of getting some of our leaders and veterans, different reasons for different guys, a little more involved in the communication process with the other players."
So what Haley did was pick out 15 veterans and turned them into player-coaches for the week. They're wearing coaches gear, running meetings and being....well, coaches. Haley even said they'd have a different binder this week than the others.
I think we can look at the players Haley chose to be coaches this week and continue to see the types of players they like. Haley obviously wants to A.) reward the veterans but also B.) show the other players on the team what they're looking for. Whenever the head coach acts there are 53 sets of eyes in that locker room looking at what happens so this is a way for Haley to silently get his message across of the type of players he wants.
There are a few players on the list that are left over from the Herm Edwards/Carl Peterson regime, a few from Haley and GM Scott Pioli's first year and a few more from their second year. Then there are a couple in there that I'm just not sure why they're on this list.
Here's the list of players (via Kent Babb of the KC Star) and I've broken them down into groups.
The leftovers: Brian Waters, Jon McGraw, Brandon Flowers, Ron Edwards, Demorrio Williams and Tamba Hali
I don't mean leftovers in a bad way at all. Many of these guys, with the exception of Waters and Flowers, were at one point not considered part of the future by a lot of folks outside One Arrowhead Drive. McGraw isn't athletic enough, Edwards is a journeyman, Williams has been injured and Hali was making the switch from defensive end to linebacker.
Over 20 months later and we've learned that these guys are now part of the solution. Waters is a team leader and the Chiefs management loves McGraw because, for example, he's willing to coach up Kendrick Lewis even though that means Lewis may take his spot. Flowers is straight talent and continues to improve on the field. Edwards has been able to stick around in a tough position at nose tackle with not much help behind him while Williams turned himself into a starter last year and nearly did it again with a two-sack performance in preseason. And Tamba? Well, you know we think he's pretty good.
These are all excellent examples for the Chiefs to select as player-coaches because they embody the type of player and person the Chiefs are trying to bring to Kansas City.
Year one additions: Terrance Copper, Chris Chambers, Leonard Pope and Mike Vrabel.
These are the guys that were brought in during Haley and Pioli's first year to help right the ship.
The big one here is Mike Vrabel who, along with Waters, is a significant team leader. There's Terrance Copper, who we don't hear much from but is one of the better special teamers in the league. Leonard Pope came over and stepped right in (and stuck the next year) when the Chiefs had a tight end crisis last year.
These are guys that were on the open market (except for Vrabel who came in a trade) and the Chiefs targeted. There's a reason for that. Some of it is related more to talent than character but they all have similar qualities in that the Chiefs saw and acquired. That probably means you're doing something they like.
Year two additions: Jerheme Urban, Thomas Jones, Casey Wiegmann and Ryan Lilja.
These are the guys that in year two of the Chiefs rebuilding project Pioli brought in.
Urban is on IR as we speak yet he's still one of the guys that Haley loves because he does the little things. I don't have to say much about Jones because we know how much Haley and Pioli like this guy. Wiegmann is someone that was brought in over the offseason and clearly the Chiefs think a lot about him as he mentors Rudy Niswanger. Lilja was as much about talent and need as it was character. Smith was a curious pick
Not sure why: Travis Daniels and Shaun Smith.
I'm not saying these guys didn't deserve the honor player-coach this week but I just haven't seen the signs in these guys that I have in the others.
Daniels is a role player but has familiarity with the Pioli system so I imagine that's why he's there. He made it last from year one to year two so that's another good sign. Then there's Smith whose play on the field has been very good while replacing Tyson Jackson the last couple of weeks. He's definitely the jokester of the team and on the surface doesn't seem like the Haley/Pioli type but he's doing something right if he popped up on this list.