The NFL lockout is obviously affecting everyone -- from rookies who can't learn a new system to free agents who lack a home to owners who can't upgrade their second yacht. But Kansas City Chiefs head coach Todd Haley faces a specific challenge, according to ESPN's John Clayton, as one of the ten coaches most affected by the lockout.
Most of Clayton's list centers around new coaches or coaches who've had to endure changes, and the latter is the list that Haley fits inside. Clayton writes:
Haley spent two years trying to upgrade the offensive talent and get the bodies and minds of veteran Chiefs offensive players right. He brought in Charlie Weis last year to get more out of QB Matt Cassel. Weis has left for Florida, and Haley is left to call the plays. The Chiefs won 10 games last year, but a tougher schedule and the lack of an offseason with players to drive them could cause the offense to backslide. That might lead to unfair judgments of Haley, who produced a playoff team in his first two years.
In a recent NFL Network interview with Rich Eisen, Haley gives his own take on the lockout, saying that his challenge is to stay focused on the task at hand and be as prepared as possible amidst the chaos of a weird off-season. "This entire off-season has been different than anybody's ever experienced, so my focus as the head coach has been on doing everything possible to be prepared for all scenarios," says Haley, "because there is going to be football and we've got to be ready to go. As coaches, we're going to be on the front line with the players trying to get better and trying to win games and that's what we have to do."
In a year where Haley finally settled into his role as head coach, Clayton is wise to bring up the loss of Weis and the poor timing of the lockout. Haley is forced to add to his plate at a time where he can't learn as he goes, and perhaps the most successful teams in the NFL this year will be the ones who endured the least amount of changes. Then again, the quick success Haley has enjoyed thus far is enough to give him the benefit of the doubt.