As the losses and conflict mounted, Todd Haley saw this day coming — one way or another.
Haley, fired today as coach of the Chiefs after fewer than three seasons, began seeing signs — and perhaps flouting them — that he was an awkward fit in an organization that leans on image as much as quality football.
As recently as last week, Haley indicated during a private conversation that he might resign as Chiefs coach, to leave on his own terms and retain the ability to tell his side of a story that became more chaotic as the season advanced. Most NFL separation agreements include a confidentiality clause, preventing the former employee from speaking publicly about his experience with the organization once the two part ways.
Haley and general manager Scott Pioli were at odds throughout the season, and it became clear even before the Chiefs began what has become a year of injuries, bad decisions and losing that a change was likely. Eight losses already this season, five of them in blowout fashion, made that a virtual certainty.
The Chiefs lost Sunday night, 37-10, to the New York Jets.
Haley said afterward that the Jets had been better prepared than the Chiefs and that his team had played its worst half — the Chiefs had one first down and four total yards in the first half — of the season.
That loss seemed to be the final push to part ways with a coach that never seemed to fit with the Chiefs’ buttoned-down philosophy. Haley was gruff and occasionally harsh to players, and he began distancing himself this season from the organization's clean-cut approach. He began growing a thick beard after the Chiefs’ third contest, an encouraging loss at San Diego, and wore well-used clothing to games and news conferences.
The Chiefs won four in a row after that game, but after that winning streak, losses to Miami and Denver began another losing streak punctuated too often by lopsided scores. Haley continued a rogue philosophy, ignoring custom and popular opinion – such as giving rookie quarterback Ricky Stanzi a try, rather than sticking with the struggling Tyler Palko — to keep doing things his way, whether that would derail his career or not.
Now that it's official, this ending seemed inevitable.