There’s nothing to spice up a bad matchup like a little controversy and that’s exactly what the Pittsburgh Steelers and Kansas City Chiefs have going as they prepare to square off in the Steel City in a Monday Night Football tilt.
These are two teams headed in opposite directions half way through the season. The Steelers are on a 3 game winning streak and are about to hit the meat of the conference schedule with 3 in a row, including 2 against the Baltimore Ravens after this weeks game. The Chiefs on the other hand are spiraling out of control. They have lost 5 in a row, are dealing with injuries to both their starter and backup quarterbacks, and overall just seem to have lost their way on both sides of the football.
This sounds like a game no one is going to want to watch, right? Not so fast. Per ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter, Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley, who was fired as the Chiefs head coach last season, has said that he would not hesitate to run up the score on the Chiefs on Monday given the opportunity.
To understand the history of Haley and the Chiefs, you only have to know that it wasn’t long after he was hired that he lost the confidence of the ownership. They went out and brought in high profile coordinators like Charlie Weiss and Romeo Crennel, guys who won Super Bowls as coordinators in New England in hopes of rallying the Chiefs and in some respects keeping Haley in line.
But all it did was alienate Haley further from management and the players and by the time Haley was finally let go he was making accusations that the Chiefs were spying on him and bugging his office including his phone. Living in the heart of Chiefs country, the rumors that were going around during that time bordered on the ridiculous. Needless to say there was no warm good byes.
But is there anything to the idea of running up the score? I have a few problems with the whole debate. First, there’s nothing more dangerous for a good team to do than not take a bad team seriously, and the idea of going into a game wanting to run it up is just that. This is already a trap game, so don’t do anything to make it easier on the Chiefs. The Steelers haven’t lost a Monday night home game in better than 20 years, no reason to start this week.
I also wonder what head coach Mike Tomlin thinks of this. I can’t imagine Tomlin would be on board with the idea of running up the score either. He has won a Super Bowl so he understands what a grind the season is, and how important every game is. I can see him calling off the dogs whether Haley wants to or not.
And understand I am all for running up the score. Being a college football fan longer than an NFL fan, I get it. The concept is much more common there, because of the disparity in talent you see it more often. One of my favorite quotes is from former Ohio State Coaching legend Woody Hayes. When asked why he went for 2 up 36 late against Michigan, Hayes replied, “because I couldn’t go for 3!”.
But in the NFL the idea of running up the score is just too difficult and the risk/reward is too much for any coach to ever seriously consider. I understand how much Haley despises the Chiefs and how that relationship ended, but he needs to just shut up and coach the offense and get his players out of this game with a win and healthy, because there’s a lot of season to go.
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