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“This was a difficult decision but one that we feel is best for the future of the Chiefs,” Chairman and CEO Clark Hunt said in a statement. “Although there have been bright spots at different points this season, we have not made meaningful progress.”
There have been rumblings about Haley’s job status ever since training camp, when the NFL lockout caused him to take an unorthodox approach. Rather than going full speed throughout camp, Haley opted instead to spend the majority of the time on conditioning and strength training.
He hoped that would cut down on the risk of injuries given an abbreviated offseason.
Instead, the Chiefs lost starting linebacker Brandon Siler to a torn Achilles in camp, and tight end Tony Moeaki went down with a torn knee ligament in their preseason finale. Pro Bowl safety Eric Berry sustained the same injury in Week 1 against Buffalo, and All-Pro running back Jamaal Charles tore a ligament in his knee the following week at Detroit.
After three lopsided losses to start the season, Kansas City managed to rattle off four straight wins and pull into a tie atop the division. Haley was being applauded for keeping the team together despite such adversity, and there was a happy-go-lucky attitude at the practice facility.
That all changed when the Chiefs lost to previously winless Miami at home, the start of a dismal stretch in which they dropped four straight and five of their last six. Along the way, quarterback Matt Cassel broke his right hand and landed on injured reserve, and the lack of depth behind him forced Haley to start journeyman Tyler Palko the past four games.
Kansas City has managed only two touchdowns with Palko under center.
Pioli said several weeks ago that he values consistency within an organization, and the former Patriots executive has used the Pittsburgh Steelers as the blueprint for rebuilding the Chiefs. But the decision to part with Haley is just the second in-season firing of a head coach in franchise history — Paul Wiggins was fired after seven games during the 1977 season.
“We believe change is important at this time,” Pioli said in a statement.
By David Keene
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