Haley's head coaching potential rising - East Valley Tribune: Sports

Haley's head coaching potential rising

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Posted: Thursday, January 22, 2009 7:59 pm | Updated: 1:14 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

Sideline dust-ups can make or break your reputation.

At least for a while, at least when you're team is headed for the Super Bowl.

Check out the plummeting image of Anquan Boldin, whose middle name might as well be "selfish" because of the video clips and media commentary concerning his squabble with Cardinals offensive coordinator Todd Haley.

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Bordow: Boldin should apologize for antics

Cards notes: LaBoy limited at practice

But what about Haley?

The term "NFL's hottest assistant coach" has attached itself to Haley much like Larry Fitzgerald's hands around a jump-ball pass.

This is so thanks to the scene's imagery: A coach seemingly telling a disruptive player where to go, while staying focused on the task at hand.

That he succeeded at the task - calling the plays on the winning drive in the Cardinals' biggest game in 61 years - means he could be "the guy" as far as assistant coaches go.

He's being touted for head coaching jobs, even ones that - at the moment, at least - aren't even vacant.

"I think he'll be the coach in Kansas City," broadcast analyst Chris Collinsworth said in a teleconference this week.

Because the Cardinals had been so low-profile, few people had mentioned Haley as a future head coach, even though Collinsworth said Haley deserved consideration.

But after the NFC title and the Boldin dust-up, "He's not under the radar screen anymore."

In fact, Collinsworth said, "The biggest winner who has come out of this run by the Arizona Cardinals has been Todd Haley."

Then there's the Dallas job, which also is filled.

Keyshawn Johnson, the former receiver, wondered aloud to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "Why aren't you touting Todd Haley for the job?"

Haley, Johnson said, "was the only one with the guts" to tell Cowboys owner Jerry Jones that he wanted to coach in Dallas but that he couldn't because of the unsettling presence of Terrell Owens.

Haley has football in his blood.

His father Dick Haley worked in personnel for the Steelers and the Jets.

Todd Haley went to work for Bill Parcells and the Jets in 1996. He worked with receivers and shared an office with another young coach ... a guy named Ken Whisenhunt.

"When you spend a year with someone in a little office, together, you find out a lot about him," Whisenhunt recalled.

He found that he and Haley "have similar ideas ... in what we are trying to get done."

After Whisenhunt landed in Pittsburgh, the Steelers tried to hire Haley, he noted.

Instead, he had stints in Chicago and Dallas; he was the Cowboys' receivers coach and passing game coordinator for Parcells.

Then Whisenhunt, as the new Cardinals coach two years ago, brought Haley in as the offensive coordinator. He turned over play-calling duties to him last year.

Haley said, "I'd like to think I've excelled, or at least risen to the challenge, but it wouldn't be possible without him having the trust in me. So I'm very grateful for that."

As far as the squabble with Boldin, Haley conceded after the game that, "I'm an emotional guy" and that, "I'm not a players' coach. I coach hard. That's the way I was taught."

Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner acknowledged he has had frequent jousts with the offensive coordinator.

"My wife tells me every week, 'What in the world were you and Todd yelling about this week?'" said Warner, who added that players frequently question their coaches and their methods.

But as a coach, "You want players to respect you," Warner said. "They don't have to like you but you want them to walk away saying ... 'That guy made me and pushed me to be a better football player.' I think that's what Todd does every day. Whether we all agree on what he does is sometimes irrelevant."

Though Haley can be argumentative, he's open to suggestions.

In fact, he asked third-string quarterback Brian St. Pierre to decide when to run a flea-flicker play vs. Philadelphia on Sunday.

Pierre picked a golden moment - after a missed Eagles field goal - and the Cardinals ran the play perfectly for a touchdown.

He can be consoling, too.

Haley talked for about an hour or so with No. 2 quarterback Matt Leinart right after Warner beat out Leinart for the starting job.

The basic message was to "hang in there," but there were lots of details to back it up.

"We talked about everything involved in the situation," Leinart said. "A lot of stuff resonated with me in a good way this year to help me in my career."

Haley seemed to come out ahead in his matchup with Jim Johnson, the Eagles' revered defensive coordinator.

He did so with a mix of short, quick passes blended with running plays; the result was that the Eagles' notorious blitzes were neutralized.

"Get the ball out quick and let your play-makers make plays," Leinart said. "It's not rocket science, but his game plan was great. And we executed it great."

The result of all this: The perpetual NFL head-coaching carousel may have a new rider soon enough.

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