The Kansas City Chiefs made the final decision to fire coach Todd Haley on Monday morning, but not with an eye toward 2012. The last-place Chiefs, at 5-8, believe there's still a chance to make the playoffs this season with interim coach Romeo Crennel at the helm.
"We're not looking to 2012," Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli told reporters Monday. "Mathematically, there's still an opportunity here."
That didn't stop the Chiefs from cutting ties with Haley with three games left in the season, and Pioli denied any type of riff with his former coach, saying the two had "a good working relationship." Pioli also doesn't believe Haley had lost the respect of the locker room.
"I didn't get that sense," Pioli said. "I saw a team that competed pretty hard, week in and week out. I don't think he lost the football team."
But the Chiefs were beset by season-ending injuries to key players -- Matt Cassel, Eric Berry, Tony Moeaki and Jamaal Charles -- who form what Pioli still believes is a solid core. Pioli wouldn't commit to a "final straw" that cost Haley his job, although while saying he believes in the players, he also acknowledged the current roster isn't good enough to win. Pioli did point to the need for the Chiefs to play with more consistency, something they weren't getting with Haley.
Pioli also was very clear he's not taking himself out of the equation of accountability.
"We're clearly not at a spot in where we need to be and the position we're in," Pioli said. "I need to do better at my job. I believe in the players we have here. ... Clearly it's not good enough. I need to do my job better."
Better is what Pioli and CEO Clark Hunt hope the Chiefs will be under Crennel, who has ties with Pioli dating to his days as the New England Patriots' defensive coordinator. Pioli refused to discuss the team's coaching search after the season, but he said Crennel will receive consideration.
"Romeo has done this. He's done this recently," Pioli said of Crennel, who went 24-40 as the Cleveland Browns' coach from 2005 to 2008. "Watching how the players react and respond to Romeo had something to do with it."