Haley drawing attention thanks to Cardinals' postseason run

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Todd Haley is loud, blunt and often argues with his players. He also is an emerging coaching star as the man who calls the shots for the high-scoring Arizona Cardinals' offense.

"I'm an emotional guy," the offensive coordinator said after the Cardinals beat Philadelphia for the NFC title. "I'm not a players' coach. I coach hard. That's the way I was taught."

Haley's temper was on full display in Sunday's game, in a first-half argument with quarterback Kurt Warner, then in a shouting match with wide receiver Anquan Boldin during Arizona's winning fourth-quarter drive.

"Just the emotions of the game," Haley said of his widely publicized run-in with Boldin. "We're emotional guys. Like I said, I wear my heart on my sleeve and that's the way I go about business and I have to deal with that on a full-time basis."

The players are used to it.

"Todd and I have argued most of the games this year," Warner said.

Haley's method might be heavy-handed, but there is no questioning the results. The Cardinals have scored a combined 95 points in victories over Atlanta, Carolina and Philadelphia to advance to the Super Bowl for the first time in franchise history.

Third-string quarterback Brian St. Pierre stands close to Haley on the sidelines.

"Todd is very vocal and not afraid to show his emotions, but a great coach," St. Pierre said. "I love Todd. He's done an incredible job this year. I can't believe he didn't get any interviews to be a head coach, but I'm sure that's on the very near horizon. He's a big part of why we're going to the Super Bowl."

Despite their run-ins, Haley and Warner are close, and the coach has high praise for the 37-year-old quarterback.

"I say it over and over, Kurt is a true man in every sense of the word," Haley said after Sunday's win over the Eagles. "He doesn't have to be a tough guy and fight everybody, he just believes in what he believes in and he leads the team. We get into it a bunch because he's a competitive guy, as I am, but I was really proud of him today. That was a big-time performance."

Haley provides the volume on low-key coach Ken Whisenhunt's staff.

"Coach (Bill) Parcells is my mentor and I gotta thank him for everything that I've learned from him and the time that he took with me," Haley said. "He gave me my first chance initially and I can't give him enough credit. There's a reason he has success everywhere he goes and that's the way he's taught me and that's the way I'm going to do it."

He is the son of Dick Haley, former director of player personnel for the Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Jets. He started his coaching career with the Jets in 1996 and, as an offensive assistant for wide receivers, shared a small office in 2000 with Whisenhunt, who was wide receivers coach at the time.

Haley went on to coach wide receivers for the Chicago Bears for three seasons before joining Parcells in Dallas as wide receivers coach and passing game coordinator.

When Whisenhunt was hired by the Cardinals, he brought Haley in as offensive coordinator. Whisenhunt, offensive coordinator for the Steelers before coming to Arizona, called the plays at first, but gradually turned the job over to Haley late last season.

Whisenhunt said he wants to provide Haley with the same opportunity that ex-Pittsburgh coach Bill Cowher did for him.

Sterling Sharpe chat

Sharpe on Larry Fitzgerald: "When you talk about postseason, I think it's just showing the rest of America what those of us in football already know: he's one of the best in football. I think the playoffs were just like his coming out party." **Chat transcript ...**

"Give him credit because he has worked hard to be good at his job," Whisenhunt said. "Part of being successful means you get attention, and it's well deserved. Hopefully we'll have one more game where it continues to be a good thing."

Haley likes to spread the field to take advantage of matchups involving his standout receivers Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald. After virtually abandoning the ground game earlier in the season, the Cardinals became a threat to run the ball with the return of Edgerrin James, who had been benched midway through the season.

Fitzgerald has been phenomenal, already breaking Jerry Rice's NFL record for yards receiving in one postseason with 419 and still has a game to go.

As the Warner, Boldin and James incidents show, Haley doesn't ease up on the big-name players.

He said he's been hard on Fitzgerald, working with him to improve his ability to gain ground after a catch. It's an aspect of Fitzgerald's game that's been on wide display in the playoffs.

"When Larry Fitzgerald says 'Thank you for keeping your foot on my throat the last two years,"' Haley said, "that's what it's all about as a coach."

The Cardinals had Tuesday and Wednesday off. They will return to practice on Thursday with workouts each day through Saturday. The players have Sunday off, then fly to Tampa on Monday.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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