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 championship. "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
game-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
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
"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.
"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
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.