Ex-Kansas City Chiefs head coach becomes Florida high school assistant
The Riverview Rams wasted little time finding a replacement for Jared Clark.
And they got a former NFL head coach to do it.
Todd Haley, who served as the head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs from 2009 through 2011, will take over as the Rams offensive coordinator, a position held by Clark before he was hired recently as head coach at Cardinal Mooney High.
The 52-year-old Haley last served as the offensive coordinator in 2018 for the Cleveland Browns. But he was fired after a Week 8 loss to his former team, the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Haley, who has a home in the area and whose daughter attends Out-of-Door Academy, was introduced to Rams head coach Josh Smithers through former Ram TJ Nutter.
“We were talking and he brought him up and I asked him, ‘You think he’d watch some film?’ ” Smithers said. “So he came over to Riverview late in the season and we watched some film.
“At that point we do what we do. We’re not going to change anything.”
After the season, when Clark’s name became linked to the Mooney job, Smithers reached out to Nutter to gauge Haley’s interest in becoming the Rams offensive coordinator.
“I said, ‘Hey, what do you think?’ And he said, ‘I don’t know, give it a shot.’ Once I knew Jared had the job I just reached out to him, ‘Would you like to coach still?’ ”
Haley took some time to discuss the offer with his family before telling Smithers he’d take the job.
“We’re obviously excited that he wanted to join the staff and hoping we can learn a lot of football from him,” Smithers said.
Haley’s father, Dick Haley, was an NFL cornerback for six years and later served as director of player personnel for the New York Jets and Pittsburgh Steelers.
As a youth, Haley was a ball boy for the Steelers and attended Steeler training camps with his dad. He went on to attend the University of Florida and University of Miami and graduated from the University of North Florida in 1991 with a bachelor’s degree in communication.
His first job in coaching was in 1995 as an assistant with the Jets in their scouting department. He then became the Jets wide receivers coach, a job Haley later held with the Bears and Cowboys before becoming offensive coordinator of the Arizona Cardinals in 2007.
Haley has never coached at the high school level. Smithers said he discussed this with him.
“We talked about the high school game being different than the pro game,” he said. “And he was all fired up, just to get out there and coach football again. He understands these are high school kids who go to school all day and you get them for a couple of hours versus people who do it for a job.
“He told me he’s excited just to teach quarterbacks how to read coverages and receivers how to run better routes.
“And I think that’s where he’s going to be able to excel. His ability to understand defensive coverages and have an answer for everything.”
Smithers also pointed out that Haley, who was unavailable for comment, will be part of a program that has a winning culture already established.
“I told him what we’ve done here at Riverview the last five years, it works and we’ve had success with it,” he said. “I said obviously if there are certain route concepts or things that you just have to have in your arsenal, then you have the freedom but we’re not going to all of a sudden create a new offense.
“We’re going to be spread and up tempo. If he can make us go even faster, than will be even better.
“He’s all in.”
But Smithers realizes any coach, even one with NFL pedigree, can only do so much.
“At the end of the day, our kids will be on the field competing and it doesn’t really matter who’s calling it. If we don’t execute, it’s not going to matter.”
This story originally published to heraldtribune.com, and was shared to other Florida newspapers in the new Gannett Media network.