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Q&A with Todd Haley - 9/20

Posted Sep 20, 2010

Highlights

OPENING REMARKS: “Good afternoon. Had a chance now to go through the tape, all of us, and as I said yesterday I think that was a real good win for our team – the Kansas City Chiefs. I believe, as I said yesterday, that we went through a couple of rough patches there during that game, specifically during the first half that could’ve set us back or put us in a position to not win the game. The guys were able to really hang together and continued to try to execute the game plan and the second half we were able to do that at a much higher level, which helped us come out on top. I think they showed a tremendous amount of determination to come out on top in that game and that’s what I’m really excited about. I know that on a short week following that late Monday night game and the emotional win that last week was a very, very difficult week that I probably didn’t let on much or tried not to. It was a very difficult week, both mentally and physically for all of us, most specifically the players, for a lot of different reasons. As the week went on, I don’t think we ever had one of those ‘A ’ practices, we were able to get a little better each day. I think that it appeared to me that the team was ready to go when the game started yesterday, however, we were doing a few too many of the things that can get you beat but I really felt by the second half that we finally, after that short week, had kind of gotten our legs back under us and were able to get the job done, which I was real excited about. I think there were some real keys in that game, one of those being what I talk about with our team a bunch, which is hidden yardage – our ability to go on the road in the noise and some of the factors involved there, the concentration, being smart football players and have four penalties for 30 yards and they had more than that for almost double the yardage and I think that was a big factor in the game for us. I think another big factor for us was special teams. As I’ve said, that’s going to be a critical, critical component for our team week-in and week-out – they will have to be a part of us winning games and those guys playing a bunch of those snaps are not looked at any differently in my mind than the players playing the majority of the snaps on offense or defense. Yesterday, though not in the return game the way I wanted it to go, I think our cover teams did a tremendous job – the kickers leading both of those groups. I think they both did a heck of a job helping us win. Overall, good win. I think it’s one that will do our team a lot of good.”

 

Q: Are your receivers doing enough to get open?

HALEY: “Again, being a former receiver coach and that being an area that I always find a way to pay attention to a little bit, I’m probably never going to be happy in that area. I think I’m just going to set the bar high. That being said, I think our receivers are making progress. They continue to make progress. I would say that will never be good enough. I would say that if you win on nine out of 10 routes, I’m going to say win on 10. I’m not going to accept anything less. Another component of being a good receiver in the league is about blocking and I will speak individually about WR Dwayne Bowe in that area and I think that’s something that he has made such a big jump in and is a real good sign. Last week he had a couple real big blocks, one on a long, long play and then yesterday he continued that, though it didn’t necessarily lead to big, big plays, I think that’s a real good sign for the team. Like I’ve said, you earn the right to make plays, make the big spectacular plays or the plays that show up on the highlights and Dwayne and a number of those guys are really doing that in the run game, which I’m excited about the direction we’re going.”

Q: So they’re not good enough for you being a former wide receivers coach is that part of the reason that QB Matt Cassel had a 46 rating yesterday or is that because of Matt Cassel?

HALEY: “I would say the passing game is always an 11-man operation. I would never put any kind of ranking of a performance, and I’m not ranking any performance, I would never put it all on receivers, tight ends, backs, quarterbacks or the line. I think it’s an 11-man…that’s part of earning the right to make plays. It’s an 11-man operation when you pass the ball well. There are so many factors of it that are critical, everybody doing the right thing and understanding what they have to do.”

Q: You’re one of seven teams that are 2-0. They don’t give out any trophies for being 2-0, but given where this program has come from in the past few years, is there anything significant to you?

HALEY: “No Adam. I’m worried about us getting better every day. That goes back to last year. We’re 2-0 in this quarter of the season, which happens to be the first quarter of the season. Our goal each and every quarter will always be to get to three, the thinking being that if you could be 3-1 in every quarter I’d say you’d have a very difficult time not making the playoffs. That’s our primary goal, to get into the playoffs so that we have a chance to play in big games for bigger games. We’re 2-0 and we’re 2-0 for a reason, because we’ve played better than our opponents in each game and I will continue to try to impress upon these guys of what it takes to continue to do that.”

Q: As you know, there were chances to lose both of those games. Is it a sign of where this program is that you guys were the ones making the plays at the end to win those games?

HALEY: “I think it’s an encouraging sign that our guys have been able to hang together and fight through adversity in each of these games, to stick together and win the game and make enough plays to win. That’s what it is. The key, the most important thing is now my cutoff today for enjoying this is 5 o’clock. Once we hit that 5 o’clock time, we know that these two are behind us and now we’re on a little more of a normal schedule and we have come out, we had a real good run and lift today, that was a good start to the week. Now I’m hoping on this next day that some guys spend some extra time getting ready for San Francisco that we’ll talk about on Wednesday. That’s what our goal is for the week, for each and every one of these days, for us to make a little progress, knowing that if we do that, good things will happen.”

Q: What will you be looking for this week to see that your team is handling its success well?

HALEY: “The same things I looked for last week and the same things I looked for last year and that is we have guys on time that are preparing hard, working hard, practicing hard, supporting their teammates, those same things that I’ve been looking for and have always looked for, whatever role I’ve been in – as a position coach, coordinator, head coach – now is that guys are doing the things they’re supposed to do because those things, I firmly believe, are what help you win.”

Q: It’s only two games, but is it easier to come to work, easier in the meetings, easier to coach when you win a couple games?

HALEY: “I don’t know ‘easier’ is the word because I do think what you learn when you’re on a winning team is that, and I don’t think you learn it if you’re not winning on a consistent basis, is you learn the feeling that as soon as that game that you’re playing or the game that you’re coaching in, as soon as and sometimes even before that, you realize that as soon as it’s over, no matter how big that game was – which again, that first week, there was no bigger game than that for any of us that have been here for the last year and a half. That was a division game against the reigning division champions at home in a new stadium on Monday Night Football, first time for a long time, so there was no bigger game for any of us I don’t think. For this team there’s been no bigger game. But as soon as it was over, there was no bigger game than yesterday. San Diego game paled in comparison to the Browns game because it now was our chance to get to two wins in this quarter on the road against an AFC team and now as soon as that ended yesterday and you felt that little bit of jubilation and sense of accomplishment, there’s no bigger game than San Francisco coming this Sunday, a home game, a chance to win a second game at home in front of our fans. That part of it is difficult. At the same time, yes, when you do have some success and when the team’s coming off a win, it is generally an excellent opportunity to really coach and be as critical as you can of technique and the way you do things because guys generally, their force field isn’t up quite the way it is when you’ve not had success and the sensitivity level gets high. It’s a little more doable.”

Q: Why do you think you can only learn that in a winning situation?

HALEY: “I should’ve finished that thought. I think when you’re not winning on a consistent basis, and this is just my opinion, I don’t think you learn that feeling because it just becomes the next game. I can’t explain it. It’s something that I’ve learned and now I know that I feel it and in talking with other people, our coaches and guys that have been around a long time that have talked about it and everybody seems to feel it, that you don’t always feel or see that it’s being felt.”

Q: What do you see from your team that continues to encourage you?

HALEY: “Number one is the way we’re going out and practicing. Like I said last week was a miserable week just from the standpoint of you play on a wet field, that’s like playing on sand and you’re a little more sore because there’s more give, it was a short week and it was a late night and even though we won, the physical aspect of it, the mental aspect, everybody was more tired. And even though we didn’t have great practices, they practiced hard and that’s been going on. I know in the second half of last year when there wasn’t a lot to really get excited about that one of the things that I was excited about was those practices kept improving, in my opinion, whether it was the TV crew or whoever came in and would comment, say ‘wow, they’re really around practicing hard, much different than I expected.’ Those were encouraging signs but that’s continued to go on and it’s just a little more fun when you add in the fact that you’ve had a couple of successful games. That’s the biggest sign, the other is just the fact that the guys again really stuck together and I saw and heard little things that just encouraged me as yesterday went on.”

Q: RB Jamaal Charles said earlier that he accepts the role as backup running back. Would that be a correct statement from him?

HALEY: “In my opinion, no, because I am going to continue to state the importance of all 53 of these guys, 61 really counting the practice squad because it is going to take all of us every week, all week on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and most importantly on Sunday for us to have a chance at success. At that particular position we happen to have a little bit more depth than other spots and we have to use them all. That will come down to us as a coaching staff continuing to be creative in using guys that maybe aren’t the guy playing the majority of the snaps or over half or half, whatever that number is. We have a clear-cut plan of how we are going to do that and we are continuing to grow and be creative in some other areas. I’m not necessarily talking about the running back position. They are both, plus Jackie (Battle), plus WR Dexter McCluster, they are all going to have to contribute for us to have a chance to continue to win games. That is our plan, to win games. All of those running backs are going to be a huge part of it, I can guarantee you that. I think that is another indicator, at least from what has been relayed to me in here is that we are getting more and more guys that understand that this is the ultimate team game and it really is and (they) want to be part of that team mentality, which I know will help us continue to try and become a good team. When I hear that, that is music to my ears so that is a good thing.”

Q: Are you satisfied with the amount of carries Charles has received in these first couple games?

HALEY: “What is our record? I am very comfortable with how the majority of things have gone. Do I want to be better? Heck yeah. We have to be better in every area. We have to improve and that is the good thing. We are 2-0 in the first quarter of this season and I know there is a lot of room for improvement in all areas. Heck, that is a good thing because I know we have a lot of guys that can and will improve and we need to do that. That is the plan.”

Q: Can you talk about S Eric Berry? Did he improve yesterday?

HALEY: “I thought that Eric made progress from week one to week two and I am encouraged by that. Again, he has a lot of room for improvement also but you are talking about a young guy that is playing a difficult position and I felt that he was a big part of us winning that game. All of those guys that played the heck out of the defense and did a great job of stopping the run and he was a part of that. Really for the most part, he did a good job against the pass other than two plays. They had 109 yards on two plays which we just can’t allow to happen. Again, I am just glad that we were able to come out on top in that game. I know that we would have hated to not and then had two of those plays against us because that would be disheartening but I thought Eric has continued to make progress from day one.”

Q: Has Berry helped your run defense specifically?

HALEY: “Yesterday I thought he did, again because he was better than he was the week before. That is our plan for him is that we continue to see progress out of a young player like him. He is eager to learn and he works hard. He is into the team concept so I think there is a lot to look forward to and I am excited for him and all of these young players.”

Q: You said in the first half you were doing things that can get you beat. What in particular was your team doing?

HALEY: “I think we turned the ball over a couple times which we cannot allow, especially on the road. Statistically, when you end up in the minus on the road, your percentages of losing go way up. I think we allowed a couple of real big plays in the pass game, we had a couple penalties on special teams which we cannot have on a consistent basis even though overall we had four penalties on the road, one was declined. I think those are really good signs that have continued through the preseason and we are one of the least penalized, four this week and three last week. We would like that number to be cut in half if we could but most of those things were happening in the first half. I would say in the second half we were able to improve in a lot of those things and not let some of those things happen and that contributed to us winning.”

Q: Can that first half be attributed to a short week and coming off an emotional win?

HALEY: “You said that, the emotional part. I haven’t bought into that much personally. Like I said, it was a miserable week but that was physical, it was mental and it is just that you are out of your routine. It is a hard week and that is from the coach standpoint. The players, it is even more difficult just from the physical aspect, the toll that is on their body, less sleep and all of those things. So that is why I think the schedule was important for us to not let our schedule whether in pads or out of pads become a factor in us losing that game. The reason I say I didn’t agree with emotional part is because I think when that game started our guys were ready to play. I think there was a sense of urgency, there was effort and guys were flying around. They were into the game and I just think that we weren’t quite all together. Whether it was a product of the short week or whatever it was, we just weren’t quite clicking or completely focused but I think by halftime, I felt much more like I had the week before and a little better. Again, because we were on the road and playing a tough opponent so that is where I felt good about things.”