“I thought this year started with a tremendous off-season. Off-season number one with player acquisition, whether it was through free agency where we added a number of critical, critical guys that were a critical part of our success and the development of some of our younger, less experienced guys. I feel like the draft was another huge step for us that our personnel department and (General Manager) Scott (Pioli) and the coaching staff put a tremendous amount of work into and did a really good job targeting where we could make improvements to this team and create competition to help get us better. I think the acquisition of players through the draft and free agency was really successful from that standpoint. The next step for us I believe was what I’ve talked about a lot in here, the development of the players already on the roster and the new players coming in. I know our coaches did just a tremendous, tremendous job of developing players, turning some unknowns into knowns, so to speak and that is and will continue to be a very critical part of this process and a critical part of us achieving our goals. Another very big thing that occurred that was mentioned in here and I know you guys asked questions throughout the year and me being superstitious, it’s not something that I’ll ever really talk about in-season, but through our tremendous off-season and coaches Mike Clark and Brent Salazar, our two strength and conditioning coaches did just a fantastic job of putting our guys in a position to make it through this marathon of a year, which it is every year. I also want to recognize Dave Price and his staff, our training staff, those guys worked in unison, worked together to do just a fantastic job of keeping our players on the field and out of the training room, off of IR. That was critical for us to take the step we took this year. I’ve touched on it a number of times that depth was going to be an issue for us and I’ve got to believe we were up there; we’re still working on some of those numbers to really see where we fell in line with everybody else, but I’ve got to believe we’re at the top of the list or somewhere near it in keeping guys out there on the field and playing and that was critical to us.
“I think we took a big, big step in continuing to develop the identity of our team and what we want it to be and I think you started to see signs of a team that was going to be pretty tough-minded and is going to be pretty tough-minded. It’s going to be a relatively smart team – we had some ups and downs in that area and smart is reflected on some penalties, whether you’re taking penalties, what types of penalties you have, it’s reflected in mental errors, things that end up causing you problems if you’re not doing them correctly or you’re making a lot of them. A tough-minded smart team that plays hard and that wins tough games, I know we took a big step in the continued development of that identity of what our team is going to be. I think there were really a lot of good things that went on this year and now the critical thing is it’s a new year, it’s going to be a new year and we have to take big steps again this year and it’s going to start. Really it’s already started with the full evaluation from top to bottom of our team, players, coaches, everybody, myself, to see what we can do to continue to make strides which we have to do to get to where we want to get to. It’s a new year and each and every year, that’s the way it goes. We’re starting that evaluation process now, yesterday we did, and it’s going to move fast. As I look through the calendar you see just how fast it moves and it’s amazing that you don’t expect the season to end, it’s a quicker ending than you ever would like but once it happens and you do start to look ahead, it’s going to get up on us fast. We’re moving. We’re going to give the coaches a little time next week but other than that, it’s going to be fast and furious. We need to be on it and be very clear on those areas that we need to continue to improve.
“Before I get to questions, I think it’s important that I thank all of our fans. They continued to build their reputation as their best fans in the NFL, in my opinion. We have an unbelievable fan base and they were nothing but positive and into it and the momentum built and I think it really helped our team through some area and some games that we needed a little boost. I’d like to thank them and the coaches again, I cannot say enough about my staff and the effort, the sacrifice, the time they put in to really do a tremendous job coaching our players and trying to help them get to their maximum abilities.”
Q: Are there any red flags or concerns with the way the season ended, with two 20-plus point losses at home or is it just that you played two bad games at the wrong time?
HALEY: “I think this league is about peaking at the right time and it’s real clear that our team was a team that had to continue, as most teams (are), but especially when you’re talking about a team that’s in the middle of a turnaround and trying to build an identity that it’s very important that we continued to develop throughout the year. I know that that happened, that we did continue to develop but you do have to peak and you have to be playing your best football at the critical time. We did that down the stretch I really feel because we were in a situation where we couldn’t afford to give much back there from Thanksgiving on or somewhere thereabouts. Though our team did a good job of staying in the present tense and not thinking about a lot of outside factors, at least it appeared that way to me as the head coach, there was some pressure, as you reflect, to keep that game ahead and I think there for a little while if we had any slippage it would have gone away that we weren’t happy about but we continued to develop and just in the last two games, the last game of the season was important to us from a standpoint of continuing to develop and build some confidence going into the postseason. I can’t say that did or didn’t have an effect on how we played on Sunday but Sunday you have to go out and you have to do things a certain way in order to have a chance to win and in the second half of the game we just didn’t do it. There is a lot to be learned from that experience and I know that this group of players will do that and judging by yesterday’s meeting and time spent with the players that I was able to spend a few moments with which was a large majority, and then we had a staff meeting today with our coaches, we were able to talk a lot about some of those things and I think the guys will take a lot from this experience and they have to.”
Q: Did those two games change your opinion about what the strengths and weaknesses of this team are?
HALEY: “I don’t think so Adam. It’s a cumulative grade and we’re in that evaluation process. There is a lot of work to be done and it’s very critical that we get it right and as I’ve said multiple times, you can’t fill all the holes, you’ve got to continue to do the things that were done up to this point to bring in competition at as many spots as possible because competition is the key in my opinion. Good competition is the key to players pushing themselves to the maximum and developing our team and we’ve just got to keep doing that and we’ll keep getting better. As I said, we accomplished some of our goals this year and it was a very positive year but there are better things to come. We have a goal of being a championship team and that’s going to happen, that’s going to happen sooner rather than later.”
Q: You have talked a lot about how the last game of last season against Denver really set the tone for this season. Do you feel that way about these last two games that it might be difficult games to overcome those?
HALEY: “No, Adam. I think it’s a totally different situation. Our first year, when you win four games, you knew it was going to be a very painful, challenging to make some of the changes that had to be made, big-picture changes and on a large scale, personnel turnover, finding the right guys to go forward with, keeping the right guys to go forward with. Finding the right guys to go forward with, keeping the right guys, all those things that had to go on, which I think we have done a really good job to this point, but when you win four games, you’re building and developing in a little different way. This year we came out and the progress was much more clear or easier to see because we’re judged on a win-loss basis but we won 10 games and those wins came in the first half of the season and the second half of the season. It’s just different. Somebody has to lose in these playoff games and we lost. The Baltimore Ravens played better than the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday but the important thing is we continue to do the things we’ve been doing and it’s going to start with this off-season and acquisition, competition, development, all those things. Like I said, the ship’s moving and it’s moving at a good clip and now you just have to continue to do the things you know have to be done.”
Q: Of those 10 wins, you were 2-4 in your division with two close wins, an overtime loss and three games that weren’t great. Is there a matchup problem right now within your own division as you look at things?
HALEY: “I think that you have to win games in your division. We showed that you can get into the post-season without doing it, not the way we’d like it to occur because you’re most efficient way to get into the postseason, which is our goal, is to beat your division opponents. I think it’s very important from our players’ standpoint, during the year we didn’t talk much about it, but one of the things I talked pretty thoroughly about with the players is now that the season’s over, we have to learn and understand how critical those games are to your placement, your seeding and really your overall chances of being a successful team in the postseason, which is the goal. We need to get better. We’re not there yet but we’ve done a real good job to this point of starting to lay the foundation of what’s going to be a real good team.”
Q: How about against those teams in particular?
HALEY: “We’ve got to get better. We’ve got to get better. They’re getting better. I think it’s clear that the Oakland Raiders were a better team than they were a year before, at least from my vantage point and the study I’ve had to do. San Diego is a good team. They’ve been there, they were coming fast at the end and they put themselves in a position that was difficult to overcome, we were part of that early on, but they’re a good team and I don’t see that changing a whole lot and I would expect them to continue to improve because that’s what they’ve been doing. Denver’s in a little bit of transition now. Obviously they’re a dangerous, dangerous team. They had a tough year but I see them doing nothing but going up, at least judging by the roster and they have some veteran players that they have to continue to do the same things we’re doing but that’s not going to change. We’ve got great competition in our division which I’m happy about because we’ve got to take care of business in our division here going forward and that’ll make us a better team.”
Q: So would you say that you are building your team to compete specifically with Oakland and San Diego?
HALEY: “I am a big believer that you just have to continue the growth. You have to continue to bring in good football players and if you do that and you try and recognize some of your weak points as a team (you’ll get better), but it can’t completely drive your decision making. You just keep bringing in good football players; you have a good staff that does a very good job of developing those players and putting them ultimately in a position to succeed then you will win games. If you get too caught up in trying to matchup specifically for teams you have a chance to run into a wall and it can be very dangerous. I think Scott (Pioli) and myself are very clear on how we want to do this and how we want to build and we are just going to continue doing that.”
Q: Is it a coincidence that your offense slowed down the last two games after Charlie Weis’ departure was announced?
HALEY: “Yeah, I would say that it is a coincidence. There is no way for me to give you facts other than that we had a very good week of practice. It looked like the guys were ready to go. When the game started one of the things that I was really interested in seeing was how our overall group handled that atmosphere and the bigger scope of the game. I thought overall we did that, there were not guys that were showing signs of having a hard time handling it. It came down to just playing football and not doing certain things and doing other things that we just were not able to do on Sunday. I don’t think it is anything bigger than that other than we are just not there yet. I am proud of what our team accomplished, I am really proud of what they accomplished because I don’t think a lot of people outside of our building or our fan base (believed). We had some believers outside of here, but I don’t think that was the general belief of what was going to happen last year and for that I am really proud that our guys did the things that they were supposed to do and because of that we were able to win double-digit wins which is a big thing. It is a good thing that allowed us to get into our first postseason together as a core group. It just wasn’t our time and we have to do a better job. We have to do a better job of being ready for that game and that ultimately falls on me as the head coach and I will be better next time.”
Q: A local radio station reported yesterday that you relieved offensive coordinator Charlie Weis of his play calling duties in the second half of the playoff game. Is that true?
HALEY: “Absolutely not true.”
Q: Do you feel that you will have to fight the perception that Kansas City is a difficult place for an offensive coordinator to come?
HALEY: “No, that is not something that I have thought about or considered. I am going to continue doing the things that I know as the head coach have gotten this ship going in the right direction and moving at a pretty good clip as I have said. We made continued progress in our foundation building process in year one. We continued that and maybe exceeded expectations a little bit in year two and now we need to continue. That is about all the things that I mentioned. You need good coaches; it is a big factor as is skillful players that are willing to be coached.”
Q: Are you committed to hiring an offensive coordinator?
HALEY: “We are a couple days removed from too quick of an ending to a season that was really exciting and a lot of fun. It was a lot more fun than year one for us for everyone involved. We are in that process of evaluating the team and I am going to continue to do the things that I can do as the head coach to stay on course and continue to build and make all those decisions together with staff and our organization that we thing give us the best chance to continue to make progress.”
Q: Does the responsibility of selecting an offensive coordinator fall on you?
HALEY: “I will be responsible for hiring the right person. It will ultimately fall on me to hire the right guy but as I do with everything I am going to work like heck to get it right. The thing that I am grateful for is that I have a great staff of coaches. I have said it a number of times and I will say it again, they are the best staff in the league as far as I am concerned. I have guys I can lean on and talk to that have been through some of these things. Then I have Scott. He and I are very like-minded and we will do the things we think are necessary to keep moving forward. But ultimately I will make the decision of who comes in here, if that is what we do.”
Q: Would you consider calling plays next year?
HALEY: “I will just continue this evaluation process. What I want to make sure is that I do what is best for our team and gives us the best chance to succeed. That will come after a very thorough evaluation and a lot of that has begun. Again, with the guys I have on staff it makes it (a little easier). I don’t think it is ever easy to make decisions in this league but I have guys that will definitely help me and I just want to get it right.”
Q: From year one to year two of your approach of coaching the team seemed to be different. Is there going to be a difference in year three?
HALEY: “I think if there is a year three approach it will come after this evaluation. That is what is so important right now is making sure that we are very thorough, that you see things for what they are and you don’t fool yourself and think you are better than you are or not understand that we went through the year from an injury standpoint and kept everybody (healthy). Like I said, Mike Clark and Brent Salazar and Dave Price along with the players did a terrific job of keeping themselves on the field and those coaches were such a big part of that because our off-season program is not easy. We are working and continued through a difficult training camp that started with a lot of IVs and dehydration but ended with 100 degree days and nobody in the training room. It continues to make you feel like you are doing the right things from that standpoint but at the same time we stayed relatively healthy and that was a big part of us being able to have some success. I think it is very important to see it clearly and not with rose colored glasses on. We did some really good things and we have to continue to make progress and do the things that I have talked about in here to do that.”
Q: You said you will consider calling plays yourself?
HALEY: “Yeah, I will consider anything. There is going to be a very thorough evaluation of the entire system. We had a really good coordinator here in Charlie that has moved on to Florida. We have to make sure that we continue to develop our coaches and have good coaches on the staff. That is a critical part of being a successful team year in and year out and reaching our goals which is to be a championship team.”
Q: Could someone on this staff already be a candidate?
HALEY: “I will not discount anything right now. What I am interested in is getting it right. I feel like last year we got it right. We were able to continue to make big progress and continue building the identity of this team and on top of that we had some success. We didn’t have as much success as we would of liked, we didn’t accomplish all of our goals but I feel like we got it right. Our staff continues to grow and develop just like the players. We have a nice group of veterans and young coaches alike. As I believe, been taught and seen first hand, you need to be developing coaches also and again, we will get it right.”
Q: How disrupting will it be to the ship if there happens to be a work stoppage? Will it be hard to avoid the icebergs?
HALEY: “The ship analogy? Now we are bringing in icebergs? We are just going to stay in the south where the water is warm around the meridian. We just have to take it as it comes, but it is not something that I can or will talk about. I don’t want to end up in trouble. I think that it could definitely be disruptive, but everyone is going to have to deal with the same factors. I think it is critical that you are prepared one way or another as best you can. This is probably going to be a situation where you have plan A, B, C, D and E. You just have to be ready and it may be an opportunity in some ways for some teams.”
Q: Was there any specific player that made great progress and really stood out to you?
HALEY: “There are just so many. The coaches did such a great job of turning some unknowns to knowns and I am not talking about from a marquee names standpoint, I am just talking about a roster standpoint. When you go into the draft and into the off-season you want to say we would like to take care of this, this and this but you just can’t do it. That is why the development of players becomes so paramount to your success as a team. I could down the line, I don’t want to offend anybody, but CB
Q: Do you enjoy watching playoff football when you are done?
HALEY: “It is football hangover. It is tough, but we will see. We have a lot of things to be thinking about and be working on right now so that is a good thing and a bad thing but the good far outweighs the bad and you can’t mess around or take too much down time. We have to get going because it is coming fast. We have the East-West game next week and then the Senior Bowl after that. The combine is going to be coming quickly behind that and there is a lot of stuff going on.”
Q: Ravens or Steelers, who do you like?
HALEY: “I like the Chiefs. I love the Chiefs.”