“This afternoon will be inside. I think we’ve got a chance to kill a couple birds with one stone, so-to-speak in that we can get out of the heat a little bit but really the number one reason is we’re playing inside, in a dome on turf. It’s another great thing about being here facility-wise; we’ve got an opportunity to kind of practice in the atmosphere we’re going to see Friday night. We’ll get to go inside on the turf. I think that will be a good opportunity for our team. Like I said, it will be carded.
“The other thing, you guys and girls will be in there, we’re going to do something a little different that assistant coach Maurice Carthon actually came up with the thought, which I liked, which is halfway through this practice, we’re going to have a little simulated halftime. We’ll send them inside, let them sit in there for a little bit and then come out. We’re trying to simulate that aspect of the game – an area that we really struggled last year, a place you don’t always know exactly why, but we need to be better. While we’re here, we’ve got this nice indoor setup and I think this will be a good little practice drill for us.”
Q: Have you determined how much your starters are going to play Friday night?
HALEY: “We haven’t had that meeting yet Adam. Sorry I don’t have any more information for you right now but we’ll get to that here tonight.”
Q: On the list of priorities for Friday night, where is winning on that list?
HALEY: “Well, I don’t know exactly what I said last year but I feel the same way. When you haven’t won a lot of games you need to learn how to win. Now, with that being said, as we all know in the preseason, I think you have to be prudent in certain areas. The game is going to be determined by a lot of different people that may or may not end up being guys that are starting or playing heavy roles. I’m not saying they won’t but they may or may not is probably the best way to word it. Winning is critical to us but at the same time everyone needs to understand that, myself included, what determines some of these games is a little different situation.”
Q: Do you believe that momentum can carry over from preseason to regular season?
HALEY: “There are so many examples of each way Adam, I don’t know that there is any and I know I’m not smart enough to figure it out. I do know that there’s never anything wrong with good things happening. But we’ve seen teams not play well in the preseason for a number of different reasons. There are so many variables involved that I don’t know if you can put your thumb on it exactly. I know we need to go out, we need to take some of these things that we’ve been doing in practice well into a game because ultimately to be a good team you have to play well when the lights are on and when the game is going. This is our first opportunity to do that.”
Q: Do you feel like the problems you had in the preseason last year contributed to the start you got in the regular season?
HALEY: “Problems, you’re referring . . .”
Q: Just that you guys weren’t as productive in the preseason as you probably wanted to be.
HALEY: “I think it’s part of the process. I know I use that word but that’s what it is. This is generally not an overnight thing. I’m not just talking players or coaches, the organization. Starting with General Manager Scott (Pioli), then myself, we are trying to get a lot of grown people, men and women, throughout the entire organization including players and including coaches to think a different way – a way that we obviously are on the page on how we want to do things as an organization. That’s not going to be fun, especially early on. We’ve had a lot of work to do. We have a lot of work to do. I do feel good with a year under our belt that things are going in the right direction. That’s really what I have to hold onto every day and keep that same approach that we’re not going to waiver. We’re going to adjust and do the things we think are necessary to get better but there is going to be a certain standard that is not going to waiver. As you become better, things will change and as you become a real good team, things are obviously going to change but you still have to hold onto that baseline belief of how things are going to operate and that is all part of the process. That’s why you see some of the coaches out there that you see. I believe very strongly that it can’t just be all players and it can’t just be all coaches. You need both to be successful. As the head coach, and just like I talk about with the players, I need to get the best coaches in here that I think can work together with me to get the job done. Right now, that area of it, I feel good, I feel like we’re going in the right direction there. I think if I weren’t doing that, if I weren’t trying to do that then I wouldn’t be doing the right thing and that’s part of the deal.”
Q: Comparing this year’s training camp to last year, it seems there is less hitting, less contact so far in the first two weeks of camp. Do you think that’s a fair assessment and if so, how come you’ve dialed it down and maybe gone more to the individual drills?
HALEY: “I don’t know if that’s right or wrong. It hasn’t been a conscious move if you feel that way and I don’t know that I’ve felt that way. I would have to go back and check our schedule last year but I think we’re pretty close now with the structure of practice and some of the things I talked about earlier here this week – if I want to continue to try to think outside the box and I don’t want to do things just because we did them last year, we did them the year before or we did them this way 10 years ago. I want to do things that we think can help us be a better team. Because we’re a little further along in a lot of different areas, I think that allows you to do more of that. Again, that goes back to the process that we’re in, it goes back to the little developmental session we had the other day. Assistant head coach Maurice Carthon asked for that every day last year because we did it in the ‘90s and we thought it really helped us. Last year would have been a totally different drill because we would have had more guys doing it and then you lose the benefit of being able to give some guys a break. I think as you make progress and as you have more players that you know what they are and how they’re going to do it and you can depend on them. The same guy every day thing I’ve talk about – the more you can depend on certain players then you don’t have to send them in full speed on their teammates because they’re not going to gain anything. That’s part of my job as the head coach now, is managing that, it’s managing my assistant coaches because assistant coaches all have their own agenda because they’re coaching a position and they should because they want to do everything possible to have their position be the best it can be. I can’t let everybody have all the time they want. Are we going to have a five-hour practice and it’s counterproductive because the team can’t walk up the hill? I’ve got to manage those guys and make sure there is enough balance to improve the team. That’s what’s fun but that’s what you have to be thoughtful about it on a full-time basis.”
Q: You said that to you, coaching is getting guys to do what they don’t want to do. Can you expand on that because I’m sure you think all the guys would want to win, but can you explain what that means?
HALEY: “I’ll do my best. I think that all of us, anybody that’s played sports at any time of their life, everybody likes to play the game. If it’s a school day or whatever and you know you’ve got a game, whether it’s football, baseball, basketball, hockey, whatever it is, you can’t wait to play the game. The game is what’s fun. The practice part of it, yeah it’s fun and you’ve got to love what you’re doing, but it was never the same because No. 1, you’re going against your teammates a lot of the time, you know that the end result, you’re never going to get that feeling of exhilaration when you win, and that’s what this is all about. Some of that practice stuff becomes coaching it. It’s the coaches’ ability, their energy level. For instance, yesterday I thought we had a real, real good practice day in difficult conditions – it was hot, there weren’t a lot of guys who if they had a choice would go out there, put pads on and run around and hit people in the mouth. It goes against human nature to really want to do that in a practice setting but I thought our coaches had great energy yesterday. That transferred to the players and that made for a really good practice. That’s another one of my jobs, is talking to these coaches everyday that hey, we have to bring it now fellas. These are the dog days of training camp and they’re going to get harder, not easier here for a little while. We’ve got to be at our best and again that comes back to convincing guys that this all has a purpose – that us asking you to get in a blitz drill, RB
Q: This simulated halftime. Have you done this other places or is this the first time?
HALEY: “Never done it. Never done it. Like I said, Coach Carthon brought it up to me and the more I thought about it I’m like that’s a pretty good idea. Now it doesn’t mean we let them sit in there for too long or somebody doesn’t get loose then something happens, that’s the line you’re walking all the time so we’ve got to do our best to control it but make an emphasis on it so the players understand what we’re trying to do to help them and to help us be a better team.”