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Q&A with Todd Haley – 8/6

Posted Aug 6, 2010

Highlights

OPENING REMARKS: “Good afternoon. It was a good morning practice. We were padded this morning and it was good work, though we’re not close to perfect in the execution in any area of the football team – offense, defense or special teams. I do feel like you’re seeing some changes in this group. I think some of those changes were evident yesterday. I didn’t get to talk to you after the one-a-day but I thought it was a very long, spirited, tough, physical practice. We’ve started what we’re calling developmental sessions towards the tail end where we’re giving a bunch of these young guys some real, as-close-to-live looks as we can get, which we used to do back in New York (Jets) when we were all together. We thought about doing some last year but didn’t think team-wise we were really at a point where you’d have anybody sitting out. I do feel like we’ve got some guys that are starting to establish themselves as closer to frontline players for us. My point being, when the regular portion of practice ended and you see 12 or 15 guys running on their own, that tells me something is going on. It doesn’t necessarily tell me that we’re going to be a good tem but it tells me we’re making progress. When I come off the field, this is something you guys may not see, on one of those 100 degree days, I get up to the indoor and there are DBs working releases against each other. That tells me there is some positive movement as far as establishing the way we’re going to do things around here and the way that I know helps you to become a good team in this league. We’re making progress. We’re a long way off. But I do think that from the standpoint of preparation work, desire, those kinds of things, the arrow is pointing up.”

 

Q: What will the scrimmage be like tomorrow? Is it going to look a lot like last year’s scrimmage?

HALEY: “Yeah Adam, I think that’s a good point. It will be very similar. We haven’t planned that yet, we’re going to have a staff meeting tonight where we’ll go through the actual specifics. I have in my mind pretty much what I want to do. It will be a pretty competitive atmosphere, running different groups against different groups as an entire group as opposed to moving individuals in and out. Though we’re saying it’s a scrimmage it’s what we call a controlled or stand-up scrimmage where at times we’ll be staying up and as the head coach, I’ll really be controlling the situation. We could have a sack that I don’t say is a sack and it’s first and 10, 10 yards down the field. Much like what we did yesterday afternoon at the tail end, we’re creating some situations for the coordinators to make decisions and for the players to be aware of what’s going on.”

Q: So you’ll basically have some live periods except for the quarterback?

HALEY: “Yeah, the quarterback will always be off limits, but yes, there will be portions that are live. We’ll try to throw some special teams situations in there. We’ll have some form of (and I don’t know exactly what it will be) the special teams working and some other in-game situations where it’s short-yardage like you saw today, or if something else like goal line. Don’t know yet.”

Q: It’s been about nine years since Korey Stringer died and the NFL got a reminder of what can happen if heat gets out of control. How have you seen the league change and the way coaches and training staffs and even players deal with the severity of that?

HALEY: “Kent, I think any time you have something like that happen, and it happened while I was coaching, it is a true wake-up call for everybody involved because this is our livelihood and this is the players’ livelihood, but it is a game – it’s not real-life combat or some of the things that great people are doing for our country to allow us to live this way. It is a wake-up call for everybody involved. I can’t speak for anybody else but I know that the awareness level from that point forward has been continually pushed from the top, from the league and that has trickled down to everyone involved. Without these players we don’t have the NFL. Their safety has to be number one. Like I’ve said a couple of times in here this year, I feel like our training staff and Dave Price who I’ve been with a long time in New York (Jets) and then have been able to be reunited with here is as good as they come and is constantly looking out for those types of things and then passing them along to me as the head coach who then has to make sure that everybody’s aware and that I’m doing the right things to take care of these guys – whether it’s heat, injury or whatever the situation. Our doctors are tremendous. Today, when practice ended, I don’t think you were able to hear, there were four or five guys that went into this practice underweight from a hydration standpoint. It’s a mandatory weigh-in before practice and after practice, not to see if they’re gaining or losing weight from a reporting standpoint but to see where they weighed before practice and how much they’re losing. We have some guys that lose 15, 18, 19 pounds in a practice of water weight. That’s being constantly monitored. Today after practice I was made aware that there were three or four guys who weren’t getting their hydration level back to what it had to be so we have to make sure they’re doing what they’re supposed to do. We can’t watch them full time; all we can do it continually push them to get in the cold tubs, to be drinking Gatorade as opposed to water which replenishes some of the things they need a little better. It’s a constant job and it’s something that I handle with a great deal of seriousness in my mind because I’m fully aware that without these players, phenomenal athletes and professional, we wouldn’t be able to do this.”

Q: How often do you remind the players that they have to keep pushing themselves to take the next step but at the same time they have to listen to their body and if things are going bad, maybe they do have to stop?

HALEY: “Full-time job. Any time of the day, either myself, trainers, doctors, assistant coaches, it’s something that we talk about in every meeting and we’re making sure that it’s getting passed along – every opportunity that I speak to the team and really when anybody has any access to them, which is all day long really. Even at night when we’re doing bed check we have a coach who checks the curfew and there’s always a trainer or two with them that’s carrying Gatorade, water, ice, all those things. We’re forcing the issue up until the last minute and when they wake up.”

Q: S Jarrad Page’s people just sent out an email blaming you for him being put on IR and he requested a trade last year and is requesting a trade now. Can you just make one comment on the Jarrad Page situation, either that it’s your fault he went on IR or you know that he wants to be traded. Right now he’s taking up a roster spot and everyone wants to know why?

HALEY: “Nick, as long as I’m the head coach, I will talk about the guys that are out there on that field practicing. Seventy-eight of them today, wait, less than that, 76 that are counting toward the 80-man roster and I think there is some pretty good stuff to talk about.”

Q: You won’t comment on that?

HALEY: “Bob (Gretz), I know you have a good questions…”

Q: What have you seen in eight days in your 9-on-7drills that tell you your run defense has improved?

HALEY: “It’s not just nine-on-seven. Nine-on-seven is where we get our inside run, unless (offensive coordinator) Charlie’s (Weis) in a wicked mood, which he’ll throw a toss in there. You might see a pass. I’ve got to monitor that or I get a mutiny on the other side of the ball. Nine-on-seven inside run today and you’ve seen here a couple days that’s perimeter play-action period, which was always Coach (Bill) Parcell’s favorite period that I’m beginning to like a bunch, combined with the nine-on-seven where you’re getting your perimeter runs. I would say it’s a work in progress. There are some days where I really get excited and they really want to see how we look and there are some days where it looks like a little too much, like we’ve seen. The important is that we’re in training camp, we’re going to get a bunch of those periods that we take full advantage of them. The other important point there is what I see happening is in the drills, they look like they’re doing it the way we’re asking them to do it when they’re going against each other, when they’re going against the offensive line and in the individual setting. Again, there are wins and losses there. Then when get to one of these nine-on-sevens, team runs or perimeter periods, you’ve seeing some of that carry over but it will start to wane. Then you get towards the end of the practice and some of these competitive periods, which I think for somebody like you who is watching some of that stuff like in the Wednesday night practiced, it wanes a little more. The key with these young players that are developing is that they continually understand that the name of the game is moving it from one period to the next. I think that’s why our practices get a little more difficult at the back end because that’s what we have to get done. If we can be practicing at the end like we are at the beginning then I have to believe as we get into some of these preseason games than that’ll start to happen – improved play will improve in those games and obviously when you get into the seasons, you’ve got to step up. I think it’s a work in progress, but I think they’re working.”

Q: Earlier today you talked about the drill at the end of practice with the third-stringers being in there. Why was DE Tyson Jackson in there?

HALEY: “I didn’t say third-string, you did. I said some of our young, developing players and that’s what it is. That was my point about last year. If we were going to run that drill we should just have a team scrimmage. I do think we’ve made some progress in some areas but it’s for developing players and coaches. You’ll see we’re trying to put our younger coaches at the forefront there to give them an opportunity. That’s something else I’m learning, that players and coaches have to develop in order for you to get to become a good team and a consistent team.”

Q: Are you sending a message to Tyson (Jackson) by putting him in that drill?

HALEY: “I try to be real clear with all those guys that this is what it’s for and this is why we’re doing it and should be looked at as an opportunity.”

Q: Are you starting to feel a little better at the guard position?

HALEY: “I feel like and think I’ve said this before; depth was an issue last year, that’s clear. I think depth will continue to be an issue for us around here for a while until we continue to build and make progress. Anytime there’s anybody missing it’s going to be an issue for us and one that’s not going to go away for us as coaches. I’ve said this before, they’re not going to cancel the season, and we’re not going to cancel tomorrow. We’ve got to get guys ready to play. That’s the NFL and that’s the way it is. That’s what we’re doing.”

Q: Have you talked at all about moving G/C Jon Asamoah to left guard?

HALEY: “I won’t say it’s something that hasn’t ever been discussed. Him, G Ryan (Lilja) or any of those guys but in fairness to all these players, we’ve asked some guys to move around going into this whole season and those are adjustments for anybody. Whether you’re a seven-year guy, a rookie, a second year whatever, that’s an adjustment when you are one side and asked to do another. So we are going to stay status quo right now and continue to let those guys get comfortable with what we’ve asked them to do. Knowing that there are some options across the line there and some versatility. So right now it’s G Ikechuku’s (Ndukwe) opportunity and I think I’ve seen some step-up from him and again that’s what those guys have to understand, that if they are out there and able to go every day, and be the same guy every day, is that they’re opportunity is going to come. It’s just a matter of being ready for it.”

Q: Would Ndukwe have been the guy in there if he had shown up ready to go?

HALEY: “I can’t answer that. We’re going to put in there who we think is, for that particular day right now, gives the best chance to get better.”

Q: Entering training camp, what do you hope to see from S Eric Berry, WR Dexter McCluster, CB Javier Arenas and what do you see so far?

HALEY: “I feel like a broken record but I understand that there are new people in here. All I can say about this entire rookie group is that from the first day that they stepped into the building, you know that weekend after the draft, I’ve been encouraged about their demeanors, their professionalism, their character, their attitude and obviously they’re here for a reason. We thought they have ability, the entire group. We wouldn’t have taken one of our picks and used them to make them a Chief. With that being said, at this point, a week into training camp, I would say the signs are still encouraging. Now I said it yesterday, we can’t put any of these guys in the Pro Bowl or Canton or starters for that matter. You can’t assume anything because it is a major adjustment for young players coming into this league and it has been proven over time that it doesn’t matter the level or the ability of the player sometimes. So much of this has changed for these guys from the time of year they are working, how long it goes, the length of the days; all those things and variables have changed. All I can say is that at this point I’m encouraged by the entire group and I can’t single one of them out as me being any more encouraged about. I think each and every one of them has a chance to contribute to this team if they continue doing the things they are doing, but that’s a big question.”

Q: You talked yesterday about Arenas and McCluster and basically said that they are new guys and it’s your job to…..

HALEY: “You could get about 18 or 19 Dexter McClusters and Javier Arenas and stick them in one of those clown cars, you know, you open the door and one comes out, then another, then another, than another, then another, than another and you’re like when does it stop? You could fit about 19 of them in there.”

Q: That’s a little guy then, but you went through this with Jamal Charles last year, toward the end of the year. How difficult is it to determine when enough is enough for guys like that?

HALEY: “I think it’s a big job and I’m grateful of where we are staff-wise right now and that’s why my model or my visual of what the best role for a head coach is what it is, because of situations like that. You have to manage the team. Mo (assistant head coach Maurice Carthon) and I were just talking about this with Charlie (Weis), educating him on some of the things that went on last year and some of the situations that we are in now and one of those was, you’re calling the play and you think RB Jamaal (Charles) is going to be out there. Well you’re usually as a play caller a play ahead when you’re making those calls. You’re not on the play that you’re on, you are thinking about the next situation. What is it and what are the two options it could be? Is it first down, is it third down? You have to be a play ahead, and you’re calling a play with a particular player in mind that has run reps in practice and now you look up and he’s winded or limping off the field, and now you’re looking at Mo because, I called this play and thought Jamaal was there. But that’s part of it, that’s part of it and the only reason I use that example is because it’s hard to tell. There’s a lot of variables and from a play call or from a specific side of the ball standpoint, Charlie Weis wants who he thinks the guy who can make the play in there. But myself as the head coach now, I’ve got to evaluate the situation and say when enough is enough’. Again you are learning on the run and through the years as a position coach and managing receivers, I think is an excellent training ground for that particular question. Because you’re watching a group that has to run more than anybody on the field, and they’re a lot of different shapes and sizes and you have to manage them.”

Q: Coach, the perception is that CB Brandon Carr isn’t having a very good camp so far. How are you evaluating the guys in the secondary – is it strictly if they are getting beat on a couple plays or do you evaluate other reasons as well?

HALEY: “Well again, to clarify, you are saying that, I’m not saying that. When we evaluate these guys, there are a lot of parts that go into evaluation. Obviously as a cornerback, if you’re getting beat a bunch, it’s probably not what we want. I don’t know that we have all the answers of what the situation was. Was somebody else wrong? Was the safety supposed to be going a different direction, which then put a cornerback like Brandon or anybody else in a bad position? So there are a lot of variables that we are obviously evaluating. Corner is one that they have to defend the pass when asked to. They have to understand how to play zone, and how to play man and more importantly they have to play it how we want them to play it. And that’s kind of the transition that we are in with all of them, really trying to get this pass coverage. Run is one issue and pass coverage is another issue that has to be done how we want it to be done, from a physical standpoint, from a coverage philosophy, all those things.”

Q: A corner is a corner, but in terms of technique he was drafted as a cover two guy and obviously not playing coverage in defense. Does that have any effect on him or how much more his learning curve is?

HALEY: “I don’t know whether he was drafted as a cover two guy or not, you know I wasn’t here. I’m excited about the player. He’s a big guy that can run, he has worked his back side off and I believe that good things will happen for Brandon.”

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