“This Houston team is a good team that has kind of made it over the hump, so to speak. They’ve been getting a little better every year – they went 8-8 a couple years in a row and then last year got clearly over it and have come out this year looking like they are a good team. They’ve run the ball very well, they’re not a lot different than us in some ways in that they run the ball well, they do a good job of stopping the run defensively, they have some big-time weapons on offense – the running back being one and he’s got a couple guys behind him that are very scary backs in (Steve) Slaton and (Derrick) Ward, who I’ve always thought a lot of. But this (Arian) Foster brings it. He is a hard-hitting, low-center of gravity, more big runs than anybody in the league or right there at the top. The quarterback had one of the biggest games I’ve ever seen in the Washington game, throwing for 500 yards. The receivers, somebody I’ve paid a lot of attention to over the years and thought a heck of a lot of coming out and he’s exceeded even the great grade that I gave him, I’ll make it clear I gave him a great grade though. He’s just continued to get better every year and he’s a big-time player and they have a tight end, a couple tight ends, but a tight end that can hurt you in a number of ways and they use him and a couple other receivers, Kevin Walter and Jacoby Jones and they’ve got guys that can make plays all over the field and they do a good job of moving it up and down the field with a good mix of run and play action. They do a great job on nakeds (bootlegs), misdirection plays and those are difficult to defend on an every-down basis when you run the ball like they do.
“Defensively, they’ve got a bunch more big-time players that if you’re not careful can change the game in a hurry, starting with number 90, (Mario) Williams, up front. They have a real good group of linebackers that run and hit. They can fill and can run sideline to sideline. They’re tough, physical, they kind of set the tempo of this defense and they’ve got a secondary that is made up of some veterans and some younger guys that also like to run and hit and make plays. They’ve done a good job of creating turnovers on defense. We have a chance to come off of a tough game against a very good opponent and go back on the road again against another very good opponent and see if we’re able to continue the progress that we’re making.”
Q: What similarities or parallels do you see between these two teams as far as turnaround or attempted turnaround has been? Trading for a quarterback and drafting a defensive lineman in the top five. Do you see parallels in what they did and what you’re trying to do?
HALEY: “That’s why I made that statement, I think there are some similarities, but I agree with you, they’re ahead – they’re a couple years ahead. They’re not a lot different than, even though Green Bay’s had a real good year, last year being a real good year in my opinion for Green Bay and they were close. When we played them in the preseason I saw them as a similar team but clearly a couple years ahead. This team I look at the same way that their team is probably through that transition-period, in my opinion, the record just hasn’t necessarily reflected it. This is not a team that anybody wants to play and I think sooner rather than later you’ll see the record show really what kind of team they are. They’re doing a good job of coaching their guys and gathering talent and like I said, they’re well-coached and they’re a difficult team to play, especially at their place.”
Q: How tough is it to do what they’ve done, because they’ve had draft picks and traded for QB (Matt) Schaub and those have hit and worked well for the most part. How do you think they had such a good track record in just a short time?
HALEY: “I think that’s the business. You’ve got to do a good job or they’ll be talking about somebody else. This team, across the board, I’ve paid attention to them and I like them because they had to go through some of the similar things that we’ve been going through here, like I said, it’s just a couple years back. They were in the middle of a big thing when they drafted who they drafted and they stuck by their guy and I think that you see that, no disrespect to anybody, but this defensive end now is a big-time player. They kind of had to weather a storm across the board, this team and coaching staff and the whole group and they’ve done that and to me, in my opinion, they’re over the hump, it’s just the record hasn’t necessarily shown it, for a couple of different reasons, that sometimes just comes down to bad luck. They’re sooner rather than later going to show that ability to stay the course and not waiver in their approach is paying off.”
Q: Do you point to a team like this and tell the players and say, look, this is possible – even though they’re not quite there but they’re on their way?
HALEY: “Yeah, any time we play a team that I think we can learn from and look at I always do that a bunch, probably too much, but I think there’s real value in that, especially because so many of these guys know guys and we’ve got a bunch of Texas guys on our team that I’m sure not too long ago, they were fans of this team. You’ve got a team that guys pay attention to.”
Q: Can you learn anything from their losses? They beat a good team in Indianapolis and then turn around and lose to a team that isn’t as good. Can you learn anything about how to take advantage of them from those loses?
HALEY: “At this stage in the season Karen, it’s hard for me to say a team’s not as good, good, those kinds of things. Now, like I’ve said, Indy is a known entity, they’re a good team, a really good team, a great team in my opinion and have been for a number of years. I think you approach this team just like you do any other – you definitely pay attention to what their strengths are and their personnel and who those guys are on each side of the ball that can disrupt the game and cause you to lose if you let them, if you’re not aware of their abilities and you’ve got to handle those guys first and then you go about the rest of your game plan in a regular fashion and you try to look for things that you do well or you feel like you can do well and then practice them and then execute them and then make sure you’re doing the other things that if you’re not doing will get you beat – which are play smart, don’t turn the football over, stop the run, run it.”
Q: How do you balance what you do well with taking advantage of potential weaknesses of the other team?
HALEY: “I think you’ve just got to be careful a little bit and go at it from a statistical standpoint because you have to take into account the team’s they’ve played and what their strengths are. We’ve seen one of those teams but a couple of those others, I know at least from what I’ve seen, they’ve played some teams that can really throw the football. Like I said we saw Indy this past week but Dallas, I know they can move the football up and down the field through the air, Washington obviously looks like they move the ball up and down the field through the air. I don’ think you can just look at it from a statistical standpoint, you have to study the tape and you have to look for weaknesses that you can potentially exploit with your own personnel and your own strengths. First and foremost, I’ll always push playing to our strengths and what our players as a whole, offensively, defensively and special teams, that I feel like we do the best.”
Q: Three days after your first loss, how do you feel about the way this team approached today, in meetings, on the field? Where do you think this team is today?
HALEY: “I think the benefit in thinking the way that I think and that now I think the majority of the way that our staff and team is thinking is for this right here, to stay in the present tense. That first quarter of the season is over. I just told them this: we didn’t go into this season; our goal wasn’t to go undefeated. Our goal is to do the things necessary, however it has to happen, to get into the playoffs, every year, that’s each and every year, it doesn’t matter. As long as I’m here that will be the goal and taking that goal and breaking that down it comes down to quarters of the season and what you have to do. To me, if you can win each quarter of the season, you should, barring something that I’ve never seen before, you should have a chance to be playing in a game beyond the regular season. But that’s way down the road and right now, it is the start of the second quarter of the season and I think every time you start a quarter of the season, this one happening to come in October and our record is 0-0 is that if you start fast and make good things start early, then you’ll have a chance like the last quarter to maybe bank a win for down the road. 3-1 is the bar, the standard and we were fortunately able to do that the last quarter, but everything is square now, it really is. That will have no bearing on what we do from this point forward. This game is the biggest game that we all have been in together as a group, this week coming up. The players, I know a lot of them worked overtime on Monday, I know there was a big group in here yesterday on their day off and I know they were all in here ready to go today and we were out there working and to me, it appeared like we made a little progress from our previous Wednesday.”
Q: So they seemed like they’re bouncing back from the loss well, based on what you saw today and the fact that they were putting extra time in, like they’ve taken it to another notch to not experience that again?
HALEY: “I think their focus is on getting a little better every day. If you get thinking about too much that’s happened in the past then you’re not going to be able to do that. Again, this is my opinion, the guys looked like they’re ready to start this quarter of the season and they look like they understand the importance of it. They look like they understand how good this team is that we have to go on the road and play in their stadium in front of their fans. That part of it hadn’t been real difficult -- you just put on the tape and they see the quarterback throw for 500 yards and you see this running back breaking tackle after tackle and all the things that they’re doing, which looks pretty impressive when you watch it, I think that’s what our guys are paying attention to.”
Q: It seemed like your team got more respect out of a loss to the Colts than it did in three victories to start the season. How do you fight the idea that it’s ok to go on the road against a good team and put up a good fight but lose?
HALEY: “Like I said the only reason we will get on this plane this Saturday at two o’clock I believe is when it leaves, is to go on the road and win. That is the purpose and that was the purpose last week. Unfortunately, history has proven that you’re not going to win them all but the important thing for me as the head coach of this team and what I believe our players understand is that we have to continue to improve. We are a team in transition that’s trying to do the things that help you win more often than the things that make you lose. To this point, through the first quarter of the season they’ve done that and I think that’s why we’re 3-1 in that first quarter. But now again, we’re 0-0 and I continue to remind them of that and really anything that happened behind us does not matter, it really doesn’t. It’s going to come down to Sunday afternoon and who plays the best and the team that plays the best generally wins. So our sole purpose is to figure out a way of how we can play the best on Sunday and if we can do that we’ll be happy coming home.”