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Q&A with Todd Haley - 8/18

Posted Aug 18, 2010

Highlights

OPENING REMARKS: “We’re getting here to the end of the wire with our first time in St. Joe and I just want to take a second and thank everybody involved with this training camp, both making it possible, everybody that’s obviously put a lot of work in getting this place ready to go. On that end, it’s just a tremendous, tremendous setup and facility. I couldn’t have been happier with the entire operation, especially for the first time going through it – very few, if any snafus, so-to-speak, anything like that that you had kind of prepared yourself that some things weren’t going to go smoothly – it went smoothly. My hat goes off to all the people involved in all ends of that, especially the guys here that got this place ready and had it running like we’d been here for years.

 

“Also, at the same time, want to thank all the fans that have come out here and were able to get to know the players and the team a little more and at the same time provided us with a lot of energy and enthusiasm. It’s been just a terrific, terrific experience. That being said, even though we are leaving St. Joe now – they have orientation, a bunch of students coming in here pretty quick, there’s going to be a quick turnaround – and we’re moving back to Kansas City, we are, as players and coaches, we are still in training camp mode. This is still full-blown training camp as far as I’m concerned. If this could’ve been a little longer stay we would be here. That’s what we’re trying to make sure everybody’s clear on, I’m talking internally, this isn’t the time to relax and say ‘Yeah, we’re home,’ or last day of school throw the books out of the window, I never did that, out the window of the bus, but we’re staying in training camp mode and we’re in the process of working to become a good team.”

Q: Are you going to have some two-a-days in Kansas City then next week?

HALEY: “Yeah.”

Q: Do you know how many yet?

HALEY: “It’s all adjustable but two are scheduled, two two-a-days. Again, all subject to change but that’s the plan right now.”

Q: Have any of the undrafted guys specifically stood out to you up to this point in camp?

HALEY: “I really believe this first-year group in general has been a real bright spot. That’s what we have to do. I don’t know that I’ll talk specifically about guys right now but this has been a real good group. Our scouts, coaches did a real good job of finding a bunch of guys, though we could only draft a handful of them, that have come in and competed and I feel like there are some guys that have a chance.”

Q: Number 8, Jeremy Horne, seems to have jumped out?

HALEY: “Yep. Jeremy Horne has done some things to get noticed. Those are really the types of guys, DT Garrett Brown, have been kind of a pleasant surprise. The only reason I don’t like to talk about it is I’m encouraged about a bunch and then we’ll sit here and talk about everybody. What you’re hoping for with those guys are that if you could find two or three that you feel like, hey, they’re somebody we want to work with and however we end up getting them here, those would be good guys that would start to fall into the developmental category for this year. I’ve been encouraged by the entire group and I don’t know that I’d let one stand above the others. I think that they all have a chance to be in that group of guys really we have to find a way to keep this guy around here.”

Q: Three weeks in, can you pinpoint one area of the team that you think could be a strength and maybe one area of the team that needs the most amount of work?

HALEY: “I think I said it earlier right when we were coming out of the gate, I feel like the secondary has a chance to become a position of strength. I think if they can keep doing the things that they’re doing and we continue to have the individual guys improve and get better and of course stay healthy and all the things necessary, they have the chance to become a position of strength on this team. Going to the other side of the ball, I think this running back group has the chance to become a real position of strength on this team. All groups have to be better – running backs, defensive backs – everybody has to continue to get better. But if you’re just going to say a group that might have a chance to stand out, those would be the two right now.”

Q: Is your front seven better today than it was at the end of last season?

HALEY: “Yeah, I feel like that group is making clear-cut progress. I just know they’ve got to keep doing it. This is the halfway point, more or less I would think. Once we get through this game they’ve got to continue that and then they’re going to have to continue it into the season. But I think they have made clear progress.”

Q: What are they doing better?

HALEY: “I think they’re doing most everything better. I think that they have a much greater understanding of the techniques, again going back to the fact that everybody who was here last year and is still here, this has been a big adjustment for anybody who was already here when last year began. New guys coming in, it’s a major adjustment, period. As far as learning techniques, understanding the scheme, how important each and everybody’s role in the defense is – so I think technique, understanding have made clear strides, which were much-needed. Now it’s got to continue. The progress they’ve made to this point they have to continue making.”

Q: At what point does it become second nature for them?

HALEY: “The idea that I’ve tried to help everybody understand in here is when you talk about a young rookie player coming in like last year, in say a DE Tyson Jackson, I think it’s really hard to fathom for people in general that aren’t having to do what that group, specifically those front three, what they have to do on a down-in and down-out basis in this defense is a big task. They’re having to make split-second decisions, there’s a lot less free-wheeling in this defense than in some other defenses, just to kind of simplify it a little bit. When that starts to happen, now you’re asking somebody to be real aggressive, to fight two blocks most of the time or have two blockers coming at them from two different angles most of the time every single snap. It is a big job and it’s a job that takes time, regardless of the person I think and the ability that person has coming into it. That’s just a hard position to play in general and it requires a certain temperament to be able to not give in when you’re in there and that’s all defensive linemen – but in a 3-4 in the way we’re trying to play, they’re will, to use a good word, has to be really, really strong because it’s not easy. It will become second nature. But, when that happens, I don’t know, when they start playing really good probably?”

Q: Can you talk about the impact C Casey Wiegmann has had on the guys in the locker room?

HALEY: “Casey falls into the veteran leadership group and he is a football-playing dude. He is the epitome, I was just talking about the temperament of the defensive linemen, all the great linemen that I’ve ever been around, even going back to the Pittsburgh days and paying attention and just watching, all the great offensive linemen that I’ve ever been up-close and personal with, they all are the same. They don’t look the same; they’re not the same strength but they are all the same in the brain – they are offensive linemen. They are ‘I’m playing no matter what. It would have to be broke in half and dangling to not be in there and it doesn’t matter how I look once I’m in there, this is what I do. I’m an offensive lineman.’ It’s like a pig to slop. The pig wants to be in the slop. Offensive linemen want to be in the trenches and that’s the way they’re made or developed and take all the skill out of the equation, they all have the same temperament. Casey Wiegmann, if you looked up offensive lineman in the dictionary, there’d probably be a picture of him in there. Ask him why he’s still doing it. It’s what he does, it’s what knows and it’s what he loves.”

Q: A thousand plus snaps without missing?

HALEY: “He’s amazing. (Knocking on podium) Just had to say that.”

Q: Is that center battle maybe a little more intense and closer than you thought when you guys signed Casey?

HALEY: “It’s great competition, that’s what I’m excited about; it’s great competition. Those are another two guys that get it; they understand. They know why they’re playing, they want to play, and they want to be part of being a good team. That’s what I like and they both will do that, I believe.”

Q: Does Rudy look maybe a little more serious to you. Have you noticed a change in his demeanor?

HALEY: “Rudy now, you can put him in the picture with Casey. This guy’s a tough (guy). He is tough (guy), alright. He may not look pretty, he isn’t the best looking guy; neither one of them are but they are tough. Rudy, anything he has he comes back faster from or you think he’s definitely going to miss some time now, well, he doesn’t. He’s the same. It’s good competition and they’re working hard I believe to help make us a good team.”

Q: Coach are there positions on the field where guys can succeed in football without that kind of feel and is it difficult for a coach to deal with that when he’s got guys that play offensive line, the kind of guys that you described, and there’s other guys that maybe don’t have to be that way but still are good football players?

HALEY: “It’s an excellent question. Most of the great ones have that temperament but you can go through the years and there are some running backs that have been able to have a bunch of success without necessarily thinking like an offensive lineman. There are clearly some receivers. When you start getting into defensive linemen from a down-in and down-out, not just say the pass rusher, you know the specialist, but a guy that’s a great player over time at defensive line, those guys, you could throw them all in the same bucket and linebackers for the most part. As you start to get a little more peripheral, now the great-great ones and the ones that you love are the ones that think just like offensive linemen. Tight ends I believe, now it’s hard to find great tight ends and they’re few and far between but the great-great ones over time; they’re offensive linemen mentality.”

Q: Ok, so do those players change with coaching?

HALEY: “I think it happens. I think that can be developed. Now, they have to be pretty mentally tough and there’s a little bit of difference in the temperament I’m talking about. There are mentally tough guys that don’t have that extra ‘I’m going; you know that you’re dragging me off the field.’ Look at Brian Waters last year, I mean some pretty significant things going on with him and I mean, dragging him off the field. That’s just the way he is, that’s how he’s wired, that’s what he does. I think if the young guy comes into the right mix of guys around him. The offensive linemen, again it’s part of their temperament. You’re either going to be one of us or you’re getting out, we’ll get you out of here, we’ll find a way to get you out of here. And that goes on all the time. So, I do think it’s developed or it’s brought out. It may be down in there deep down inside. It’s like when you hear the story about the person that lifts the car in a traumatic situation, I mean, I think everybody has it in them it’s just hiding a little deeper or further in most of us.”

Q: Coach, RB Jamaal Charles has said, I think to Bill (Williamson) at ESPN that, he talked about his goals, what he wanted to do team-wise and personally. Do you worry at all for him and you talked about what a good battle it is at running back, that if he isn’t the starter that as a young guy coming off of a pretty good season that it will set him back, just mentally?

HALEY: “No, I think I said it the other day; this kid’s starting to get it. He’s starting to get it. He didn’t always get it. He had a little bit of a roller coaster and he’s starting to get it. I think Jamaal’s going to be just fine regardless of what happens.”

Q: Could you just expand on what ‘get it’ means? You’ve said that a bunch but maybe define it a little bit more?

HALEY: “Pretty simple. I want to be the best I can be but more importantly be a part of a team, know my role, whether its starter, back up, special teams, whatever that is. I’m here to win games and be part of a winning team and ultimately a championship team and the more guys that we have that get it, the better chance we’ll have to get there.”

Q: If you’ve said it once, you’ve said it a hundred times just here in St. Joe -- you need to get a little bit better every time you get on the field. You’ve been on the field 21, 22 times. Did you get a little bit better every time?

HALEY: “Yeah, I think we did. You know, take for instance today, Bob, today was kind of a crappy [day]. There was a clear-cut group of guys feeling a little sorry for themselves or however you want to term it, they’re looking over tonight a little bit and tomorrow, into alright we’re going to be driving home soon, there’s a game coming up, they’ve got a lot of padded practices under their belt, they’re, like I said, they’re feeling the best that they’re going to feel today that they’re going to feel the rest of the year. There were, as to be expected, you’re going to have some ups and downs. Today for instance is kind of all over the place, the practice was in different areas and you heard some whooping and hollering and people recognizing it but we got down to that competitive period which yesterday we had a much better practice, but the competitive period left a little bit to be desired. Guys didn’t, one side or the other, just didn't quite turn. I expect when we get to those competitive things that whatever intensity level we are through the other periods, that period, they have to find a way to amp it up. Whether it’s live or full-speed, or whatever it is, that has to amp up a little bit. Today, despite kind of a less than perfect practice, I think everybody felt the level go up. Regardless of whoever won or lost that drill, the intensity level rose. To me, we got a little bit better today because last year I felt there were times that whatever frame of mind the practice started in, it finished in. We weren’t ever able to change that no matter how hard we yelled, do periods over, walk off the field, we couldn’t turn the tide so-to-speak. So today, this was a glass half full day as far as I’m concerned and that’s not just trying to search for good things. I just said it to the coaches – we just had a staff meeting: that was, we made a step today because we turned the tide, however we did it. Whether it was DE Shaun Smith getting everybody going, whatever the catalyst was, it got going and that was good.”

Q: So did the offense score?

HALEY: “I didn’t watch tape yet, but I just ruled no. Who saw it close? I got blocked out. I saw the pylon was moving, but I didn’t think it was the ball.”

Q: When you think back to the Jets in the late ‘90s, with all the familiar faces when you guys were going into year two of that project, are there any parallels you can draw to year two here with you and year two with the Jets?

HALEY: “Yeah, there are a lot of parallels. In year two there, you didn’t know what was going to happen. I mean, I couldn’t have said we were going to go 12-4 and make it to the championship game and be a quarter away from the Super Bowl and if we had been able to pull out that quarter, beat a team that we had already kicked their pants during the year. But you knew good things were going on; that’s what you knew. You don’t know how good, you just don’t know that. You can predict it, you can say it, but you do know that good things are happening and back then I can remember sitting there going this is different than it was last year, there’s more guys that get it.”

Q: Are there more guys that get it here now?

HALEY: “No doubt, I wouldn’t be encouraged. If there weren’t more guys that got it right now than got it last year, I would be in the tank right now, probably sitting in that chair. So, I’m encouraged.”

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