Q: Is there anything you are curious about or want to see specifically in today’s practice?
HALEY: “Really Adam, all of those things talked about, I think it is an opportunity, number one to see our gameday function as a staff, to see how that coordination goes from coach to quarterbacks and then quarterbacks to the players. We have been practicing on a smaller scale all of these things. I hope there are not many surprises or any big surprises. I am looking for that and from the players I am looking for how they handle things. When you start putting the coaches and all the other players on the sideline, it creates a different situation or a different comfort level than what they are used to from a daily practice schedule point of view. Again, we have been doing that but I think we are at the point where I think we should be able to operate efficiently. We are looking for each individual, each position group then overall unit that on defense, offense and special teams to show that they are making progress. It is an opportunity for the players to do what I talked about yesterday which is take practice drills to a more game-type atmosphere.”
Q: How will your coaching staff be structured on the field and in the booth?
HALEY: “Again, this is a first time run-thru for us and I would say going into the first preseason game it will be similar to today in that Coach Weis will be upstairs and coach Crennel will be downstairs. Again, that is part of what you get done as a staff, preseason especially with some new guys involved. We are just trying to figure out the best way to best take advantage of all of our coaches.”
Q: Is there a difference between being on the sideline and in the booth?
HALEY: “I think the way I was taught and believed was, the best place to call a game, at least offensively, was the coaches’ box which was a much more sterile, unemotional environment and had a much better view, far and away. The situation I was in, experience-wise, you have to account for a lot of different things, who’s talking to the quarterback – you can’t do that from the box so somebody else has to do that. The situation I was in when I was coordinator was one that we didn’t have somebody that could do that had done that or felt comfortable, so it was more about necessity. I think preference would be in the box and coach Dan Henning was the one who sold me on that a long time ago.
Q: If you’re on the field as a coordinator, does your comfort zone really depend on if you have someone in the box who knows how you think or knows what you’re looking for?
HALEY: “That’s a big part of it. Experience in all those areas and trust are big items. Yeah, that’s a good point too. You’re trying to figure out the best way to get the most out of everybody’s skills. I was making a point on the field yesterday, one of our young coaches, (defensive assistant and assistant linebackers coach) Adam Zimmer, he’s pretty sharp and what he was doing yesterday was one of those move the field deals was finding the offensive personnel. Now that’s generally a big thing with defensive coaches. They all want you to hold up a card, what your personnel is, you have an offensive coach stand over by our guy and tell us what the personnel is. Can you have an offensive coach stand over by our guy and tell us what the personnel is. Can we stand on the same sideline as you so we can hear? Well this young guy, and I know Sean (Payton) very well so we went through this whole process of getting Adam here because I heard a lot of great things and I worked with his father, Mike, in Dallas, but he’s pretty good. That’s a tough job. He can do a lot from the sideline. That impressed me, he was good, sharp and that’s a good sign. But you’ve got to find out who does what best and where they can do that from and that helps us.”
Q: When you’re going live like you are today, is this a better way of evaluation than any other practice?
HALEY: “Did I make it sound like that? It’s a full-time evaluation. It’s cumulative but you’re going to weigh a preseason game more than you’re going to weigh the scrimmage, just like you’re going to weigh the scrimmage a little more than the team period and so on and so forth. It’s a cumulative evaluation. Again, only a small portion of this will be live Adam. I’ll be blowing the whistle much like I have been doing trying to place the ball and get it in situations. We’ve got to take care of the team and to go out there and run 60, 70 or 80 plays live, I don’t think would be prudent.”
Q: I remember last year you guys ran quite a bit, wasn’t the whole practice, but if it’s similar to last year you guys did quite a bit if I remember right. Seemed like at least a couple periods…
HALEY: “We’ll see.”
Q: The players have a day off tomorrow and you get to Monday after the day off, how do you want your guys to have handled it, completely divorcing themselves from football or do some studying, how would you prefer they take advantage of the day off?
HALEY: “First and foremost is take care of their bodies and that involves a lot of different things. That would be the number one thing on the agenda. This is a time to rest, that’s what the purpose of a little time off for us is. They’ve put a lot of wear and tear on their bodies here over the last week. This is an opportunity to rest, take care of their bodies, hydrate and stay off their feet to put them in the best possible position to come back Monday and get back at it and hopefully improve.”
Q: When you went back and dissected last year’s defense, did you come up with a reason on why you were so bad on first down?
HALEY: “Yeah and all of them didn’t involve defense. It’s a valid question and one that we’ve done a lot of work on but I have too many long answers as it is but that would be real long one. It’s not all defense. When offensively you have the time of possession we had, you’re asking a group to get back out there a lot quicker than you’d ever want them back out there. That has a huge effect. We just need to be better in a lot of areas on this team.”
Q: It’s a strange juxtaposition of stats to be the worst on first down but also good at three-and-outs. Those two don’t seem to go together.
HALEY: “We were all or nothing. I just think it comes down to playing better football across the board.”
Q: Whether you would tell us or not, do you in your mind today have any idea of next Friday, who you might want to line up and start that ball game in any way, shape or form? And if not, when might you make that decision?
HALEY: “I think we’re making that decision. Today will be somewhat of an indicator of what we think, not a promise, but I wouldn’t think it would be too far off. Things can change and we have a long time between now and that game thankfully. Things can change but I wouldn’t think that today would be too, too far off.”
Q: Without revealing too much for the other coach at this scrimmage today, are there any veterans you’ll be holding out of this today?
HALEY: “Who’s the other coach?”
Q: The other side of you.
HALEY: “I thought you were speaking offensively and I was going to get mad. I’m working hard because I fight with these coaches every day about the defensive coach saying something about the offensive coach and then the offensive coach is mad at me because they think I’m siding with the defense in all these issues that come up everyday – Charlie (Weis) tossing in 9-on-7. I don’t think there is anybody I want to hold out. There may be some guys that I have a little better idea on at this point than other guys.”
Q: It really looked like DEs
HALEY: “He has been working hard and as we’ve talked about with that particular position, that does not happen overnight, it doesn’t happen instantaneously, it doesn’t happen on a consistent basis. That’s what I said the other day, I’m encouraged with the things that are going on and I think it just has to continue. Now what has to happen is they have to stack another good practice and it wasn’t just those two guys, DE
Q: You’re working on a lot of things with the team, but the special teams coverage problems, how is that coming along this year?
HALEY: “Special teams is an area, in my mind, was one of the brighter spots of a very dark season from a production standpoint. I feel like we’ve made great strides in a lot of different areas and I think it’s a point of emphasis for myself to every coach and to every player on a daily basis because that is an area that if you can be good in all phases of special teams, you’re going to put yourself in better positions to potentially win games. That is something that in staff meetings that I’m talking to these coaches about special teams and about where their focus has to be during those periods and in those meetings. Coach (Steve) Hoffman is working hard with the players to help them understand scheme and technique and then you just need some players that can go out do it. I think that’s what we’re trying to get, trying to get more players who do it well.”