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Q&A with Todd Haley - 9/14

Posted Sep 14, 2010

Highlights

OPENING REMARKS: “Going back through yesterday now that I’ve had a chance to look at all the tape, gone through the game, I think some of the key points here are that our team-in-transition, which we’re trying to become a good team, went out to start the season against a very good opponent in the San Diego Chargers, the reigning AFC West Champion and I think we found a way to win. I think that’s a real important point here because when you have a team that hasn’t come out on the ‘W’ side of things very often for a number of years that when you get into those situations and you have a lead or you’re close in a game, which we’ve had a number of here, including last year, finishing the game is very critical. We know it’s going to come down to who plays best, barring something real crazy that that team is going to win. To play your best you have to finish the game and I thought the guys did a heck of a job doing that and I think that’s real important. Second key I feel like it was a little validation for these guys that are working so hard, doing the things that we’re asking them to do it, pushing themselves, becoming good teammates, becoming dependable teammates. You need to see that success some and I know that’s real important for our players that they’re able to go out there and come out on top in a game that meant a lot to a lot of people and I know means a lot to myself and our staff. That’s a real good thing. I think that will help us here as we go forward, having some success. The scenario we found ourselves in last night wasn’t necessarily one we spent a ton of time pondering but being up a couple scores midway through the game and then the weather situation which was a real issue I felt between the wind and the rain, was as difficult of conditions that I’ve been in as far as rain goes, in a couple of years in a regular season game. We were in some snow when I was in Arizona up in New England, which was real difficult in its own right, but the wind was a major factor along with the rain. It’s not a scenario that I spent a lot of time thinking about but once in it I felt like one of the things I did not want to do was put us in a position where we were giving anything to the team, especially looking at how we were playing on defense. More specifically, I think offensively, I chose to play as conservative as you’ll see me. I am somebody that likes to take some educated gambles and be real aggressive. I think the conservative nature of that game, I think you saw a little bit of that, being up two scores and significant conditions that I think any time either quarterback dropped back to pass you were taking a fairly significant risk than you would in normal conditions. I think that’s a key point and the last thing probably is just after now having spent some time with our players after the game and reflecting on just how important that crowd was to them out there and what effect our players felt like they [the fans] had on the game, putting their offense specifically in a difficult operating situation. I recognized that last night but after looking at it from a player’s perspective you can feel it even more. I think that was great.”

 

Q: You’ve said a few times leading up to the game last night for people not to expect too much or anything fancy from us for a little while. Were you specifically talking about your passing game on offense when you’re making that reference?

HALEY: “No, I think I’m speaking about the overall game. I think our games, I just have a feeling they’re going to be ugly because that game wasn’t ugly from the standpoint of what we’re trying to get done here and the type of team we’re trying to have here is a physical team number one, which I think you started to see some signs of that or additional signs of that last night – I felt like that was a real physical contest across the board. We want to be physical, we want to be smart. Three penalties. We were the least penalized team in the preseason and going back to last year, that was evident that the guys were playing smarter football each week or looking like a team that was doing smart things, at least from the physical standpoint of not making the wrong decision when it comes to penalties. Three penalties last night in pretty sloppy conditions. One was a hold in the fringe which was real critical because we were in pretty good shape at that point but I won’t put that all on T Barry (Richardson) because an inside run that ends up outside sometimes puts guys in difficult situations. That being said you can’t hold and we know that. A personal foul to start the second half is something that we absolutely cannot have. Fortunately nothing came out of that one but when you’re up two scores and you start the second half with a 15-yard penalty, you can’t have it. Overall I thought we showed pretty good intelligence and discipline out there on the field and that’s how we want to play. In addition, we’re going to need to be an opportunistic team that capitalizes on situations and our strengths and I think you started to see some of that between some of the returns – that’s how we’re going to have to play. I spoke during the week to the team but I had some of our guys dig up the stat of if you finish in plus turnover ratio and you score on special teams, which was one of our goals going into that game – physical, finish in the plus, score on special teams – you win nine out of 10 times, as history shows. I don’t know how many years I think that’s five or 10 years. We did that. Those were real good signs to me. I think CB Javier Arenas had the chance to score on one of those early ones he had so hopefully going to continue to be an area of strength for us and it has to be. Back to your question Adam, I think I’m just speaking of how games are going to be for us. We’re going to have to fight, scratch, claw every game. That scenario of being up two scores in the third quarter against a real good team isn’t one I spent a lot of time thinking about before the game.”

Q: So only having 60-some yards passing isn’t a reflection of the capability of your passing game at this point or the weather conditions?

HALEY: “I hope that it’s not. I’ll made clear to say that the way that I was speaking to the coaches and the players was from a very conservative standpoint, which again goes against how I normally am but you’re up two scores in very difficult conditions and we were doing some of the same things on defense, not being conservative but understanding what the difficulty was in throwing and where we wanted the ball to be thrown, which was outside the numbers because you weren’t seeing a lot of balls being completed out there. I was just real clear to everyone involved that we’re not turning this ball over fellas. I would rather punt than have something like that happen. We had a breakdown that allowed them a big play that gave them some hope and got them back in the game and that was a problem but thankfully we were able to buckle down and make enough plays to win.”

Q: Who received game balls last night?

HALEY: “We haven’t done game balls yet. That is something that we do when we win but that hasn’t been decided.”

Q: On special teams, CB Javier Arenas had a couple good returns but then WR Dexter McCluster goes back there and he scores a touchdown. Who makes that decision and how is it made?

HALEY: “I make that decision. Javier I agree was tremendous, fought it out, but Javier was also playing a bunch of snaps on defense. It was clear to me he was fighting to keep up the speed and I didn’t feel like he was in a position where we wanted to tax him a whole bunch at that point, or put him in a position where things might now goes the best way possible. I wanted to know how many snaps Dexter had been in at that point and wanted to get him involved a little bit before I did that to him, which I think we were able to get him a few snaps and felt comfortable. That’s the good thing about having those two guys is it’s clear that there is some good competition there and they’re feeding off of that. It’s exciting when you see Dexter score and Javier is coming off the bench or is the first one down there, no different than when RB Jamaal Charles had his big run, RB Thomas Jones is the first one there to greet him down there in the end zone. Thomas ran about 70 yards probably from where he was.”

Q: Don’t forget your chest bump.

HALEY: “With Dexter, I regained consciousness and realized I was standing at about the five so I want to try to see some tape, see if I looked as fast as I felt.”

Q: You talked about validation and after the draft you talked about how many players were team captains in college. Did this validate what the studying and the work that you put in before the draft when you have a lot of rookies make an impact like that?

HALEY: “I don’t know that one game validates anything. I will stand by what I’ve been saying about this young group from day one is that they have continued to show signs that they want to be good players in the league. We’re one game in and we hung on by the skin of our teeth and now we’ve got another one coming here pretty quick. I don’t think you want to evaluate any of these things too quick and that goes for everybody that’s been drafted in the last two year.”

Q: You have said that you feel like you’re going to be a strong running team but with a 21-7 lead you were doing a lot of running and going three-and-out quite a bit. Were you satisfied or disappointed with your running game in that respect?

HALEY: “I would say dissatisfied. We didn’t turn the ball over, we protected it, we did some good things, we forced the clock to run so there was some positive with that but you want to end the game with the ball in your hands, which we ultimately did, probably not really where we wanted it to be. We had some chances there. I felt like the penalty after we were moving the ball successfully there we couldn’t really put a nail in the coffin was a killer. We were short by one in a situation so I would say I would not want to be satisfied with that and I know the guys aren’t. We feel like we’re going to be a good running team, I think we showed some signs but not enough. We’ve got to be better.”

Q: Bigger picture, how many of those fourth quarters last year do you think played into how your teams played in the fourth quarter last night?

HALEY: “I think anybody that was here, it had an effect on them. That’s all experience and growing together as a team and trusting each other. That’s the process we’re in of trying to become a good team. I think we’re still in foundation mode of trying to just get more and more guys understanding how we’re going to do things and the encouraging thing is there is some progress and I’ve felt that all along and when you get validated with a win, I think that helps that process.”

Q: DE Glenn Dorsey has taken a lot of criticism. It looked to me like he played well last night. Are you pleased with his progress?

HALEY: “I have tried to be really clear about this, Glenn is in that developing category group and add into it change of position and scheme. I think Glenn has shown nothing but progress and I am really encouraged about that and I have been encouraged by that. To see him go out last night against a pretty physical group up front, I thought he did a tremendous job and was a big part of us winning the game. I know Glenn was real excited about it and he has grown as a player and a dependable teammate. I think that is really good. I thought a couple of those guys up front, Tyson (Jackson), who I thought was playing really well before getting hurt, but I thought he was really doing a good job in there. Again, minus the big play, I thought the defense slugged it out big time. They created a turnover for us and we had a couple opportunities for a couple more that I would of like to of had. You just can’t have a breakdown and give somebody hope.”

Q: What happened on that play where (Legedu) Naanee score on the deep pass?

HALEY: “I am not going to get into details of that particular play. It was a group effort and it was a number of moving parts so it is something we have to just make sure we are clear on and get straight and hopefully don’t let happen again.”

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