Q: Is it a little tougher with a long layoff before your first game and then having a quick turnaround to the second game for healing and preparation?
HALEY: “I just think that this was the first time for myself as a head coach going through this schedule. I’ve started on a Monday night before, we did that out in Arizona, I’ve experienced Monday Night Football games but being the first game of the year is a little bit different, even though like I said out there in Arizona we did start on a Monday I think the first year I was there. This schedule can be a true obstacle, that’s the one thing I’ve found almost through a two-week period of an odd schedule as a head coach. It can clearly be an obstacle, I think it’s very important how you handle it from a physical and from a mental standpoint and they both have their own set of problems – the long week and the short week. I feel like last week was a success, we won the game, we did the things we had to do to win, we were ready to play, it appeared to me. Now we’ll see this week how we handled it”
Q: Was the defensive energy and intensity the best you seen here?
HALEY: “This season, yes. But I do feel like we were seeing that improve throughout training camp and the preseason. When you’re playing preseason games, the games aren’t ending with the players that are starting, so that’s one of the things you try to recognize as you go through preseason and know the results may not be what you want as long you understand and the players understand that both the time they’re in there is a little and that they’re going to have to be in there at the end and play the same way they played during the period of time they were in. That was the first full game for all the guys really, other than maybe a T
Q: What does that energy do, why is it so vital?
HALEY: “I think the energy probably comes from desire, your internal desire to succeed and doing it the way you’re supposed to do it. I think some of the energy comes from how you take care of your body – are you in the cold tub when you’re supposed to be, are you hydrating, are your feet up when we’re asking them to be up, all those types of things. Overall I’m just trying to get all these guys to understand how important that it is to play each play the way that we’re coaching them to play. It’s an adjustment that’s necessary and that’s the way we’re going to be a successful team.”
Q: You were one-for-11 on third down last week. What do you do to correct that for this weekend?
HALEY: “You have to execute. You have to execute. I’ve said this multiple times, I can’t overplay weather playing a factor in some of the decision-making, throws and how the throws were coached. That was a little different deal there and I think if you look at it a different way it will be the wrong way to look at it in my opinion. I’m making sure that we understand what we have to do to win the game. In that game we did what we had to do to win the game. That is the bottom line – winning the game. I know that we’re going to be a team that has to protect the football; this is not going to change now. We’re going to have to protect the football at all costs, we will not be able to turn the ball over and win games right now. We are going to have to stop the run on defense. We’re going to have to win on special teams and that’s going to mean scoring points, more often or not, or putting our team in a position to score points. That is something that is going to have to happen, that’s just the way it is. We’re going to have to cover on special teams and not allow big plays and on defense we’re probably going to have to create some turnovers – at least one or two a game. That’s what we have to do and that’s what we’re working hard to do every game. In a game like last week against San Diego, CB
Q: You mentioned last year’s Cleveland game a couple times. Are you watching that primarily because of the date it fell on the calendar or because there were a couple glaring deficiencies?
HALEY: “Oh no, it’s the defense we’re playing. I think that’s the number one reason. It’s our offense and the way we’re doing things so we get a chance to watch a bunch of our plays against the defense we’re playing. I think that’s always an advantage as a coach because that’s all you do as say an offensive coach – when you pick your teams that you’re going to put into your scouting report, you’re picking teams that run a similar-type offense. From a defensive standpoint, they are the same coordinator, they’re running essentially the same offense, you’re seeing a lot of the same plays that you’re going to see. Defense it’s always a little more limited from a run standpoint but I think that’s why you watch the game. You’re able to look at the game from both sides of the ball and see what you’re going to see and make decisions off of that. I think the fact that it was a little later in the year, the fact that now we’re playing them early, if you’re asking me if we’re playing Week 15 against Cleveland would we look back at that one, we probably would. I would say generally you’re trying to look at teams that have some similarities to you either one way or the other, offensively or defensively, so that’s a perfect game for a lot of different reasons to have them for a scouting report and the breakdown.”
Q: What do you know about QB Seneca Wallace and how do you anticipate their offense changing if he’s playing quarterback instead of QB Jake Delhomme?
HALEY: “Having been out in Arizona, we played Seattle a bunch and I was thinking about this last night, in Dallas, Seattle was a regular opponent of ours in the preseason because of where our training camp was and so I’ve ended up seeing Seneca Wallace multiple times. He hasn’t had a ton of opportunities but in those opportunities he looks like a quarterback that is a drop-back quarterback, I think it’s easy to think otherwise when you get a little smaller, more athletic guy that you automatically think that he’s a movement quarterback but he is a drop-back quarterback, I think that’s what Coach (Mike) Holmgren, when he was coaching him out in Seattle always it looked like envisioned him to be, and that’s what he did. He is a drop-back passer that can throw the football but he can also take off and run and hurt you from an athletic standpoint. Anytime you have that and you go from one to the other and QB Jake (Delhomme), not that he’s hasn’t been a great runner over the years, but you do have a change of pace and you have to be prepared for both so we’ve got to make sure that in practice that we do have some scrambles where we tell the quarterback to take off and run and are aware that that can happen. But I think a lot of Seneca, I’ve seen him play a couple other positions and he’s a talented player that hasn’t had a ton of opportunities but I think he’s got the chance to be a very good player.”
Q: You only have one game to go off of for Cleveland this year but last year against your team they ran the ball 33 times but against Tampa Bay they threw the ball 38 times. When it comes to game plan, do you go off of what they did last year or do you think they’ll be looking to pass against you as well?
HALEY: “I can’t tell you what they’re going to do but you’re right, they ran the ball down our throats last year over and over and over again. They also returned a couple kicks. I would say that’s definitely got to be something that you could see from the running standpoint but again I think this team is a game plan team. They’re going to research you, they’re going to study you, they’re going to research your weaknesses and they’re going to try to attack your weaknesses and I think that’s why they came into last year’s game with the perception that we were going to have a difficult time stopping the run and that’s what they did, and they were right. That’s something that for us to be in this game or potentially win it, we have to be able to stop the run I would believe.”
Q: How much have you talked to the team about the Pittsburgh game last year? That was a big, emotional victory but it was followed up with five straight losses and you don’t want to have that happen after Monday Night Football?
HALEY: “That’s a very good point Bob because we were just talking about it right there. When the Pittsburgh game occurred, I know I was worried about that and said this can’t be our Super Bowl. A struggling young team learning how to win, that’s one of the pitfalls is you do achieve some level of success and then there is a letdown of sorts. With this group of guys, the way they’ve continued to work, the effort that they’re putting in, they’re understanding that they’re showing me that they’re listening to what we’re telling them and trying to explain to them and how we’re coaching them would lead me to think that we’re going to hopefully be better tomorrow than we were today and then on Saturday, even though it’s just a walk-through, we’ve got to be real sharp in the walk-through and we have to come out and play better than we did last week. That’s all we’re trying to get done and we’ve got 16 games to try and continue that progress because we’re a team that is in transition is the best way I can say it and we’re just trying to get a little better each day.”
HALEY: “Absolutely Josh. I think that’s the number one reason you bring in any veteran is to help you win games and play football for you. If you have the added bonus of having some true leadership-type guys that have been around and understand the ups and downs of the season and the emotional highs and lows that can help spread that word, that is a big, big help and that’s something that we’re on.”
Q: You said after the game that a big win like that could offer some validation. Does it offer validation for the players that what they’re doing is working and have you been able to see that in the players this week?
HALEY: “I would say it’s obviously too early tell. See me after the game Sunday. The point there is that winning is the reward in this game. Winning is the reward, even though I would say a majority of those guys out there today hitting each other in the mouth probably did not feel like that is what they’d do if they had a choice or if they could just do whatever they wanted, if they could just go out on Sunday and play. For all the sacrifice, for the time away from families, for the physical toll, the weightlifting, the running, all those things, the reward is that win on Sunday. That’s really what it’s about. The more that you taste that reward the more you understand that this is what it’s about. We’ve got a bunch of young guys on this team that are learning that. They’re learning how to work first of all, they’re learning how to do it, how we want it done, how to be on time, how to be dependable in as many areas of their lives as possible and what that leads to. It’s fun winning football games. It’s a lot more fun being in that locker room after a win than it is after the alternative. That’s why we’re doing it and I think we’re getting more and more guys that understand that and are now putting the team first – not thinking so much about their personal items.”