“I thought last night, after reviewing the tape, I felt like we made another positive step in all three areas. I think we continued to see progress and that has me feeling encouraged with our ability through this process, last year’s off-season, training camp and each preseason game that we made positive steps as a team. I feel good about the direction things are going. Offensively, the turnovers are something that we know cannot occur in the numbers that they’re occurring and we need to defensively, take the ball away. To go a four-game, albeit preseason stretch, and end up in the minus, when you’re not taking the ball away but one time and you’re giving it up on the heavy side for sure for our team, if we aren’t able to correct that and make improvements, that’ll be something that will cost us games more than likely. That would be the number one thing I think that our focus will be on. It’s going to be a busy couple a days. We have to make these tough decisions, this is last chance shopping – there will be a number of guys out there on the wire that we need to look at, evaluate, talk about and see if they can help our team be a better team. It’ll be rolling here.”
Q: What positions do you anticipate the cuts being tougher than others?
HALEY: “I don’t know that I can say any particular position. I just think the less obvious decisions will be decided by I guess I should say, by the players I think can help us right now. Generally that points to special teams. We’ve got a fairly significant group of players that I think have shown that they can play winning football and special teams and then it’s a matter of evaluating depth at the positions they’re playing, they’re upside at the positions that they play. Ideally you’d like to get a guy that could help you right now that could be a developing player for you at a particular offensive or defensive position so I can’t point to one position.”
Q: What’s gotten into LB
HALEY: “I don’t know that you say that anything could get into him because he was one of our more productive players last year. He consistently was at the top of that stat sheet as far as getting to the football, making tackles, making plays, he’s a run-and-hit linebacker that like I said last night, he really likes to play football. He’s into it and last night we were able to give him some shots as a rusher and I think he was excited about that, at least from my vantage point and it showed up in some production here, which is good because that’s an area that however we create sub-rushers, whether they’re defensive linemen or linebackers, we need more. I think we’ve got one real good one in 91 (LB
Q: Seems like you’ve given him more opportunities to rush. What have you seen out of him, obviously he’s been productive but what have you seen from him now that he’s taken advantage of some of these opportunities?
HALEY: “I think that inside linebacker position in general has been very good competition, which I will say again is good for everybody involved, the team included because it’s a real competition, the guys are fighting everyday to get noticed and generally that brings out the best in people. Some of Demorrio’s production has come at the inside backer position and some last night came from a down position. I think Demorrio is the type of guy who is fighting every day to separate himself from the competition in any way he can and I think that’s shown up in practice and in games. I think that’s a good thing.”
Q: Has he separated himself? This was one of the closer battles in training camp, has he kind of taken a lead in the last couple of weeks against LB
HALEY: “You’re saying that, I don’t know how you feel about it but I think that’s a real competition and I’m not going to say right here who’s in the lead, if there is a leader. We’ve got some more time here to get ready for San Diego but what Demorrio has done is separated himself in that rush position and that’s what I let all the guys know that anybody that wanted to jump up, raise their hand and get in that position as one of those four down sub-rush guys they could step up and separate themselves. I think that’s what he did a little bit of last night, which is real good.”
Q: For any young, inexperienced quarterback trying to make his way in the league, is it only natural to expect that there are going to be moments when those outside the building think that this guy doesn’t have it?
HALEY: “That’s what you’re saying is happening?”
Q: More that it’s just a natural part of the process that everyone goes through…
HALEY: “I think the quarterback position will be under more scrutiny than any other position. It’s the guy that handles the ball, one of the two people that handle the ball on every single snap, so that position is going to get scrutinized and I think the guys playing that position, the ones that end up rising to the top, generally, any of the scrutinizing that goes on doesn’t affect them. I think that’s just talking about the position in general. If you’re going to play quarterback in the league and you’re going to play at a high level you better not pay attention to too much but just getting prepared to do your job.”
Q: As a kid how much do you remember former Pittsburgh Steelers QB Cliff Stoudt and how his career kind of got ruined by that?
HALEY: “I don’t know that aspect of it Bob. I know that it’s be a long conversation because there are a lot of factors involved in that when that was going on but I don’t know that I’ll comment on any heresy or there other. It was a great turn of events in a lot of different ways.”
Q: You said last night the quarterback needs to be an extension of the head coach. Why?
HALEY: “I think because that is your field general. That is your guy, when you do have the ball, he is out there running the team. He has to make a lot of game decisions for you so you better be on the same page. He is going to, more than anybody on the offensive side of the ball, affect whether you win or lose a lot of times or at least that is the way it is going to be perceived. More than that, the quarterback of your team is generally one of your top leaders of the team so therefore as a head coach you spend a lot of time with that particular guy going in. It becomes more than just about the playing field, it becomes about the locker room, the attitude, the demeanor and all the different things that go into being a good leader. At least that is what I have seen and what I am learning. The more the head coach and the quarterback can be on the same page, the better your chance for success.”
Q: You guys were more productive in the running game than in the passing game. What do you make of that? Does that mean much to you?
HALEY: “It really doesn’t, Adam. You said we were not as productive in the passing game, I didn’t. I know what we put into each game plan, I know a lot of the factors involved up close from a practice to game standpoint. I am very encouraged about what it looks like we might have a chance to do in the run game. Just talking to the coaches, this RB
Q: So the preseason turnovers were a factor? Or because it was preseason were they not as big of a factor to you?
HALEY: “I think it is a stat I always take seriously. We need to win that category. I know from a statistical standpoint, if you do your percentage of wins go up dramatically from even to plus one to plus two. That is a key stat and that is taking all the other factors into account. We have to be a good special teams group, we have to make plays on returns. You have to do other things obviously which is play good defense, stop the run and offensively move the football and capitalize on opportunities. For instance last night, when you get a big punt return to start a game, you need to capitalize. You need to catch the ball and somehow come away with points there. If we do those things we will have success. Again, the turnover thing is what we have to make sure is going our way.”
Q: You said a minute ago that RB Jackie Battle changed the landscape. What exactly did you mean by that?
HALEY: “I think he was a guy that would have been easy to ignore because we had at least three guys that looked like they were going to be in the mix one way or another. Then we had some other guys competition to get into the mix and Jackie Battle through consistently doing what our entire team needs to do which is get a little better every day, take advantage of opportunities when you are in the situation you can do that and he has done that. And because he has continued to get better on special teams, he is in the mix.”
Q: How do you approach finding the right guys on the waiver wire after cut down day?
HALEY: “I think a lot of that work has been done. You try to make an educated guess by looking at rosters and that is what Scott (Pioli), our scouts, our pro guys and college guys have been working at diligently. The names have been filtering through the coaching staff also. We are just always trying to stay ahead a little bit but there are always going to be surprises. It is a short amount of time and that is a lot of guys so you try to be prepared, stay ahead and make good decisions.”
Q: What is your team’s identity on offense?
HALEY: “Remains to be seen.”