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Q&A with Todd Haley 10/25

Posted Oct 25, 2010

Highlights

OPENING REMARKS: “Had a chance now to look back through the tape. It was a big win for our team against an AFC opponent and coming off a difficult loss in Houston a week before, and Indy for that matter the week before that. I think it was very critical for us to come out and do the things necessary to play better than our opponent and yesterday I felt we did that. Yesterday I like that there were a lot of positives in that game, one of the biggest to me was that second half, that last quarter and a couple of minutes, we really started to play complementary football, in my opinion, really following the fourth down that we were unable to execute. I think that’s when I thought we really started to play the way you have to play to make good things happen and that’s what occurred. I think the guys understand that, they understood that and we’re continuing to grow as a team. I think to go out there against that team, a team that does blitz and creates some looks that are difficult to handle and I thought to go out there and carry the ball 42 times and throw it 18 or 19, however many throws we had, and not turn the ball over was real, real good. It was a good job by the offense, our defense went out and did something that we’ve been trying to do which is create turnovers, more than one and we were able to get three and if we can run the ball and stop the run like we did yesterday, protect the football and create some turnovers, we should have a chance to be in a lot of football games here as we go forward. So that’s what we’re going to keep working on. Overall, I’m real happy with the way the guys worked together from a complementary football standpoint. The final thing I’ll say is I knew and we talked about all week that that was a big-play team, big plays had won them games and big plays had lost them games and we allowed too many big plays in the pass game to handle on a week-to-week basis but we were able to get it under control at the right time and ended up making the big plays that won the game for us. It was a good win, got to 1-1 and they’re running and lifting right now and then we’ll start getting ready for Buffalo.”

 

Q: Did your team develop a killer instinct yesterday in the fourth quarter?

HALEY: “Well, I think Bob, that as I said sometimes the most painful lessons are the best lessons and I really felt pretty quickly after that Houston game was over that there was an opportunity there for us to learn from a painful, painful situation and one of the lessons in that game was the ability to understand when the situations came up in the game previous that we could’ve essentially ended the game. That’s not to say finish, coach speak, you’ve got to play 60 minutes, because to me in each of these last two games, our guys played hard and played for 60 minutes in both games, it was more about yesterday we were able to learn from the week before and seize the opportunities when they were there to essentially put Jacksonville in a position where they were not going to be able to come back and I think that was the great thing. There were some definite parallels between the two games and to see our guys respond after us talking a bunch about what had happened in the Houston game and execute at the right times, and one of those situations was the fourth down where we went for it there up eight points and a first down there and able to get it into the end zone and put it into a 15-point would have been an opportunity, we didn’t do that on offense because we didn’t execute but then defensively a stop, offensively we had another long drive following the 15-play drive on the one we went for and scored a touchdown. Defense interception and offense score, and I think that was kind of the ballgame right there in that sequence. It was real good for us as a team, and I think the guys, they get it, so that’s good.”

Q: What was wrong with an 11-point lead at that point in time?

HALEY: “I don’t think anything Randy, I don’t think anything would’ve been wrong with an 11-point lead, but at the same time, like I said yesterday, what’s important for everybody to understand is that the fourth down is thought out a considerable amount of time before it’s actually fourth down and there are many times within that game that we’re in that mode, it just does not get exposed because we don’t get to fourth down. I think it’s very valuable for our team from a big-picture view of there is going to be some games where we’re going to have to play complementary football like that and we’re getting a lot of work at it this year to this point a quarter-and-a-half through the season and we’re going to have to utilize it as we move forward.”

Q: Would you make a decision to go for it on fourth down just to send a message of confidence to your guys?

HALEY: “I think it’s still more big picture than that. That’s one of the results of it, when you let them know we’re in that mode, and again that’s happening much earlier than when you’re actually there at the fourth-down situation, but I think it’s more about a mindset of how we’re going into each and every possession and that changes week-to-week and it changes throughout games. But it is something that we practice, talk about, work on and the defense is aware of it when we’re doing it, I’m not saying when it’s actually fourth-and-whatever, the defense knows ahead of time the mode the offense is in and they are mentally prepared and ready to go and I thought that it showed up yesterday and that was a real good sign for us.”

Q: Why has WR Chris Chambers dressed the past two weeks?

HALEY: “I can’t say it’s not health-related at all but like I said, all these guys are not going to feel any better than they do today, it’s just the way that it goes. Chris had a little issue that he’s been fighting through and I think I said it from the standpoint that if he had to, he could’ve played but again, big picture for me as the head coach and what I’ve really been trying to promote and push is we need everybody and there are opportunities when one guy’s maybe not 100 percent that we have opportunities to get other guys into the mix and playing and developing. Yesterday we had WR Verran Tucker who was able to get a bunch of valuable snaps, special teams and offensively. That was not the reason, it was a bigger-picture reason than that in that we’ve got a bunch of secondary and skill-type builds that are beat up and not 100 percent and so for that reason, special teams, as I’ve said in here a bunch, we’re going to cater to special teams and try to have a team that can win on special teams each and every week and that was what it was more about – Chris wasn’t going to give us a whole bunch on special teams yesterday, he’s fighting through trying to get back to 100 percent and the special teams aspect of it was very critical and it came down again to the game day roster. Chris was a great teammate yesterday I thought because that’s not fun, he’s very competitive, he wanted to be playing but I will say he was down there on the sideline and really helping with all our young receivers and did a great job. Hopefully this week he’ll be back in there contributing and helping us.”

Q: Has he been what you wanted him to be or does he need to improve?

HALEY: “I think everybody needs to improve, Kent, there isn’t any one person I would say on this team that doesn’t need to improve. Chris is an important, important aspect of this team and he’s one of those veteran guys that I talked about last week that is selflessly helping young guys and trying to pass along knowledge and things that he knows that they may not know to help them be better players. Like I said, he’s fighting through a little something that for receivers is critical but Chris is going to be back and he’s going to be contributing physically for us hopefully sooner rather than later.”

Q: Has his play been to your standard when he hasn’t been out there, has it been up to what you expect out of him?

HALEY: “I have high expectations for Chris. Chris came in mid-year last year which is always difficult and was a big part of us making progress in the second half, specifically the last quarter of the season. He came into this off-season, worked hard, got himself ready to go, came out and has played and was part of us winning three games and winning one. I think Chris, like I said, his arrow is still pointing up and I’ve been real clear to Chris that I want this to be his best year that he’s ever had and that’s what he’s focused on. Unfortunately he had a little setback but like I said, he’ll be back and I believe contributing in a big way here because I know it means a lot to him and like I said, it hurt him a bunch not being able to play and contribute physically but I was also very impressed with how he handled himself in that situation.”

Q: You ran for over 230 yards yesterday and had three rushing TDs from three different running backs. That’s the kind of team you wanted to build going back to the spring. Are you happy with the mindset or commitment your team has now?

HALEY: “Sure, two weeks in a row to go over 200 yards, now unfortunately last week, we didn’t take advantage of that because generally when you rush it for over 35 times in a game you’re going to win or you usually end up winning that game. That first one tanked it because we weren’t able to win the game. This one, to come back and put another one like that together as a group, everybody, that was a full-group effort, like I say, offense is an 11-man operation and that’s running or passing and I thought we were pretty efficient yesterday as an offense. One of the areas that we haven’t been quite as efficient as I’d like to be is in the Red (Zone) and we got in there and we scored touchdowns, that’s real, real important. We didn’t turn the football over. I thought our receivers blocked as good as I’ve seen a group block here the last couple weeks, I mean there were some big-time blocks – WR Dwayne Bowe a couple big-time blocks, WR Dexter McCluster big-time blocks on a couple of those runs that came out he’s flying in there and hits the safety. It was a group effort and our runners worked hard, protected the football and made plays. I would be anything but feel real good when you’re able to run the ball five yard a clip, that’s pretty good. That’s what allows you to, from a mentality standpoint, get into that four-down mode some and get more runs. When you run the ball 42 times, you generally are going to be happy.”

Q: You got asked about RBs Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones almost every day in training camp. Is this how you envisioned it working out as far as the distribution and the success rushing the football?

HALEY: “Yeah, I think for us to become a good team it’s going to take everybody we have. Running backs is an area that I felt pretty strongly going into this year with the addition of Thomas (Jones), the development of Jackie (Battle), the addition of Dexter (McCluster), the development of our fullbacks, Mike (Cox) and Tim (Castille), our tight end development, our line additions with Ryan (Lilja) and Casey (Wiegmann) and our development of other young guys up there and Brian (Waters), I felt that was going to be a position of strength. Like I said, we need everybody and when you have a position of strength, then it becomes about doing a good job as a staff and trying to make sure that you’re utilizing all the guys you have. That’s a good group and I think they want to be something special but more importantly I think they want our team to be something special and that group is led by Thomas who is a pretty unique individual. Dexter being able to get out there yesterday, which is something I’ve really been wanting to see happen and be in a one-back and even a two-back situation, and running the ball the way he ran it, now you’re really starting to make hay because now you’ve got a couple guys, three guys that can do it in both areas and now from an opponent’s defensive approach, you’ve got a lot of things to worry about, which is good.”

Q: How close are you to being a good football team?

HALEY: “I think the big thing to me through last week and yesterday is the team aspect of this group of guys. I had them out there running again as one big group and I think you can see the relationships growing and the care and the commitment to each other and that’s what I’m real excited about because you can’t do it without really being a team and I think here in the last few weeks, you’ve seen that continue to grow and I’m real excited about that.”

Q: With this schedule, you haven’t seen many division opponents, but about halfway through the schedule, how do you like your spot right now?

HALEY: “Randy, I am very, very, very focused on this second quarter of the season. We’re 1-1 trying to get to 3-1 which we know we have to get to 2-1 first and the way that I know that we are going to have an opportunity to do that is if we continue to do the little things to get a little better every day like this lift right now that’s going on is a critical, critical lift for our guys because we have to make progress today. That’s what I’m focused on and I think that if we can keep doing that then good things will happen. If we don’t, as I’ve said, nothing that’s already occurred,” [Covitz: You don’t say we’re 4-2, look we have three less losses…] “Honestly, I correct people, when people in the organization say to me ‘we’re this (record),’ whether it’s the owner, the general manager, coaches, players, I say we’re 1-1. We’re 1-1 trying to get to 2-1. I make my own, and I’ve always done this, I make my own schedule on my board and it just consists of one, two, three, four and a line, one, two, three, four and a line. So right now on my grease board in my office, I have one that says W, W, W, L, 3-1 and now I’m on the next box and it says 1-1.”

Q: We should revise the standings in the paper then.

HALEY: “No, you don’t need to do that. You asked a question. I really try to live it and I think that if you do that you increase your odds of keeping everyone else thinking the right way.”

Q: Looking at it from a quarter to quarter perspective during the season, do you look at the second half like a second season?

HALEY: “I don’t know. I know that we have the Buffalo Bills who put 500 yards of offense up against a really good defense yesterday. They are coming to town here and time is going to go fast. I am excited that our fans were able to be as enthusiastic as they were yesterday and at the end with the way that it ended. They get to come right back and get it going again. I thought our team did a good job of using our great crowd yesterday.”

Q: QB Matt Cassel has been sacked the fewest times in the league. How much of that is credited to his decision making?

HALEY: “I think offense is an 11-man operation. The passing game is a little bit of everything but I definitely think it is a combination. Matt has continued to make strides and improve in some subtle areas that make such a big difference for a quarterback. I saw some great evidences of Matt getting back fast, being able to slide up and feel the pressure and get the ball out on time. One time he wasn’t able to and one other time, which was probably my least favorite play of the game, was the throwback across as he was getting hit. That was a borderline carelessness with the ball that could have turned into a bad play. He is working hard every day and we are staying on him as a group but he understands the things he needs to do to continue to improve. He is working hard to do those things and like I said, he is a developing quarterback that hasn’t had a bunch of experience and each and every game is a great opportunity for him to grow and get better. I think yesterday he did a very good job of leading this team and protecting the football as well as handling the game management and the other things he has to do.”

Q: Is not giving up sacks a major priority for you?

HALEY: “Yeah, definitely. If you are talking about a turnover or a sack and having one or the other, it would be a sack every time. The negative plays I have talked about, more so last year because we were at the bottom of the list in negative plays. I put offensive penalties into that group because those are hidden yards that you have to overcome. For instance, I have stats on how many negative runs, how many negative pass plays and then offensive penalties. Going into last week we were far and away with 31 negative plays and the next closest team had 41. We had 130 yards of negative plays which in my system, 100 yards of hidden yardage equals seven points, 50 equals three so we were at about eight or nine points that we had given up. But then you went down to the bottom of the list and you had some teams that were at 600 yards of negative plays. Again, that is my own system by putting offensive penalties in. Yesterday we were not great, we had a sack, and we had four or five minus runs, four offensive penalties which were killers. We were able to overcome those mostly because we didn’t turn the football over. We ran it efficiently at other time but negative plays directly correlates to winning and losing more than people understand. On that list that I had last week, every team that was in the top 10 was a winning team.”

Q: You use the term complementary football. What do you mean by that?

HALEY: “It is probably too philosophical to not have a long answer but it is just different than what I think a lot of people think it is. I think complementary football as a team is that as much as anything, when one group is struggling the other group understands that they have to pick things up. But also on the flip side of the coin to put it in broad terms, say the offense goes the length of the field and scores points. That next possession on the defensive side and first off special teams goes down and covers the kick and doesn’t allow a big return or give a little hope to the other team in that small window. Say it was a long drive, it is one of those 15 play drives where you have worn the defense out and if the defense can get a stop in that situation, a fairly quick stop, now the special teams is in trying to get a big return and then the offense goes into a very advantageous situation of going against a defense that maybe tired and not quite ready to go back out and play. So that is just a quick version of it but when the team is playing together, much like we played, the offense went for it on fourth down and didn’t get it. It could have been a negative situation but the defense went out and turned it up. They allowed one big play but then three plays later the Jaguars are punting it. The offense then, even though they hadn’t converted on the fourth, they went the length of the field again to score points. That is complementary football in my mind.”

Q: Does that extend to the coaches and staff, as well?

HALEY: “Absolutely and that is why I try to communicate to the entire staff whichever way we are thinking from a schematic standpoint and from a philosophical standpoint of where we are in the game and what we need to do to finish the game earlier than the 60 minutes. The more times you are able to enjoy yourself on that sideline a little bit, it is good for your team.”

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