Q: You said after the Houston game that this season has already been more fun/interesting than last year. What do you mean and how do you judge that?
HALEY: “You can only have fun when you’re having some level of success or measure of success. I think just coming into this job, I had a pretty clear picture of how things were going to go and I looked at this second year even ahead of time as being a critical, critical year, for a number of different reasons – I don’t know the best words to use, but to get settled into the position and to the job of being the head coach and it’s kind of gone about that way. I felt like staff-wise it would be a two-year process, at a minimum, especially having seen it occur through the years that I’ve been in the NFL and I knew that would be a process, especially when I was hired. All those things kind of came to fruition. But I do feel like our staff is operating very efficiently but at the same time it’s very critical to develop players in this league and it’s very critical to develop young coaches and that’s going on as we speak. By being efficient as a staff I’ve been able to be the head coach, which is what had a vision of being. And as the head coach you do things and you’re able to do things that you couldn’t always do as an assistant coach. That’s the biggest thing.”
Q: What’s been fun, what puts smiles on your face?
HALEY: “Everything’s fun. I say it all the time, the players have the greatest job in the world and we’ve got the second-greatest job in the world, in my opinion. Everything is fun. It’s fun coming to work, it’s fun living in Kansas City. The more you learn about the town and the people and the places and all those things, it’s all fun.”
Q: Can you talk about the contributions that offensive coordinator Charlie Weis have made and how they’ve helped you and the team, now that you’re into the meat of the season?
HALEY: “Doug, I appreciate the question, I think it’s just hard for me to single out any one person in this. This is a process and we’re in the process of becoming a good team. You need good players, you need good coaches, like I just said you need to develop your players and develop your coaches and Charlie’s a big part of that. I was excited when the opportunity came about, it wasn’t something that was known too much ahead of time that he would be one of the guys that I would potentially be able to have come in here and have coach for me but it worked out well. The reasons why I felt good about Charlie being the guy to come in here and be my coordinator have also kind of fallen into places that I expected. We’ve been able to pick up where we left off from last year, that was a big, big item that we couldn’t go back and change again, not for our sake, but more importantly for the players’ sake – any of the players that have carried. That was critical. It could not change, we had to just continue to build and that’s probably the biggest variable that I could pinpoint with Charlie, in addition to he’s another good coach and I feel like I’ve got a lot of good coaches on our staff, veteran and young coaches – young, developing coaches and I think that’s what I’m excited about in general. The progress that we’re seeing is due to a number of factors, the players’ understanding of expectations, the development of players already on the roster, the acquisition of free agents and rookie players in addition to additional good coaches coming into the staff and he’s one of them, but there are a number and it is a team effort.”
Q: Is it a good example of leadership for players who aren’t feeling the best at this point in the season to see a coach who has maybe fought through or worked through an injury or health situation? I know I’m asking about something you don’t like to talk about, but just generally speaking?
HALEY: “I’m laughing only because I’m hard on Charlie. I’ve been making fun of that cart for a number of months now and one of my comebacks is some of us wouldn’t dare use a cart. It’s all relative. I don’t know, I think what the players understand is they’re being well coached and that’s really what the players care about. I think that they want to know they’re being coached to do the things that they need to be coached to do to give them the best chance to succeed. I think that’s what our players are understanding and believing more and more here as we go forward. That’s what’s most important. They want to know what to do and how to do it to best succeed. I would say speaking on behalf of them, you’d have to ask them, but I think that’s what players care about – give us the best chance to win. They don’t care if we’re sitting up in the apple pickle ala Bear Bryant or Woody Hayes or if we’re coaching on one leg, two legs, in a cart, on crutches. They want to be coached on what to do and how to do it.”
Q: What can be fun about a loss? You said that the loss at Houston, even though it was tough was still fun. Was just that it was close? What could possibly be fun about a tough loss like that?
HALEY: “I don’t think it was the most fun week but it was fun because I think very quickly I was able to recognize that there was probably more to be learned from a painful loss than had we hung on and won. I think the thing I was really excited about last week was even though I would’ve liked to have played better across the board last week and not been in a game that was as close as it was but there all of a sudden became a bunch of parallels in the two games which I thought was tremendous for our team. The tremendous part about it was we were able to talk about the situation in the Houston game and what I felt like were the things we had to learn from and then in the Jaguars game because there became a bunch of parallels in a lot of different areas and it appeared to me that the players seized the opportunities that they didn’t quite realize were there the week before and because of that you saw our level of complementary play pick up there for the final portion of that game and I think that’s a tremendous opportunity for us as a coaching staff and as a team to say ‘this happened in this game, this game there were some similarities yet we didn’t let the same things happen.’ Now it’s important from both of those games we now learn going forward, in addition to the other four.”
Q: You lead the league with a 48 turnover point differential and have yet to give up points off of a turnover. Is that a major point of emphasis with the team each week?
HALEY: “Yeah, I know that’s a very big area. I think what is clear as you look at statistics in the league, and there are always some trend-breakers or trend-buckers that turnover differential – that points off of turnovers is a key stat in winning and losing. I think that right now the top 11 teams are 20 or more games over .500, it might be top 11 in turnover differential might be 26 games over .500. That’s exactly what it is because the rest of the league from 11 down in minus 26. So, if you can score off of the turnovers your defense creates and basically not turn the ball over is the secret, and if you do turn it over and your defense doesn’t allow points, you’re record is going to be a record you’re probably happy with most times, as much or more than any other stat. That’s what we we’ve talked about from day one last year, run the ball efficiently, stop the run and don’t turn the ball over and you’ll have a chance to be in most games.”
Q: How do you think the team’s managed the zero points allowed when you have turned the ball over?
HALEY: “Your odds increase of giving up points on turnovers the more times you turn it over, the more opportunities you give the other team and depending on who the team is but what we’ve done very well on offense is not turn it over period. So the other interesting stat is when you do not give the ball away, if you just do not give it away, you’re in the mid-80 percents of winning, you’re going to win over eight out of 10. That in itself is an interesting stat but it tells you what I just said, that if you don’t turn the ball over, you have a great chance of winning because lot of bad things can happen when you turn the ball over – you stop your own drive, you give the other team opportunities to score that they may not have had if you don’t turn it over.”
Q: What do you think of Buffalo’s running back tandem?
HALEY: “I think you have to say threesome because the quarterback, I think he’s in the top 20 or somewhere in there in over 10-yard runs. This (Fred) Jackson is one of the most underrated backs in the league, in my opinion; he is good, really good. He has great vision, he runs hard, he has great balance, he makes great cuts, he is explosive and you just don’t hear his name but he is really good and this young guy, (C.J.) Spiller, looks like he is a pretty dynamic back, we felt that coming out studying him as a college player in a number of different areas, returning being one of those things. Then the quarterback, like I said, he’s a true threat throwing it first of all but as a runner he is a threat and you must be aware of them. I think they’re pretty good. I think that they know how to run the football, they’re trying to run it more and more and I think they’ll come in here and set their minds to trying to run the football and our job is to not allow that to happen.”
Q: Do you think G/C
HALEY: “I think Jon is much like a number of the other young guys, he has continued to make progress. With the opportunities that he has had he has shown ability to play this game at a level that we would probably be happy with initially. He knows that he has to continue to improve and get better but he is another one of the group of young guys that came in here that is ready for this and a lot more ready than they aren’t ready. He is working hard and getting better.”
Q: Are you comfortable with him for Sunday if G
HALEY: “I am not going to bring Ryan Lilja into this because again, he is another guy that is playing at a very high level. As far as having a young offensive lineman that has come in here and looks like he knows what to do and how to do it, I feel very comfortable with Jon up to this point.”
Q: You talked about a few things earlier including the addition of coaches, acquisitions and players understanding what is expected. Are any of those things more important than another?
HALEY: “I think they are all pretty important. One might hurt you a little more in the present tense than others. Obviously we talk about the development of coaches, because coaches can generally coach at a pretty high level for an extended period of time, you don’t know your timeline on some of those things. The development of your players has to happen sooner rather than later. You have to have good players coming into your roster however you find them. You have to have the kinds of guys that create competition and give you a higher skill and talent level. If you don’t have good coaches in the present tense that are teaching these guys how to do it and what to do, then you are going to have a problem also pretty quickly. At least three out of the four are really important. Just for a plan for success from a plan for success standpoint, developing your young coaches is becoming more and more critical.”