Q: Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick is ranked second in the league in quarterback rating. Do you think that is accurate or a bit deceiving?
HALEY: “It is one way, I think that it is a fairly accurate assessment, a quick-look assessment, but I really try to look at the tape, that is what will tell the tale. You will know when someone is playing at a high level when you watch the tape. I have seen each and every game that he has been in and you can tell that he has made improvement throughout his time as a starter this year and I think right now he is playing at a very high level and that is according to the tape. I think that is the most accurate way to judge these quarterbacks is to watch it, see it, otherwise you don’t know all the factors. The thing that is evident about Ryan is that each situational area, whether it is Red Zone, third down, they are in a multitude of personnel grouping and that is offensively. If you look at the cut-ups of each and every one of those you can tell that he is pretty efficient in all areas and that will make for potential problems on Sunday.”
Q: They are apparently making an in season transition from the 3-4 to the 4-3. Is the league so diverse that it won’t present a problem?
HALEY: “I think it is a potential problem because, no different than last week when you have a number of different quarterbacks that can play, I think it is a different level of issue for us as an offense because you aren’t sure what you need to prepare for. Whether you are preparing for an odd front or an even front that starts to affect your practice reps. You only have limited practice reps to work on it and our players, especially the front five plus the backs need to have a great understanding of that and you only do that through practice. It takes practice reps away from you one way or another. If they do one thing and one thing only you essentially can use reps on something else that they are not doing now. If they do a little bit of both, you have a little practice at both but you must be prepared for both and the good thing for us is that we have seen some three-four teams and we have seen some even front teams up until this point. That should help a little bit.”
Q: If you were to happen to have a rookie starting on Sunday on the offensive line, would that be a bigger problem for him?
HALEY: “I think that would be fairly speculative. I think if you are referring to G/C
Q: One player told us that RB
HALEY: “Well, I think you’re talking about someone whose was a quarter away from being in the championship and then another time a team that lost in the championship, but I think you probably need more than one, at least, that’s my opinion. I don’t have the answer to that for sure Doug, at least the teams that I’ve been a part of that I thought were pretty good teams and had a chance to compete and play in big games or even the biggest game, you see multiple guys like that and I think it’s critical to have them across the team – offensively, defensively. I think that only helps in your cause and Thomas is, I’ve said from day one, he’s off the charts. He is as advertised. From the first day he walked in here when he was on our list of potential free agents and he came and visited and we spent a bunch of time in my office and he spent time with everybody involved in the process and each and every one of us, when we talked about it and started to go through the discussions, it was wow, this guy is something. He really is. He is a special character. I don’t like to talk about guys’ private stuff, but this to me is such a clear picture of Thomas: after that Houston game, we’re flying home and like I said you could tell that we were making progress as a team by how the players were acting on the plane, you could see that it was a painful, painful flight home but I made a couple passes back through there just to talk to all the guys just like I usually do and Thomas is watching a DVD, he’s got a DVD with headphones on and I just took a peak to see what movie he was watching and he was watching high school football. And I was like, ‘What are you watching?” He said, “I’m watching my brother.” I’m like, “Your brother? You just have Julius, right?” We had drafted Julius in Dallas and I’m doing the math quickly of knowing when Julius was a high school player and I’m going, “You’re watching Julius?” So he’s got a bag full of DVDs of his brother playing high school football. He said, “This is what cheers me up.” That’s pretty unique and it tells you so much about the guy and on top of all the other things, he does a lot of work with the mining and things like that. Here’s a guy, of all the options to keep your mind active after a difficult loss, he said this is what gets me in a good mood when I’m down and it’s his brother from the ’90s playing high school football and he’s got DVD after DVD and he’s rewinding it watching runs. Amazing. Amazing.”
Q: He was watching his brother do well I take it?
HALEY: “Just watching a game, watching a game that happened years ago.”
Q: Can a guy like that communicate things to players that a coach just can’t?
HALEY: “I think absolutely. When you’re operating efficiently as a team and you’re a good team, the coaches are doing less and less and less and I think that’s how it happens and coaches are still the coaches but you’re just not having to do quite as much hollering and pushing and prodding because a lot of your veteran players or leadership players are doing a lot of that for you?
Q: What did you like about WR
HALEY: “Number one, as I’ve said, that game day 45 is very critical to us having any chance to compete on a weekly basis. We need to have the best possible mix/combination and a big factor of that is special teams. We need to win on special teams every week, in my opinion, to be in these games. Most of those decisions that you see are based first and foremost through a lot of conversation through the week of, I’ll ask (Steve) Hoffman with everybody in there, I make him make his list of five extras – I give him five extra every week and I say make your list and don’t be having secret conversations with the coaches to see who they want at their positions. I want to know who the five are that help you and we draw from the entire pool of players and in Verran’s case, he’s working harder and harder each and every day and making progress each and every day and it was clear you could see the progress, first on special teams and then also on offense. What I don’t want to do is take somebody to the game that we’re not going to use so what I was happy about was Verran got 20 snaps, I believe is what he had in that game, offense and special teams. That’s what I’m looking for. I don’t want to take guys to the game to sit. We need guys contributing and he’s doing it a little bit in both areas but he’s got some skill as a receiver. I’ve been kind of quietly excited about him from a week or so into camp. He’s got some unique skills that are not coachable.”
Q: You talked about that it was less that a coach has to do as the players start to help each other out. Are you starting to do that more with your team?
HALEY: “I’m definitely starting to see it more, and I’ve touched on it a little last week, I think it was. This I’ve been seeing – veteran guys helping, coaching working with, teaching, trying to pass along information to younger guys on the team that may even be guys that could replace them at some point. I talked about LB
Q: You’ve said you feel like you’ve made progress every day this week. When was the last time you felt like you didn’t?
HALEY: “I don’t know, it’s been a long time. It really has. Without beating a dead horse, I felt last year, one of the things I was really encouraged about heading into the off-season when last year ended, we were standing in Denver in the locker room was I could feel that we were making progress and I could feel that for many weeks leading up to that game, there just wasn’t a reward at many of those. When you feel some of the difficulties and tumultuous times that we had early out of the gate last year, really from day one until we got to that second half of the season, then I started to feel us making consistent progress, so it’s been a long time. That’s not to say we’re perfect. These days when I talk about progress, it’s not perfection. There are ups and downs each and every day but as long as there’s more ups than downs, then I know we’re making progress.”