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Q&A with Todd Haley 10/3

Posted Oct 3, 2011

OPENING REMARKS: “Had a chance now to look through the tape. I think a tremendous win, first of all, for the guys who have worked real hard to be able to see some success. That’s what this is all about, to feel good after a game and they were definitely able to feel good. I think great for our fans to get back here and make some plays and come out on top, great for them. Now that we’ve had a chance to look at it, we’ve got to continue to get better. We did some things a lot better in that game that I think made a difference overall in the game and the outcome of the game. I thought defensively against a really, really good back in Adrian Peterson that the defense really stepped up and did a great job versus that player. I said to them it’s just unfortunate that we get four reverses for about 67 yards, which made it look like maybe we didn’t do quite as good against the run. We’ve got to do a better job against those plays, but that back is really, really good and they really did a great job stuffing it up and keeping him from being a major factor. I thought offensively anybody involved in protection did a tremendous job really against a group that really can create some havoc. The offensive line, tight ends and backs all did a really, really good job against a good defensive line. Receivers, after the catch was tremendous. That was something we stressed all week and they did a great job, which really, ultimately I think was the difference in the game. Ryan Succop, I thought, tremendous job in the game. [Dustin] Colquitt, huge punt towards the end of the game. And then Javier [Arenas] would be the other guy with a standout performance as a returner, which allowed us to win the hidden yardage battle. That’s kind of how I think our games will go, so we’ve got to just keep getting better and clean up a bunch of the little things that could make a difference one way or the other and that’s what we’re doing right now and then we’ll be moving on to Indy.”

Q: Defensively, you’ve been much better the last two weeks. What has been the difference?

HALEY: “I think we’re getting better. Like I said yesterday, we’ve had to adjust a little bit how we’re playing defense. We’re not there yet, but I think the guys are playing better, understanding the defense a lot better and on top of that, not being put in such poor positions like they were early on or like we were early on in those first couple games. I think kind of a combination of things, but guys are playing with a great deal of pride, effort, motor and I think it showed the last couple weeks.”

Q: You said yesterday is how a lot of your games will go. What did you mean by that?

HALEY: “I think that’s kind of how we have to play to win. Defensively, we’ve got to try our best to stop the run, and we did for the most part. Like I said, we’ve got to do a better job on those reverses because that was a big chunk of yardage that really could have hurt us more. We need to stop the run. We need to keep big plays from happening. Now, there were a couple big plays in there, a couple of those were the reverses. As best we can, we can’t allow big plays to occur. And then we’ve got to win on special teams, which I believe we clearly won on special teams yesterday. Then offensively, we’ve got to run the ball and stick with the plan and make plays in the passing game without maybe taking too much risk, which potentially could then put our team in a bad position. Really, the last couple weeks is how we have to play. The run after catch improved, the kicking game improved and the return game stayed at a high level. I think defensively we’ve just got to keep getting better.”

Q: There was a stat last week about missed tackles where you guys were right near the bottom. Was that another point of emphasis that you had last week?

HALEY: “We’ve been emphasizing tackling all along and we do and we practice it. It’s one of the limitations of being in pads only once a week. You really can only practice it one time a week, really practice. We’ve been emphasizing tackling and missed tackles happen for different reasons, and again, I think as a coaching staff we’ve just got to continue to try to put our guys in the best position to succeed and be in a position to tackle or a fair position to tackle because sometimes it’s a little different when you’re in a one-on-one situation as opposed to a couple lines of defense. That’s what we’re working on and I think we’re getting better. I know we’re getting better and we’ve just got to make sure that we continue to do that.”

Q: Did you see any difference yesterday as opposed to the first three games?

HALEY: “We had some missed tackles yesterday that I would have liked them to have not had, but I thought the last two weeks overall defense has been clearly better. I think that’s for a lot of different reasons and some of those are field position and some of them are where you are in the game and how close the game is. It’s clearly better the last couple weeks, and yesterday, like I said, we had a couple missed tackles that I’d like not to have, but the overall effort to the ball carrier was tremendous. I think when guys did miss or had a hard time getting a really good back down that breaks a lot of tackles, there were reinforcements coming in.”

Q: What did you see in Matt Cassel’s game that was different allowed him to turn it on after your sideline argument?

HALEY: “I think Matt is no different really than everybody else on this team. We’ve just got to make sure that we keep getting better. He did some things in the game that he probably can’t do and won’t get away with and then he did some things the way that he has to do them and generally those were pretty good plays. With Matt, he’s got to stay on top of the little things that he knows that maybe give him problems or put him in a lesser position to succeed and I don’t think a lot of it has to do with sideline anything. I just think it has to do with making sure that those things don’t happen with him and when they don’t happen he’s a pretty good quarterback.”

Q: When you say things he can and can’t do, things he can/can’t get away with, what do you mean by that?

HALEY: “Well, I’m not going to get into specifics, but there are some clear-cut things that we work on and have been working on for a number of years here and they say old habits never die. We’re just trying to make sure we stay on top of him with those certain things that have a direct outcome in how he generally plays in the passing game.”

Q: With the emergence of Steve Breaston and Dwayne Bowe over the last couple weeks, is that because of them or is that because of Cassel?

HALEY: “I think a little bit of both. I think they all work together. It’s an 11-man operation on offense and everybody has to be doing their job. It won’t ever generally come down to just one guy. Everybody’s got to be doing their job. If everybody’s doing it that way and the way they need to be doing it, then good things generally happen if guys make the plays. I thought all though all those receivers did a terrific job of focusing all week on catching the ball and getting up field and I think it showed some in the game. When your run-after-catch as a receiver group from zero in one game to 90-something yards in the next one, that’s a good thing. But the quarterback still has to throw it, we still have to protect and that allows the quarterback to make accurate throws and when that happens, then one thing helps create the other. All those guys came to play and I’m excited that they’re able to get the good results so they could be excited and kind of build off some of the confidence that was built the week before in San Diego. Now we’re putting this quarter behind us, and the month of September, which thankfully we were able to put behind us Saturday and not Sunday and we’re starting 0-0. It’s important that our guys understand what gives them the best chance to win and compete and be successful and that we don’t do some of those things that we did early on in the first quarter of the season that gave us no chance.”

Q: What did you learn from the first quarter of the season?

HALEY: “That we’ve got a tough, resilient bunch of guys that care. That’s really important. They fight and they’re going to fight to win and to be a good team and I believe we will do that. We just have to make sure we’re getting better every day.”

Q: Someone once said that the starting quarterback has to be an extension of the head coach – you have to have a relationship. Does he have to push back sometimes and is that good for the whole team when they see their quarterback push back?

HALEY: “Like I said, you’ve got a bunch of guys that are really passionate about being better and being good and being a part of a good team. When you have passionate guys that care, I would expect there to be some emotion. Like I always tell them, what’s important is you move forward and everybody’s on the same page and that the coaching is done however it’s done, but the points are made and the players then respond and do what and how they’re supposed to do it. That happened yesterday for sure.”

Q: One of the things you talked to Matt Cassel about after 2009 was being more vocal, especially with his teammates. Has that growth happened in the past two years?

HALEY: “Yeah, I think it has. He’s clearly grown as a quarterback and a leader and that’s good for all of us and the quarterback has to be one of the primary leaders of the team, specifically the offense, and that’s what Matt’s worked hard at. When you have games like yesterday, where you’re kind of going back and forth and you’re in a game that could go either way, then the guys on that side of the ball step up – in addition to the defense which had been playing hard and making some plays – the offense steps up and starts to take over a little bit, that’s a good thing and a good sign.”

Q: You said old habits die hard. It seemed like last year he didn’t have any bad habits. Did he revert back to some bad habits in your opinion?

HALEY: “I’ve said in here a number of times in here though that if you judged last year too early I think you would have not believed or thought that the results could go the way that they went last year. I’ll say a quarterback’s number one statistic is win-loss. But early on, I think from the quarterback standpoint, if you judged it too early, you might have been too quick to judge. There were old habits, early on especially, that we had to get after pretty hard to get into putting Matt back into a position where he could succeed or had the best chance to succeed.”

Q: When you have these inspirational discussions with your players on the sidelines, how much of that is just your passion and intensity that showsup briefly and how much of that is thought out, or how much do you try to provoke a reaction?

HALEY: “I think a little bit of both. There’s got to be something to provoke a reaction. In some cases those are a little easier to find than others. Really it just comes down to bottom-line, there are certain things that you have to do in executing at the quarterback position – all positions really there are certain critical factors that you’re ability to succeed comes down to – and if you’re not doing those, then it’s going to be a problem with the overall execution. There has to be something to provoke it, but I think it’s a little bit of both.”

Q: How did Donald Washington play this week?

HALEY: “I think Donald’s making progress. He’s kind of got an opportunity here that I know he’s excited about and he stepped in and he made a bunch of real good plays for us. He’s got some others that he’s got to continue to work on like everybody else, but he’s another third-year player that missed an offseason this year and that slowed everybody down, but especially those one-, two- and three-year players, missing an offseason could have potentially really hurt a bunch of them. He’s making progress and he needs to, like everybody else, because we’re making progress and we just need to make sure that continues.”

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