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Q&A with Todd Haley 11/11

Posted Nov 11, 2010

Highlights

OPENING REMARKS: “We continued our preparation for the Denver Broncos. I felt like we had a good practice out there. I felt like we made progress as a team today. These games, week in and week out you see it, I think right around 50 percent of the games are being decided by seven points or less. It’s something I talk to our team about at the start of every week and when games are coming down to that margin, we’ve been in five of those I believe and we’ve been in another three that have been three points or less and that’s just life in the NFL for a team trying to become a good team. When the games are coming down to those small margins, I think it really continues to make it stand out how important it is for you to play smart football and just do things that give you a chance to win, which generally comes down to making fewer mistakes than your opponent which will allow you to play better than your opponent. That’s what we need to work on, continue to work on and we’ll watch the tape and have a little meeting this afternoon with them. They’ll have a lift, the ones who haven’t gotten their lifts in and then this game will be moving at us pretty quickly.”

 

Q: Is Denver QB Kyle Orton a better quarterback than the public perception of him is?

HALEY: “I think that you talk about players that are maybe underrated or underappreciated, he’s definitely one of those guys. I don’t think he’s quite in the category where he was. It think now he’s on the map and people realize that this is a pretty good quarterback and obviously knows how to lead a team, knows how to throw the football and knows how to throw it efficiently and effectively. He’s a good quarterback and he does a very good job of like I said, of understanding the concepts that they’re throwing, the progression involved and then does a very good job of getting the ball to the receiver that it appears that he should be getting it to. I think that’s reflected in some of their production – they have a bunch of guys that have a bunch of questions and they all have different strengths, starting with WR Jabar Gaffney. They’re a talented team that like I said, their record doesn’t necessarily reflect the team that they really are.”

Q: What’s Gaffney’s strength?

HALEY: “To me, you hate to use the word possession but it looks to me that he has a very good understanding of zone concepts, when zone is being played, he has a great understanding of how to create space within the defensive coverage to get open. That’s a great trait to have for a receiver. On top of that, I think he carries his pads well, he’s quick, he’s got plenty of speed to hurt you obviously and he’s got good hands. I think again, their receivers across the board are maybe, at least to start the year, an underrated group that people weren’t talking a lot about but I’m sure in our fantasy football world that we live in today, that there are a lot of people who have been grabbing Denver Bronco receivers.”

Q: What would you say WR Brandon Lloyd’s strength is?

HALEY: “Brandon’s a guy that when I was with the Bears we worked out in our local workout, I forget exactly where it may have been strictly because of where he went to school but I’m not sure where he’s from. He was an explosive guy then. You could see that natural explosion to the ball and he shows that and he showed that throughout his career, I think he’s just doing it a little more consistently now. When I talk about natural explosion, certain guys just have that natural gift of when the ball is in the air, they can get to it, they have a second, third, fourth gear that allows them to get to the football. Special receivers have that trait but they don’t all have it. He definitely has it. You see him make a play in the Baltimore game, that’s one of the great plays I’ve seen from a receiver. They ran a little in-pump and it was a terrific throw but when the ball went up, you said no way, then when the ball was halfway there you said no way, and probably when it was about 10 feet from him you said no way, and he still was able to explode to the football, full extension and that’s an art for a receiver, I think. To have the guys that can do that at the last minute, know exactly when to time that extension to the football, what a great play it was.”

Q: Gaffney was one of the bright spots for Denver in last year’s final game. Do you take that tape and show your DBs where the holes in the zone coverage were last year that he was able to exploit for his big day?

HALEY: “Yeah, that tape’s definitely in our cut up because again, when you’re putting your scouting report together, you try to find teams that are similar to you so anytime you can put yourself in there, even though we’ve changed some personnel since that game, they’ve got a lot of the same people there, the quarterback, the receivers, the backs, there’s a bunch of carryover there for us. I would say in that game there were more positives (for Denver) than Jabar but we were just able to make some plays there at the end to give us a chance to win. You don’t have to watch much of that game to realize that Gaffney can play.”

Q: Do you seek out extra advice this week from all the guys that you have who are familiar with Josh McDaniels or do you just rely on the games you coached against them last year?

HALEY: “I think that familiarity always helps but that being said, enough changes through the evolution of each year, the way that things go, there are enough changes and adjustments that go on in the off-season, within the season, all the time that occurs that I just think you’ve got to be careful for things we’ve talked about in here about putting too much stock in that. You definitely see, as I watch the tape, I see a lot of similar things being done from last year and then things that I remember seeing when I used to poach plays off the New England Patriots as an assistant coach. Believe it or not, there are concepts that they’re running and that we’re running that go back to the ’90s and I’m guessing probably the same words. That’s the interesting thing with terminology and offenses. The bottom line for us is us and I think that my philosophy as a head coach and our philosophy as a staff is what I’ve learned over and over for many, many years and it was pounded into my brain is do what your players can do. Don’t fit round pegs in square holes or vice versa or you’ll get yourself in trouble. What I’ve always taken a great deal of pride in and continue to is take the players that you have and figure out what they do best and that’s why you’ll hear me say system or non-system, I do not want us to really ever been seen as a system team. I want us to be seen as a team that gets good football players in here and then knows how to use them to the best of their abilities and I think that’s how you become a good football team year-in and year-out.”

Q: I know no one is 100 percent, but halfway through the year you don’t have major injury issues. How rare is that at this point in time?

HALEY: “I feel like you’re doing that just to tempt fate. I don’t know, I don’t have an answer for that. All I know is we work awfully hard all off-season, in season and continue the strength and conditioning program all the way through the season and myself and our strength coach, Mike Clark, and Brent Salazar, we work really hard at a pregame plan at the start of the year of how we wanted to do things in the off-season and in season along with Dave Price, our trainer, to give us the best chance to be a healthy, fit team that could stay as injury-free as possible and you can do all that and still have some bad luck. That goes on and that’s part of the NFL. All we’re trying to do is just continue to keep our guys in shape and get stronger, not trying to stay the same, and we work hard at it. Hopefully, in some way, somewhere it pays off but you won’t really ever know that, I won’t know it really.”

Q: Is the altitude not a big deal because of how fit this team is right now?

HALEY: “I think probably first and foremost we’ve had enough guys that have gone out there and played, we have a bunch of coaches, myself included, that have coached in a lot of games out there and like I said, we’ve got some real good people here, Mike Clark, our strength coach is very well-educated – that’s what I liked about him so much when I interviewed him that he’s got a broad-base knowledge of a lot of different things – time zones and altitude and he’s kind of into that stuff and Brent is also, Brent being a Colorado guy. Those are all just things you have some discussion over without over coaching it and just try to get a game plan for how you want to do things and go in there and handle things. Then the biggest thing you can do is have some games to look at from the past that you can that you were able to go in and do things the way you wanted to do things.”

Q: In pre-, pregame, it seems to vary from week to week with guys, but Mike Clark is out there on the field putting them through a workout before they even come out for pregame. Is that just there for them to use or is there a specific plan?

HALEY: “I think it’s all planned and Mike and I have a common belief on that, and going way back to ’97 when I was coaching receivers, I started to develop a though-process or saw a great benefit when I was able to take the receivers out there and started just with me throwing to them and we actually got a workout before the workout and I felt like it paid dividends and why I started it was so receivers, we were having some drop problems, WR Keyshawn (Johnson) in particular, and it seemed like early in games when he was a little over-wired up so I thought, let’s work a sweat, maybe a pre-race trot and get a little sweat going. It seemed to pay dividends, it’s something that I’ve always believed in and it’s evolved into a pretty intricate process at times of receivers running through the routes working the field, quarterbacks, all those things. He came to me and he said it’s something that he’s started to really believe in and as you read up on things around the league, there are some colleges, Oregon has some interesting things they’re dong as far as pregame activities. It’s part of the outside-the-box way of thinking – let’s not just do things they’ve always been done, let’s see if there’s a better way.”

Q: Do you have examples of things that you do differently as only the head coach of this football team opposed to being the offensive coordinator as well?

HALEY: “There are too many to count, way too many to talk about. I will try to come up with a specific but the important thing to understand for everyone is that long before I was even ever offered a job I developed the philosophy of what I would do if I ever did get a job, how I wanted to operate as a head coach and the key word there is head coach. Again, before I was even in the mix of jobs I knew in my mind through my experiences and through what I had seen that the way I felt was the best way to run the operation if ever given the chance and that was to coach the offense, to coach the defense, to coach the special teams and just as important to coach your coaches. I think that you can do it a lot of different ways and that has been proven. But the way that I believe in is this way. Last year out of necessity I had to go about it a little different than I had originally planned but was able through this off-season to get enough people in place, enough good coaches. I shouldn’t say good coaches because I don’t mean any disrespect because I was excited about everybody I got coming out of the gate. It is a bit of a process and it takes a little time and I don’t know that it is over now. You do need to have good players and you do need to have good coaches, that is critical. I feel like we are operating efficiently as a staff which is really good and allows me to operate efficiently as the head coach and that involves coaching the defense, offense, special teams and the coaches. You have to be on top of everything. With that being said it has allowed me to have more time. There is not enough time in the day as it is when you are trying to also be involved in a game plan. I am involved in all three areas right now it is just not at the level that you have to be if you are the coordinator where you have to devote every ounce of time to the offense in offensive meetings or defense. By having that time I am able to do a lot of things that I would not be able to do and that is part of why my philosophy and beliefs are what they are that why I would want to, if ever given the opportunity to be the head coach and have coordinators in place of all three phases so that I can be the head coach. That is through time, experience, mentors, watching how I think things have been done the best over time. A specific example is that I am big into highlight tapes and spend a lot of time in the video room with my creative juices flowing putting some of those together which I think help in some small way. Anything you think that can have a benefit or help, you better be working on or doing it. It just gives you more time to step back and look at the big picture. This is a long rambling answer but, I think I should make the point that each assistant coach has an agenda. That is the way it should be, but only when you are the head coach, even myself as the offensive coordinator last year or the so-called offensive coordinator, I think we were a group of offensive coaches trying to get the job done but someone has to organize those thoughts and finalize the ideas and all of those things. You just can’t help it because when you are coaching a portion of the team, whether it is a position or you are a coordinator it is human nature to have an agenda. Your agenda should be for that group to be the best that they can possibly be. Only as the head coach can you step back and take all of those agendas and put them aside to figure out the best decision for the team. That is what I am able to do and that is the biggest thing and the biggest reason that I believe the way that I believe. This is the most efficient way to be a good team year in and year out.”

Q: In training camp you said you were gravitating towards the defense a little more. Has that continued and does that include specific play calling?

HALEY: “A little bit of everything. I want to learn and what I have really enjoyed to this point is learning more about defense from a defensive perspective. I had a really good perspective about the defense from an offensive perspective. That is one of the benefits that I was able to give to our defensive coaches last year and this year. We don’t have any coaches, I don’t think, that started on offense and ended up on defense, at least not anytime in the recent past. I have had time now to learn more about defense and specifics and techniques and why we want to do things a certain way. Because of that, as you gain a knowledge of some of the little things that you do that I may not of understood completely from an offensive perspective, then you are able to offer your thoughts and ideas and I do that in all three phases. I spend a little time with each group and then we have a big staff meeting. With us all in there together I continue to talk about all three phases which is an important part of this process of all of our coaches trying to step away from their small group or their area and see the big picture. I think the more we all do that, the better we become and the more efficient we become as a staff. Those are some long answers but I can talk about that forever.”

Q: Can you talk about the drill with the defensive backs today that you participated in and ended up on the ground with your hat off?

HALEY: “I caught the ball, Bob which is more than most of them did. No, in our effort to try to disrupt the football and create turnovers I offered up to our defensive backs coach an old receiver drill, a distraction drill and the DBs got exposed of why they are DBs because if they would have done better in that drill they would have been receivers with as fast as they are and as big as they are. They were struggling and I heard a little chirping and nobody was concentrating on the ball the way that they should so I said, ‘you want me to do?’ Now I took a little run for it but Otis (Smith) is going to pay because for him to throw the ball out there five feet in front of me and make me have to leave my feet to fully extend like WR Brandon Lloyd and catch it like I did, hopefully there is a video of it somewhere. That is how it happened but every once in awhile you have to step up to the plate if you run your mouth too much.”

Q: There have been some big special teams returns these past couple games. What are you seeing and how are you addressing it?

HALEY: “I think this comes back to, you are what you are, you are not what you were. Each game has no bearing on the next game and though we statistically still looked like we did on special teams I think some guys fell into the trap of thinking it was going to happen on their own and it isn’t one thing, it is 11 guys playing together and using the proper technique, doing what they are supposed to do and we just had a misfit here. One misfit led to an additional misfit and that is how things happen. It is the same way with defense. If you have one guy that doesn’t do his job, now you have a chain of events that usually don’t work out very well in this league. We are starting the third quarter of the season this week 0-0. We have to make sure that we are doing the things that we have to do to be a good football team or to become a good football team and have chances to win. One of those is being disciplined and playing the proper technique.”

Q: Did you see QB Matt Cassel on television last night?

HALEY: “I did not see any television last night at all. I hope he wasn’t doing anything bad.”

Q: How does it change your relationship with the players being a head coach?

HALEY: “I think that is an excellent question because last year we went through training camp basically and I had it one way and then made adjustments. I could definitely feel when I got into that role (as offensive coordinator) that all the sudden I was more involved on a daily basis with a certain group of players but at the same time I was having to work hard last year to stay in touch with the other areas of the football team and it just confirmed to me what I already knew, that I wanted to do it a certain way. As soon as I could I was going to do that which ended up being the end of last year and this off-season. I think that is part of learning to be a head coach and it takes time. Definitely one of the things that I have realized quickly on this job last year is that this is different. You are not sitting in a classroom with a smaller group of guys, you are trying to show your personality and who you are to a much larger group of men and I think that part of that is the way that I coach and the way that I constantly push and don’t let up. The players understand that I care and I don’t think that happens over night when you take on a group as large as you have to as a head coach. I do think that takes some time but I think through time, more and more of these guys know what I am about. That is part of the process just like I know so much more about them, especially the ones that have been here for a year and a half.”

Q: Do you make a point to try and show these guys who you are?

HALEY: “I just try to be myself. I think if you do that, if you are who you are the guys will figure that out. I like to think that people think that I care but that is not what is important to me. What is important is that these guys know that I care. I think you just be yourself and that will come out some way or another.”

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