Defensively, I think we were unable to stop San Diego in the run game which was our number one key – make them one-dimensional – and we could not stop the run game for a number of different reasons. Also, an 11-man defense. Then special teams, a game that we felt like we had to win the special teams, we clearly did not and that’s how you have games like yesterday.
As far as our guys and our team, this is not going to be a game that we dwell on much like any of the other games this year, win or loss, we are 0-1 trying to get to 1-1. Right now as we speak they’re starting to work on St. Louis as a group, offensively and defensively and we need to have our best week of preparation and this now becomes the biggest game of the year for us. We’ve got to find a way to do a better job of responding to that, which we’ve done certain times this year, we’ve overcome a couple real devastating, heart-breaking losses as I said yesterday, really heart-breaking losses and a couple of those have come at the start of quarters of the season and we found a way in the last quarter to start really in a very similar game – it was 35-0 at one point to open the third quarter against Denver – we were able to get back, get together as a team, get to work on the little things and find a way to have some success last quarter against Arizona, Seattle and then Denver. In the second quarter, we started with a devastating loss against Houston, we found a way to pull together as a team and comes back and get a couple big wins for us. We do have some experience to draw on, but that experience will have nothing to do with this week, all it will do is it will give us a couple examples of how we’ve been able to respond. This is a new week, a new quarter, a new team and we’ve got to get back to work on the little things; this time of year in December, the little things become even more critical and that’s what ultimately wins and losses games for you. That’s what we’re working on. They’re on St. Louis right now, that’s our coaches’ and our players’ focus.”
Q: With some of the other losses you mentioned, there seemed to at least be some positives that you could pull from those games like getting the passing game going in Denver. Are there any positives that you can pull from going forward?
HALEY: “I think there are for sure positives, there are individual positives, which I won’t get into. But defensively, much like you referenced the Denver game; the offense was able to figure some things out and did some good things in the second half that maybe springboarded us going forward. Defensively yesterday, on a difficult day where they were out there for a long amount of time against a highly-skilled team and three runners that were really running and a quarterback that’s playing well, they were able to pull together and get a couple turnovers that had we been able to do anything with, might have given us a little boost. I don’t think you can get just lost in the score. I think we have to understand that those guys, they fought it out, they found a way to make a couple plays. We ended up in the plus turnover, on the road, which if you finish plus-two on the road, it’s almost 85 percent win – we bucked the trend – but I know that’s a positive. Really though, that’s now what it’s about for us. These games, win or loss, I think what I’ve been very consistent with our team is we’ve got to move on and we’ve done a very good job of moving on, win or lose. Now we just have to do the same thing; we’ve got to move on; we’ve got to move forward and get to work, which they are right now. We had a great team lift and run in there. I was down there for most of the hour and that’s a good remedy, sweating together, working together. These guys have worked hard from day one and they’ve put a lot of sacrifice and sweat into it so sweating together was a good remedy and you could see as the time went on they started to perk up. We’ve got to do just what we’ve done throughout the year – move on. We cannot let a big win or a tragic loss drag you down. If you do, you’ll be sorry and that’s kind of been our M.O., what we’ve preached and what we’ll continue to preach and the guys have done a good job of paying attention to.”
Q: Are there similarities in how San Diego ran against you and how Denver ran against you?
HALEY: “No. They ran a couple of the same plays but we got beat. We didn’t do things that we’ve done successfully throughout the year on defense. We were in position and we missed tackles, which is not something we’ve done a lot of this year – when we’ve been in position, we’ve been a pretty good fundamental tackling team and we’ve tackled. Yesterday we did not do that. We as a coaching staff, we have to do a much better job here of making sure that our guys understand what they need to do from a fundamental (side) – the little things, like I said the little things, this time of year, that’s really what we’re trying to help our guys understand is you get away with some little things every once in awhile, especially early in the year, but this time of year, the fourth quarter of the season, you’re not going to so your fundamentals have to be right on point and yesterday they weren’t.”
Q: You’re still working on that at this point in the year?
HALEY: “We have, we’ve been doing it. Like I said, I thought we had a good week of practice last week and it didn’t carry over this week for a lot of different reasons, but none that aren’t fixable. I think the guys understand what the focus is, where their attention has to be and how much attention there has to be on it and they’re working right now and I think excited about working at it.”
Q: It seemed like your team maybe have missed the conversation about stepping up in performance and intensity as you get into the later quarters. They didn’t match the intensity of the San Diego Chargers this weekend did they?
HALEY: “Yeah, and you will get exposed if you don’t this time of year against good teams. Our focus is on trying to become a good team. We know that we’re not there yet, it’s been very clear a number of different times throughout the year and we’ve shown a lot of good signs and good indicators that we’re making progress in becoming a good team but we’re clearly not there yet. That team we played yesterday is in that category and they’ve been there a number of years and there’s a lot to be learned from that.”
Q: What surprised you most about how the team played yesterday?
HALEY: “I don’t know if I could ever even put the word surprised in there. It just was a disappointing, devastating loss because that was our biggest game of the year and we didn’t coach up to the level and we didn’t play up to the level and that makes it very disappointing and heart-wrenching, gut-wrenching. The positive is we have three games left in this quarter and we’re trying to win the quarter and it’s got to start this week against St. Louis. That’s what we’re going to put all of our efforts, concentration and passion into.”
Q: Are you bothered by the level of effort you saw yesterday?
HALEY: “I’m bothered by the result. As I’ve said in here over and over again, the result of the game is determined by who plays better and that was clearly the case yesterday. San Diego played better than the Kansas City Chiefs and that’s always going to hurt and always going to make you feel bad because we all put so much into this and when it goes that way, it’s not worth it.”
Q: Not implying that you would have won the game if QB
HALEY: “I really can’t answer that, Adam. I don’t know what would’ve made a difference yesterday. Just like a few weeks ago in our first game against Denver, there wasn’t going to be something that made the difference, it’s a team effort, team loss and when I say team I mean our entire squad and coaches and we need to get back to (it), put our noses down, get back to the grindstone and get grinding. This week’s going to go fast just like each and every week does and we’ve got to be ready to go.”
Q: After the game last night, whether on the plane or even this morning, did you have conversations with any of these young guys, did they come to you and say that they understand now what you are trying to tell them?
HALEY: “Well Bob, it’s frustrating whenever you’re delayed, especially when you know you’re going to get back late, I always make passes back through amongst the players and it gave me a lot of time, I went back through and talked to each and every guy and it was actually really good I thought time spent. We’re a developing team and as I’ve said, there’s so much from us to learn from each and every experience, that you’re learning from it, that you’re taking something out of each game, each practice and figure out a way to make yourself better. That’s how we’re going to be a good team year-in and year-out: staying on course and not deviating from that and understanding that we’re not there and what exactly we are: we’re a transitioning team trying to become a good team and we’re working really hard at it and there have been some real positive experiences and there have been some real negative experiences but the key is we move forward to and get ready to try and play our best game of the year this week.”
Q: What’s your evaluation of QB
HALEY: “In a game like yesterday I’m just not going to get into anybody’s evaluation because it was a complete team loss. When I say that I’m talking about all of us and you can’t have a result like that without it being everybody. We had some positives but I surely am not going to point out either/or today, tomorrow, any day. We know what it was; I think it was pretty obvious out there that we got it handed to us by a good team. We need to be better and so we’re going to do everything we can to try to figure out a way to get better this week.”
Q: Can you beat the Rams in St. Louis with Croyle as your quarterback?
HALEY: “I have the upmost confidence in our players, in Brodie. I think that he is disappointed because he has worked very hard to get an opportunity and when it goes like that it is gut wrenching. Of all the players on our team the backup quarterback is one that really hasn’t gotten to play a bunch at all. He got an opportunity and I know that he wanted it to go better. Make no mistake, it was an 11-man offensive operation and it was not Brodie Croyle. That was not the difference. It didn’t matter who was in there yesterday, with how the 11-man operation went the result was not going to be good.”
Q: Can you give us an update on the status of QB Matt Cassel?
HALEY: “Wednesday we will know a lot more and Wednesday is the key day. We will be a lot further along, so I will let you know at that point.”
Q: What are his spirits like right now?
HALEY: “I have talked to him a bunch. He is down like everybody else.”
Q: Are you seeing major differences with the way you guys play at home versus on the road?
HALEY: “When you have won them all at home you are going to say that the road is a bad place. It is hard to win in the NFL week to week and we have had some good performances on the road and we have had some poor performances on the road. We went to play Seattle that is one of the most difficult places to play in the league and barring a couple mental mishaps that was a dominating performance on the road in a difficult place to play. It is what it is, when you play better than your opponent you win. There are some times we have done that on the road and other times we haven’t. It just so happens that at home we have played better than our opponent each time.”
Q: Did you approach yesterday’s game with a more cautious approach with Croyle since he hadn’t played?
HALEY: “When you have a guy that hasn’t played in an extended amount of time I don’t think you can just plug him in and expect him to do the job. That is not going to happen very often. Each week we have a tailored game plan for each guy (quarterback). In our case we have just had one backup each game of the year. For that backup we tailor a game plan the best we can to where his comfort level is as high as you can get it. You are going on the road against a very good team, we needed to do a lot of things a lot better but we just didn’t do them. As a coaching staff we are trying to play to our players strengths and when it comes to a guy that hasn’t played in a game, in live action, we tried to do a bunch of different things to get him more comfortable. If you don’t get into any type of rhythm then he is going to have no shot. When you have 16 or 17 plays in the first half it is almost impossible. Like I said, that is an 11-man deal. Part of it him, part everyone else that was out there and part coaches. We were unable to get any kind of rhythm going offensively that would have enabled Brodie a chance to succeed and to have a chance for us to succeed. That we have to learn from and figure out a way to not let that happen.”
Q: Was it good that Brodie was able to get out of the game without any turnovers?
HALEY: “That part was good. We knew we would have had no chance if we turned it over. As it was we didn’t turn it over and we still were far from even being in the game. Minus plays were another key in that game and we just went backwards too many times. We didn’t have a million penalties but each one was a critical one that set us back and kept us from establishing any rhythm or momentum. The defense made a couple plays there to start the second half which indicated we were fighting to find a way to get back into the game and we just were unable to get any kind of rhythm offensively to get momentum for anybody. It went the way that it went, now we just have to make sure that win or lose we move on and get ready to try and play our best game of the year and make sure we are getting better each and every day this week starting today.”