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Q&A with Todd Haley 12/2

Posted Dec 2, 2010

Highlights

OPENING REMARKS: “Good afternoon everyone. We got through our Thursday practice where we got a review on first and second down and then started into our third down, which will be a critical part of this game on both sides. We got in some punt, punt return, other critical parts of the game; especially with their return game and WR (Eddie) Royal back there is very, very dangerous. It’s an area of play that has to pick up for us – all phases of special teams here as we move forward; we really think we’ve got to get going. That’s a tough part of the NFL year is when you do have injuries and changes in personnel, you’re swapping in and out and sometimes it’s special teams that suffers as much as anything else because some of the guys that have been core players for you on special teams are now moving up and are playing more defense so you’ve got to back off on them on special teams. It becomes a revolving door of development. It leads itself back to what our main purpose is, to try to develop the players on our roster and keep getting better. Like I’ve said a bunch of times, this game is coming fast now. I’m excited about the fact that we’re back at Arrowhead and I’m really excited about our fans having a chance to get back out there. I don’t know what our fans do on the weeks off, but I think just probably throw them raw meat and then get everybody back out there Sunday for what will be our biggest game of the year.”

 

Q: QB Matt Cassel was named the AFC Offensive Player of the Month. You’ve talked about his progress, but is this just a sign that all that progress is starting to click?

HALEY: “Yeah, I think it’s a very big award, especially with those Thanksgiving games you get to sit and watch some other teams and we as coaches are seeing a lot of teams play on tape and to be recognized like that is a great thing. I think what our guys recognize, and I won’t speak for Matt, but that just like we talk about an 11-man operation, when somebody gets recognized like that, it generally has a lot to do with a lot of people. And Matt is the first one saying that out there. It’s a great award and one that I’m very excited that Matt was recognized for and at the same time I think it’s a lot of our guys developing, continuing to get better just like Matt and working together as an offense and doing good things. That’s what we’ve got to make sure we continue take steps in a positive direction.”

Q: You’ve already said that you didn’t like the Oakland Raiders growing up. What did you think about the Denver Broncos growing up?

HALEY: “I always liked the ‘Orange Crush.’ I had that vibration football game, it was a big present that I really looked forward to all year and I finally got it and the Broncos were one of the teams on my game. I was kind of into DE Lyle Alzado and QB (Craig) Morton and I always kind of liked the Broncos cool uniforms, cool logo.”

Q: You actually like that game?

HALEY: “Yeah, yeah. That was a future coach’s dream. Set those until your dog bumped it or something and you had to reset the whole thing or your sister came and stomped on it to get you mad. I can remember it clearly, I had the Broncos.”

Q: This Chiefs-Broncos rivalry has intensified since you and Josh (McDaniels) both took over as coaches last year. What’s the value in have these two teams as rivals again for the teams or even just for the fans?

HALEY: “Well, I don’t know about that Kent. It’s a division opponent, and especially the way the schedule’s been set up which is a little unique, especially with a couple of the back-to-backers or pretty quick games, I think it makes for some interesting storylines. For us, it’s a division opponent that kicked the heck out of us just a short time ago. Since that time we’ve continued to grind it out and work and try to get better and got back on track and made some progress I believe. We got back on track and have made some progress I believe. We haven’t just gotten back to what we were doing, I feel like we’ve taken some steps in a positive direction so now we get another opportunity to play a team that really handled us quite easily. I know the guys, that’s what they’re looking is that it’s a division opponent that if we can get to three wins in this quarter, it would be really good for us. The guys understand that. Like I said, we reached three wins in the first quarter, we didn’t in the second and now in the third quarter, which is a critical phase of the season – this November/December period, we have a chance to get to three wins and the fact that it’s Denver just amps it up for everybody. That’s more for everybody else and really what we’re concerned with is just trying to get better and go out there and build on what we’ve done to this point.”

Q: You seem to appreciate a good rivalry and team history and league history. Do you like that it seems like these (AFC West) rivalries are intensifying as this team gets better? Do you like that this feeling is coming back?

HALEY: “I like playing division games when you’re getting better because I think they’re big games no matter what. There is a little added edge to them just in general because if you do happen to be in the mix at the end, they weigh a little more – division wins. Our goal each and every year is to win the division because that is our guaranteed way to get into the playoffs, which is what we’re doing all this for. That is what it’s all about is to try to get into the playoffs and by winning the division, which if you win your division games, it gives you a great chance to win the division. That’s really the big picture but for us and our focus of our guys and our team is really just to continue doing the things that we’ve been doing which is try to get better. This is a great test for us because you can’t ignore that tape and that’s the game that everybody in this building is watching a bunch of because it’s who you’re playing and it’s us playing them so it’s a tape you have to watch and it’s not fun to watch.”

Q: Every rivalry needs a villain. In Denver, you’re probably it. How do you like or dislike being the bad guy?

HALEY: “I don’t really get into that much. I just try to focus on what my job is and I’m trying to be the best that I can be.”

Q: You don’t mind being disliked by people in these other cities?

HALEY: “It’s human nature to want to be liked. I’ve got five kids that love me and a wife that loves me most of the time.”

Q: Do you ever look back at that Denver tape and wonder what went wrong out there because you guys had never played like that and Denver hadn’t beaten anyone like that yet in the season?

HALEY: “I think that one of the things that I did with that game was, I like to immediately review with the coaches and I’ll do that with every game, if you had to play them again right now, what would we do different? The fact that we’re playing them again so quick, like I said, it makes it a little more unique situation that we actually we’re doing that. We did that right after the game but we’re playing them pretty quick. We weren’t able to make it a game. They started fast and we never were able to even get into the type of football that we’ve done such a good job of playing to be in all these games. We’ve just got to make sure that we’re working hard, which I thought we had one of our better practices today, we really did. We were in pads for most of practice and the guys seemed to relish it and we were working hard and it was a beautiful day so it was a great day to be a part of this today.”

Q: Nobody likes to lose and I hate to hear people say that was a good loss, but was it possibly a good thing for you and the team to get beat like that at that point in the season?

HALEY: “I wouldn’t ever say that, Bob. I just don’t believe in that. I just think that there were good things that came out of it, like I said; I think our offense in the last three quarters of that game, especially the second half, we were again drawing in the dirt a bunch of plays because of the situation. Our guys came together and I think that kind of happened throughout the team. It was a team loss and when you suffer a loss like that, sometimes what you’ve seen happen is finger pointing or guys don’t want to be part of it and they want to make it about somebody else but our guys, as we’ve done all year, we’re becoming a team. We are a team but we’re becoming a close-knit team that those relationships are building and getting stronger and the guys care about each other. It was a difficult, difficult day but that’s life and I do think a bunch of positives came out of it for us.”

Q: The passing game was very positive as well. Can you talk about that?

HALEY: “That is what I was referring to really. I think offensively our guys came together and found something out about their selves. We were able to move the ball up and down the field and that is an area we didn’t have to rely on a whole bunch and it is not the way we are building our team but we saw some good things come out of that. Even defensively the guys fought together and didn’t want to come off the field when I was trying to make changes to get other guys in there and maybe protect some guys. I was told by a handful of guys, ‘I’m not going out, I’m going down with the ship.’ There was a lot of good that came out of it but it wasn’t fun and it wasn’t good.”

Q: What have you seen in RB Jamaal Charles in his growth as a running back?

HALEY: “I think he has gotten better in a lot of different areas. The number one area that he just continues to make progress in is in protection. I think with a year and three quarters under his belt of understanding protections has really helped him. That is an area early on that there wasn’t a great feeling of trust early on in that area and that is an area that our backs have to be really good in. That is one of the things that slowed down his progress early on but I think that you can look at that game last week and you saw some really good inside running. Like I said, we have a unique group and a very versatile group. I think to keep from becoming too predictable it is very important that Jamaal can run well inside and Thomas (Jones) can run well outside and we don’t just say, ‘well this one does that and the other one does this.’ I think in that game you saw Jamaal run very well inside. He has continued to be a bigger and bigger part of our passing game which is a really good thing for a running back. I just think he is progressing and he is developing. When you see someone come on strong like last year it is easy to say, ‘well he was great, where the heck was he?’ This has been a development for Jamaal and I think that is a testament to our coaches and working hard as well as Jamaal understanding what he is being coached to do and how he is being coached to do it. He is listening and understanding as all the backs are and they continue to make progress.”

Q: Is one of the hurdles Charles had to overcome the fact that he came from Texas, he was very successful and fast and seemingly had it all?

HALEY: “You would have to ask Jamaal that but he is a very gifted player. I don’t think there are many people that can run the way that he runs. He just glides, he runs as fast and easy as I have ever seen anybody run. He is developing and he has worked hard at developing and it is not just his physical being, it is mental. Listening to Jamaal talk and what is important to him now, he has grown up before our eyes, much like a bunch of these guys. That is very fulfilling to us as coaches. When coaches are working as hard as they have been working and you fight through some difficult times that is the reward for coaches other than a win.”

Q: Sometimes he takes some vicious hits. Do you every stand there and hope that he gets up? It seems like he always gets up.

HALEY: “I know he is tough. He is mentally tough, he is physically tough and he has become so much more mentally tough, that is where the change has occurred. I think everyone has it in them and it takes really good coaching to sometimes bring out that aspect of mental toughness.”

Q: Do you realize that you have been brought into a hate-hate relationship with the rivalry and the non-handshake added fuel to the rivalry?

HALEY: “I’m not a part of anything with the word hate, but like I said, we have moved on and I apologized for a reason because I believe in doing what is right. I let some things get in the way of that and that is why I stood up and made right, at least the way I felt to make right. Now we have moved on.”

Q: Do you realize the fans are heavily involved in this rivalry and may be rooting for you to not shake hands postgame?

HALEY: “I just want them to root for the Kansas City Chiefs as hard and loud as they can. Each game has gotten bigger and this is our biggest game to date and we need all hands on deck.”

Q: You had your kicker working on tackling. Why?

HALEY: “Because we have a big strong kicker and I don’t know that he has ever been taught to tackle so we have to make sure that we are on that because he is one of the 11 out there when we kick the ball. He has to be able to tackle because he is the last line of defense sometimes. He is another young developing player and that is something that we don’t always see or make a big deal of, but when you do have a big strong kicker like Ryan, someone who is athletic and can run, he has played a lot of soccer in his life and didn’t work on a whole bunch of tackling.”

Q: So it was more of a leave no stone unturned type deal?

HALEY: “Yeah, we have done it a couple times with those guys and we just have to make sure that we stay on it because it is easily forgotten sometimes for those guys.”

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