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Q&A with Todd Haley 12/22

Posted Dec 22, 2010

Highlights

OPENING REMARKS: “We got out on the field for the first time in preparations for Tennessee. This is the biggest game of the year for us to date and it’s against what I believe is a very good team, a very physical team, a team that’s played a very difficult schedule, went through a little rough patch win-loss wise but this is a team that across the board knows how to win, has a great deal of pride and a bunch of good players. Just running through them quickly, I think that offensively they have a quarterback in Kerry Collins who’s been around long, long time – 16 years – a true pocket passer with a big, big arm. He does a good job of spreading the football around the field to a lot of different receivers, tight ends and backs and can throw any ball that you need to throw out there. Their running back, Chris Johnson, is one of the best if not the best back in the league. He can score from anywhere. He is as an explosive back as you will see. He can score from anywhere and he’s a threat to score at any time the ball is in his hands. They have three real good tight ends that they utilize a great deal: (Bo) Scaife, (Craig) Stevens and (Jared) Cook. They see a bunch of footballs throughout each game and then they have a receiving group that as much or more than any group we’ve seen really stretches the field. I don’t know what all their time speeds are but they play fast and they stretch the field every single play. They look like they have a great deal of endurance and like I said, they move the football around to all of them and they all see the football a bunch. (Kenny) Britt, (Randy) Moss, (Justin) Gage, Nate Washington, they’re all very good receivers that can all score from anywhere. They have a number of explosive, explosive plays in the 70-yard range. I think at least two or three of them have catches of over 65 yards. There’s a lot to deal with there. Defensively we’re going to have to be on point and the number one task as always will be trying to figure out a way to slow one of the better running games down in the league.

 

“Defensively, they are an active, active defense that can really rush the passer. I don’t know what they do down there but guys that end up in Titan uniforms all of a sudden look different than they’ve ever looked before on tape and they get in that stance and they bring it; they spin, they move, they stunt, they twist and they get to the quarterback a bunch, 38 or 39 times I believe. That defensive line, they have to have more sacks than any defensive line in the league I would think because they get a bunch of them. They have and active group of linebackers that’s very physical, very physical and a secondary that’s as physical any we’ll see. They like to mix it up but they run and hit players. Special teams-wise, I think they’ve got a couple good kickers and they’ve got a young returner that a lot of people didn’t know a whole bunch about that has more yards per touch than any other rookie in the league and that’s (Marc) Mariani. I think they’re a well-coached group across the board and that’s very evident on tape. They’ll be coming in here on Sunday and we’ve got to be at our best. We had a good day today, it was good to get back outside in this nice, pleasant December weather which I really embrace and love because this is what it’s all about to me – playing football games this time of year, that’s the way it should be out there. We just had a lot of fun today so it was a good start.”

Q: LB Derrick Johnson was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week. Does he keep getting better and better or has he peaked and is sustaining play at his highest level?

HALEY: “There’s no doubt that Derrick has. This year in particular, starting with the off-season, you could tell that he had the mindset to try to get the most out of himself and allow the most to get out of him and he has stacked, he has really stacked game on top of game where he’s been the epitome of what we’re trying to do – just get a little better every day – and in his case, with such ability, ends up being a real good player and the game he played the other day against St. Louis, he’s stacked a bunch of really good games together and made big plays for us but that game in particular, that was a true all-pro effort. Across the board, he did everything for us and was such a big part of helping us win and obviously it’s an 11-man defense but the chances and opportunities he had he took full advantage of, whether it was knocking a ball down, making a tackle, chasing somebody down the sideline, chasing the quarterback down on a big third down. He did a great job but he’s been doing that and he’ll say that it’s due to everybody else doing their job, which it is but at the same time, it’s his superb skill level that he’s utilizing with a lot of work and practice and dedication.”

Q: When you watch RB Chris Johnson run, do you see any of RB Jamaal Charles in him?

HALEY: “Yeah, I think there are some similarities between the two. Both came out the same year and we were out in Arizona, we were real interested in trying to find a back. We ended up with RB Tim Hightower from Richmond who was in the same group and there were some clear-cut similarities with both Jamaal and Chris, they’re both obviously really fast. They’re built similarly; they’re explosive obviously, and quick. This guy, Chris Johnson, with what he’s done to this point in his career, obviously there are so few that have hit that 2,000-yard mark to begin with but they’ve both got good hands, they both can do a lot a lot of different things for you. Like I said, defensively, we’ll have our hands full and if you let him get going, you’ll be in for a long day.”

Q: Why do you think Chris Johnson was drafted in the first round and Jamaal didn’t go until the third round?

HALEY: “I can’t answer that.”

Q: Did you have those guys rated that way when you were in Arizona?

HALEY: “I can say whatever I want, here. I’ll say yes I had them one-two, of all the backs that year I had them one and two.”

Q: Did (Johnson’s) 4.29-second (40-yard dash) at the combine have anything to do with it?

HALEY: “Like I said, Jamaal is a 100-meter guy and Chris Johnson turned a lot of heads. He was one of those that when he ran you saw all the scouts sitting there start rumbling, a lot of chatter started immediately. The bottom line is they came from different places and different programs but they both found a way to really start to have some success.”

Q: Can you tell us how QB Matt Cassel’s participation was in practice today? Limited or full participation?

HALEY: “He (was) full.”

Q: This is Pro Bowl time of year. What are your thoughts on the Pro Bowl?

HALEY: “I think it’s one of the things in the league that a lot of people look forward to and I think it means a heck of a lot to the players. I think it’s a good thing but at the same time here, it’s not what we’re going to get real excited about, there are other things that are much more important but at the same time, on teams that are having success and then when players are recognized off of those teams for some of that success I think it’s a good thing. Obviously these guys work so hard all year and to be recognized by their peers, the fans and the coaches is a big thing and a great honor.”

Q: Did you consider it a blemish that last year you didn’t have any Pro Bowl players?

HALEY: “No, it’s not something I ever get caught up with. I’m happy when we have guys that make it but I would never look at it that way.”

Q: You mentioned being in the cold. You play your next two games here. Do you think that’s a little bit of an advantage?

HALEY: “I know our guys, they are excited to get back home. We’ve had some success up here so far and I know the guys love to play in front of our fans, they’re the best fans in the NFL and I would think our fans have just gotten more and more excited about coming out. I think it’s part of the American way, the NFL in December, you come out and there’s nothing like cold weather games to me. If you’re lucky enough to get some snow flurries and things like that it just adds to it. Where I grew up you couldn’t wait to go to a football game and bundle up and scream and yell for your team and sure, any time you can play December football at home I think it’s great for us and I know our guys are excited. We’ll practice up there later in the week. All I can genuinely say is the guys are excited to go out and play in front of the fans again.”

Q: As a kid did you wear shorts to December games like you wore to practice today?

HALEY: “I was down on the field so I had to wear the issued uniform.”

Q: Why were you wearing shorts today?

HALEY: “Because that’s what I always do. I had to take a little hiatus with my situation, the initial braces were a little too embarrassing, this one’s embarrassing enough, I had a good streak going that I had to break but I wanted to get back on it. I just like it.”

Q: You always have to deal with Christmas, but how does that work with Saturday being Christmas or is it better to have on a different day of the week?

HALEY: “I think the way it worked out for us is terrific because during the week we could stay on schedule and on Saturday we made a couple little adjustments that ought to allow everybody some time with their family. To me you couldn’t ask for it to fall better for us personally. We’re going to take full advantage of it and still feel like we’re going to be able to get everything done that we need to get done. Christmas is such an important, important holiday, I know for our family it is and I’m excited about it.”

Q: You come from a football family, so do you have any Christmas traditions that you’re fond of that you have or that you grew up with?

HALEY: “No, other than you’re right, it generally revolved around football. It just adds to it. Football and holidays, there’s nothing like it.”

Q: So will you get up early Saturday with the kids?

HALEY: “Early isn’t the word for it. This will work out great for us, it’s worked out a couple times through the years I’ve been coaching, one year in Dallas we played on Christmas Eve at Carolina, we won and Coach (Bill) Parcells gave everybody the Sunday off for Christmas which was the best. It can’t be any better than that; we had the whole day off. We’ll get up and with five kids, we’ve got a bunch of presents – too many – but the kids, we have to pass rules to keep them in their bedrooms until a certain time and they still break them.”

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