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Q&A with Todd Haley 12/29

Posted Dec 29, 2010

Highlights

OPENING REMARKS: “We started our preparation for the Oakland Raiders, a team that beat us at their place the last time we played. It was a game that we had the lead in, had a chance to really close the game out a couple different times and weren’t able to do it and also a game that was one of our sloppier games – had some penalties and did some things in that game that weren’t real disciplined, kind of similar to last week – so there are some things that we’re working real hard on this week of trying to get back to being real disciplined in our game across the board, in all three phases and really trying to get back to being a smart football team. The Raiders, as they were going into last game, I think they’ve just made progress since then even. They’ve got a quarterback in (Jason) Campbell that looks like he’s real comfortable in what they’re asking him to do. Another real good pure drop-back passer that can also take off and run, but has a big arm and can make all the throws that we’ve seen because he made a bunch of them against us in the last game.

 

“They’ve got a group of running backs between (Michael) Bush and (Darren) McFadden and the fullback (Marcel) Reece that can score anywhere. They have made long runs, made big plays in the run and the pass game, all the running backs and the fullback are favorites of Campbell, he knows where they are at all times and gets the ball to them whenever he’s under duress, including screens. They give you a number of different looks, they’ll show you Wildcat, they’ll show you unbalanced, they completed a ball to an offensive lineman for a touchdown against us so they give you a number of problems defensively, for our defense, that we’ve got to be prepared for, on top of speed at the receiver position, (they have) as much speed as we’ve seen from anybody. All the receivers are fast as they traditionally are but they’ve got one there in WR Jacoby Ford that’s as fast as any that you’ll see and he clearly hurt us a couple times and he’s continued to hurt people since then.

“For us offensively, their defense was very disruptive for us so this is very similar in some ways as Tennessee in that they’re going to load the box, they’re going to put a bunch of guys up there and they’re going to try to stop the run and they’re going to count on their good corners and safeties to play coverage, which they do as good as anyone so we’re going to have to run the ball into a loaded front and we’re going to have to beat man-to-man coverage. It’s pretty simple and we’ve been up and down in that throughout the year. It’s always a great test, I think our guys are excited about the challenge and they worked hard today. This is one of those weeks where the show team is really, really critical on all sides, including special teams that we do a great job of giving a realistic look of the Oakland Raiders and that’s tough to do because they’re pretty good. Special teams, they’ve got the two best kickers in the league and like I said, this Jacoby Ford is tearing everybody up so we’ve got to have an answer for that. It was a good day’s work outside, it was a good football day out there today and then later in the week we’ll move up to Arrowhead like we’ve been doing. We just have to use all the time allotted here and stay focused on the task at hand which is trying to get to three wins in the fourth quarter of the season.”

Q: How much do you worry about guys playing not to get hurt in this final game, but also trying to win?

HALEY: “I think you can’t ever play not to get hurt. That’s when you’ll get hurt. I’ve made that clear to these guys going all the way back, that’s one of the early part of the year speeches, but it’s a needed one and one that our players understand that during your time in this league if you let up or if you’re protecting yourself you’ll be in big trouble. There are just too many big, fast guys that are too good and you need to be at your best. It’s late in the year, you have to really work hard at taking care of your bodies, eating right, getting enough sleep and there are plenty of distractions to be had out there so it’s a good test for our team just in continuing to stay focused on a day-to-day basis.”

Q: The decision to play the game to win it, is that a tough one given the injury risk?

HALEY: “No, not at all, Adam. Like I said to you, the stage we’re in for this team, we’re still in the developing foundation-laying period for this team. There are some teams that can think like that, I don’t think we’re one of those teams, I know we’re not. We just have so much work still to be done and we’ve got little time to do it so each and every day is important for us to continue to make progress across the board – there is no position spot that I can say we’re good here. We’ve got to keep working and keep getting better and the guys understand that and we set a goal when this quarter started to win at least three games and we’ve got a chance to do that against a division rival who beat us once already. This is a very critical game for us, no matter how you slice it; it is the biggest game of the year.”

Q: You always say that, that the next game is the biggest game of the year. How do you sell that knowing that the playoff picture in your case is in focus? How do you get them to view this as truly the biggest game of the year?

HALEY: “Because we’re not talking about anything other than this week. There are enough guys that have been here, when you’re at this stage trying to understand that you have three games left, two games left, one game left, we don’t know what we have left so we have to utilize every minute of every day to try to get ourselves to peak performance so that when we’re playing a game have a chance to play our best. This week it will take our best. This Raider team is a dangerous, dangerous team that has beat some good teams, had the chance to beat other good teams, has been in the mix the entire year and beat us in a game that we had a chance to take care of some business and we didn’t do it. It’s not a sell, it doesn’t feel like a sell, our guys know the task at hand and they know that this is the biggest game of the year because if we don’t take care of business in this game, there are a lot of problems that could cause us – we’re not thinking about them but we know they’re there.”

Q: Do you have to say it more often or louder this week because it would be justifiably easy to look toward the next week?

HALEY: “I think we have enough guys that have been in enough situations to know how important it is to finish strong, to finish the regular season playing your best football. There are a number of players and coaches on this team that were with me in Arizona and I was just telling them, I don’t know how many games were left when we clinched the division out there but it was like there was a big collective sigh, everybody let the air out at once and it almost cost us and we had three games left so we don’t have the luxury of having any time to let air out, regroup. This is the fourth game of the fourth quarter of the season and as I’ve said, the season breaks up like one big game and just like a game, you’ve got to be playing your best as the clock’s winding down and it’s one and done.”

Q: What factors could go into the decision of if/when to pull the starters against the Raiders?

HALEY: “We’ve gone through the whole year and we’ve had some games where we’ve had the game in hand and there have been games where we have got guys in there but it won’t change.”

Q: Nothing different since the division is already clinched?

HALEY: “I don’t have any idea how the game’s going to go. We need to go out and play our best to be competitive to compete with this team which can run the football, they can throw it, they can return it, they can play defense, they’re disruptive…number one we’ve got to have a great week of practice, we started okay today but we have to be better tomorrow. We’ve got to utilize our meeting time, we have some familiarity with the opponent, but like I said, I can clearly see that these guys are getting more and more comfortable with what they’re trying to do, starting with the quarterback and that makes them tougher in my opinion.”

Q: There were times last season and this season where it seemed like you were WR Dwayne Bowe’s only supporter. Do you feel vindicated by the fact that he was recognized by his peers and was named to the Pro Bowl?

HALEY: “No, me personally, no. I’m just happy that he was (selected). I think that Dwayne, like a number of other guys on the roster, we knew who had to develop was one of the guys developing and sometimes not through easy periods of time but he kept his nose to the grindstone and again, when you get recognized by your peers it’s a great thing and I think it’s great for Dwayne. The key thing is when he called me yesterday it was barely out of his mouth and the next thing he said to me was we’ve got more work to do so then I let a sigh out. That’s good. Shortly after, RB Jamaal (Charles) said the same thing. That’s a good sign. Our guys understand that we’ve got a lot of guys that have put team first and Jamaal and Dwayne are at the top of that list and that’s why I believe good things have happened for them, because they’ve put the team in front of their individual accolades and they’re interested in winning and being part of something special and I think they’re seeing some of the rewards of their effort, dedication to their teammates and to this team.”

Q: You’ve talked a lot about the process of getting guys to understand that this is how we want to do things now. Was that a tougher sell with Dwayne Bowe than it was with some of your other guys?

HALEY: “I wouldn’t say that. I think I’ve been pretty clear that he had a lot of work to do but each step along the way I think I’ve been pretty clear that Dwayne was making progress and listening, not trying to listen, he was listening and doing the things that the staff and myself were asking him to do and that’s been going on for almost two years now. The good thing is that these guys are seeing the reward of their dedication and hard work and commitment to the team, that’s the great thing – not necessarily the Pro Bowl accolades but the wins and winning these quarters of the season and winning games. That’s the great thing and that’s what helps you as a coach and as a coaching staff.”

Q: RB Jamaal Charles is averaging right around six and a half yards per carry. That’s extraordinary. How much has RB Thomas Jones being in the backfield helped Charles stay as productive as he’s been?

HALEY: “Make no mistake, Thomas Jones has been such a huge part of this team, a huge part of this team from day one. When he came in here to visit last year not too long from now, it was clear that if we could convince him that this was somewhere he’d like to be that it would be good for the Kansas City Chiefs and I’m just glad that he made the decision that he made because for him it was clear that it wasn’t about a whole bunch other than being somewhere where he could realize his dreams and he’s much like some of the players that I’ve been around that there are more and more showing up on this team that are about one thing and that’s playing in the big game. That’s what he cares about, that’s what drives him, that’s what makes him outwork most everybody each and every day and there are so many people, guys on this team that have been able to learn from Thomas along with our other veterans that have been such a big part of us developing and making progress.”

Q: The last time you guys played the Raiders there were 27 penalties (combined). Was there something about their style of play that brought that out in you guys and how much do you worry about that in the rematch considering they have nothing to lose?

HALEY: “I don’t think anything to do with the Raiders. When you have a penalty it has to do with the Kansas City Chiefs. We’ve kind of had a love-hate relationship going with penalties this year, some stretches we’ve been pretty good and others we haven’t been so smart and that’s what it comes down to, this is a game of reactions and you get into positions where you have a split second to make decision and you’ve got to make the right one under a great deal of duress usually. The last time we played these guys we made some poor decisions and lacked discipline but last week we did some of the same things and if we want to get to where we want to get to, we’re not a team that can generally overcome a bunch of those not-so-smart decisions. It’s something that we just continually press and push and try to make the guys understand that it’ll be something that hurts us if we’re not careful, and has hurt us.”

Q: Last season you won one home game. As you prepared for this season, did you do anything special to try to get through to the players that you needed to re-establish the Arrowhead advantage?

HALEY: “Yeah, that’s been something that I started immediately talking about last year and obviously it didn’t have an effect but specific things that were done this year, we’ve tried to study where we’re taking the test which I think has been a big thing for us that we’ve done from the start of the year, going up there on Fridays and Saturdays of home game weeks I think has really helped our guys get really comfortable with the surroundings so on top of talking about it all the time which is one thing, we’ve gone up there and just tried to get more and more familiar with our home turf because it’s a home field advantage, noise, those things are all great but you do have an influx of new players that haven’t played there necessarily and I think that getting up there and practicing and spending time in and out of the locker room, on the field and off the field has been good for the guys and just helped with the comfort level. The fans are the best. They come out and they make it difficult for teams coming in here to communicate and I know they boost our guys but talking about it and going up there and practicing has been a good thing for us.”

Q: Is there something to that mystique of remaining undefeated at home even though this game maybe doesn’t have as much on the line. Is there something to that psyche that you’re undefeated at home with a home playoff game coming up?

HALEY: “It’s not something that we’ve talked about a bunch. We’ve just talked about being ready to play and playing better than our opponent and understanding that playing well at home is imperative for us to be a successful team or for us to have a chance to be successful. Honestly that topic hasn’t been one that’s been talked about, at least by us as a team. It’s just ‘let’s go up and play our best football in front of our fans and energize them and take advantage of the advantage.’”

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