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Q&A with Todd Haley 12/8

Posted Dec 8, 2011

OPENING REMARKS: [We] continued getting ready here for the New York Jets. Thought we had very good energy and focus out there today, we went in the pads, we’ve only got one more of those left here under the new rules so we’ll have to strategically plan that last padded practice. I’m going to go to you Josh [Looney] for some help on that. But I thought good energy, good focus out there for the guys. They understand where we are, four games left and one real, real big one this week versus the New York Jets.”

Q: Are you getting soft going inside?

HALEY: “No, I was afraid you would say that Bob. No I thought we were going to go outside and then we just felt like the field was a little more frozen that usual for whatever reason so we are putting the cover on it now and then going to go out there tomorrow so the shoes can get some traction, and I don’t think it hurts us being in there on the turf so like I said it was a good, high energy practice.”

Q: Is Javier Arenas progressing the way you would like him to?

HALEY: “I think Javier has done a really good job making progress. One thing you know about him is he’s tough and high competitive and he’s kind of bought into the being the same guy everyday mode and a lot of those guys that come out of Alabama, that’s kind of instilled in them and they understand what we’re talking about when they get here but he’s made progress all along and like a couple of us have said, I think [Romeo Crennel] mentioned it and myself also, we really feel like that New England week, preparing for New England and the job he was going to have kind of gave him a little boost because obviously as a returner he’s done everything we could ask and offensively like you said we’ve had some production and defensively he’s been making progress but that role he’s playing is a pretty tough one in our defense and he sometimes draws the toughest guy out there and he’s done a good job making progress, excited about Javier, happy he’s on the team. I said give me about seven Javier’s and I’ll be in good shape.”

Q: What’s your injury report going to look like, same as yesterday?

HALEY: “Same as yesterday, [Jovan] Belcher is going to be on there today, limited, with his shoulder but I’m optimistic about where he is.”

Q: And the other guys, Orton…

HALEY: “[Kyle] Orton limited and he took some snaps and things today, making progress.”

Q: How long did it take before you sensed that Belcher was comfortable going inside?

HALEY: “He pretty much from day one, he showed a lot of those traits you like to see from those inside backers from a toughness standpoint and it’s just instinctually, and being in there and having a lot of different bodies flying at you from different angles, it takes some time. But he’s another one in my opinion that has done nothing but make progress and he has a tough mindset, tough minded and you saw that in the game last week. I thought one of his better games if not his best game, especially in the first half. He’s a tough, competitive guy. That’s a tough position to play but the number one thing you’ve got to be is tough and you’ve got to be ready to take on big bodies and he’s clearly not afraid to do that and he’s continued to take to Coach [Gary] Gibbs and the coaching that’s going on and doing a good job.”

Q: Are there moments in practice or meetings where you can look at [Tyler] Palko and see three weeks of experience showing?

HALEY: “Yes without a doubt. It’s not just coach speak when you talk about the quarterback position. One of the best ways to gain that experience is playing, especially a player that’s been around a little bit like him and I think that each and every week he’s gained some valuable experience and how to handle situations and like we’ve said, you’re making a lot of decisions in a short amount of time and they’ve got to all be good ones for the most part and I think he’s kind of getting the feel here now with another full week of practice and with those three games under his belt of some of the things he has to do and some of the things he can’t do.”

Q: Besides [Derrick Johnson], are there different leaders emerging on the defensive side of the ball as they get better and better?

HALEY: “Yes. It’s funny you asked that because just today during one of our little breaks I was watching the defense, it was going from a defense to a defense period so they were all just kind of staying put but I mentioned to [Romeo Crennel] that you could see the defense just coming together. Less about one guy standing up and being the leader, like you said Derrick assumes that role and does a great job with it, but just you could tell in that break that they are getting tighter and tighter and success helps that. You start to have a couple of good performances under your belt it gives you a little confidence. But I would say just the entire group kind of looks like they are sticking together and that’s usually a real good sign I think.”

Q: The things that Dexter McCluster was able to do Sunday… What positions do you try to get him in to maximize his skill?

HALEY: “We made a change this year and moved him away from the receiver into the backfield and just felt like that would be the spot to give him the chance to be most productive. With Jamaal [Charles] going down, that obviously affected some of that because he’s getting a bunch of carries. I was excited about the game by Dexter here last week. I just thought when you envision how he is going to play and contribute; I thought that was a good capsule or picture of it. He got about nine touches out of the backfield and then he caught a bunch of balls, some of them more from a receiver vantage point as far as where he was on the field. I think the real advantage with guys like that is the mismatches that are created when the defense looks at him, ‘That’s a running back.’ Teams have all treated him a little different, but obviously, the more carries he gets, the more they have to treat him as a running back. But even last week after he made a couple plays, the defense switched into a sub ground, even though there were only two receivers on the field. That’s really what it’s all about, is how the defense views him. When they’re viewing him a particular way, I think you gain your advantage, one way or another.” Q: Has he held up physically?

HALEY: “Yeah, he’s doing a good job. He’s a tough, tough guy. He and Javier [Arenas] now, they’re something else. Even on that play down in the red zone last week, he’s got options. I keep trying to tell both of them it’s OK to go down and get out of the fray occasionally. They don’t like to listen. Dexter, his mind was set on trying to get in there and he put two arms on the ball and they all were laying there for longer than he was. He just hops up and goes. He’s held up good. He’s a tough guy. I think you’ve got to be very aware that he’s not a 220-pound guy; he’s significantly less than that.”

Q: With him moving into the backfield, how much was him figuring things out or you guys as a coaching staff figuring out what would work for him?

HALEY: “He had had a lot of experience out of the backfield, but again, any time – as we saw last year and I’ve talked about with receivers – one of the most difficult things in my opinion is adjusting to the multiple coverage looks and blitzes and things like that that look one way and then are completely another way. Whether you’re coming out of the backfield or whether you’re lined up as a receiver, those take some time to understand and get a feel exactly. The pictures and drawings all look good, but you can’t just run the drawing, there are some moving parts out there that you have to be able to adjust and do what you’re supposed to do, and the quarterback be able to trust that you’re going to do it. All those things take time. Now, the running the ball and those things, he’s a natural. That’s where he’s really, really comfortable. Our problem has been more that there’s too many things you want to do with him, and you’ve got to get good at two or three as opposed to trying to do nine different things, I think. We fight that a bunch as offensive coaches because every week there’s 72 things you like that, ‘Hey, we can get a matchup here.’ You’ll have him – even though he wouldn’t admit it – the tongue would be on the ground and he’d be dragging back.”

Q: Have you ever visited [Darrelle] Revis Island in preparing for a defense yet this year? What makes him so good?

HALEY: “I compare a lot he and [Brandon] Flowers do at times just because it’s kind of like when we talked about [Matt] Forte. When you get really special guys with great instincts and feel and ability to figure out what’s going on before it’s really happening, sometimes that appears really smooth and it’s hard to detect. But as these young receivers that line up against Flowers find out, he kind of knows where you’re going before you do and he’s able to deviate your path, which then creates problems. Revis is a lot like that. You don’t jump out and you go, ‘Wow,’ other than when the ball is in his hands because the rest of the time he’s just got a great feel. I think he appears to be a great student of the game and is very well-schooled on what he’s going to see from the opponent. It’s one of those where you don’t notice a whole bunch because generally when you check him out he’s covering who he’s supposed to be covering. He’s also one of those guys that when they’re not throwing it his way, all of a sudden his guy looks open, but they never throw it. I think that’s more by his design. He’s trying to lure throws into his area.”

Q: When a guy looks smooth, is that generally a red flag that this guy spends a lot of time watching tape?

HALEY: “It’s not just throwing him out there and, ‘You’re playing this guy man-to-man.’ He’s got a great feel from alignment in certain receivers and you see him change his technique accordingly. Like I said, that tells you he’s got to be a really good student of the game.”

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