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Q&A with Todd Haley 1/7

Posted Jan 7, 2011

Highlights

OPENING REMARKS: “Friday, we got to go up to Arrowhead and study where we are going to take the test. As you get into games that start to have more importance than the regular season, that’s a beneficial exercise for us. Again they had the field painted already with some of the wild card playoff logo stuff on there, and the padded ring around the field. I think guys understand that’s our field where we’ve done a lot of work. We will get up there again tomorrow. Today was a short yardage, goal line, red zone, first time through that stuff. With a review over the entire game plan and we’ll get a little more tomorrow up at Arrowhead. Good weather, I think there is great value in being up there even though the conditions don’t sound to be exactly the same, there will be some similarities, the wind was blowing today. As we know here in this Missouri/Kansas area, it can whip around. Thought it was a good day, good practice. Any questions?”

 

Q: Were WR Dwayne Bowe and G Brian Waters full participants today?

HALEY: “Yes, both full. Bowe will be off the injury report. Waters will be listed as full”

Q: What’s his status?”

HALEY: “Probable. It’s been kind of a 24-hour deal, it just depends on the timing of when they catch it. But again we are taking all precautions possible we can take.”

Q: You were worried yesterday this might become an epidemic. Does it seem like the worst is over?

HALEY: “I don’t know if I was ever worried about an epidemic. But I want to make sure we are taking precautions. You’re always worried when multiple guys get something, but like I said, we went back to our rules we’ve always grew up with. Our people in here are doing a great job of making sure we’re spraying, and washing and doing all those things just to try to keep it to a minimum. That being said, the balls going to be kicked-off at noon on Sunday and we need all hands on deck”

Q: Was WR Quinten Lawrence full today?

HALEY: “Yes”

Q: Were Bowe and Waters the only two that got a touch of that flu bug?

HALEY: “No, I said Quinten had it yesterday. He had to go home. A couple practice squad guys too, but most of them are back now.”

Q: Do you feel like a fortunate team to have basically everyone ready to go?

HALEY: “Like everybody else, we’ve had our share of IR (injured reserve) guys and guys that we’re are not able to use. Like I’ve said, we work really hard in the offseason, I think in season we really emphasize trying to continue to gain strength, work, run, condition, and do all those things that you do. But you do, you need some level of good fortune. Anything could happen at any time. We’ve had a couple of bad luck type deal, but at the same time our guys have done a good job of fighting through anything that’s going on. A lot of that is just desire to want to be out there, and to want to be a part of this. We made that clear early on last year that you had to be out there, you had to be working, and that was going to be an important trait as the head coach was what I wanted from all of our guys”

Q: Have you seen a demeanor change in your guys this week? Can you feel that it’s different, or business as usual?

HALEY: “It’s been good energy, the guys are excited. You know that tornado whistle that blows the first Wednesday of every month, it was the first January one we’ve heard on Wednesday, which is kind of a funny thing. But hopefully we will get to hear it in February. But right now our focus is, like every week, going out continuing to try to make progress, I think it is very important for a team like ours to continue to develop, continue to make strides, continue to get better, and then the deal is to give yourself enough time. You have potentially five more weeks, now four, to really continue to make progress and we can use all of it. We just got to keep making progress.”

Q: Have you seen the 31 guys who do not have playoff experience really gain a sense of what this week means?

HALEY: “Yeah, I think they get it. I am very pleased that we have as many guys as we do that have some experience. Some guys with experience you can’t find anywhere in the league, at some spots, maybe a couple individuals on a couple teams. So we had a nice mix of veteran guys with experience in the league that have kind of been there, done that. And young guys that are eager, attentive, want to learn, want to try to get all the knowledge they can. And that’s been showing up throughout this process and it’s continued to go on, and that’s how you continue to make strides towards becoming a consistently good team.”

Q: Does it help for a lot of young guys that have never been in the NFL playoffs, have played in some really big games in college. Does that help?

HALEY: “I would like to say yes, but I knew a guy named Kurt Warner, that hadn’t seen a lot of big games but when the bright lights were on, he was pretty great. I’m not going to put a level/bar or a lid on any of these guys. You don’t know when each individual light’s is going to go on, and just where they continue to make progress to becoming really good and great players. Stressed that throughout the year and this week, it doesn’t matter who you are, there is room for improvement. You don’t know what the ceiling is on any of them. As long they are all striving as a team that works just exactly like that, you don’t know when we’re going to become a great team. I know we’re not right now, but there is no saying that it’s not going to happen this year. I’ve been a part of a team that was not a great team when the playoffs began, but was pretty close when the thing (postseason) ended. Its great experience, we’ve got a few of those guys on this team, we’ve got a few coaches that were a part of that, and some other coaches that were a part of similar situations. That’s what you have to understand, and I think that’s a really important factor for our guys, especially our young, old, and in between players to understand that you don’t know what the ceiling is, and we surely don’t know what the ceiling is on this team.”

Q: Do you look at the season as a success, win or lose on Sunday?

HALEY: “No, I think its two different deals. I think our regular season was a success. We did what we had to do to punch a ticket to play more games, that’s our goal, will be our goal, our goal last year, it’s our goal this year. We accomplished the goal this year. Now, this is where you can really define yourself as being a good team or being something special. That’s how I think about it.”

Q: What is the most fiery you’ve ever seen Matt Cassel?

HALEY: “Probably in my office up there, just me and him going at it (laughs). He is a passionate guy. Tough question, because he a passionate guy all the time. That’s what passion is, I don’t think passion is something you turn on and off a whole bunch. That St. Louis game on the road with a lot of Chiefs fans in the building, coming off a pretty serious ordeal, when a lot of people didn’t know what to expect, he made a run in that game when we were yelling at him as he ran to throw the ball to Jamaal or throw it away, and he wasn’t listening to much. He tried to run a couple guys over, and he was pretty fired up after he got up after that play as were most of the fans that were there for us and most of his teammates.”

Q: Is he a guy that will get in your grill when guys are dropping passes, or does he consider himself to having an uplifting personality, how does he let them know that’s unacceptable?

HALEY: “First of all, Matt is a very likeable young man, fun to be around all the time. One of the things we talked about last year at length was for him to continue to take steps on some of the days like today, Fridays, specifically that day you want everybody operating like a well-oiled machine. We had some Fridays last year where that wasn’t happening and what Matt and I talked about, and what Charlie continued to talk to him about this year, and all our coaches is that his job as a quarterback is to step up and take care of some of that, and let everyone know that it’s not acceptable. That’s been a part of Matt’s maturation process, and continuing to grow, and you’ve seen a lot more of that, but never over the top of where it should be. He is continuing to make progress toward being the leader and the quarterback of this team.”

Q: Between now and kickoff, what do you want your 53 guys to do?

HALEY: “What they do every week, which is number one, take care of their bodies. The work aspect of this week is over until game day. It’s sitting feet above your waist as best you can. Hydrating, weigh-ins, those things area over for the week and really just taking care of your bodies number one. Number two, leaving no stone unturned here, especially this afternoon, tomorrow morning, and like I said the bigger these games get, the less questions you want to be asked Saturday night and Sunday morning. You want everything answered, you want your preparation to continue, but the question aspect to be through. Then you just get yourself physically and mentally ready to go for Sunday.”

Q: Is that fine line between paralysis and analysis. For a coach, is that a visible line? As a coach can you see when a guy hits it?

HALEY: “I think you see when it’s happening, because there will be a lot more discussion than you’re comfortable with. You want discussion during the week, conversation, and analysis, and especially when you’re watching tape and those things. But now, this afternoon, tomorrow especially you’re going to see a lot of guys just watching tape. Continuing to watch their area of expertise, or their area they’re going to be responsible for. Now we’re re-watching a bunch of things they’re already seen to just continue to get a feel. I think that’s what it comes down to up until game time. Just continue to get more and more comfortable with what you’re seeing, verifying. Now you know the game plan much better. It works backwards a little bit, and sometimes as coaches the more tape you watch, the more ideas you have, and that’s what you have to protect against.”

Q: As an underdog in this game, do you use that in a playoff situation at all?

HALEY: “I know that it’s used, but with this team, that’s not something we’ve done. We’ve stayed focused on our business, and things we need to do to be the better team on Sundays. This is a Sunday, and the field and all that is not going to change, there is going to be a little more excitement, a little more energy, a little more adrenaline. But it’s going to come down to who plays the best on Sunday, and all of the peripheral stuff is overrated for us. I just think we need to focus on doing the things that we have to do to be the best team on Sunday. It’s going to be a great challenge for us, against a team like Baltimore that has a lot more experience than we do. In the last three seasons they’ve played five road playoff games. They’ve won some of those, more than they lost. There are distinct advantages that way, but like I said, it’s not going to matter. What’s going to matter on Sunday, is who executes, does things you have to do to win.”

Q: Do you have any superstitions or habits or anything you do before the game that you can tell us about?

HALEY: “Way too many to list. It takes over your life which is something I’ll be calling my dad out for occasionally. But left shoe on first, left sleeve on first.”

Q: Are the players superstitious as well?

HALEY: “I think everybody is different. Superstition is not a good thing, I’m just joking when I say rule your life. I have great faith and I believe that there is a higher power that is watching. But it helps me stay in my routine.”

Q: Coach, do you remember what you were doing in January of ’93 when the Chiefs won a playoff game?

HALEY: “No, I don’t. That would probably be too much for my brain right now. I’m on overload right now, but I’m sure I was watching all those games. I have done that pretty much since I can remember. It’s playoff football, nothing better. Everybody is watching 12 teams right now.”

Q: It’s clear that buying in is important to you. Can you describe the level of buy-in that you’ve had for RB Jamaal Charles starting with when he came in, and now?

HALEY: “Jamaal is just a great example. I’ve talked a bunch about part of what you have to do. The way that I’ve learned, the way that I believe to be a successful team, year in and year out, is you have to develop the two, three, four, five year players on your roster. You need to continue to bring in new talent, new competition. To create competition and depth in as many spots that you can, all spots the better you get. But you have to develop the guys on your roster. Jamaal obviously was here, and he has just been a terrific example of a guy that has developed. I think there is a notion out there that Jamaal was a great player, and the more opportunities he got, the more that you saw he was a great player. Jamaal was a very good college player with a lot of ability. When I got here, he had a ways to go because the position he is playing, there is a lot to handle. You have to be good in protection first and foremost. You cannot get your quarterback killed, and you have to understand the concepts of what you are doing. You have to contribute on special teams and as many ways as you can when you’re a non-front line guy that’s not playing a ton of snaps on offense as he was early on. And it wasn’t an easy road for Jamaal. There were some true ups and downs. Maurice Carthon our running backs coach, I’ve said a ton of times is the best running back coach in the league because I think he does just a terrific job of developing running backs and players, and developing men at the same time. It was a relationship that early on I was just a little bit worried about. Mo and I were at Arizona together when Jamaal came out. We spent a lot of time with him together at the combine, the interview process. Jamaal, I don’t know if you know, but is very quiet, very soft spoken. He had some difficulties in college, with different things. We covered a number of those things. One of my questions to Jamaal way back then was when things don’t go well, me and Maurice said he’s not going to come and give you a hug and say everything is going to be okay. He is going to be after you. And Jamaal said the right things, but he was very quiet. He said that’s alright, I can take that. There were some concerns but ironically we all came together here again. That was something I was interested to see how it would play out. Like I said, Maurice pushes these guys, but they’re willing to do what he is asking him to do, then they develop. And if they have enough of the skills required they’ll become really good and great players. Jamaal’s doing some of those things, and he is just a great example of a guy that’s put his faith in his coaches and his coaching staff, and he has just become a great teammate, and he is on his way to becoming a great player.

Q: What was Jamaal’s circumstances of him being on IR for the Oakland game last year?

HALEY: “He wasn’t on IR, he just wasn’t on game day roster. But those are difficult decisions. There’s 45 names, and there’s a lot of things that go into that decision as a head coach and as a staff that’s something we start talking about Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday night we talk about it. Sunday, sometimes there’s two names still you go right down to the wire with. Never an easy deal, and you need to take a lot of factors into consideration. Special teams, how did he practice, does he understand the game plan, is he studying, a lot of things. And on that particular day, that was not the direction we decided to go. With Jamaal being on the roster, but I know with the response that Jamaal came to me, and he was upset and he understood because I generally talk to those eight guys and say you’re not going be up today, and he said this isn’t going to happen again. And he has been pretty true to his word.”

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