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Q&A with Todd Haley 8/28

Posted Aug 28, 2011

OPENING REMARKS: “I had a chance to look at the tape yesterday of the game from Friday night. We had a number of things in the game that were encouraging, a number of things in the game that were discouraging. With that being said, I feel like we made progress, made progress as a team. We’ve got to take some things out of that game. Like I said the other night, specifically some of the areas of discipline and making good decisions on the football field to now get ready for the regular season. We’ve got a short week this week heading into the regular season, so I figure we’ve got about 15 days left to get ready. As far as that game, like I said, there were some bright points and some areas that we have to get better in on all sides of the ball, but I do feel we made progress. I feel like we’re as on schedule as coaches can feel you’re on schedule, knowing that we’ve got to take advantage of each and every day –
today included – as we go forward.”

Q: What were the things that you saw that were encouraging?

HALEY: “Without being specific, specific, I thought we had a couple guys on defense that played real well for the time that they were in there. I felt like our punter continues to punt the ball very well, and we looked like we had an idea of how to cover and get down and change field position. When you look at the field position chart, that’s the way we’d like it to look, to give you a chance to win game. Offensively, I thought that from a pass-game standpoint, there were some chunk plays, if you will, throughout the game. A couple of those came back unfortunately. Again, back to that discipline area. I thought the guys, though we had a slow start for sure, it was a slow start and I don’t think can afford to start like that very often. We rebounded defensively. You don’t want to start by giving up a 14-play drive. Now, at a point there at the 10-play mark, we had them in fourth down. I chose to push them into third-and-19 and out of field goal range, which then wasn’t an intelligent move after the fact. But, I think it was great situational football work, as was the end of the game. That drive is not how you can start and expect to have a chance. And then the second drive, obviously too many conversions, too many plays made. But then at that point, I thought defensively we buckled down a little bit and guys started doing their job. And even the plays in the first two drives, again, it wasn’t five or six guys being wrong, it was one. Then, the way we play defensive – especially just from a base defense standpoint, which is what we’re doing – everybody has got to do their job. If one guy is out of position, then it can hurt you. Offensively, like I said, I thought we moved the ball down the field a little bit. Some of the areas we’ve been emphasizing out here showed up in a positive way. They were encouraging things to us as a staff.”

Q: It sounded like after the game you were a little bit concerned to be ready for the regular season, at least offensively. Is that accurate?

HALEY: “No, I don’t think I’m worried about our ability to be ready. I think I just feel like the body of work isn’t that great at this point. So, us as coaches, we don’t want to go too far one way or the other off the games. I’m talking about the body of work in the games to this point has not been that great, just as far as reps. I think you’ve just got to be smart about over-judging it or under-judging it either way. We’ve got about 15 days, like I said, so that means we’re about 30-something days in and each and every day is just as important as the next. I feel like, again, that we’re on schedule for how we’ve kind of decided to go about it.”

Q: You said the body of work is not that much from the games itself. Do you need to play your starters on offense more than you normally might in the fourth preseason game?

HALEY: “I don’t know. I’ll wait until we get to the back end of the week to get into any of that. We’ve got three days here – today being a big one – that we’ve got to evaluate exactly where we are. Each guy is a little different, and [we’ve got to] make those decisions as we get closer to at least Wednesday.”

Q: You talked about the running game and how you were disappointed. Why hasn’t that worked better for you?

HALEY: “Again, I don’t know that worked better… You’re judging off a really small sample. The other night, I don’t know what it is was in the first half, but six or seven runs. One of them came back that would have been a pretty good run. In the run game, it takes everybody to be successful. It’s not just the running backs; it’s not just the line. It’s the quarterbacks making the right decisions, it’s the receivers blocking downfield, and it’s the runners hitting the hole. The only thing I was disappointed about was that we got to halftime and we had only had six or seven carries. I believe it was six. Maybe that even counted the quarterback. That’s the only part I was disappointed about. Again, I think the body of work is too small to judge a whole bunch off of just the game.”

Q: Why didn’t you run it more at least in the first half?

HALEY: “Well, we didn’t get first downs. That usually hurts your ability to get to run the ball. So, three-and-outs stymied that, 14-play drives by them, followed up by 10-play drives by them, it was a pretty quick half by any standard. Today, like I said, we’re going to be back on it. We had good work this morning and we’ll be out there and be going full-bore.”

Q: I watched the game last night and it appeared to be that they had a pretty clear strategy and it was run at No. 94. Did they exploit a serious issue with the run defense? Are you comfortable with where DE Tyson Jackson is?

HALEY: “I think on the first part of it, I think they definitely had a clear-cut mode that they were going to play that game early, especially which was run the football. Now, where they were running I don’t know that it showed up to me as clear as to you. They’re a zone running team, there were cutbacks and some runs may end up back at certain spots. Again, after a pretty thorough review by us as a coaching staff, we were encouraged because we didn’t feel like it was four or five guys and it wasn’t the same guy, by any means, throughout any of their productive runs anyway. The way we play defense and the way we want to play defense is that everybody has to understand their assignment, their gap control, if you will, and we’re a two-gapping team. So, if one guy slides a little too far or gets taken out of position or a linebacker scrapes too far, gets a little too aggressive, then it weakens the entire group. I think we saw some of that the other night for sure. Now, I feel like we got it corrected as the game went on, but again, that’s something we’re working on non-stop. Every one of these little drills you see, we’re working on our two-gapping technique and trying to get better.”

Q: Jared Gaither’s body of work is certainly not as high as a lot of the guys. What did you see from him the other night on tape?

HALEY: “Well, like I said after the game, I feel the same way. I’m most happy that he’s coming along physically and he was able to get out there and he wanted to stay out there. Those are encouraging signs. As I’ve said, each guy is different. He’s got a tremendous body of work out there, just not here. So we’re handling him a certain way, as far as first and foremost trying to get him in a position to compete and trying to be part of this team. It’s been a little slow-going, but we kind of understood that going in. From the game, I thought he did some good things and he did some things he needs to do better. He had a penalty in there which can’t happen. I thought, for the most part, there were encouraging signs and a lot more than was done in the week previous. He’s just got to build on that, which he’s down there working and trying to get himself ready to go.”   

Q: You can’t tell the future, but how confident are you that this guy can continue to practice and be healthy enough to help the team?

HALEY: “Like I said, I’m encouraged with his progress. That’s part of this deal. Everybody’s under the same rules, so to speak, as far as how much time everybody’s had to get ready. We’re in that mix too. But within that mix there are different guys that have come in at different times that are dealing with different issues and I think that’s going to be one of the things that can give you an advantage or a disadvantage as we go forward, it’s just with how you handle each situation in trying to be right.”

Q: How do you feel about where DE Tyson Jackson is? What do you see when you when you watch him on tape?

HALEY: “I’ve said that it’s important that he continues to develop and I think that we’ve seen out on the practice field a great deal of progress from not just him but all those guys up front, and that’s a key spot. Now, in the games, with a little smaller body of work, I think all those guys up front have to continue to take the individual drill into a group drill and then you’ve got to take that into a team drill and then into some kind of scrimmage deal and then into the game ultimately. I don’t know that all those guys have done that, Tyson being included in that group. But that’s the next step. This is a big week and then ultimately it will be a big evaluation for us on Thursday night.”

Q: You’ve said that the way you are doing preseason the way you feel you have to. But fans are going to see QB Matt Cassel playing a lot fewer snaps than other starting quarterbacks and they’re going to wonder why the Chiefs are doing things so much differently? Do you have insight on why this is best for the team?

HALEY: “I think number one our staff that I talk about all the time, I feel like we’ve got a great coaching staff, we have a great deal of experience, me being one of them, but obviously we’ve got some guys that have been around even longer and maybe through some situations – there has been no exact situation like this – but guys that have been through the strike years as players and coaches. Off of that, some guys have coached in the Canadian (Football) League for an extended period of time and they have a little different set of parameters that they have to get ready. We did a lot of work as far as thinking through a lot of different scenarios, at the time not knowing exactly what the scenario was going to be, and came up with a plan the way we were going to do things to try and get us ready to go. That’s what we’ve been doing and again I feel like we’re on schedule as far as that goes. As far as why specifically, I think that one of the top contributing factors to our success the last two years – any success that we’ve had, though not where we want to get to – has been our offseason program, commitment, dedication by the players. I think it was clear early on when training camp started we were well back of that even though guys appeared to have done a lot on their own, there’s no way to replicate it. So that went to the top of the list as far as we were going to spend more time making sure that we got the guys into core shape, knowing that it helped us a bunch, it helped us from an injury standpoint, there was no doubt in our minds that that’s what had occurred through the first couple years. That’s a big part of it. The other part of it is this evaluation aspect that we talk about. We’ve got a lot of young guys coming in that have missed the acclimation period to get ready, to help them kind of get ready and get their feet under them for something totally new and an NFL camp and season, so we’ve dedicated a bunch of time and thought to trying to do the right thing with them because I think we’re going to need a group, a handful of those guys to come in and contribute early. We can’t wait until the back half of the year or next year. If we want to continue to make progress we’re going need a bunch of those guys. Part of that strength and conditioning program really plays into play time, especially early. Just from a staff putting guys out there that aren’t quite where we think they need to be we thought could be really detrimental as opposed to a controlled scrimmage here where we’re in control of it and it’s a teammate they’re going against instead of an opponent that we don’t know where those guys are, we felt was a little more controlled environment sometimes than going into a game. We’ve moved along as we’ve gone but I would say the last week and a half really felt the most like training camp and the guys are acting like it’s training camp. The training room is a lot more filled up than it was early on. We’ve tried to stick to how we laid things out to do things and I feel like that’s what we’re doing. So we feel good about it. Fifteen days, we have to continue to make progress.”

Q: LB Derrick Johnson’s interception was a very athletic play. It could have been a game-changing play. Are those the kinds of plays that you guys have kind of come to expect from him?

HALEY: “I don’t expect that play because that was just a phenomenal play, I thought. As I was watching it on tape, I just rewound it, rewound it and rewound it because the reaction, the ability to catch the ball, hang on to it when he hit the ground, not even really having it clean, and even trying to get up. Derrick, like I said, he did some really, really good things last year and he did some really good things in training camp but I think he can be even better, and that’s the exciting thing for all of us. And I think he’s showing some of that right now, especially in the last couple weeks – what we’ve seen from him on the practice field and then into the games has been really good stuff. He’s working hard at it and he’s passionate about it. He’s a great teammate and when you can make some plays like that, game-changers, and get a sack and do some things he’s been doing, that’s good stuff because if we can get him to show up like that throughout the year, that would sure be a good thing for our defense.

Q: Had a lot of holding calls on Friday night. Was the crew looking for it? Were those mental mistakes? Were guys getting beat and just grabbing at defenders?

HALEY: “What we came up with was it was more technique than anything else. Again, that’s one of the things that can get sacrificed when you’re short or feel like you’re short on time, even though everyone’s in the same situation. I think that technique work showed up and is definitely a point of emphasis this week for us. I think that’s a good thing in that if we can correct the technique, we feel like you eliminate the problem. And we can’t have those problems, that’s for sure. That’s what we felt like more than anything else was it was technique, it was a step or a hand placement or whatever it was, we just have to be better and more disciplined and do it the right way. So we’re going to get out there and work at it today for sure.

Q: Would the quarterback be the last player you would expect to get a penalty for calling a timeout on back-to-back plays?

HALEY: “I’m not going to put that on any player. That one will be on us because we’ve got to make it clear on what the rules are. It just can’t happen.”

Q: Since everything’s been condensed, is there a greater danger of overlooking some of the young guys?

HALEY: “I think that’s the point I was getting at, and I’ve talked a little bit about this, the evaluation process is a much more limited window because you’ve missed two-and-a-half months of watching these guys, how they act, how they lift, just how they go about their business, which is part of the evaluation. We always say ‘you’re being evaluated every day, everything you do’ – are you taking notes, do you have a pencil or pen, all those little things. We’ve missed a big chunk of that on top of some football things also there that would occur that would occur in the May/June portion of the year. I think evaluations will be critical and that’s played into play time also, making sure that guys we know a lot less about we get to see and get worked in all situations to try to best evaluate them. I think you saw some of that with the quarterbacks the other night with how we played them, knowing full well we have to have the starters, the backups, all those guys ready to go.”

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