Q&A with TODD HALEY - 11/11

Posted Nov 11, 2009


TODD HALEY: “As I start here, I’d like to recognize that it is Veterans Day. I have a couple of people who are close in my life that are veterans and I know it’s an important day to recognize all those people who make sacrifices including their lives and families.

“We’re beginning the third quarter of the season. Lot of interesting things that we talked about as a staff as we look to try and improve ourselves and find ways for this team to win football games. I thought today we had a good practice – high energy, got a lot done.”

Q: Did you do anything with the team to recognize Veterans Day?

HALEY: “Just something that’s personal to me that I think is important to recognize. At this last week’s game at Jacksonville there were military all over the place because Jacksonville is a big military area. I just think it’s great and any chance I get I like to recognize our people who do that for us so that we can live the way we live.”

Q: Mike Goff went to injured reserve today. What does that do to the offense and offensive line in general?

HALEY: “Mike is an important piece to us who we signed in the off-season to help a lot of these young guys figure out how to do it. Disappointing that his season is over; I know he is disappointed. But as we’ve said, injury is a part of this game. We actually were a little heavy at offensive line so I feel that last week Andy [Alleman] stepped in and played and he missed a couple of plays but fought back and finished the game strong. We’ll have to carry on. Guys have to step in.”

Q: How comfortable do you feel moving Andy in there in a full-time role?

HALEY: “I think Andy is a guy who has some experience, who has played and we got him for a reason. He’s worked hard and he’s battled some things physically but I think he’s a tough guy who wants to play and show what he’s capable of.”

Q: Did Rudy Niswanger participate fully today?

HALEY: “Yeah. Made it through the game, got to take your hat off to that guy. That’s a pretty impressive comeback. That’s a sign of somebody who wants to be on the field, wants to be part of it. Those are the kind of guys we’re looking for.”

Q: Will Ndukwe spell Alleman?

HALEY: “That’s probably his best position really. We tried to force the issue at tackle early but if it came down to it that’s a position he’s really comfortable playing. He’ll have his shot in there. That’s why I feel fairly comfortable with that being the spot.”

Q: You mentioned after the game that you wished you had run the ball more. Why didn’t you?

HALEY: “We’re backtracking, but I’ll backtrack for you. As I said after the game, the defense dictated a more pass-[oriented] thought process. As we went through the game again and again, which we do, I felt really comfortable with the way the game started last week. I think we kind of had an identity how we wanted to play. We started the game that way. I wish we would have gotten a first down on that first drive; I wish we would have got the additional yard on one of those carries which were runs.

“We had a chance to score on that first carry that Kolby had. If we got a block down field it would have been a score and we dropped a ball in the end zone. Then we subsequently ran it on the next down. I think early I really liked the way the game went as far as the pace, ball coming out, how we played, formations, running the football. I kind of liked that but we weren’t as efficient as we needed to be. If we were real efficient there we would have probably gotten 10 or 14 points.

“Then it deteriorated in the second half. We started with a sack on a ‘quick’ which can’t happen. That’s probably where I was most disappointed. After the fact it’s easy to say, but I wish I had run it on the first play of the second half. I really wish I had run it on the second down where we threw a completion for minus four [yards].

“Then the game got to a point where we had to throw it, so it really was that start of the second half that I was most disappointed with myself.”

Q: Is Kolby [Smith] come along to a point where he can be the starter?

HALEY: “He’s got four weeks now and that’s almost a training camp. He’s worked really hard so I wouldn’t put it past him. I’m still trying to keep it within reason and not have the expectations too high and understand what the situation is. But I would say Kolby Smith is the type of guy who could surprise you.”

Q: Do you prepare for the Raiders this time differently than you did the first time?

HALEY: “Yeah, I think you always prepare for what you’re seeing. They’re a different team than what they were back on week two, just as we are. You watch the tape, watch what’s happening on both sides of the ball and special teams and you try to best formulate a plan that maximizes the abilities of your players and covers up the limitations of your players.”

Q: That first Raiders game statistically was about as strange as any I’ve seen. Is that something you’ve looked at this week?

HALEY: “You’d like to win those games and statistics say you generally do close to 85% of the time. Just being plus [in giveaway-takeaway] is an interesting stat for our team. We’ve been in the plus category four times and you win 80% of those games – it’s eight out of 10 generally if you end up in the plus home or road. You’re going to win eight out of 10 of those and it hasn’t worked out that way for us.

“Going back to the bye week we’ve looked closely at ourselves and there are some interesting things about our team. Defensively, we’re in the top seven or eight in forcing three-and-outs - the top seven or eight in the league. Every team ahead of us in that particular category is a winning team. We’re not a winning team and something’s happening. I think it’s pretty clear to everybody that the big plays are the killers on defense. When we give up big plays in the passing games specifically that’s what’s causing us to lose.

“Offensively, we’re number one in [fewest] giveaways – us and New England. Seven times we’ve given the ball away. Generally that’s a winning stat. Generally if through eight games you give the ball away seven times you’re usually a winning team.

“So, we’re forcing three-and-outs, not giving the ball up, and we’re losing games. To me, we’ve got to create some more turnovers on defense and that would help us and it comes back to the minus plays. We’re now slowly starting to climb the ladder. We were dead last and there wasn’t anybody close. But we’ve climbed into the pack at least. Last week was very good in the first half and then four minus play in the second half and you see what happened. We need to continue to get that right.

“We’ve got to continue not to turn the ball over. We’ve got to not have minus plays which we’ll get us into the Red area more, I’ve got to believe. So, there are some interesting things but stats are for losers. Still, we’ve got to look at what will make this team better and I think there are some pretty obvious things that will help the team along.”

Q: Would you maybe accept a few more giveaways in the passing games if you could make some bigger plays stretching the field?

HALEY: “I won’t ever concede giveaways. If you turn the ball over you generally aren’t going to win most of the time. I know that to be fact. There have been very few teams that have been able to do that unless you can go up and down the field every time you get it: probably the St. Louis Rams in 2000 and 2001.

“That to me is not a stat that directly relates to winning: explosive plays. I think there are a lot of winning teams that don’t have a lot of explosive plays but play a little more ball control and they win games because they’re not turning it over. They’re doing some other things that I think are a little more critical at least to our team and how we can play.”

Q: The Raiders’ Russell has only had one game this year where he didn’t turn it over and it was against you. Did you have some chances against him or did he just play one of those games?

HALEY: “I thought we played really well defensively for most of that game and then when it counted in the final possession he led his team down the field and made all the plays he needed to make to win the game. It is what it is. We had some chances for some turnovers and we need to take advantage of those. It comes back to margin of error. When we get chances at turnovers we need to get them.”

Q: How are the Raiders a different team this time around?

HALEY: “When we met them they were pretty healthy. They got banged up in our game but they’re getting healthy again which is important for them. Sounds like they’re getting the running back back and Gallery is a big piece of their offensive puzzle. They’re a team that has had some real good games and probably some games they’re not happy with. To me, you get a team that can beat that Philadelphia Eagles team that’s a big win for them.

“We’re working our backsides off to find a way to get a win. The most important thing is what do we have to do to get that done? That’s what coaching is. It’s not just drawing it up on paper and saying we need to do this and if we don’t say we had the plan and they didn’t do it. That’s not it. We’ve got to find a way to maximize our players and minimize our weaknesses. If we can do that we’ll be pretty good coaches and we’ll be a team that competes every week and has a chance to win.”

Q: Any thoughts on going into the Black Hole in Oakland?

HALEY: “I like going there. There’s nothing like coming in on the bus into that parking lot. I don’t think there is another place quite like it. There’s no telling what you’ll see. I never like being on the road but it is an adventure from walking out of the tunnel on.”