Q&A with Todd Haley – 8/19

Posted Aug 19, 2010


OPENING REMARKS: “Good morning everyone. I’ll touch on last night a little bit; it was a nice thing for the fans to be able to come out and watch that final practice, not as able to be quite as competitive as we closer to games as we’d like to be, at least for the fans, but it appeared like it was a nice crowd out there and it definitely gives everybody a boost down there on the field. Again, just a quick thanks to everybody for making this all possible and we look forward to getting back here. It’s a great setup and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it and I feel like it’s been very productive for our players, for our coaches and for our team.”


Q: A couple passes from QB Matt Cassel seemed really accurate last night. Where do you see him at right now in this offense, in terms of his accuracy?

HALEY: “I believe Matt is making progress. He is one of those guys that in my eyes has been the same guy every day and this goes all the way back to last year, but he’s worked hard, he cares and he’s found a way to get a little bit better every day. I think as our entire operation improves, he’s going to improve along with it, in my eyes and from the information that I have to this point. The quarterback has to be accurate, that’s part of the job description – you have to be able to throw the ball where it needs to be thrown. That’s an area that’s clearly been improving and has continued to improve and I think last night you saw some evidence of that. I thought he made a bunch of real good throws in some tight spots. Now I’ve got a quarterback that appears is running the operation well, efficiently, throwing the ball where it’s supposed to go generally – all those decisions aren’t always going to be correct, there are a lot of factors going on there that and I wouldn’t expect them to all be perfect at this point. Now on top of that the ball is being thrown in the area that it has to be thrown for it to be completed. Those are all signs of progress for this guy. He cares and he wants to be a part of this, being a good team.”

Q: Is he more accurate at this time than he was at this time last year?

HALEY: “I would have to say, yeah. If he’s improved every day for the last however many days he’s been on campus going back to last year, then I would say that part of his improvement is going to be decision-making, part of his improvement is going to be the running of the operation – leading his team and part of it his improvement is going be accuracy. I would say so. There is still a lot to work on, make no mistake about that. There are a lot of little things that we’re talking about every day that either I’m talking to him about, (offensive coordinator) Charlie’s (Weis) or (offensive quality control coach) Nick’s (Sirianni) talking to him about every day, and not just Matt, it’s the other guys too. That’s just part of this deal and how you get better.”

Q: Is he better because of the talent that he has around too, that obviously is a factor?

HALEY: “You can say, that’s your opinion. I think he’s getting better because of the factors that I mentioned. I think he really cares, I think he’s got the skill to be a good quarterback in the league, be a talented player in the league and his work ethic; those things are all right where you want them. Now it’s just a matter of continuing to do it every day and that improvement will continue to show.”

Q: Would you describe the step he has to make this year a large one from last season’s performance to be what you need?

HALEY: “I don’t know how large or small. I just know that I want to see him making improvement on just about a daily basis and then on a game-to-game basis. Practice to practice, I want to see him make strides, day-to-day and game-to-game and I think if he does that things will be okay from what I can see in this guy. I think he’s got the skill-set to be a good quarterback in the league and that’s what he’s looking to do. Like I said back in the spring, I’m sure in his mind he wants to be a great quarterback and I’m not going to put a ceiling on it, that’s for sure.”

Q: For your offense, is there a number accuracy-wise that you need to have this guy hit?

HALEY: “I think if you’re above 65.0 percent you’re probably not going to be too disappointed with guys at that position. If you get too caught up in those percentages there are a lot of other factors that factor into them, especially at this stage in our development. I’m not going to get too caught up in that particular number in any way, shape or form because again, he can just do his job to the best of his ability and that’s what he’s working on daily.”

Q: You’re going to have to get down to 53 at some point, how many guys that you feel have solidified spots, just to get an idea of how many spots there might be if you’re really fighting for one spot?

HALEY: “I don’t know. I think that question was asked last year and at this stage in our development as a team I don’t even know if I would throw a number out there.”

Q: What went through your mind when TE Tony Moeaki broke free and hauled in that deep post pass, talk about him as a player?

HALEY: “Randy Grossman (former Steelers TE) splitting the middle of a cover two defense. What went through my mind? I was happy the offense made a play and I was disappointed the defense didn’t make a play. That’s the life I live now. When we get to carded periods it’s a little easier for me to function because it’s clearly two different sides of the ball and you can root for one side but these competitive periods – P90X, that workout thing that my wife makes me do, they say muscle confusion – competitive periods as a head coach are mind confusion because really if it’s a good play for one side it’s a bad play for the other side.”

Q: With Moeaki, what is it like to finally get to see something that you’ve wanted him to bring?

HALEY: “He’s a young, developing player that showed a lot of promise out of the gate. He’s a player that we’re very excited about and he was not on the field so one play isn’t going to do it for me. I want dependable guys that are out on the field every day that are the same guy every day. Right now he’s fought his way back it appears and was able to make a couple plays; he’s got to do that. It’s just what I said about all these young guys, they have no idea what’s in store. There is just no way to prepare them other than to just talk about it until they’ve been through it, so you can be as excited as you want about one, two, three or all of them but that excitement could go the other way when somebody hits a wall, when they say ‘whoa, whoa I didn’t know it was like this.’ That’s all we’re trying to do as coaches is continue to keep pushing, pushing, pushing and that’s the way it goes.”

Q: He didn’t play last weekend, so how important is this weekend’s game for him?

HALEY: “It’ll be his first game in the NFL so you’ll have to ask him but I would think it’s pretty important, knowing the kid. Maybe whether it’s little picture or bigger picture, I just want to see these guys show that they can be dependable teammates on and off the field on a daily basis.”

Q: What input, if any, do you have on trades or potential trades, or is that just (General Manager) Scott Pioli?

HALEY: “Without going into our internal operation I think we made it pretty clear that we’re in this together. I’m very grateful to be with a guy like Scott, number one as a person but number two as a general manager and personnel [executive]. We’re on the same page, that’s the simplest way to put it; we are on the same page on everything that goes on.”

Q: The only reason I ask is just because if he comes to you and says hey this team wants this player for a draft pick. Is it fair to say that the general manager is able to look more long term, big picture and you’re looking more at each individual game, each individual season? Does that make sense? It might be tougher for you to say well, yeah that sounds great but I want this player for this year and that draft pick’s not going to be able to help us until next year.

HALEY: “You’d probably have to ask Scott some of those things. All I can tell you is we’re on the same page and if we’re not then those decisions aren’t made. It’s not going to be out of bounds. This also includes the coaching staff, the owner, everyone involved, and that’s the way we’re going to do things and that‘s the real positive idea of when you hear us say, when you hear me talk about the coaches, or you hear the coaches say something about our commonality as far as philosophically being kind of brought up in a certain ways that we believe works and that jumps over to the personnel-management side with Scott, obviously. Probably a big reason why I’m here and a reason why I’m real happy to be here because to be a successful team those decisions, and they’re all big decisions, you better be on the same page. As far as big picture, again, that’s probably a Scott question. I pride myself on the way I was raised by a great personnel man, in my eyes and the people in-the-know eyes, at least from what people have told me. He was a big-picture guy, my father, as far as in his mind, his job was to find players for the head coach so the head coach could coach them and they could win games and that’s pretty much what they did for a long time. I think a lot of that through conversations over 40 years of just hanging out kind of shaped me. I’d like to think I think outside the box, not small-minded, wide-minded.”

Q: Coach for this game coming up, do you want to see your starters play more or do you have something you want to see and get out of this game in particular?

HALEY: “I just want to be better than we were the last game. That’s not saying anything about that performance, it’s just, that’s what we have to do right now Karen. That was the first game, this is the second game; we’ve got to make progress. For us to be a good team this year, we’ve got to make progress every day. This is our second game, all of these guys understand that it’s important that each and every one of them shows progress and if we’re doing that we’ll have a chance to be a good team.”

Q: How long will the starters play?

HALEY: Again, I’m getting ready to go over there and talk a little play time now with the coaches. I would probably, for the most part, expect a little more without putting a number on it. We’ve got to get these guys ready to play. We’ve got a relatively young team that, hey face it, it comes down to how you play in the games. You can say whatever you want about practice; I’m obviously a very big believer that practice is very important to your development as a team. The bottom line is how do you play on Sunday, Saturday whenever that game is, you know it’s Saturday this week so that’s what we’re looking for is for guys to come out and perform under the bright lights.”

Q: You’ve said before many times how pleased you are with the facilities here and the fact that the fans have been able to come and be a part of the workout. When you go out there this afternoon for your last session in St. Joseph would you say you’re behind, ahead, or right at where you had hoped you would be three weeks ago at this stage in the preseason?

HALEY: “I was encouraged coming in day one and I’m still encouraged so I would say we’re either on schedule or a little ahead. It’s a pretty broad question but I haven’t felt any major dips.”

Q: Saturday after breakfast at the hotel when you break up into offense and defense, what room will T Bobby Greenwood go into?

HALEY: “Bobby Greenwood is officially a meat and potatoes guy or steak and potatoes guy now. Again, this is one of those things that last year, this is a guy that learned the meaning of ‘the more you can do.’ That’s something we tell all the young players or the whole team; I let them know right out of the gate, the more you can do – whether that’s special teams or whether it’s in season, you’re on the practice squad and you can jump over and run some cards on offense because we’re missing a couple of guys or whatever it is, the more you can do, it increases your chances. This is a good hard-working kid that cares, that does things the way we want them done, and just really think, the more we talked about it, like I said about (offensive line) Coach (Bill) Muir, this guy is a great o-line coach but a great developer of offensive line talent and just through discussions and maybe some circumstance that subject came up again and we felt there’s a chance. As far as the kid goes, without going too far into family business, I think what I tried to be clear to him with was it might be his best chance right now. That doesn’t mean it can’t change. Tomorrow something could happen and he’d be back over there. The more you can do, he’s living it right now and he’s head first in, he isn’t a toe tester, he isn’t checking out checking the waters to see if it’s cold or not, he’s head first, and I think after a few practices everybody feels pretty good about what he’s doing.”

Q: It seems like he’s handled it pretty well. I mean there are fundamentals he shows. Does that say more about him or does it say something about the former defensive line mates that he’s going against?

HALEY: “No, no, no. I wouldn’t say that. Believe me they’re trying to beat him up. There’s some things that he’s a little…that obviously he could get a little quicker. Like I said, he got some work last year. We coached him. When he was over there on cards he wasn’t just running cards, you have to have a guy in there that understands most of the blocking schemes and then you got to start understanding some of the twists and the things that are happening on the other side which he’ll have a head, that’ll be an advantage to him having played a lot of defensive line. He’s got a brother that’s a lineman, his dad is a monster if you’ve ever seen him, I don’t know, he makes Bobby look small. He’s in head first like I said and I think he’s got some ability. To come in there right out of the gate and do some good things, I think that’s positive. The one thing I didn’t want to do to Bobby was start this back and forth, I think that would be a detriment to him and his chances to make it in the league and so we just, a lot of talk again, and I had to make a decision on what we were going to do. Because one, that’s another head coach decision that you’ve got, and then I get accused of being an offensive minded coach which I’m no longer.”

Q: Three practices and your new quarterback looks very comfortable, very accurate.

HALEY: “Western PA guy.”

Q: There was it seemed like no time to adapt; he just went right in.

HALEY: “Well, that’s why I can yell at Tyler (Palko) and call him names because now I’ve got a new Western (Pennsylvania) guy that I can root for and the old western PA guy, you know, now I can get after a little. The cradle of quarterbacks has now moved into Missouri.”

Q: Will he play?

HALEY: “I would think there’s a good chance, yeah. Like I said, we saw enough things back in the spring to say if there were an opportunity this would be a good option for us.”

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