Q&A with Todd Haley – 8/23

Posted Aug 24, 2010


OPENING REMARKS: “Before I get started here on the game and practice, I know there’s been a lot of concern for CB/S Maurice Leggett and I don’t talk about guys that aren’t on the field and injuries but I do want to, in this case, let everybody know that all signs are positive. It doesn’t appear there is any neck issue, all those things came back negative and it sounds like he’ll be able to get back at it sooner rather than later, so that’s a real good thing for all of us.


“As far as the game, pretty simple for our team, us as a coaching staff trying to continue to let our players understand or make our players understand that in most of these games here this year, I feel like every play is very critical and it will be very critical in us winning or losing. I think it was evident in that game the other night that each and every play could be the play that decides the game. I feel like our games are going to come down to one or two plays potentially deciding it so, for example, we’re fourth-and-goal from the two late in the game, a false start puts us into fourth-and-goal from the seven. That’s what I’m talking about. Though it wouldn’t be a huge thing in the game – five yards, it could have potentially been what could have changed the outcome. That’s a big point of emphasis for us as a staff. Secondly, offensively, we cannot turn the football over. We’ve done that too much in two games for any of us and defensively we must tackle. That was the difference in the game when it was all is said and done. If we protect the football, tackle, we have a much better chance to win the game.

“I was encouraged by a lot of things that went on in the game. I’ve talked about most of them, but offensively we had to come out and move the football – we did that pretty effectively, minus the turnover. We didn’t have a lot of minus plays in the game offensively. Really we had one penalty in the game, two that were declined but that’s a good sign in the second preseason game for our team. That’s something that started to trend that way as last year went on. It looks like we’re continuing to get across how we want to play football and again, the fewer minus plays we can have out there one way or another, the better our chances. Defensively, good against the run as I felt after just being on the sideline – that showed up on tape. We did a good job other than we missed the tackle that allowed the big gain. If we tackle, we did a good job I think, for the most part. Encouraging signs but it comes down to fundamentals and that’s what we’ve got to work on. We were out there today; I thought we had a good day getting back at it. It was pretty competitive for the most part and we’ll have two tomorrow.”

Q: Real quick on CB/S Maurice Leggett, this doesn’t appear to be anything career-threatening or long-term?

HALEY: “Everything is positive that I’ve heard. All things point to the fact that this should not affect him career-wise.”

Q: Is he still in the hospital?

HALEY: “I don’t want to get into Maurice’s personal business, one way or the other but everything looks good – there is nothing spinal-related or anything like that. He was in a pretty good collision and I think the trainers and doctors did everything that they’re supposed to as far as taking all precautions. It’s a scary situation but that part of it is out of the mix and I’ve been assured that sooner rather than later he’ll be out there practicing and once he is, I think we’ll be able to talk a little more about it.”

Q: Why are you running the ball better with RB Jamaal Charles than with RB Thomas Jones right now?

HALEY: “You’re saying just statistically? I would not say, in my opinion, that we’re running better necessarily with Jamaal than Thomas. The situations that some of those guys have been in are different situations. For instance, Thomas was in there on two third-and-shorts, one a little longer two-and-a-half or something like that I believe – those are big carries. The third-and-one he really made on his own and that third-and-two-and-a-half was a big-time run I thought. That may be your opinion, I think he hasn’t been in enough, I don’t think either one of them have been in enough to make that determination. What I am excited about is I feel like we’re going to have the chance to be a pretty good running football team. That’s the way I believe that you win games and I think we’re building on that and I’m starting to get excited that we can be pretty productive running the football.”

Q: What is encouraging about your running game that you’ve seen so far, with your starters at least?

HALEY: “It appears that number one, we’re winning at the line of scrimmage in these first two games and then it appears to me that our backs are making yards – in addition, sometimes a little more than is there. In that game, the one run I’d like to have back other than the fumble, which I know RB Thomas (Jones) would like to have back, was the one down in their end where Thomas got out in space and made one move and it appeared he was in great shape and made a second move…This guys has a lot of pride and he was pretty down about turning the ball over and was out there trying to make a play for us, which I appreciate. I just feel good about the direction we’re going in all areas as an offense. It looks like guys are working well together, we’re efficient, we’re communicating and guys are making a play on their own occasion, which is a good thing.”

Q: Thomas Jones had two of his best three statistical years in New York with FB Tony Richardson in front of him. How vital is that to his success to have a good fullback?

HALEY: “I think there are all kinds of different runners in this league but I wouldn’t pigeon-hole Thomas Jones necessarily into saying that he’s strictly a two-back runner or outside/inside, whatever it is. I’ve actually had this conversation with him a couple times, you know, third-and-two and you have to get a first down for the Super Bowl – what kind of run? I believe this guy has some versatility as far as runs and that’s what I like about what’s going on. What you want to be is when he’s in there you’re running one way, when Jamaal’s (Charles) you’re running another and when whoever else is in there, there’s tendencies that develop that way. I think both Jamaal and Thomas can run the runs that we have in our offense, our bread and butter runs, so-to-speak. I think now it’s just a matter of continuing to work and let them continue to see it, let them continue to see it, let our line continue to block it and continue to get better.”

Q: When you took the field today in your base formation you had FB Mike Cox out there with Thomas Jones. Was that just coincidence or is that something that you want to see?

HALEY: “No. That’s purely coincidence. Purely coincidence there. We had a correction period out there today, we were doing a couple of different things, even some of the plays in the non-correction period were plays from the Tampa game that we felt like we wanted to see again, somebody had made a mistake or we wanted to make an adjustment.”

Q: Can you speak to the play of RB Jackie Battle?

HALEY: “We’ve been talking about these developing players, these two/three-year guys that need to develop, I’ve talked specifically to a bunch of those guys about separating themselves from the pack in a good way and I think that Jackie in that game, he appears like he’s trying to do that. He definitely got things going when he was in there; he appears like he’s trying to do that. He definitely got things going when he was in there, he made a couple runs that were well-blocked but I also think he made a couple plays that he probably had to make on his own. Out there today in that developmental area late, I thought he made another good run. He’s trying to do that, separate himself from the other guys, and I think that’s what each and every guy on the team is really working hard at doing. It’s up to us to evaluate them and try to get the best team together.”

Q: What have you seen from CB Brandon Carr throughout camp? There seemed to be some days when he would have a good day and some days where he struggled. What have you seen out of him during that time?

HALEY: “I’m seeing progress, and there has to be. We have to play better defense – it’s going to take all 11 doing their job on each and every play. There’s just no way around it. When there’s a play at him, a run or a pass, the spotlight’s going to be on him and he’s got to do his job and be aggressive, be physical, be a good defender and when plays are away, he’s got to be running his butt off to pursue and take the right angles and do those things. He had a little rough patch early on, I think that he’ll admit to, but the good thing is he’s fought back and it appears he’s now doing the things that we need every day – which is being a dependable player and get better a little bit every day. Is he perfect, no, but nobody on this team is. Everybody’s working and trying to be the best they can and he’s one of those guys.”

Q: Carr and CB Brandon Flowers are both third-year guys but are kind of senior members of this secondary as it turns out. How unusual of a position is that for those guys to be young veterans in the secondary?

HALEY: “I think it’s a lot of places on this team. A lot of positions on this team are in that mix. Now, the secondary, we’ve got S Jon McGraw back there and really CB Mike Richardson, you’d say, but yeah, you’re right, after that we’ve got a lot of young guys. I think that can be a real good thing too. I think this group is coming together as a group overall. They are going to be a prideful group that wants to be a real good secondary in the league and I think there’s enough ability there to do that. Right now they’re in the process of working real hard to help us be a better team.”

Q: Is there a little more responsibility on those guys that a typical third-year guy doesn’t have to think about?

HALEY: “There’s no doubt about that. In a perfect world they’d probably love to have not just one but a couple veteran-type guys to lean on in certain situations. That’s why I’m excited about our staff – (defensive backs coach) Emmitt Thomas, to have a guy like him that’s been there, number one, being one of the all-time greats and then to have (defensive quality control coach) Otis (Smith), another real tough-minded guy that played a long time in the league and I think that‘s a pretty good one-two punch for these younger secondary players to lean on and learn from. One way or another they’re going to be getting it and I’m excited about the direction that they can go. Now we just have to do it a little better more of the time.”

Q: It seems like T Branden Albert has had a good preseason the first couple of games, how do you think he’s been doing?

HALEY: “I think Branden Albert is making progress. I’ve felt that about Branden going all the way back to last year, from the conditioning aspect and buying into that thought process of believing what he’s being told – that he could be a better player if he were in better condition and at a certain weight. I think he went through an adjustment period of dealing with his new body, he stayed in shape when the season ended, he came into this off-season at a baseline where he has to be and then he built on it. He’s gotten stronger, he’s gotten quicker, he’s gotten better stamina, all those things and then on top of that I think what’s really helping Branden is he’s got this 91 (LB Tamba Hali) lining up across from every single day. I think when Tamba brings it like he’s bringing it in a game and if you’ve been out here to practice a bunch, you see this guy isn’t calling off the dogs very often. So I see a good battle between Branden and Tamba on a consistent basis and that’s going to make both of them better, but I think Branden’s benefitting from that work every day. I think that’s what’s showed. Out of all the things he’s done to put himself in a position to succeed, now he’s working, he’s got good competition, I think that makes the games a little easier for him and he’s just got to keep it going.”

Q: How do you feel about the progress of LB Jovan Belcher?

HALEY: “Jovan got extensive play time the other night, obviously. It was his first time in there with a bunch of the first group other than in nickel situations or on a couple-play basis so that was a real test for him. I though Jovan got in there and did a good job. He was the signal-caller, he had to do a little more communicating in a game situation and I thought all those things were good for us and for Jovan. I think he’s a guy who made considerable progress last year and now into this year to this point he’s continuing to make progress and I think we’ve got pretty good competition going on there at inside linebacker in general.”

Q: How concerned are you that the defense has no sacks and no turnovers at this point?

HALEY: “More concerned for the turnovers, but maybe they go hand-in-hand. There was some pressure the other night. That was a quick passing team. There was not a lot of holding onto the ball which makes it a little bit more difficult. I would say also, what we are doing real good as a coaching staff is sticking to our guns as far as what I said in here. We have to learn how to play fundamental defense which means all 11 guys need to understand what they have to do and how we want them to do it with the technique that we are coaching. Through two games we are forcing our guys to play fundamental defense. We are not relying on any kind of pressure or those things to fool anybody. Our guys are learning how to play the defense and that is what we are going to do this week, the week after and every day in between. We are going to learn how to play defense and how we need to do it and then see how good we can get.

“We need to create turnovers. We had a couple of opportunities, but we need more. When we get those opportunities just like everybody else on this team, every other aspect of this team, we need to take advantage of opportunities. If the ball is thrown to us, pops out, we need to end up with the ball on defense most of the time. That is what we need to do.”

Q: What impact did S Jon McGraw have on rookie safeties Eric Berry and Kendrick Lewis on Saturday night?

HALEY: “I don’t think it was coincidence he was there. I like Jon McGraw. I think he is a heady player, a tough player. He proved that last year in a couple of different instances. I think he is a team player. He wants to be part of us becoming a good team in whatever role it is. He is in a competition and I know he is antsy to get out there. He’s what we are talking about what good teams do when you have starters that are veteran starters that are training and helping the younger guys that could take their job. When you have that kind of selflessness and that type of team atmosphere I think good things are happening. I think he is an example of that.”

Q: Do the mistakes on special teams today turn your hair gray?

HALEY: “We did a couple of things in that period. We hadn’t coached them up in some of those situations. The free kick situation was a little different, on-the-fly-learning, so-to-speak. You are glad on the fair catch you saw them run into each other, that is an example, I would rather those be happening out here on the practice field than in the game. That is all part of the process of developing a team into a smart team. You have a lot of different age groups that are learning a lot of different things. I am happy they happened out here on the practice field.”

Q: Is DE Wallace Gilberry getting more opportunity to play on first and second down?

HALEY: “This is an open competition up front. As we get into this game coming up we will probably have to get into a little more role-related spots, not speaking specifically to Wallace. Wallace is in a competition to be one of the guys in the front three in a 3-4 defense and I think he can do that. He has to play with great technique. He has to do the things the way he is supposed to do them and he has to know what to do. He is in a competition so I wouldn’t pigeon Wallace as one or the other or sub-rush or just a first and second-down player. That being said, I think this week we’ve got to get into finding out what roles some of these guys can, might and will play within the offense, defense and special teams.”

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