Q&A with Todd Haley – 9/17

Posted Sep 17, 2010


OPENING REMARKS: “Back on schedule. This was a normal Friday for us which we were happy to get to. We continued our preparation today with our general Friday practice. We’re a couple days now away from the Cleveland Browns who I know took care of us last year in a couple different areas, even though I think we were able to move the ball a little bit offensively, we’re able to defend the pass a little bit, the run, and the special teams are an even bigger concern. They’ve got a number of real good players and I think they’ve added some into the mix across the ball into both areas, which I think has helped them become a better team. They obviously finished strong last year, had a tough one last week. I know they will be prepared – I know (Head Coach) Eric (Mangini) and his staff will have them prepared so we’re going to have to do everything we can over the next two day to get ready to go.”


Q: How much more difficult is it to prepare for a game when you don’t know who the starting quarterback is going to be?

HALEY: “Whenever that occurs it’s always a problem. It’s always a bigger problem than knowing who it is because when you know who it is you’re preparing for that person. Now the one benefit to not knowing is we’re preparing for multiple guys and sometimes in games when there’s been a quarterback change during the game that you haven’t been expecting, that’s just as difficult – you’ve prepared all week for one and whether someone gets injured or they change the quarterback and you have to see somebody that you haven’t prepared, that’s equally as difficult sometimes. It is a problem and they are two different quarterbacks in some ways but in the drop-back aspect they’re the same. So that part of it is what I’m a little worried about.”

Q: You mentioned the number one thing last week was don’t turn the ball over. WR Dexter McCluster made the probably the most spectacular play of the game but he was also the guy that came the closest to turning the ball over. How do you measure what Dexter did last week, the great play but also the near disaster?

HALEY: “You just keep coaching him. As I’ve said I’m really excited, it’s not very often that you get competition at that position, true competition where guys are competing and trying to outdo the other one. I think that’s a real good problem to have, in my opinion. These are two young guys that I think you have to understand that there are going to be some ups and downs. Like I said, to this point, those two have done a lot of real good things but like you said, as CB Javier (Arenas) on defense had a couple plays he’d probably like back and I know Dexter and the toss we gave him and the punt, he’d like to have those back. I think it’s just a matter of coaching these young guys to do it the way you want it done and the thing I really like about this whole entire rookie group, they really are very coachable. They listen and they do it the way you’re asking them to do it. That’s a real good thing. That’s a good problem to have, Nick.”

Q: You talked about Dexter fielding that punt inside the 10-yard line and how it had a lot to do with San Diego P Mike Scifres and your preparation for him. Would you be more inclined with these two punt returners to take that risk more often because the reward is there?

HALEY: “I think it was a punter that we’ve seen enough over a period of time from Mike (Scifres) that he can bomb it. There are a lot of great that goes with bombing it for the team that’s bombing it, but occasionally if you can get back and field it cleanly, you’re able to create some separation between you and the coverage team, which is always a good thing. Generally I think it was just the punter and I don’t know if that would’ve changed dramatically. With these two young guys, you want them returning when they can return. It’s no different than kickoffs, you might tell them or you tell somebody else, hey, beyond four yards, keep it in, make the good judgment. You might tell them not eight yards deep but if it’s four-and-a-half or five and you really feel good on the trajectory or the hang-time, that it’s low, then go ahead – let’s get something done. You want all the opportunities you can get for these guys.”

Q: Would you prefer that the running back balance stays balanced or would you like to have one of those good problems where RB Jamaal Charles keeps averaging seven yards a carry or whatever it is that he forces you to give him more carries?

HALEY: “I don’t know that I can answer that Nick. It’s a good situation for the Kansas City Chiefs, not a lot different than the punt returners. There are going to be a lot of different variables that are introduced to a game, some that you know about, some that you don’t that you’re going to have to react and adjust no different than the returners and I think that’s the way it’s going to be with these backs. It’s a good problem to have. Now, for the fantasy football world or something like that I could see it being a bad problem to have but we’re worried about the Kansas City Chiefs and what we need to do to win and what I’m excited about is we not only have two pretty good backs but we have two young up-and-comers in RB Jackie Battle and McCluster that are going to be fighting for some carries too. Those are good problems.”

Q: You’ve talked about not having a letdown this weekend. Even though it’s only the second week, are you able to tell what you’re going to get out of your players on Sunday based on the work they’ve done during the week?

HALEY: “I think it is early, Karen, and especially the short week has such an impact on energy levels and some of those things. We’ve all had to push through this week because it’s just one you know, not that you get much sleep anyway, but you’re going to get less. The players are going to be sore because the field was wet and soggy and had a lot of give. They were more sore than maybe they would’ve been, so that’s a factor. We’ve just got to push them, continue to let them know what they’re in for this Sunday. I think each day has gotten a little better, and I think that’s a good sign. The one thing our team has shown going back to training camp has through some ups and downs, whether it’s within a practice or it’s between practice one and practice two that they’ve been able to bounce back. I think you saw some of that bounce-back this week and like I said we’ve got a couple days here to do everything we can from a physical standpoint of taking care of your bodies – I said some things yesterday, hydrating, cold tubs and keeping your feet up, not just up but up above your waist and drink a lot of water and Gatorade and those types of things. That’s what we’re pushing them to do so we can be ready to be at our peak levels.”

Q: Last year you weren’t always happy with the results or how you guys played but are there any cases where you weren’t happy with your team’s focus during the week and effort on Sundays?

HALEY: “I think a few times, though it was a very difficult year and it wasn’t a lot of fun because winning is the reward for all the sacrifice and work that goes into this for everyone involved and that made it impossible to be a lot of fun. But I will say this group, the core of this group, the core that’s come forward, and that’s a lot of different levels of players that we’re talking about, I think they want to be good. When you want to be good you listen and you do the things the way you’re being asked to do and you work hard and we had ups and downs through weeks and we had good plays and bad plays and not enough great plays. I would say that I really felt part of why I was encouraged going into this off-season was because it felt like we were able to make some progress weekly. We continued to get better, though maybe the outside world didn’t see it but when you’re seeing these guys on a daily basis and you’re seeing the progress we’re making in different areas, we know. That’s why there was encouragement going into the off-season and that continued to build with the players that we were bringing in to add to the competition, the veterans, the rookies and adding into the core that was coming forward along with the core of the coaching staff, that led to a little more encouragement. I went into last week really feeling like we had a chance to go out and compete and potentially show that we were getting better. Now, did I know that the result was going to be what it was but I felt like we were going to go out with that opportunity and be a little better than we were the week before. That’s really what I’m trying to stay focused on.”

Q: How do you judge the effectiveness of your pass rush?

HALEY: “I would say I don’t know that there is a clear-cut answer to that Bob. Take for instance the last play of the game last week, the effort by a number of different players, really all 11 that were out there but the guys that ended up being the pressure players to create a push on QB Philip Rivers up the middle, whether that would be considered a pressure, not a pressure, who gets the pressure, I don’t know – nobody came free necessarily until he was out of the pocket, but that was an effective pressure created to force a quarterback who isn’t really an outside-the-pocket thrower for the most part into a situation that we’d rather have him in. I think there are a bunch of different ways to judge it. I’m definitely not doing it off the stat sheet. I’m doing it off of duress created, if the desired duress that we would like and obviously if you can get a sack, great, if you can get a hit, that’s great, those add up. I think the less time you can give the quarterback to throw, and that could be because one of his own guys is backing into him. I don’t know that it’s a clear-cut answer for it but you’re trying to disrupt the timing. You’re trying to do that with the secondary with re-routes and you’re trying to do it with the guys up front.”

Q: That duress they feel, can you quantify that in completion percentage, interceptions, average yards per attempt?

HALEY: “I think the average yards per attempt is a big number in football but again it depends entirely on the situation. Say for instance that game last week, we knew we could not give up a touchdown and stay out of overtime. If we could keep them out of the end zone we would win the game for those last couple drives really. That number means nothing to me as far as that game goes because it didn’t matter what occurred. What couldn’t occur was they could not get in the end zone. That number I think is a good number in football but I think it can be misleading at times.”

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