Q&A with Todd Haley - 8/2

Posted Aug 2, 2010


OPENING REMARKS: “Good afternoon everyone. We got through the morning practice today and yesterday afternoon’s practice. I continue to be encouraged with the way all of the guys are working right now. I think what’s starting to occur now is we’re moving into our sixth practice and guys are getting acclimated to their surroundings, the conditions, the weather conditions and they’re kind of settling into a routine right now, which is good. They’re resting right now. We’ll have a brief meeting between practices and then we’ll be back at it here this afternoon. Again, things are moving in the right direction, it appears. We’ve got a lot of guys working and we’re just encouraged with what we’re doing right now.”


Q: Now that you’re the head coach exclusively and you’re not also the offensive coordinator, do you find yourself missing some of the more hands-on stuff that you were doing with the offense that is now more Charlie’s job?

HALEY: “It’s a good question Nick. I haven’t had that feeling. When I got this job, this is what I envisioned or how I envisioned things operating and I feel very comfortable that as a staff we are operating very efficiently. Because I’m able to be in the role I really felt was the best role for us and for this team, I’m able to interact with a lot of different areas that I normally wouldn’t get to. That’s fun and exciting to me as a football coach.”

Q: WR Dwayne Bowe got good reviews from Larry Fitzgerald’s camp and he performed well in minicamp. Over these first few days of camp, is this the best Dwayne you’ve seen – can you see a difference?

HALEY: “I’m very close with Larry obviously so that was something that I personally last year wanted Dwayne [to do]. Larry had showed an interest or said he would like him to be up there working with him. It was something I really wanted him to do last year which we weren’t able to get to. This year it worked out well. That’s just one piece. We’re five practices into camp; he is in my mind’s eye, clearly ahead of where he was last year at this time. That’s really what all of us are trying to do is be better each day. I think if that continues as we go forward, good things will come open. Dwayne, like everybody else on this team put their heart and soul into this off-season. That little break between when we let them go and when they came back on Thursday was an important, critical time for all of them. It was made very clear to all the players that they needed to use that time wisely and not go backwards in any way, shape or form. The nice thing about the situation we’re talking about is I’m close with Larry. QB Tyler Palko was up there. You know that Larry and he played together in college and a bunch of other players I know. I was able to interact over the phone with a bunch of them, Dwayne included. That’s reassuring as the head coach and as much as I made it clear, I was worrying during that time like a dad would worry when your kids go away, we put a lot of work in and I didn’t want to lose any ground. On Dwayne specifically, I had a pretty close connection and was able to big-brother it with him. They all use their time wisely up here, for the most part. That’s why I feel good about what we’re doing right now.”

Q: You’re stressing the mental side of things as well and focus has always been an area where Dwayne had to work hard. How is he handling that?

HALEY: “All I can go on is what I see and all the coaching staff can go on is what they see. Dwayne, like a lot of other guys, it appears is ahead of where he was last year at this time. I know we need to be a smart team, I said that last year and as long as I’m here, it’s something we’ll stress. These guys, the more we can all be on the same page, meaning myself, the staff and the players, the better chance you have to succeed in the league. That’s something that’s important. I just try to make sure as the head coach that when we’re going through that stuff that I pick on the right guys and paying attention that everybody else is paying attention. I enjoy that.”

Q: You did some of that last year, but it seems like you’re doing more of it this year?

HALEY: “I don’t know. Maybe we’re just doing it better Bob, in your eyes. I think schedule-wise, five minutes each two-a-day and eight minutes in the one-a-day. I think that part of it is the same. Like everybody else out here, I hope I’m better than I was last year too.”

Q: How much chance does LB Derrick Johnson have of starting this year?

HALEY: “As much chance as anybody else out on that field. Until we move into another bracket as a team, I think that as the head coach, you have to create competition and be aware of that. I think everybody out there feels like, without speaking for them, guys feel like if they’re the best guy for the job they’ll get the job. I don’t know that I separate anybody right now. I will say on Derrick that he’s clearly ahead of where he was last year and I’m excited about that. He was one of our top off-season guys and got a little fun award for it and I think he’s trying to take the next step like all of us, which is training camp. Or the off-season won’t mean anything.”

Q: It’s not tough for a guy like that who is kind of down in your eyes so to speak, to get back up and elevate him back to competing for a starting job?

HALEY: “You said down in your eyes, I’m not saying that about Derrick. Derrick, like a lot of young guys on this team, we’re all growing and we’re all continuing to grow up. I didn’t come into a team of seven, eight or nine-year vets that was established or had been on some kind of run or some of these other situations where guys have taken over. It is what it is. I hate that term, by the way.”

Q: How do you feel about the defense overall right now, what are your thoughts?

HALEY: “I think we’re five days into a long training camp and what’s going to be a lot of work but I’m glad we have this time because obviously we had to make steps in all areas: offense, defense, special teams, coaching, we had to do better in every area. When you win four games there is no way around it. Defensively, like I’ve said a couple times, we need some first, second and third-year guys to take the next step for us and develop. We need some of our guys that were already playing to play better. I think five practices in I feel like we’re moving in the right direction. I thought yesterday, defensively, I had a real good night last night, I was feeling real good about myself just because of how they did yesterday but today I think we took a little step back. That’s part of it right now. The more, like I said, be the same group or a little better each day and then I’ll start to get real excited. I feel like we’re going in the right direction. I know they’re being coached well and I know they’re listening and trying to do it the way we’re coaching it.

Q: Is this defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel’s deal then or are you in it hands-on as well? What role do you play in the defense?

HALEY: “I think no different than any part of the team; I would say I’m probably a hands-on head coach. I want to know why we’re doing what we’re doing and how we’re going to do it and I think that what I can add to that mix is from an offensive perspective. I’ve coached offense a long time and obviously haven’t coached defense but because I had to figure out ways to play against defense I think there’s some benefit there and I try to offer it when I think I can. The bottom line is in all areas of this team, I want to know how we’re going to do something and why we’re doing it and then I’ll offer my opinion when I feel like it’s needed. I have great confidence in all these guys, all these coaches and that’s one of the things I’m excited about through an off-season and now a small portion of training camp because you don’t ever know how things are going to go. Right now, I feel we’re operating efficiently and I feel very comfortable that we’re getting the message out there the way it needs to be for us to have a chance.”

Q: Are you seeing any growth so far out of QB Matt Cassel?

HALEY: “Yeah. I don’t think there’s a doubt about that but there needs to be. Like everybody else, he’s a critical piece of this puzzle obviously. I sound like a broken record, but I knew last year as I think I said in here, I don’t know if I said it, but anybody that survived a difficult year like last year would be better for it. I don’t know any great teams that things started easy. I was just talking to coach (Steve) Hoffman, our special teams coach, and he happened to be in Dallas for that 1-15 debacle. He came in with coach (Jimmy) Johnson and we probably talked for just about a half hour just about that again, which would have been awhile ago. I’m in no way comparing our team to that team, but there is hardship and there are difficult beginnings but that sometimes is what forges or what kind of wills you into becoming something special.”

Q: What areas specifically with Matt?

HALEY: “Well, I don’t know if right now I want to get into specifics, but it’s clear to me that Matt having gone through an adjustment year like he had to in so many ways, he really came into a team where everybody believed to be the starter, his teammates all those things. He was in a totally different role with totally different players around him, coaches around him and he continued to improve in my eyes as last year went on. He is a tough-minded guy, which I really like, he’s hard to rattle and he’s physically tough and he came into this offseason raring to go. We have had to drag him out of there as I’ve said a couple times, I mean, this guy likes to work, he likes football, he likes talking about football, he likes practicing football, he’s doing all the things all the good things quarterbacks I’ve been around like to do, so now this is his next opportunity to grow. Five practices in, I’m encouraged with the direction he’s going also. I expect that it’s not going to be without bumps in the road because he really is not a real experienced player in the league, anyway you cut it, but he gained a great deal of experience last year, and though it didn’t always go well, it was great experience. I just feel like he’s taking that experience and building on it.”

Q: Coach, can you talk about Colin Brown and the offensive line. He has played around here and he’ a Missouri product. Has he talked about playing close to home at all and how have you seen his progression? HALEY: “Colin had a rough year last year getting injured early at camp or midway through camp so. Anytime a young guy has to go through not only the transition from college to the NFL and you throw in your kind of on the outside looking in which no matter how we try to, as coaches keep that from happening, it’s just a fact of life. You’ve got a guy who is rehabbing and not able to do the other things his teammates are doing, but Colin, he didn’t go in the tank and he’s a tough-minded guy. I know he is excited about the opportunity, when you have something taken away from you that you have been doing for a long time, that’s not always easy to swallow, but he’s kept his head up and worked hard on his body – I think he’s physically much further ahead of where he was last year and now it’s going to be up to him to fight his way through and try to make a name for himself. Again, he’s not the only one and you would have to talk to him on being from around here and things like that because we are pretty much focused on just trying to get the best guys onto this team.”

Q: Coach, one more on Matt Cassel. It looks like he has as much desire to be as good as he can be as about anybody. Is that your perception, too? Who could want it more than he does?

HALEY: “I’ll just speak on my feelings of Matt (Cassel). Again, I think he shows a lot of signs of other good or real good quarterbacks I have been around, and one of those signs is that he likes football and I think he wants to be good or I think he probably wants to be great. I like that about players, and the more guys we have like that the better team we are going to be.”

Q: You talked about how much how you liked your rookies right after you drafted them. Today it seemed like you were testing them. Are you learning more about these guys, not just as players, but about their personalities? Is that part of your learning process, as well?

HALEY: “Yeah, I think that is coaching and I think the better ability you have at understanding which buttons to push and when, probably the better coach you are going to be. The bottom line is this entire group and not just the rookies – this entire group of players; they’re fun to be around. I am having fun as the head coach because what makes it fun for a head coach is when you come out on a 95-degree day and guys are raring to go, and it’s not like pulling teeth, that’s what I’m excited about. I think we have a lot of guys, just like we were talking about Matt, that like football that want to help make this team into a good team and hopefully a great team and that makes it fun. I can’t wait for each practice to start, and that’s why I feel like I have the greatest job in the world, other than the guys that get to play.”

Q: Javier seemed worried.

HALEY: “You missed yesterday when he had a late hit in the end zone five yards deep. I would like to know what his face looked like on that one.”

Q: What kind of progress have you seen from LBs Jovan Belcher and Andy Studebaker from last year and camp this year?

HALEY: “I think I probably speculate too much on progress on all these guys that I have talked about, but we are five practices in and those are two players that we started to become excited about as practice went on and now they go into the group of two players that have to be better players for us to be a good team. That’s all I and the coaches keep stressing to the majority of our group, because our team is really made up of, the majority of one, two, and three-year players and in my mind as a coach those are the critical guys to your success, that they are developing and taking steps to become better than what they were. There are no two more important than those guys but again I would probably lump about 12 of them in that group, but Belcher and Studebaker, they have to take the next step, and the good thing is it appears they are working hard at it and that’s good.”

Q: Do you expect Brian Waters back soon?

HALEY: “Bob, I can’t believe you. I’m not going to speculate, but I know he’s chomping at the bit to be out there.”

Q: Did he get hurt doing conditioning the other day before training camp?

HALEY: “Fellas, really that’s the way it’s going to be. We are going to talk about guys that are out there and participating and working and practicing. When other guys are back out there we will talk about them, wherever they come from.”

Q: TE Leroy Banks was out there participating but left, is he ok?

HALEY: “Leroy was having a good practice until the special teams period.”

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