Q: It appears that some of the guys you cut were better players this year than they were last year. Was that your feeling?
HALEY: “I think that we’re getting better and that’s the name of the game, that we get better every single day. However, you compare to this time last year, yesterday or Friday, what I want to stay focused on as the head coach and what I want these players staying focused on is, we’ve got to get a little better every day. I don’t even really want to go back to Friday, the last time we were all together. I think if we can continue to do that, and you do that by coaching them, teaching them the right things, the ways you want things done, them responding to that, continuing to create competition which makes players better. I know the decisions, though always extremely tough, were tougher. I’ve kind of started the process – I won’t go into it – but the process of now we’re into the regular season this 45-man game day active roster. That’s now another whole set of encyclopedias. On my own, by myself I’m kind of starting through that process, it appears to me those decisions are going to be tougher and that’s a good thing, generally speaking.”
Q: Looks like you have more developmental players on the roster, guys who you don’t expect maybe to contribute right out of the gate but who could provide something down the road?
HALEY: “I don’t know that to be true Adam, and the reason I say that is what I’ve been telling these guys from day one, and that includes just now when we ended practice, is we need you now; we don’t need you tomorrow, we don’t need you next week, we don’t need you next year. In my mind I want to put the best team out there every week, whatever that is, but in the process, yeah, you have to have players developing. You need front-line players becoming Pro Bowl players, you need second-line players that are trying to move into the front line, you need role players to continue to improve, you need special teams players. That has to go on – development of your players. Again, the thing I feel good about is we’ve got a bunch of guys on campus right now that look like they have a chance but we need them now, I’m not giving anybody a free pass and saying ‘hey, so-and-so, just keep them over here.’ That goes even for T
Q: You’ve talked a lot about developing the bottom of the roster. These seem to be pretty good candidates in that regard…
HALEY: “Yeah, but that’s going to go on. I don’t know who they are but 51, 52, 53, don’t thank me, just show me that we’re right. There are a lot of guys out there right now that are chomping at the bit for an opportunity that now maybe taste what it feels like to be out in the darkness and that’s where nobody wants to be. We’ve got to do justice for this team, if there is anybody that can make us better we’ve got to look at that and make sure we’re doing everything we can.”
Q: Have you made decisions on starters at positions that were up in the air at camp?
HALEY: “A lot closer Adam, but I’ll get into more as we go forward on Wednesday. What I think is very critical for our team to understand is I’d like to get it out of our heads, coaches’, players’ heads about first team, second team. We’re going to need everybody. Obviously you can’t take everyone to the game but on each and every Sunday, Monday, whatever we’re playing, we’re going to need everybody to have some sort of impact, I’m not interested in having security or depth on game days, I’m worried about trying to have the best possible group out there each and every Sunday. That all of a sudden now changes the landscape a little bit from the standpoint of guys that are playing more regular plays on offense or defense are going to have to have roles other places – if that means somebody behind them takes some of their snaps in order for them to do something else that they may do better than anybody else, that’s what we have to do. That’s what I’m, as the head coach, really working hard at. We’re going to have a staff meeting up there tonight and I’m going to make sure that’s the direction we’re going.”
Q: You had all of the rookie draft class out at midfield as captains, what was your thinking behind that?
HALEY: “Kind of what I just said. Throughout preseason, I won’t get into details, it’s kind of my area as the head coach, I get to pick who I want to be captains and lead this team each and every one of those nights and I have a different purpose for everybody I’ve had out there and the purpose for that particular group was, not to discount any other first-year guys – I just couldn’t have everybody out there, but if I could’ve I would’ve probably had all these first-year guys that are going to be on our team, we need you now. We don’t need you next week, next year – that was my point to them and to the team, this is what’s happening, step it up, everybody. It gives them a chance to kind of smell that area of leadership, so that’s good.”
Q: As you were sitting in a room upstairs slicing the roster, the motto in your head is ‘The future is now. What can you do for us this year?’
HALEY: “I don’t think that’s the headline that I want because that’s not what it is. The name of the game is continue to infuse talent into a team to create competition and then from that point to develop the players that you already have here, and that now includes everybody. We need to be developing players from the coaching staff perspective – getting those players ready each and every day to improve and be better and help us. I would say that model hasn’t changed. We’re just trying to get better. I feel like we’ve taken a step through the off-season, preseason and we’re continuing to lay the foundation that was begun last year. Last year’s foundation, as I’ve said, will be an important part of the success we have when we have it, again knowing that we haven’t done anything (yet). It appears to me that we’ve continued to make progress and that’s what we have to do.”
Q: During the past few weeks the chance to play seems to have really made a difference with T
HALEY: “Barry is one of those two, three-year guys that I sat up here when the season ended and said you can’t just go to the grocery store and pick by everybody you want to fill every need you feel you have, some needs being greater than others, but this is a guy that falls into that group that I felt like developed throughout last year, he didn’t get many opportunities but he was getting closer. He took the off-season to continue that development. I think our coaches are doing a good job with Barry and all the guys, but he came to a crossroads where he was kind of beat up but we needed him, he wanted to show us that he’s continuing to take steps, he got in there, he played probably more snaps than anybody else played in the preseason, I’m just saying that off the top of my head – I haven’t actually looked to see that’s true, but I know he’s played a lot of snaps and again he’s fighting through some bumps and bruises and he continued to make improvement. Those are the critical guys for us because you can’t fill every hole so we need to have our second, third and fourth, even fifth-year guys continue to develop, make progress and help us to be better, be part of that process of us improving.”