Q&A with Todd Haley 10/10

Posted Oct 10, 2011

OPENING REMARKS: “Had a chance to get in here and watch the tape. A lot of really good things showed up on the tape, especially as that game progressed. I thought the bottom line for how that game went to me on all sides of the ball was just that we started to play better. We started to do the things we had kind of worked on all week, we just started to do them better – it wasn’t about an inordinate amount of adjustments or anything like that – I think our guys just started playing better across the board. Because of that, I thought it was a really good comeback win for our team. I thought there were a lot of guys that helped be the catalyst of that. A guy I mentioned, Jackie Battle, just the way he ran in the game. Really, all our runners, to run for that kind of yardage, I think our runners and our guys up front did a tremendous job, especially as the game wore on. I thought Dwayne Bowe really gave us a spark there in the first half with a huge run-and-catch play that kind of got us going and then carried into that two-minute drive, which was a big, big possession for our team to finish the half on a positive note and get the game within reach knowing we’d get the ball to start the second half. We lost Le’Ron (McClain) fairly early in that game and I thought Jake O’Connell really stepped up as a TE/f-type back for us in the game and was a big part some of the things we did. Defensively we just kind of hunkered down and started playing a lot better and didn’t allow some of those close completions. We started making some plays basically and as I talked about all week, some of the keys to the game: no turnovers, we ran the ball efficiently, we stopped the run, we reached out goal that way. The return game though, nothing real fancy. Javier’s (Arenas) 14-yard run with the penalty ended up being a close to 30-yard change in field position, which was a big thing for our team. It was a big, big win for the guys, one that I’m happy that they got. They were really excited after the game. They’re still excited. The important thing is we started this quarter of the season the way we wanted to, which is with a win and playing much better football. That got us a win in the first game of the second quarter and now we’ve got the bye where we have a lot of work to do but players will get a chance to recuperate a little bit, get rested up. I think it’s coming at a great time for us and then we’ll have a couple division opponents right out of the gate at Oakland and then San Diego back there and then another AFC opponent in Miami coming here after San Diego. That’s where we are. We’ve got a lot of work to do but I’m encouraged with how the guys have played here the last three weeks.”

Q: Does the bye really come at a good time because you’ve been on a roll the last couple games?

HALEY: “You know, I think we’ve got enough guys that, they say you never hurt as much when you win and I think that’s true, but we have enough guys that can use a little down time without having to get ready for a game, per se, that I think it will help us and we’ve got enough work to do as a coaching staff on some of these adjustments that we’ve made on the fly due to some injuries that now we have our first real time to work and try to get better in some of those areas that maybe we didn’t spend quite as much time on in the training camp time.”

Q: How will the schedule work?

HALEY: “We’ll practice tomorrow, late morning and then we’ll practice Wednesday morning about 10:40.”

Q: The bags in the locker room last week, after the 0-2 start, did you do some things to lighten the mood or any changes to kind of help the culture/feeling a little bit?

HALEY: “No. We’ve been trying to figure out ways to just keep the guys, or create some togetherness, and some of that has to be done outside the building, but inside the building, I talked to one of our coaches and a couple of our players. One of our coaches brought it up to me, Coach (Jim) Zorn, that it was something that they had done somewhere he’s been and it’s something that we do in the summertime as a family so we have a guy out in Ocean City, (Maryland), that makes those so in a quick fashion he got them together for us to get in there and it’s been great. It’s just another way to kind of keep guys hanging around and interacting with each other and I think it’s been a nice addition to our locker room. Winning helps that. Had we not won the last two weeks, I don’t know, they might be being used as firewood. I think it’s been a good thing for our guys.”

Q: How do you want your guys approaching this week? Is this a vacation or is this a Sunday with no game?

HALEY: “I think I made it very clear that I didn’t want any clock-punchers this week. This is an opportunity for us to get better. We’ve made some progress here in the last couple of weeks but we’re by no means where we need to be and so we laid the plan out there for them of things that our coaching staff will be working on and things we want them working on and I think at the same time, you do want to stress that they need a little physical rest and that’s what I think we’ll get from these guys. I think that their mindset is really good and we have a goal and you can see from how they’ve gone here the last few weeks that they’re not interested in giving up those goals too easy.”

Q: What are you going to work on?

HALEY: “We’re going to work on a lot. I think third down is an area that, though we bounced back yesterday in both areas, we just have some discrepancies that I think are a little out of line. Offensively, we’ve been real good on third and longs, I think we’re second in the league on seven-or-longer third downs to New Orleans but yet on the third-and-ones, -twos, -threes, -fours, -fives, again, much like the last two years, we’re struggling. We as a staff, we have to try to figure out why that’s happening and get better. Defensively it’s almost a mirror-image of it – we’re not very good on third and longs, we’re allowing too many conversions and yet in the medium we’re pretty good and in the shorts we’ve struggled defensively. It may be just the makeup of our team and we practice against each other a bunch and sometimes those things happen but third down is an area we’ve got to get a lot better and just like I said, some of the adjustments we’ve had to make here early in the season that maybe because of some of the guys that aren’t here, we’ve got some legitimate time to really focus and try to work on some of those things, in addition to getting ready for the Oakland Raiders.”

Q: Jackie Battle has been a good special teams player but it’s clear he never thought of himself as just a special teams player. Is that a reason why he’s stuck around so long and what he did on Sunday?

HALEY: “Yeah, I think early on there was fairly good depth at running back or as we started to establish our running identity it became apparent that there was pretty good depth at the running back position and Jackie, maybe because of some of the special teams things he was doing, got lost in the shuffle a little bit. At the same time, he’s never been lost to the coaching staff, specifically Coach (Mo) Carthon, who has championed him really here for the last couple years in believing he could be a runner and he’s done a great job developing him. And Jackie’s done a great job continuing to develop himself. A lot of early on started with just Jackie getting into the kind of condition or believing or buying into what we were asking him to do because he lost a significant amount of weight right out of the gate and now this year, we actually had him go up a little bit to try to find that perfect point for him. Now you watch him run, he’s 240 pounds running under 4.5 (40-yard dash) and using it the way he used it yesterday and late in that game against Minnesota, I think everybody’s real excited, starting with Jackie, about where he was able to help us.”

Q: Can you talk about Justin Houston’s progress? It looked like he was pushing Andy Studebaker a little. Is he a guy that might be pushing his way into the starting lineup?

HALEY: “Justin was starting in the base 3-4 here for the early part of the season and yesterday we moved him over to sub really to just try to create some more pressure because we do believe he’s one of our better pass rushers but he’s still a young, developing player that’s missed a lot of time by young player standards and him even a little more because of a little later start, but we’re all encouraged by the progress he’s made. Yesterday, though we weren’t able to get to the quarterback but seeing the couple times he got free, the ball came out especially quick. It’s a work in progress and the good thing is we’ve got a number of young, good, skilled players that are becoming more talented players and they’re developing and Justin is one of them, and Andy is really one of them. We’re just trying to build our team here as we go forward.”

Q: Will Andy’s time increase to try to get Justin going in the pass rush game a little more?

HALEY: “Yeah, absolutely. Again, with these young players, trying to put too much on them, have too many things that they have to be concerned with really in our experiences slows them down, generally speaking. And it’s no fault of the players; it’s just a lot to try to pick up in a short amount of time, especially with the circumstances that the entire league was presented with this year. Again, just trying to push and prod and Andy’s a guy that works real hard, plays hard and practices hard and has played out there in a starting position in the past for us when called upon and I know Andy was excited to get in there and we were able to get Justin over there rushing in some of the subs. It ended up being a good thing for us I think.”

Q: With a relatively inexperienced quarterback, it didn’t look like you threw much at him in blitzes or extra defenders. Was that a decision based on your talent or something involving the Colts?

HALEY: “I think it’s always a little bit of both. I think it really was a tale of two halves for our defense. Early on, we had the one clearly blown coverage that resulted in a big play but the other plays that were made were tight quarters, good throws, just not quite being able to make the play for the guys, which we need to constantly be working on ways to minimize our risk, but at the same time, Indianapolis is a very talented team at the skill positions and I think you saw that early on, they have weapons, they can beat you in a number of different ways and there’s always risk-reward with some of the pressure things. Like I said, early on, for whatever reason, we just didn’t come out of the gate playing to our potential or our level that we had finished last week on. That’s one of the other things that I think we really need to work on here this week, especially as a staff, is just figuring out how to make sure that we get out to a little better starts.”

Q: Why do you think you’ve had the slow starts?

HALEY: “That’s what we’re going to work on. Whether it’s one guy, two guys or the entire group and it’s not always consistent. It just comes down to us being able to play complementary football and if the defense starts off slow then the offense can’t also start off slow because generally when that happens you’re going to be behind pretty quickly, which is what happened yesterday. We don’t know right now, but we’re certainly going to be working on it and trying to figure out how to best get our team going. The one thing I know from the last three weeks is that as the games wear on, our team continues to wear teams out on both sides of the ball and I think that’s been of great benefit to us and will continue to be.”

Q: What’s been the difference in the first 10 quarters of this season compared to the last 10?

HALEY: “Turnovers. It’s No. 1. That’s part of this also, I think, is just our team understanding there’s a certain way our team needs to play to have a chance to compete and win against whoever we’re playing, and the No. 1 thing at the top of that list is turnovers. Yesterday, we weren’t able to create any turnovers, but we didn’t give up the ball. In this league – statistically speaking – if you just don’t give it away, you’re close to a 70-percent win clip on the road or at home through the years. Not turning the ball over is No. 1, creating turnovers No. 2, in my opinion, of the easiest ways to help our team be better on a consistent basis. And then you’re going to get in to some finer things like the run after catch. The run after contact, run after catch numbers yesterday were a phenomenal turnabout from a couple weeks ago in San Diego. We had over 260 yards of ours were after contact or after the catch, which gets up into the five [yards per play] range, whereas I said a few weeks ago, San Diego it was two. So, when you start adding catches and runs together, and adding a yard on to 56 like we had yesterday or 43 like we had in the San Diego game or 46 like we had in the Minnesota game, if you start adding one yard, two yards, three yards in this case, it changes the game dramatically if all other things are equal. Amazingly, it’s really been here that last three weeks. The other variables have kind of washed each other out and the run after the catch to me has been a significant difference maker for us. Jackie Battle, for instance, he averaged close to five yards after contact yesterday, which is just out of this world for a running back. Dwayne Bowe averaged 10 yards after the catch on seven catches, so seven times ten, that’s 70 yards, whereas three weeks ago, he had five catches for zero run after catch. Yards equals points and I think there’s never been more evidence of that than yesterday. Really, the last three weeks I think it’s been a great study for us here going forward.”

Q: Yards after the catch seem to be in Steve Breaston’s wheelhouse. Is he the best second option at wide receiver?

HALEY: “I just like our team, I like the way that we’re developing, I like the way we’re coming together. I’m certainly happy to have Steve Breaston here, and nobody was more excited than me for him to decide to come here on his own accord. He’s getting more and more comfortable and yesterday he made a couple really tremendous plays for us that helped us win. The entire receiving group I thought really has picked it up here the last three weeks, a little better each week.”

Q: Jonathan Baldwin looks like he’s going to be available after the bye. What kind of role do you see him playing and how does that affect the receiving corps?

HALEY: “He was available, really, yesterday and it was just one of those things where he hadn’t been out in the action a bunch, but he had a really good week of practice, which we were all excited about. I think his hard work is paying off that he had been doing over there on the other field. He had a good, good week of practice. Now, with having a couple weeks to get ready, at least one full week this week without a game and then leading in to Oakland, we’ll have to start to figure some of that stuff out because any time you start shuffling, that means somebody has got to go down and we’ve got a lot of guys contributing right now across the board. If we choose to go that way, it may not be a receiver position, it could be somewhere else. That’ll get interesting here once we get through this week. I’m happy to have him out there practicing and contributing on a daily basis.”

Q: Keary Colbert had a couple big conversions for you. What has he brought to this team?

HALEY: “Keary did a tremendous job yesterday. I thought we asked him to do a lot of different things. He got into the backfield a couple of times and was cutting off or trying to cut off defensive ends. The one third down there on the fringe was just a tremendous, tremendous route and Matt stood in there and took a shot as he was releasing the ball and it was a big, big play for us. And on the crosser, coming across the middle the other direction, was another big play for us. Keary is a great pro to be around. He’s another one [that] I’m happy we have him because he gives us real slot ability. He likes it inside there and has a very good feel for how to play the game inside in that slot position. He’s done a tremendous job and he’s continued to improve, which is a good sign.”

Q: Two times yesterday you had to call timeouts because of play entry.

HALEY: “One was we went the wrong direction with the motion and time was just running too close, which I think was the right call by Matt to go for the timeout, and the other amazingly was the same thing we had to deal with in San Diego, just the reverse. We lost Le’Ron [McClain] and now we’re trying to use some gymnastics to get the plays that Jake [O’Connell] could fairly play the fullback. Jackie Battle played some of those snaps, and that took some mental gymnastics, especially when it happened while play was going on in the first half. Once we were able to get to halftime and kind of really go through all that, we were able to get it ironed out. Again, something you don’t want to have happen, but under the circumstances, I think it was the right decision, where you could have a bad play if you didn’t make sure you had it right, very similar to San Diego.”

Q: What’s Le’Ron’s situation?

HALEY: “We’ll see. He’s being evaluated today and as we get through this week. I don’t foresee it as being something major.”

Q: And Jackie Battle?

HALEY: “Same thing.”

Q: Is this beard going until you lose?

HALEY: “It’s a commitment, commitment to winning.”

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