Q&A with Todd Haley 10/18

Posted Oct 18, 2010


OPENING REMARKS: “Had a chance to look through that one. Pain hasn’t eased a whole bunch but I told the fellas that sometimes the best lessons are the most painful. I think that game has a chance to be a real good building block for our young, developing team from the standpoint that it’s hard to win on the road, especially against good opponents and especially as explosive as that team is. We had opportunities in that game to end that game much earlier and we just didn’t. When I keep saying we’re not quite there as a team yet, that’s kind of what I’m referring to. I think that if we were there as a team, if we have taken the steps necessary to be a good team, we would have recognized multiple opportunities in that game where we could’ve made that go in our favor and we just didn’t quite see it. We weren’t quite able to make those things that would’ve had to happen. It was a very painful loss for us, but again, a great lesson for us and thankfully we’re one game into the second quarter of the season and we’ve got a chance to get back to work today, which the entire team ran together and lifted together and it appeared to me that guys were starting to understand where we are and what we have to do. We’re continuing to understand where we are and what we have to do.”


Q: Speaking defensively, was yesterday just a bad day or is this a sign of bigger problem?

HALEY: “I don’t think I’d agree with either one of those, Adam. Kind of what I was just referring to, we were at a point in that game, I don’t know, midway through the third quarter where it appeared we were in control of the game – we were a couple touchdowns up and the offense had, for the most part, been able to move the ball successfully – had just moved it successfully and chewed a bunch of time up again in the third quarter. To that point, you would’ve felt pretty good about how the defense had played, yeah we allowed a drive, we allowed a couple big plays by then that they were able to make and we weren’t able to make, one of those being a third-and-goal from the seven, which are hard conversions, that the quarterback kept the play alive and was able to find a receiver that hadn’t been covered and the defense had played very well to that point and you’re thinking you have chance to hold them to a field goal without a touchdown, but as I said, midway through the third quarter, I think you would say that we were doing things the way we had to do them to have a chance to defend a team like that. They made a couple great plays, we didn’t make a couple plays we could’ve made and then it became a shootout pretty quickly before guys understood what had occurred or what was happening and at that point then, it was too late. That’s what I’m talking about when I talk about we develop as a team and working our way to becoming a good team – we’ll recognize that situation a little better. I’ve got to take my hat off to that group. That is a good offense, maybe the best offense we see, may really be the best offense we see from a multi-dimensional attack. That quarterback played really, really good and I think that midway through the third quarter point, early in a drive with us up 14 points, they threw a ball over the middle that was deflected and WR Jacoby (Jones) catches it. That’s a great play, because I’ve coached receivers a long time and I know I don’t ever give a drop if you don’t catch a deflection and that ball was deflected, he makes a great play, it’s too big of a play and that kind of enabled it to keep rolling as opposed to stopping it at that point. I think it’s a lesson we’ve got to learn from; I believe our guys will. It’s painful, it hurts, it hurt them. That was not a happy plane last night but I think that’s a sign of us making progress.”

Q: You said last night something to the effect of you didn’t like some of the matchups. I took that as a sign that you’re not sold on some of your guys defensively?

HALEY: “Oh no no no. I think that was more a statement to the fact of that team. I think this WR Andre Johnson, I don’t know if there’s anyone better than him. He is a big-time receiver. This back that was relatively unknown and RB (Derrick) Ward also, who’s always been a guy I’ve always liked and when he’s been up for free agency and things like that, I’ve always liked to talk about him. He made a big play for them, but the receiver is really good, really good. The back obviously is good and they had a couple of them, as I knew. I think it was more just when you have explosive players like they have, things can happen that can hurt you because they’re capable of making plays even when you do a lot of things the way you have to do them. I think that’s all that I was trying to articulate.”

Q: Going back and watching the film, how would you evaluate your pass rush?

HALEY: “I think there were times that we did a real good … one of our goals going into that game was to get a sack out of the 3-4 which we hadn’t done a bunch when we’re in our base defense and we got one of those. We were able to create some pressure at times. You always wish or hope you can get some more on some certain plays specifically that doesn’t allow the quarterback or the routes to develop but when you are dealing with some of the caliber of players that I was talking about, those things develop a lot quicker. Like I said, the quarterback looks like he’s really good and he did a great job of keeping some plays alive and he also does a great job of getting the ball out fast which creates some problems. I don’t know that I was down on the rush for what we had to do and for how we had to play. There were a number of times where we either have one of those rushers spying a back. As you watch the game you don’t always know those things, but that was the plan and that’s how we were going to go in. You’ve got to defend their weapons and we went into that game with a clear-cut plan and that’s just the way that it was.”

Q: You hear a lot about a team learning to win. Generally speaking, do you think that’s the last piece of the puzzle to fall into place for a young, transitioning team?

HALEY: “I don’t buy quite as much into the learning to win as some other people, I don’t think. I think like I’ve said, and there’s a reason for that, the team that wins is the team that plays the best. No game has any bearing on the next game. That game will have no bearing on the outcome of this game that we have coming up this week but like I said, within that game now, there were some opportunities for us to end the game even though there was time left on the clock. That’s what we need to learn – we need to learn when that opportunity’s in front of us, whether it’s offensively, defensively or special teams and when the sense of urgency has to be there to understand that. Good teams recognize that and they pounce like a tiger at that moment and the game’s over. And there’s not a lot that that a team can do, barring a miracle, when you get the score to a certain point. We were on the road against a good team and we had a couple of those situations where I think we could’ve put the game on ice or a little more on ice. The comfort level was probably too comfortable. But that’s really the first time this team’s been in that situation so the key thing is that we learn from that situation that we’re in, which I know we will, and the good thing is it’s happening at a point in our transition that we can still learn from it. When those lessons are learned, when there’s no chance to learn from it, that’s when it really becomes a painful situation.”

Q: So that’s something that a team has to learn though, because you can’t show them?

HALEY: “But again I don’t think it’s about learning to win. It’s about recognizing situations in games for what they are and when to take advantage of those situations.”

Q: How do you teach that?

HALEY: “I think it’s being taught painfully. It was taught painfully yesterday. Like I said, sometimes the most painful are the best lessons. Had we held on there at the end, I don’t know if we would’ve quite realized it the way that we realize it now as a group. We’re 0-1 in the second quarter of the season. We’ve got an opportunity to get to 1-1 this week and then there’ll be two more games in this quarter that we can reach our quarterly goal or give us a chance to reach our quarterly goal. Right now it’s on to making a little progress today, which I feel like as a team, we did.”

Q: Did they recognize any of those types of plays in the first three games and make them?

HALEY: “Well, obviously we made some in the San Diego game that allowed us to win the game but we haven’t had a game like yesterday to this point. We’ve had some tough games and that’s what I said, I think good teams have to learn how to come out on top in difficult games, which we’ve shown some ability in – we fought it out against a good San Diego team and held on and kept them out of the end zone when they were trying to tie it and won the game. Same in Cleveland. I think the more important lesson for our group is good teams know how to bounce back from very difficult losses because you’re going to have them. It is hard to win in the NFL, it’s hard to win on the road and it’s hard to win on the road against good teams so you’re going to have some losses that you don’t like and aren’t fun and are difficult. The important thing is that those losses, good teams don’t let them be a stumbling block; they allow them to be a springboard into bigger and better things and improvement. So we’ve just got to take from that game what we can to go forward and now prepare for game number two in this quarter.”

Q: Is the teaching lesson that when you feel like you’re in control of your game, you’ve just lost control of your game?

HALEY: “There is a clear-cut lesson to be learned. I don’t know exactly how to say it other than that there were situations in that game again where had our sense of urgency been at a higher level and understanding exactly where that game was and what the opportunity was and what the opportunity was, that we would’ve recognized it as a whole. Some guys recognized it, some guys didn’t. What’s important is that the whole team, we’ve got to play complementary football to become a good team, and I don’t mean just run, stop the run, I’m talking that you need to play complementary football within a game. The offense needs to recognize when the opportunities are there to advance and the defense needs to recognize when the opportunities are there as does the special teams and we just didn’t quite work closely enough together to get that result to be what we wanted.”

Q: For us to understand that a little better, is there a specific play?

HALEY: “There were too many. There were multiple plays in that game offensively, defensively and special teams-wise where had we made a play or not allowed them to make a play that I think it would have just been at a point with how we were playing, how we were running the football, doing some of those things that it would’ve just been impossible for them to come back. But we left just enough room there, obviously 28 seconds worth of too much for them to recover from where we had them.”

Q: As for the third-and-two play in the fourth quarter, what would you say to the people that say that you were running the ball so successfully, why go away from it on that play call?

HALEY: “I wouldn’t say anything other than that within that game, on all sides of the ball, the decisions we made were well thought out and made for a reason and that one is no different than any of the others – we’re playing to win the game in all areas. That was the play that we felt gave us the best chance at that time.”

Q: Did you have any thoughts of going for it on fourth down to try and hold onto the game?

HALEY: “No, not at that time. If I had, I would have done it early in that possession which then would have affected calls within the series. Within that series I would have made that decision earlier. It was not going to be an afterthought which fourth down to me is not an afterthought, it is thought out ahead of time within the series and not the third down play either. It is determined earlier than that in my mind.”

Q: So when you start the possession you are on the horn with Charlie Weis saying, ‘hey, this is a four down possession’?

HALEY: “Yes.”

Q: Is field position the main reason why you wouldn’t have gone on fourth down?

HALEY: “No, just the situation in general. You have to go by what you think is going to give you the best chance to win, in most cases not being able to control everything, unfortunately.”

Q: What is the philosophy and thought process behind the short kickoffs and such on special teams? Against Indianapolis you opened with an onside, against Houston you had the short kickoff late in the game.

HALEY: “Those are two entirely different situations. That is apples and oranges as far as I am concerned. The kickoff that hurt us in that game was not in any way related to onside kicking. It was a planned mode of attack that we would never have attempted had we known that the ball would have ended up across the 50. It was much like we have done throughout the season using different ways to continue to be at the top of the list in kickoff return yardage. It was one of those ways that we have worked on and that was the way we were attacking them. It was not intended for the ball to end up where it ended up and execution-wise we just have to be better.”

Q: Why not just kick it deep?

HALEY: “Like I said, we have done a very good job of covering kickoffs this year to this point. I know as far as kickoff return yardage goes we have clearly been at the top but we have done it a number of different ways and that is one of the ways. We went into that game with a plan of how we were going to attack in different ways. That is just part of what we were doing.”

Q: So that didn’t have anything to do with WR Jacoby Jones returning the kick? You were not trying to keep the ball away?

HALEY: “No. Again, through study and evaluation it was a way we thought would be an advantage to us, not a disadvantage. It ended up being a disadvantage so poor planning would be the message. We had no intention of allowing the ball out to where it ended up.”

Q: How strictly do you follow the game plan?

HALEY: “I don’t know that I can answer that question really because there are so many changing variables. We follow an outline and a plan throughout the game but the game is going to change. Again I have said a couple times that I think the best coaches, the best players are those that can adjust to the situation at hand and the variables presented to them. Those that are robotical or in a tunnel-vision state are probably generally not going to be around long. We definitely plan and when you play well you see a lot of things that you have practiced occur in the game and successfully occur in the game. When you are not then you are not seeing as much.”

Q: How do you feel about the call against G Brian Waters for the false start penalty when it had looked like they may have crossed the line?

HALEY: “The officials are the best in the business; they have a very difficult job to do. I will defer all of those to them. They made the call the way that they saw it. As far as rule wise, if a defender is in the neutral zone, we teach our guys according to the rules to then react to that movement to allow the offense to get a free five yards so to speak. That is what we teach, that is what we practice. That is just not the way the officials saw it. Like I said, I will defer to them and they have a difficult job. They have a much better chance of making good calls than I do. We do teach that so that is a difficult position to be in.”

Q: It seemed like WR Dwayne Bowe had problems lining up in the right spot. Is there any concern from that standpoint?

HALEY: “No, Dwayne has done a very good job of understanding with some changing variables. When a guy is not there, these receivers are forced to practice a number of different spots and sometimes there are adjustments to be made. Some of those are a lot easier than others but again, Dwayne has been very diligent about his study and preparation. I think that continued yesterday in all areas. I think I know a couple situations you were referring to but I wouldn’t jump to conclusions on that because there are a lot of other variables involved also. Some receivers, and I am not saying this is Dwayne I am just saying this is what happens is, it is kind of like the one wrong-all wrong saying. If the first receiver to break the huddle goes the wrong way, a lot of times guys are reacting to where they know guys are and I am not saying in any of those situations that that was the case. Communication has to go on within the huddle and as guys come off the sideline into the huddle what personnel groups we are and are in. Different personnel groups put guys in different positions and that is one of the difficult things about being a wide receiver in the NFL. All variables affect those guys. Who was the announcer that every time the Y shifted he would say, ‘Ah! The tight end lined up wrong again!’ He didn’t know that they were shifting, but it just made me think of that.”

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