Q&A with Todd Haley 10/6

Posted Oct 6, 2011

OPENING REMARKS: “Alright, continued our preparation today, had a good padded practice, physical, good energy again. We were able to get in to a bunch of third downs today and had a bunch of guys running around feeling good. So, I feel like we made progress. We’ll watch the tape this afternoon and then be in to Friday here pretty quick and then traveling Saturday. So, just trying to get a little better each day.”

Q: How do teams like you and the Colts avoid letting injuries ruin the season and how do you rally the guys?

HALEY: “Well, I’m just worried about us. As you get ready to go each year, you’re trying to prepare and develop your young players, your rookie players, your in-between two-, three-, four-year players. You’re working constantly to try to develop players so that you are able to create some depth, and when things occur – which generally you’re going to lose some guys during the year – you have to have guys that are able to get into the lineup and that you’re able to continue to push forward and make progress with. That’s really all we’re worried about. Like I said, we’ve made some minor adjustments and we’re still working really hard to try to continue to see exactly how and what we have to do to try to be as efficient as we possibly can.”

Q: Are teams living on the edge depth-wise? I’m sure you’re crossing your fingers at certain positions more than others.

HALEY: “Really, all positions, you don’t want to ever see anybody go down or lose anybody, but it is something that occurs a bunch. The biggest [thing] is missing an offseason, things like that, where a lot of development of young players goes on, even the new guys on campus. But, everybody was under the same deal and we knew there would be a great challenge. We’re working through that and have continued to work through that. I feel good about a bunch of our young guys, specifically one-year guys that have been able to be out there on the field already and contributing because they missed a large, large chunk of time. That was one of our real goals through the training camp, was to get as many young guys ready as we could for depth, in addition to getting our team ready. Right now, I feel good about young guys contributing. Now, we need to be better. Our entire team needs to be better. You can’t walk around with your chest puffed out when you have won one game, but we do have guys out there that are getting better every day and some of those are young, first-year players. I think if we’re able to continue that development and they’re able to continue to get better and continue to contribute and fit within the things we’re doing, then we’ll start to have continued positive results.”

Q: Most of the guys in there know the story of Matt Cassel, that just because you lose a prominent players doesn’t mean the season is dead. Do you tell guys stories like that to make them know there’s a chance?

HALEY: “I’ve never had the feeling from our guys that they felt like there wasn’t a chance. That’s one of the things that I’ve been so encouraged and feel good about, and despite some rough play early on, I’ve felt that I believe in our guys and I think they believe in themselves and they believe in this team. All we’re trying to do is just work hard like we have the last couple of days. We’ve had a couple really good practices back-to-back and that’s the solution. Regardless of the circumstances, in the NFL we’re going to play once a week for the most part, other than after this game. We’ve got to get better and I feel like that’s happening and we need to keep working hard to ensure that that continues.”

Q: Is there a common thread with the problems you’ve had offensively in the red zone?

HALEY: “I think the No. 1 thing that we need to do is get in there more. We weren’t able to get in there very much at all early on because we turned the ball over too much. Now, we’ve done a better job protecting the football, which then has given us some red zone opportunities, but you really just need more. We’ve only been in there 10 times. There’s teams that have been in there 20, 21, 22 times, so that’s not a statistic that guarantees you any kind of success, but I think it generally is good the more you get in there.”

Q: But you’re probably not happy with your touchdown percentage the times you have been in there?

HALEY: “No, I don’t think you’re ever content, but the things we can’t do are turn the ball over in the red, have penalties in the red zone, mental errors, some of those things are things that will kill you in the red zone. We’ve got to make sure that first and foremost that isn’t happening and then try to get points on the board every time we’re in there and touchdowns ideally.”

Q: Is that an area that you think Jonathan Baldwin can help you out particularly when he comes back?

HALEY: “I think there are some things about his dimensions that make him a potential real good red zone threat, but the guys that have been out there I feel real good about. When we get in to the red zone and things we have, we need to work hard, continue to do a good job of executing in the red, and I will say we’ve been relatively conservative in the red also for other reasons. We’ve just got to continue to make progress, continue to get better and as guys work their way into the lineup – Baldwin was out there again today. I thought had another real good practice, so I’ve been impressed with what he’s done here early on, being out as long as he was.”

Q: Is Baldwin going to play Sunday?

HALEY: “I don’t know that yet. We’re working through roster numbers and all those things each night to try to sort through. We’ve got to have the best 46 guys out there that give us the best chance to win in all areas – offense, defense and special teams. So, we’ll see. Like I said, he’s had two really good days, so that’s been really, really encouraging to everybody.”

Q: What’s holding him back then if he’s not one of those 46?

HALEY: “He’s missed a considerable amount of time. He played a limited amount in a preseason game and hasn’t been able to go full until this week. Full means catching the ball, actively participating in practice on a full-time basis. I think that’s something that we’ve got to make sure we feel good about from all angles.”

Q: Why hasn’t the pass rush developed yet?

HALEY: “I think it is developing and a bunch of the things that I’ve talked about setting us back early on in the first quarter of the season, positions that our defense has been in, has been very limiting to what we’ve been able to do. It’s just the way that it is. Like I said, if you start 20 of your first 28 drives on your side of the 50, that changes really everything that you’re able to do. The ball generally is going to come out quicker, things like that, and teams are going to run a bunch. When they have the lead, they’re going to run a bunch. We just need to continue building on some of the progress we’ve made here in the last two or three weeks out here on the practice field and continue to carry that into Sundays and this week will be no different. It’ll be a great challenge on the road indoor against a team, like I said, that’s won a ton of games in the last 10 years or more. We’ve got our work cut out for us, but I will say we had a couple good days here of work so far.”

Q: Do you feel like you guys are getting real close now in the punt return game?

HALEY: “Oh, yeah. I’ve felt that way here for a couple years with the guys we’ve had back there. [Javier Arenas] is averaging 20-plus yards a return. That means we’re getting closer and that’s an area that we do have to excel in, return game, because I think kickoff return, you’re just not going to get a ton of chances early on here. You go to an indoor place like this week, I just don’t see us getting a ton of chances. When we get an opportunity, we need to do something in kickoff return. But, punt return, generally you’ll get some opportunities and we need to continue with our guys playing smart, first of all. We still had a couple penalties on special teams that really hurt your field position, but we’ve been slowly but surely changing those awful field position numbers from the first couple games. We need to continue to win that statistic as much as we can and you generally do that by not turning the ball over, by getting a few turnovers and by being good in the return game.”

Q: Javier Arenas is fast and quick but he’s not the fastest or the quickest guy out there. Yet teams always seem to try and tackle him high and he’s just spinning away? HALEY: “Like I said, he’s a tough, tough low-center-of-gravity guy that has really good skill and he’s got very good feel and he’s tough – sometimes that’s a big element there for returners, especially punt return, when you’re standing there and they’re flying at you and you’ve got to talk guys into making fair catches they’re generally pretty tough guys and he’s got ability. So the more the guys around him can finish their blocks, do their job first of all, and do it in a smart, non-penalty fashion, then I think good things will continue to happen.”

Q: Is finishing the blocks a key, especially with Javier back there?

HALEY: “Sometimes it’s just getting out of the way. Sometimes when you lose a block guys tend to want to chase their guys, well, those guys Javier is making miss. So it’s turn and get out of the way number one. You’ll see us make the tackle a few times on him because guys are standing instead of turning and trying to find somebody else to block. They’re little things, but they are working hard and our special teams are taking a great deal of pride in trying to be one of the top return teams and we’re taking a great deal of pride in trying to be one of the top cover teams in both areas. We’re just trying to get better.”

Q: Since you’re playing indoors this weekend do you consider moving practice indoors to prepare?

HALEY: “We try to. It’s a double-edge sword because whenever we are in there, it’s a harder surface, it’s not anywhere near the same as being on grass from a health and fatigue standpoint and all these guys have played a bunch on turf. That part of it is not as much of a worry. I like the indoor to create louder [practices] with our sound – if you put it inside it’s even louder. We had it cranked up pretty good today and it was hard to hear. That’s just something we determine as we go what we think is best for the overall team.”

Q: How has WR Steve Breaston’s role changed from what he’s done in the past where he’s been mostly the slot receiver? It seems he’s been more of the number two guy recently?

HALEY: “I’ve seen Steve play all positions, in both places – Arizona and here. He’s got a very good feel and understanding of the offense and it’s getting more and more clear and I think he’s feeling better and better as he goes forward and you’re just seeing some of that comfort level showing up. He’s an important guy for us and we’ll move all those guys around a bunch but it’s great when you have a guy that can do both. The more of those guys you have the better to allow you some flexibility with other guys that maybe are better fits one place or the other.”

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