Q&A with Todd Haley 11/1

Posted Nov 1, 2010


OPENING REMARKS: “Had a chance to go through this game and feel a lot of the same things I felt yesterday, I know this was a real big win for our guys. First off, I thought Buffalo, as expected, played hard as it appeared they would. They have a number of talented players and a quarterback that played hard throughout the game to try to give them a chance to win along with everybody else. Our guys, a continuing trend that I’m seeing from these guys that’s gotten me really encouraged is our ability to show resiliency to overcome adversity, stick together and find away to get that result to come out in our favor. That’s what I’m really excited about with our team, that is one of the characteristics that I want our team to possess, I talk about toughness and mental toughness is an aspect of toughness and I think we’re seeing more and more of that from these guys and form our team in general and that’s a real good sign. I thought we did a number of things well in the game. We ran the ball obviously very well. We made big plays at big times on defense, when we really needed them. We had a number of young guys step in or continue to show up in the lineup and give us a chance to win and those were all real good things for the Kansas City Chiefs. I think overall, the game was a game that as we’re moving forward as a team and trying to become a good team, something we’re going to have to do is capitalize on opportunities that come up in games and turn those into points one way or another. I don’t think yesterday was our best game in doing so and I think that’s why the game ended up being a little different type of game than it could’ve been. That being said, being in one of those kinds of games, that will be a great, great game for our core group of guys to have been a part of and to have seen themselves find a way to come out on top. Some way, somehow, the guys on that field were going to make it go in the Chiefs direction. We were able to do that and that was a terrific, terrific game for the Kansas City Chiefs, our young, developing, transitioning team.”


Q: Whether you run or pass on fourth down, is that your decision or (offensive coordinator) Charlie Weis’?

HALEY: “I would say it’s a group effort. It’s going to vary from play to play and series to series. That’s the way it goes and that’s generally the way it’s gone other places I’ve been – most everybody is entitled to a thought, some people obviously have more weight than others. I would say it’s a committee effort, but I do think the play caller is very critical, that’s the guy that scripts the practices throughout the week and develops the best feel for what plays fit best against our opponent in each situation that we’re in. Obviously the lead dog in that is going to be the play caller.”

Q: You’re still fairly early in your head coaching tenure, so you evaluate yourself on a week-by-week basis, when it comes to those decisions to go for it or not go for it on fourth downs, do you second guess yourself when you got back and look at them or do you feel that you have your philosophy laid out and it is what it is?

HALEY: “I try to avoid second guessing in general. That is in my life, I just try to make the best decisions that I can and then go forward. The thing in these games is that you don’t have all the variables in place when you have to make decisions. I think that once you have more of those variables, it could be very easy to second guess. As I’ve said on this fourth down thing, I don’t expect everybody to agree with me or understand always exactly the way I’m thinking but we’re trying to develop a team here and I want to be a great team, I really do, my mind is set. I want to be a great head coach because I know that for us to be a great team, I probably have to be a great head coach and we have to have some great assistant coaches. But that’s the mindset and I keep saying this, but it’s hard because you want to do the right thing in every situation in each of these games but from a bigger outlook of what we’re trying to become and the type of team I want to be, there are going to be some of these decisions that are sometimes a little more painful than others but again, I’m trying to develop a mindset and I think that if I were waffling a great deal on some of these things that I wouldn’t be able to do that and there’s going to be an extreme amount of pressure on me to waffle and second guess and I’m not just talking in here, I’m thinking in general because we’re just doing things a little differently. I don’t second guess yesterday, as I said in the press conference after, you tell me is he going to make the kick, not make the kick, are we going to score… if you can tell me a bunch of those things then I’ll be unbelievable in some of the decisions I make. Unfortunately that’s not the case, but that’s what makes it fun also. I think there are a lot of factors at play. As we saw yesterday even in that game, that wind was a different wind and it cost their kicker a chance it appeared and it cost our team a chance at winning the game one time. I don’t’ think you know all those variables. I think it’s easy to assume this, this and this is going to happen but I don’t know that you have that to go off of.”

Q: So 24 hours later, you’re still comfortable with the decision to pass up the field goal knowing what you knew at the time?

HALEY: “Yeah and I’ve obviously put a lot of thought into it. As I’ve said, I think one of the things here of us developing and getting better every day also includes myself and my staff and the thing that I feel really good about is I’ve got a really good coaching staff. I cannot, I’ve probably underplayed it a little bit in an effort for us to continue to be a team but I have a really good coaching staff that I’m really excited about and we’re operating very efficiently. Not only do I feel like we’re operating efficiently, but I have a number of coaches on the staff that have been around a long time and have coached a lot of football in a lot of different venues and positions. I’m able to get a great deal of feedback and what I try to make clear to them is one thing I don’t ever want is ‘yes men’ around me. I want people that tell me what they think and I like to hear that and it’s not always going to be what I want to hear but that’s important to me and I think as I’ve come up through the ranks and coached for different people, the people that I had the greatest amount of respect for were those guys that allowed you to say what you felt and yeah, you had a fear that you could get fired for standing up to this person or saying my beliefs or opinions but I think that’s a healthy environment for us.”

Q: So you’re not making those calls by yourself, you’re bouncing those decisions off Charlie Weis, Romeo Crennel?

HALEY: “Take your pick. I’ve got the ability but again, the decisions are made, and I can’t stress that enough either, the decisions are made. That’s the one I was disappointed in the fourth and inches late in the game, that’s one of those situations that I was talking about where I just didn’t like the way that that went because that felt too much like all of sudden you were letting your heart and your emotions get in it because you get in it, you’re hearing different voices saying different things and like I said, everybody has their own little agenda, which they should, now what I do know is all of our guys, we’re all on the same page as far as wanting to win the game, there’s nobody that wants to win more than me, but that particular situation, the inches one that communication-wise, we clearly weren’t good enough. That kind of thing will get you beat, I cannot allow that to happen. Those are the things in the game and some other little, much more subtle things that occurred in that game that had me, though I enjoyed trick-or-treating as much as I ever have, I really did, I mean did it feel like Halloween last night or what? It was the perfect Halloween night. We had the wagon going and the kids were fired up. I dressed up, they liked that. It was a great night, but there were some things from that game weighing on me that I know we have to learn from and fortunately we were able to get a huge win for our team, huge win, not standings, just a huge building-block win for our team that I think we will reflect on later on.”

Q: So on that play, your thought was to punt, but the emotions and everybody else got in the way?

HALEY: “I’m not blaming anybody else. My emotions of seeing the amount yardage needed, knowing we’re averaging six (yards) a clip every time we hand the ball off, knowing that you could give the ball back to a team and never see it again and watch your chances of winning the game go down the tubes, there was too much emotion involved on that particular situation which I’ve worked real hard on trying to keep from occurring and I feel like we’ve done a good job in a lot of aspects.”

Q: You’ve obviously studied the fourth down stuff and you’ve said that you think outside the box, how much of this philosophy is football and how much is your personality?

HALEY: “I want us to be a great team. I don’t think anybody would’ve expected us, knowing the situation and a lot of the factors in play going back to last year of us coming in here and taking over a big job, I want that to happen sooner rather than later. And I don’t necessarily conform to just the way everybody does it but at the same time I don’t want to do it to be a nonconformist. I just want to think enough, research enough to make sure that we’re exploring all options and the only way to do that in this job is some of it is on the fly, so-to-speak, because you only have so many games each year and you can’t make all these decisions in the off-season, you just can’t. The fourth down is not a crazy man mentality, it’s well thought out in advance, there were many situations in that game where we were in four-down mode so-to-speak, that nobody in this room or anybody outside of that sideline knows about because we never got to fourth down but we were in the mode and that’s so much of it. Like I said, if there was a lot of waffling going on on my part, those players, when they hear that, it has to mean something to them and I think we’re developing that and I think that it’s going to be a quality characteristic of our team, both offensively, defensively and special teams that can help us be a great team when we’re at that stage. Right now we’re just developing and transitioning and trying to become a good team. Yes, we’re trying to win every game. This is a win-loss business so that’s the hard part and I think that factor right there is what may keep a lot of people from doing, thinking, acting and actually pulling the trigger on some more difficult decisions.”

Q: If you were closer to being a great team and further away from being a transitioning team, would your personality or approach be different?

HALEY: “I think it better. But right now we’re developing and there are going to be a core of guys here, coaches and players, that will be here when we get there and this will be part of that development. As you develop, I think you better continue to get better, adjust, mold your identity.”

Q: You play five of your next seven games on the road. What kind of factors do you think make playing on the road difficult?

HALEY: “A lot. I think first and foremost you are changing your comfort zone. A big reason why I started back with San Diego doing more practicing up at Arrowhead, studying where you are going to take the test, is to continue to create a comfort level at home where we can do that. On the road you just can’t do that. I think for a lot of different reasons you can go out one day, sometimes two days in advance so the comfort level goes way down even with the teams you play every year. Really you are there once a year at the most, some places you are there one time every five years and you have new players, all of those factors. Comfort level is a big thing. People have argued about this but there are potentially more distractions on the road but at the same time, I like the road from the standpoint of being a team, there are less distractions as far as not having a lot of people or things around. You are not just jumping in a car and driving wherever you want and going to the hotel at night. You are kind of forced to stay put a little more but I think there are potentially more distractions on the road, there are noise levels.”

Q: Can a team borrow energy from the crowd?

HALEY: “Oh yeah. I think our fans have been terrific. I thought yesterday they were great again and we need to continue to be better and better like us. Our fans, the energy that is given to the players I think can’t be underrated either. To be a good team in this league and to eventually be a great team you must win on the road. One thing that is encouraging to me from last year, although we were only able to win four times, we were able to do it on the road a little bit which was a good sign. We have done it once this year and we need to obviously have that continue to improve.”

Q: You mentioned the distractions on the road. Are better teams less likely to get distracted on the road?

HALEY: “Without a doubt. I think good teams are teams and there are relationships and a bond amongst the guys. The tighter the more you are going to be able to hold up under situations that involve some adversity. Going on the road is an adverse situation. You have a lot of people that don’t want you to win, they are doing everything they can to get you to not win and get you to make mistakes. Our team is showing signs of being a team. That is what I can’t go on enough about yesterday was that it was one of those wins that you draw so much from and like I said, though that game probably could of gone a different way, on the first defensive snap of the game LB Derrick Johnson had a ball almost in his hands that would have been a sure touchdown and we had a couple others on all sides of the ball that had we executed correctly it could of made the game not so close I believe. But because that game was what it was, I think there will be a lot to that game down the road.”

Q: Does DE Wallace Gilberry remind you of any players you have been around in the past?

HALEY: “Scott and I have talked about a guy named Bobby Hamilton who was with us with the Jets. I actually was in pro personnel when we had him in for a tryout and I ran that whole tryout. We have compared him to him, a little bit of an undersized guy that you wouldn’t think necessarily could be a two-gap player in a 3-4 but was able to do it. He went up to New England and did it successfully and earned a Super Bowl ring or two. I think there are some similarities there. I am glad we have Wallace, he is a tough minded guy with very good energy. Sometimes it is not the way you envision it but somehow he ends up around the quarterback. It is like some defensive players that have always been taught, but believe now that the ball just seems to come to some linebacker and DB types. Like Mike Brown last year that I talked about in the past. When you have guys like that the ball just comes to them, well he is a down lineman type where it just seems like the quarterback comes to him. It is not always the vision that you have of Reggie White clubbing somebody and winning and sacking the quarterback or Tamba (Hali), it happens a little different but somehow he is around the quarterback. Now he did some not so good things yesterday that we won’t go too far into but I like Wallace, I am glad he is on our team and he is working hard to be a part of this team and be a part of this team becoming a good team.”

Q: Brandon Flowers said after the game that he held up the receiver to avoid a big play and a potential touchdown. Is that a sign he is growing as a player?

HALEY: “I think Brandon Flowers has done nothing but get better from day one. I like Brandon a lot. I think he has a chance to be a great player in this league, I really do. He is another guy I am happy to have on our team. I am seeing something different in Brandon, skill-set aside, this guy is a unique, highly-competitive player. You can see that he enjoys and thrives on being challenged. As each receiver group comes into town or we got to town against, the bigger the name the bigger the step up you see from Brandon. He is a smart player. He made some terrific plays and at the cornerback position you are going to get beat occasionally. That happened a couple times yesterday. On the hold, that is his decision to make but when you have instinctual, heavy players, which Brandon is, he is a football player. I talk about receivers being football players not just pass catchers; Brandon is a football player now. I don’t know that I would take any corner over Brandon in a run support role. This guy comes up and had a couple hits yesterday. One of them occurred that I almost got in between but he comes up and strikes, tackles and makes big plays. That was almost a game changer on the fumble he caused. Bills WR Lee Evans was out there in space one on one with a guy the week before and made the corner look like he was standing in quick sand and ran in for a touchdown. When that ball is thrown out there and it is you and Lee Evans on an island and you make the play he made causing the fumble, and we recovered it, it was just a bad break of where we were at on the field. He is a heavy, smart player and if he says that is what he thought, I am trusting him and I am all in with him.”

Q: Does playing the Raiders get your blood going a little bit more?

HALEY: “I said last year and some things don’t change, I have never liked the Raiders very much and that goes back to my growing up days and feeling connected to the Steelers and having those ties. We didn’t like the Raiders and it doesn’t matter who the people are in the uniforms or who the coaches are on the sideline, that feeling is probably not going to change for me unless I work for the Raiders one day, then it has to change. I don’t have any problem not liking the Raiders, especially going out there. This is always one of those games that you know what you are in for and you try to prepare the guys the best we can, especially some of these young guys that haven’t experienced going out there to Oakland and that starts from the minute you drive into the parking lot. You see some things that you don’t see any where else. We will start that preparation here pretty quick, especially with the young guys that haven’t been there and getting their mindset where it needs to be to go into a really hostile environment.”

Q: Do you coach with an Arnold Palmer mentality or a Jack Nicklaus mentality?

HALEY: “There is no way for me to compare my golf experiences with football. There is just no way for me to do it.”

Q: What did you dress up as for Halloween?

HALEY: “I was an outlaw. That is why I had to keep my beard for a couple days. My girls wanted me to be an outlaw and that is what I was and it was fun. Halloween is the one time that I can actually go out and have some anonymity and feel like the old days.”

Q: Were you a Wild West type outlaw or did you have a stalking over your face?

HALEY: “Clint Eastwood was my vision of what I wanted to be. My wife found me a good costume. It is more about the kids. My one daughter was asking me before the game when I was kissing them goodbye, Katie is five, she was Batgirl, she said, ‘Daddy, now when are you putting your costume on for the game?’ and I had to explain to her, because they were having a little Halloween party up there, I said, ‘Daddy won’t have his costume on until later.’ They had fun, it was great. Like I said, it could not of felt more like Halloween last night. It was a great night. Leaves were rustling and it was chilly.”

Q: At the end of the first half did you not have the option to stop the 10-second runoff that may have allowed you another touch of the football?

HALEY: “I could have called a timeout to avoid the 10-second runoff just like they could of. It was definitely discussed amongst us because we had some time while they went to review the play. I think that it was fourth down, if you call timeout there would have been 0:13 I believe and they probably would have punted I assume or potentially taken a throw to the end zone. If we left 0:13 on the clock it might have changed what they did. This is what I am talking about, you don’t have all the variables but I assume what would have happened is that we call a timeout, there is 0:13 on the clock and now they know the clock is not going to run out if they make a throw to the end zone and they are going to give us the ball near the 50 and I don’t think they would of done that. I think they then would of punted and to me there were a lot of things that could of gone wrong in a punt situation into your own end. Number one you are probably not going to get a return and if you did, the ball could be fumbled, it could be muffed and other bad things could happen. At that point I think I was content to just get to the second half and come out and play defense.”

Q: Was it just a straight cross wind going into overtime?

HALEY: “Yeah, it was a pretty strong crosswind. Like I said, the wind that I have seen here, this stadium is very difficult. I am still in the process of trying to figure it out because the flags are opposite and there are a lot of different things going on. What I do know is that we have not had that wind. For whatever reason whether it was the storms, the barometric pressure, the front or whatever it was, since I have been here I can’t remember the wind blowing that way. It created a whole different set of circumstances which we tried to talk to our kickers and punters. Those are the guys that understand the wind the most and how it affects their football and where they are kicking, especially Dustin Colquitt, he over thinks it. He has a very good feel but the two kicks are entirely different. A punt goes much higher so it is affected differently and then the kickoffs and field goals are affected differently. There are a lot of different factors and then there is a personal preference. Like when I throw a football I would much rather throw to a left to right wind because it makes the ball turn over, makes the nose turn down into the wind where as if you throw with a right to left wind it is much more difficult to get the ball to turn over. There are a lot of different factors that we try to play to our guys strengths which they would prefer. It was thought out at the start of the second half which way we wanted to be going. I had gotten after Ryan (Succop) a little bit because we had talked about that scenario and I said next time I am not asking you. But no, he came through and it was a huge kick and it was difficult in difficult conditions. Even going the other way, the left to right slider wind I was watching him kick into during warm-ups and he did a good job but you could see that it was a little difficult and was having a clear-cut effect.”

Q: Did the new stadium change the wind?

HALEY: “I don’t know that. I couldn’t see any known difference but again, I am still trying to figure it out.”

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