Q&A with Todd Haley 11/10

Posted Nov 10, 2010


OPENING REMARKS: “This morning we cleaned up a little bit more of Oakland and then got started on Denver, that’s why we bumped things back a little bit. We did get started on Denver, base, first and second down, some kickoff, kickoff return, all critical areas to us. It’s critical that we’re making progress. This is a good team that we’re playing in the Broncos that are coming off a week off, though their record is probably not what they want it to be, they have the potential to play really good football. They can hurt you in a bunch of different ways, starting with the offense and the quarterback – Kyle Orton is really playing at a high, high level. He’s a very good, accurate, much stronger arm then I think people give him credit for and clearly the leader of that team. He’s got a group of receivers that maybe as the year started out people weren’t talking a lot about but between WR (Brandon) Lloyd, WR (Eddie) Royal and this young WR Demaryius Thomas along with their tight ends, they’ve got a formidable group that’s making a lot of plays. Lloyd leads all receivers in 20-plus yard catches. Royal is one of the top run-after-catch guys and this Thomas is somebody I thought a lot of coming out and has been beat up a little bit probably getting back to healthy as is the majority of their team, it sounds like. We’ve got to be ready to go.


“Defensively, they’ve had some injuries to deal with also but still some of the top players in the league out there on defense and like I said, they’re getting guys back by the day it sounds like and I would expect Denver’s best. They’ve got a kicker that’s made a 59-yarder, a brother of our kicker is kicking for them as a young punter and it looks like he’s doing a good job. Back to Thomas and Royal as returners, you’ve got some guys that can make big plays. As we’ve seen as this year has gone on, teams like this create a myriad of problems and we have to be playing our best football. We have to get back, after last week, to playing smart football, disciplined football, doing the little things that give you a chance to be in games and win games.”

Q: You talked about how the Raiders were using zero coverage against you. How much have you seen prior to that and how much more do you expect to see moving forward?

HALEY: “You know, you always see some but that’s probably clearly the most we’ve seen but I’m also not surprised that it came from the Raiders. That’s been something, whether coach (John) Marshall, the Raiders in general, they’ve got an M.O. and they play by it and you generally see more out of them than everybody else. That being said, I wouldn’t be shocked to see a team have success against us and try to do some of the things that they were doing. That’s part of the deal. You don’t know what the opponent is going to do for sure; we’re talking about Denver who’s got two weeks to prepare. They’ve got a good coaching staff that will have these guys ready to go and they’re a game plan group, as much of a game plan group as we’ll see that will search out, look for our weaknesses and try to attack them in all areas. Like I said, we’ve got to be ready for anything. Right now for us, still in this process of kind of laying the foundation which we are in, as much as I’ve said it, we’ve got to worry about us and what we’re doing. That was really clear to me last week. As we sit in here, the biggest obstacle to success is success and you start to see a little of that reward on some Sundays a little more than we’ve seen around here and you can lose sight of exactly where you are. We are just trying to become a good team. Today, we really worked hard at just getting back to the basics of the things we need to do in all areas to have a chance to be a good football team.”

Q: Does that cause you to anticipate more passing and having to win through the air if you see similar defenses going forward?

HALEY: “No, I wouldn’t necessarily say that because I think that running teams have to be able to run the ball when other teams know you’re going to run it, so I don’t think I would say that, but again, throughout games, we do have a number of checks and the ability to go from run to run, run to pass, pass to run and we use those throughout games to try to help ourselves.”

Q: What’s the value of a good pass rusher to a defense?

HALEY: “You need guys that can pressure the quarterback. Anytime you have somebody that is real good at it, it helps you, but that being said, that player, for the way that we want to play defense, and I’m talking specifically about us and not about any other team, ours is an 11-man operation. The most important thing to the Kansas City Chiefs defense is that we’re playing 11-man defense because what happens is when you’re playing defense the way we want to play it and one guy tries to do something out of the defense, even though they may make a play, then somebody else is going to cover that generally doesn’t end well and that happened a few times in our game. This has nothing to do with your question, but the importance of 11-man defense first, that’s how we want to play. Secondly, when you have guys that can pressure the quarterback and have natural skill, that is a plus as long as there is a fit within the defense.”

Q: Can you be a great defensive team without at least one premier pass rusher?

HALEY: “I don’t know that. I’d probably have to put some thought into that Adam. I think it’s a good question. Generally, as you go through the great defenses through the year, there are one or two great pass rushers. That being said, maybe the more I think about it there are some that maybe it’s a little more by committee and that teams are so dominant and able to play the defense so well, you have so much dominant skill at so many positions that it weakens the offense essentially and allows people to play better than they maybe actually are.”

Q: What about LB Tamba Hali. Is it time to start thinking of him as a premier guy?

HALEY: “Like I’ve said about Tamba, Tamba has been in since day one. He’s a high-effort, hard-working guy that cares and those are guys that I’ll take on the team any day of the week and he’s got some ability to go with it. Tamba, from day one, like I said, has had a big adjustment to make, he’s still in that process much like the majority of the defense is in it and we’re just trying to coach them all to understand the concept of how we have to play and he is making progress every day and I’m excited about Tamba.”

Q: You’ve been with QB Matt Cassel for about a year and a half now. On and off the field, where have you seen him grow the most and where would you like to see him take another couple of steps?

HALEY: “I think I’ve seen probably growth in too many areas to talk about fully. From a leadership standpoint, he’s had tremendous growth and I think that can only come through time. No different than some of us coaches, it takes a little time for the guys to figure out exactly what everybody’s about and the quarterback is one of those key guys that it takes a little time for all those leadership qualities to really start to blossom and flower. I’ve seen great growth mechanically, starting from his footwork, his depth of drops, keeping himself from doing some of the things that can get you in trouble as a quarterback. What Matt is really focusing on is from the foundation up and what am encouraged about the most with Matt is I think as he understands and as we see him do some of those fundamental things that are really quite controllable but much tougher to do than actually talk about that as he does those, the rest of the things that you want to see are there. Generally when he’s making good plays, he’s doing the baseline fundamental things very well and they’re things that he can control so that to me means that there is a bunch of upside for Matt still to come. I think he understands that, we understand that and he’s a microcosm of our entire team. I’ve talked about ugly football and those things and that’s the way it’s going to be but one of the things that I’m encouraged about starting the third quarter of the season is we’ve got a lot of room for improvement in all areas – there’s not one area that I’m sitting here saying, boy, we’re maxing out, this is as good as we can do. That’s a good thing for us. The key is to just continue to tighten up on the things that are really, really important to us as a staff for our players across the board so that we’re doing those more often because really, last week’s game, without treading water on it, that was a great indicator to me that for our team at least and in this game, the more I see it, it’s not about who makes the most plays; it’s about who plays smarter and does less of the poor plays and the things that get you beat and you can’t be defensive that way. You’ve just got to be a smart football team and you’ve got to teach fundamentals and you’ve got to stay on it and you can’t let it slide and that goes for Matt, that goes for RB Thomas (Jones), RB Jamaal (Charles), our linemen, receivers, everybody. We’ve got some upside and that’s good, that’s really good for us and that’s really good for Matt.”

Q: It’s been about 18 months since Matt was in the center of a quall, you wanted him, Denver wanted him. New England got a draft pick. I assume you think you got the best end of all the deals, why do you think that would be?

HALEY: “Probably a lot of what I just said. As we move along through the process here Kent, I think you all will see, we’ll see there will be more and more guys that it’s pretty clear to us that are the right kind of guys and the right fit for us with the right ability and I think that’s part of this process. The more we see that, the more we recognize it and the more the players realize it that this is where I want to be. Those are good things for us and that will be one of the things that I think will help us take another step as a team, maybe get out of this foundation process and start to really operate efficiently. It’s not going to happen overnight and all these things that we’re talking about are part of the process.”

Q: Can you give us an example or a story of how you’ve seen him grow as a leader this season?

HALEY: “Last weeks’ game for instance, he did something at the end of the half that he wasn’t happy about, I wasn’t happy about and when you’ve got competitive guys that want something to be done a certain way and it doesn’t occur that way and it ends up costing our team, there’s going to be a little spit and fire from him, me, everybody. But what I saw from Matt when that occurred and what I’ve seen in the past, I think I was watching closely as the head coach, to see what his response would be from that point forward starting with the locker room and Matt, without getting into specifics, I know you’re asking for specifics, but he was able to put that play behind him and step up in the locker room and I heard him talking to the guys and it was maybe a little different reaction than I’d seen in the past, most specifically last year, some of the trials and tribulations as we found our way through last year. That’s what we’re figuring out and this season, especially the way that I ask everybody to break it down in quarters, it really is just one big game and we’re at about halftime. Just as Matt has learned how to put plays behind him, poor plays and good plays, because I think it’s critical to be able to do both, our team has to learn how to put games behind us, good and bad. We’ve shown the ability to do that a little bit but that’s going to be tested in this league and especially when you’re a developing team, it’s going to be tested a little more than you like but that’s where we are, we’re at about halftime and we’ve got to start playing better football in the second half in general. I think if we continue to do that and the way you do that is doing those things you know that will give you a chance to have chances to win against whoever you play. That’s what we’re working on and that’s what he’s working on.”

Q: There are going to be a lot of questions and comparisons with you and Josh (McDaniels) because you started at the same time, the changes in the franchises. You used last year’s final game as a springboard into this year. What do you see when you look at them now compared to that last game last year? Are they in the same spot or have they grown?

HALEY: “I don’t think that I’m probably the guy to answer that question. That’s probably for somebody else. I’m really worried, as I said in here, I’m worried about what we’re doing and that’s just where we are. Obviously we’ve got to watch the tape and we’ve got to game plan and we’ve got to figure out the things and I’ve got to figure out the things as the head coach that give us the best chance to win the game. I would think though that Denver, probably much like us at the halfway point last year, one win, you’re still looking at a new beginning – it’s an opportunity to start fresh. I think that’s probably what they’re doing. Like I said, their record isn’t what they want it to be, ours isn’t what we’d like it to be but it is what it is, you are what you are and the key for us is that we just keep making progress. If we don’t do that, if we slip that way, we’re just not at a stage where we can overcome it so every day is so critical to us trying to become a good team.”

Q: Is it a bonus what you get from LB Derrick Johnson in what he did to overcome kind of a rocky start and the way he disciplined himself and bought in? Are those bonus points for him?

HALEY: “This for us has to be about the team and as I said a little earlier, as we go through this process, there are going to be guys that it becomes clear to us as an organization, as a staff, that are the right kinds of guys and at the same time it’s going to become clear to players that ‘this is where I want to be, this is the way I want to do things and I want to stay a part of this,’ so without getting into specifics of any individual person, I think you’ll see that occur as we continue through this process of trying to become a good team and then a really good team year-in and year-out.”

Q: It seems like he is a good example to other players of what can happen to somebody who clinches his jaw and doesn’t just blow off steam and just does his job and tries to get better?

HALEY: “That’s too hypothetical for me Doug. I don’t know that there was steam clinched in any of that. All I saw was a player that pushed his chips in and made it clear he wanted to be part of this and wasn’t going to be denied and I think the more guys you have like that that are doing that and are willing to push them all in and say let’s do this, the better chance you have. We’re getting more and more and that’s a real good thing for Kansas City and the Kansas City Chiefs.”

Q: You don’t talk about injuries at all, if ever. Why did you go into what was hampering RB Jamaal Charles and his injury situation earlier this week?

HALEY: “I don’t know that I did, did I?”

Q: You said that he had to come out of the game, or it was his choice to go to the sideline and kind of spoke to some injuries that he was dealing with in that game…

HALEY: “I don’t know that I was going through specific injuries. We have handfuls of guys that come in and out of the game that have to at times. When I’m not talking about injuries, that’s for injury reports and those things and specifics – I’m talking about falling on the ball and you get shaken up. Those things are happening throughout the game but they will happen to running backs, probably at a little higher level just because they’re touching the ball a bunch of the time. I don’t think I have an answer for you other than just maybe trying to answer whatever question I was asked.”

Q: Do you expect him to be at 100 percent this weekend?

HALEY: “I don’t expect anybody to be at 100 percent, I really don’t. The best they’re going to feel is two days ago, three days ago, four days ago. That’s just the way it is, but we’ve got a lot of guys that care and they’re working hard and taking care of their bodies and in the cold tubs right now hopefully – I’ll run and check as I usually do – but that’s part of life in the NFL and we’re at halftime right now.” Q: I know you didn’t overlook the guy that scorched you for 200-plus yards last year, you just didn’t mention him?

HALEY: “WR (Jabar) Gaffney. Yeah, I think that’s probably understated. I just flashed back again as you said that. Jabar Gaffney has been a very good player in the league. I think that he’s somebody that Kyle (Orton) counts on getting the ball to in critical situations. That was an oversight, not by lack of seeing him on tape because he’s on there a bunch. Out of all the quarterbacks in the league, I don’t know that there’s one that’s better at getting the ball to his receivers. Like I said last week, QB Jason Campbell, a high percentage of the balls were going to the backs, higher than most everybody in the league, if not everybody. Kyle Orton, a high percentage of those balls are going to those receivers so you’re seeing four or five guys targeted in the high 40s, 50s. I think there are four of them that have had the ball thrown to them 50 to 55 times or somewhere in there, don’t hold me to it. He does a terrific job. He is very well coached. You can see him on tape get through progressions and he does a great job of spreading the ball around and these receivers have really answered the bell in my opinion because there weren’t a lot of people talking about many of them. Some of them have been cast aside at different spots and they’re showing up and it’s hard to ignore any of them. Missing his name is probably more a statement about how all the other guys are playing.”

Q: How hard is it to find a quarterback in this league who is a legitimate game manager and generally keeps the mistakes to a minimum and do you think it’s kind of easy to overlook guys that are like that?

HALEY: “I think it’s really difficult to find guys and I think that it’s probably something that gets overlooked in general and why we’ve got to keep our focus as a staff, I’ve talked in here about developing your players, developing your coaches, well one player that you better be developing is your quarterback and the ones that aren’t playing maybe on Sundays could ever have a chance to play because if you sleep on that one, you could have real problems when certain situations come up. We’re working hard at that exact thing and developing quarterbacks is a critical, critical factor to being a successful team because it’s easy to look at the good teams in the league and generally there is a quarterback there that everybody can pretty quickly say is a field general, leader of the team, manages the game, makes up for coaches’ mistakes, does a lot of things to make a lot of people look good and that’s critical and it helps you in this game where a lot of things change by the second.”

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