Q&A with Todd Haley 11/25

Posted Nov 25, 2010


OPENING REMARKS: “Happy Thanksgiving, first of all, to everybody. I know that I am very grateful for everything that I have and the family that I have and to live in this great country as well as be a part of this great league, the NFL. We had a good practice today, it was quite brisk out there and it kept everyone on their toes. We were able to get through our third-down sub stuff with a little first and second-down review in addition and let the guys get out of here now, coaches included. We will be back to work tomorrow morning to clean up the rest of the red, review and be ready to go.”


Q: How does a guy like QB Matt Cassel come into the NFL and develop better than Carson Palmer or Matt Leinart? Both Cassel and Seattle coach Pete Carroll said it had a lot to do with guys that surround them.

HALEY: “It has happened with a lot of different guys. Matt obviously is an interesting case just because in college he was behind some pretty good players. So many of these kids develop, mature, grow, physically mature at different times and I think that if you can find your way into the NFL and be part of a team in any capacity, than anything can happen. That is the key, that is what we tell young guys that come in on day one. Once you are in here make it hard to get you out of here. Matt is no different than a lot of guys that have found their way into the league and been in the right situation at the right time. But most of all their hard work, preparation and diligence to get themselves ready and help their team be better is what the key is. So when you are opportunity arrives, you take full advantage and like I said there are story after story of guys that people don’t know a whole lot about that all the sudden everyone knows who they are on a first name basis. Matt took advantage of an opportunity in New England and he has continued to take advantage of that here.”

Q: Do you think sometimes a guy just needs a change of scenery?

HALEY: “Yeah, it could be a lot of things. I think sometimes there is an easy path into the NFL and you think things are easy and going to be easy. You maybe don’t have the focus that you need to have to take care of your business and then sometimes spending a couple days out there on the street, which is a cold, lonely place after you have been on a team, can have a big affect on guys. We have seen it work a bunch of different ways but the key is that these guys take advantage of the opportunity when it comes. It is no different than some of these guys that we work out. There are guys that come into workouts that are in tip-top shape just waiting for an opportunity to work out, the right work out at the right time. Other guys they come to the workouts and they are maybe not in the best shape, you can tell that they probably haven’t been doing a lot and that tells you a lot about these individuals.”

Q: Seattle QB Matt Hasselbeck has been playing well in the passing game. Is that just this team clicking or is there something different about what they do?

HALEY: “No, I think that they are going through what all teams go through. When there is some turnover in personnel, which they have had, and there is turnover in coaching it just takes time. No matter how you cut it, it takes time, it takes repetition, it takes getting more and more guys comfortable and on the same page and sometimes that is when things start to click. I think you are right, they are getting more and more comfortable and they have the pieces. It is just a matter of everybody working together. I know that this quarterback. I was with his brother (Tim) in Arizona briefly and developed a good relationship with his brother. I have always been real interested in Matt. He is a tough-minded guy that can really run the show there and everything kind of revolves around him. When he is healthy and going, he is tough to defend.”

Q: You talked about how important your play-action game is to this team. What is the key to making it work?

HALEY: “I think the running game helps it number one, but I also think the sell up front is a key thing that is hard to get guys to trust. Especially the guys up front because whether they hear play action or drop back, they know they have to pass protect. Sometimes it is hard to get them to really trust and believe that they can go ahead and keep low pad level and take an aggressive step and that they are not going to be hung out to dry. That is always a tough thing. You just have to practice it, push it, work, concentrate on it and I think the guys eventually will gain confidence that if it looks like run, the defense will react a little differently and it wont be a like a drop back where they are pinning their ears back and exposing guys. It is a fine line though, something that as a coach we have to stress and have to push. I think the tendency is to get into pass protection mode.”

Q: Among QBs, who is the best ever play-action passer?

HALEY: “I was always a big Boomer (Esiason) fan. He did a great job with a little deception of the hand. Peyton (Manning) is really good. That is another area that not only the line has to focus on, but the backs fake, the quarterback’s fake. Sometimes you want the quarterback really selling, sometimes you don’t. Sometimes you want his focus to be down the field and the sell to come from other places. I do a lot of the talking with the defensive guys and listening to them to just really try and figure out what exactly the key is because sometimes you see different things. Different things happen the linebacker will bite up in there. I will never forget our Wild Card game (with Arizona) against Atlanta. It was third and 18 and we ran a little draw fake, double seam and one of the best linebackers that I have seen in a long time, Keith Brooking, bit on it and I didn’t think it would happen but it happened and thankfully it did and we got a first down. It is a lot of things, it is where there focus is and you just have to figure out on a lot of these and you just have to figure out on each and every call where the focus is because it changes.”

Q: So you don’t want your quarterback to turn his back?

HALEY: “Sometimes, that is something that we have tinkered with and just kept Matt in the drop back mode a lot of times this year and let the fake come from other places because that can be a distraction to the quarterback also and make it tough to come out and find the defense, throw blind. But there are some guys that are really good at it.”

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