Q&A with Todd Haley 11/29

Posted Nov 29, 2010


OPENING REMARKS: “It was a big win for our Kansas City Chiefs. I thought to take another step in becoming a good team this year we knew we were going to have to go on the road and beat a good team and that was a team that was still leading their division. It’s a great place to play football. I’ll tell you, a really special thing in this league is when you’re on the road and you beat a team like that and all of a sudden all of those red jerseys and red coats and hats start moving down towards the rail and walking off the field there, seeing a bunch of Chiefs fans there is pretty impressive and is always a great feeling on the road. We appreciate all those that made it out there to Seattle and helped cheer us on. We could hear them all.


“I thought it was a pretty dominating performance for us across the board. I don’t know that I’ve been a part of a game that’s had that disparaging of differential in rush yards, rush yards against, just really an amazing number there to see up in the 270s and 20 against. We knew defensively we wanted to make them one-dimensional and we were able to do that. Another thing we worked hard at all week to match up against that team, we played a bunch of nickel or sub defense against some of the two-TE looks which is a little different for us but we felt it would give us a chance or a better opportunity to play defense versus the pass. The key to that is stopping the run in those looks which we were able to do. I thought we had a bunch of young guys on defense that haven’t played a lot, either young or haven’t played a lot: CB Travis Daniels, CB Jackie Bates, DE Wallace Gilberry played a bunch of snaps for that same reason I just talked about, LB Demorrio Williams in as a rusher a big part of that game. Then Bates went down, CB Javier (Arenas) had to move out there and play some corner, which puts a lot on his plate in addition to returning and he got nicked up early in that game but he’s a tough little kid, this 21, he is tough because he was in some pain, he hadn’t been healthy since the start of the year and he’s an impressive, impressive, impressive young man. Defensively I thought we did a really good job throughout the game. We gave up two plays that we can’t give up and we’ve got to understand the situation a little better of where we are in the game and what the score is and the certain things that you can’t do, really saying that when you’re up a couple score or more, you’ve got to change your mind set a little bit in that you don’t want to get into prevent but you have to understand that quick strikes will allow the opponent to get back into the game. Fortunately even though we allowed a couple of those, we were able to dig in and make it work.

“Offensively, it’s hard to say a whole bunch negative about the guys other than that we can’t turn the football over and we can’t have penalties in the Red (Zone) or the scoring zone which puts you into field goal situations to begin with but then long field goal situations and keep you from scoring points. We went into that game with the goal of possessing the ball – we did that for 41-plus minutes, really impressive; scored points in every quarter or as close as we could to that and we did that; score touchdowns instead of field goals and we did that; and we did it with a young guy in T Barry Richardson playing left tackle for the first time this regular season other than a few plays last week, in a very difficult place to play left tackle. We did it with T Ryan O’Callaghan who was hurt for the better part of the half of the year and has continued to work and keep himself ready for when the opportunity arose where he was going to have to help us and I thought he stepped in and did a fine, fine job. I thought G Brian Waters played one of his better games and G Ryan Lilja has a couple different things going on health-wise that he throws himself around. C Casey Wiegmann continues to play at a high level and that’s where it started yesterday was up front and those guys had their minds set that they were going to out-physical that group and the Seattle Seahawks defense was not having fun yesterday, I can assure you of that. I had an up close view of it and they were not enjoying themselves, which was good for us. Right down the line, WR Dwayne Bowe continues to take steps into being a real good football player – he’s continued to do a great job blocking in the run game; setting a physical tone, which he can at his size; and just being hard to defend overall. He is doing a nice job making plays for us. RB Jamaal (Charles) had a big-time performance and I think that he did a very good job specifically on the inside runs, he ran tough and hard inside, which was big for us. RB Thomas (Jones), though a little more of a grind-it-out game for him, he had a big role in what we did in the run game yesterday just from the physical side of wearing them down and I thought our tight ends did a very good job in the run game for the most part -- they didn’t get a bunch of action in the pass game. FB Mike Cox I thought did a terrific job, played a bunch of plays – 36 plays, and really helped set the tone at the point of attack. Then finally, QB Matt (Cassel), it’s a difficult place to play left tackle and a more difficult place to play quarterback and Matt was able to take another step yesterday in being the leader of this team and being the quarterback of this team and I’m really just proud of the way he handled the whole game. We went into that game and one of my big goals for him was just the down-in and down-out sense of urgency of understanding the clock, the crowd, when we’re audibling, when we have plays that are checking, with the crowd like you saw yesterday, it’s difficult to do some of those things and he was right on throughout that game. He made some great checks, made the right decisions and other than one throw, in my opinion, was picture perfect with not being careless and just did a great job of leading our offense. It was a big win for us and that being said, I think that now we’ve got ourselves to 2-1 in this third, critical, critical quarter of the season and a chance to get to our goal of three (wins) at home against a team that whipped our butts pretty good just two weeks ago. I told the guys to enjoy this one for an hour or so and then we were going to put it to bed and get on to Denver. It’s going to take all hands on deck, this time of year as I said; you’ve got a lot of guys beat up, nobody’s feeling real good, winning is the only cure and it’s not a complete cure but we’ve got to get ready to go for this team, the Denver Broncos, who whipped us two weeks ago. The focus, preparation, all those things need to be at their highest level and the games are just going to get bigger and this game this week will be our biggest game to-date. Other than that, I’ll save Denver for Wednesday but I think that’s critical for us.”

Q: After re-watching QB Matt Cassel and WR Dwayne Bowe and what they put together yesterday, what words can you say about the chemistry that they displayed?

HALEY: “I think it’s just continued to build and that’s one of those things that takes time and you’re seeing over a year and a half of that work together starting to really pay dividends. We did some things in the game yesterday, minimal but there were plays because of what was occurring in the game, we had to draw a couple in the dirt that Matt and Dwayne specifically, executed to perfection, which I don’t think you can make a living on but in my past experiences, when you can have a quarterback and a receiver that can do that, according to some of the things you’re seeing, that is a really good sign. Like I said, they executed to perfection a couple plays that were not things that we practiced in critical situations. I think the best way I can describe it is we became very hard to defend because of that combination along with the run game. We made it hard for the defense to be right yesterday and I think the more you can do that, the better your chances of scoring points.”

Q: How much harder will that make it for opposing teams to game plan after seeing that passing attack yesterday along with the running game that you guys have?

HALEY: “Well I don’t know about for them. I know that for us, that’s our goal – to be a balanced team, but it starts with the run. Sometimes to pass to run, sometimes you run to run but one way or another you have to run the ball efficiently. That’s what I want to do and that’s what I want the calling card of our team to be, to be a physical team that can run the football but is balanced. I thought yesterday was just a terrific example of being a balanced team that was just more physical across the board, offensively, defensively and special teams, though we had a couple breakdowns on special teams, we were physical. I think that our guys are figuring that out and that’s the reason why you do all the things that we do in the off-season and training camp and why we had a difficult, difficult training camp, in my opinion, in a great atmosphere to build that physical, tough nature that we want our football team to live by. Yesterday was just a great example of it being put to the test and we became hard to defend but that’s been going on and that’s one of those things that you keep working and you keep getting better and that’s the key – that we continue to get better. I think we have a lot of room to improve but as long as we’re making strides, as I’ve said in here a bunch, we’ll have a chance.”

Q: You said you kind of drew up some plays in the dirt. We’re you literally drawing plays up on the sideline or while the offense was on the sideline were you guys going over what their defense was doing?

HALEY: “Randy, I guess the best way to describe it is when you get into the game, no matter how much you’ve prepared and you have your plan set for what you want to do, and I’m a big believer in you better be doing those as close as you can to doing the things that you practice because I don’t think you can make a living off of doing things that you haven’t had a lot of work on but I think as you become a better team and you have experience together at key positions like that, in the pass game anyway with the quarterback and receivers, that as that game progressed we were hurting them in a way that they were having to then adjust what they were doing. As I’m standing there coaching the game, you clearly see that there’s an opportunity to make a bigger play and it was the play down the sideline to Dwayne, a little bubble move, slant-and-go so-to-speak. Without giving too much away, we were really in a run-pass option for most of that second half and that’s where I say you become hard to defend when you can run it versus the best look and you can throw it versus the best look.”

Q: That was the touchdown that Bowe scored?

HALEY: “No, no. Bigger play down the sideline, it was just right about five minutes or so, the pass outside on CB (Kelly) Jennings to Dwayne off a little bubble move. Those are hard plays with practice because there are so many variables with the corner trying to jump, grab, knock you off your route but I warned the official ahead of time that was on that side that we’re going to double move here so just be alert. I’ve always done that as a receiver coach, you give the guys a heads up which they appreciate just in case there is contact, but there wasn’t and I just thought Matt and Dwayne executed the play flawlessly. There is something about when you’re able to do that in a game Randy I think that just builds confidence and helps you as you move forward, not just in that game but overall.”

Q: Is seeing how Bowe handles the great success that he’s had statistically in the last number of games part of your evaluation of him? Are you interested to see how he handles it going forward or do you think he’s already answered those questions?

HALEY: “I think there are always questions to answer for each and every guy, all of us. I think that part of what you’re seeing is trust in a player and coaches. That just takes time and as I’ve said, especially myself the way that I coach, I push hard and it’s not always pleasant and it’s not always friendly but I think that as the guys, and as a head coach you’re dealing with a much bigger group of players as opposed to just a small group that sees you every day up close and personal, it’s going to take time and the majority of our staff now, that’s part of getting the staff that I wanted it because you have to have like-minded guys that though everybody does it a little different, you need a balance of your good cop, bad cop so-to-speak. Personally speaking on Dwayne, I think there’s some trust that has to be built and that’s what I know that has been going on with a lot of players, it takes time but I think that once that trust is developed both ways – between coach and player, that you have a chance, at least through my experiences, what I know and the way that I was taught and learned is there better be some trust there at some point and just trust that our coaches have the players’ best interest in mind. Like I said, they’re going to be coached hard but sometimes it hard for a player to always get that. But we’ve got more and more guys that get it.”

Q: When Bowe was under fire you came to his defense. Did you think he had this kind of potential?

HALEY: “I don’t like to set a bar on players. I try to set the expectations very high but within reason. What I am always looking for and what I want our coaches always looking for is that these guys set their expectations above our expectations. Dwayne obviously has high expectations for himself. The good thing is that he is doing it a different way than he’s done it from when I first got here. From what I learned early on with the things he was doing and how he was preparing and just him overall as a professional, he is learning and growing up right before our eyes which is not a lot different than a lot of these guys, Matt (Cassel) being one of them. That is one of the great, fulfilling things as a coach. We do this to win and that is number one but when you see guys really growing up before your eyes and becoming pros, that is what you are seeing with Dwayne. He is not there, he has a long way to go and how he goes forward and handles more and more people talking about him will be another really good step for him to take if he handles everything the right way. He is doing a very good job. He is practicing hard, he is being a great teammate, his focus has continued to be very air tight on the task at hand. He just has to keep doing those things. There are going to be ups and downs because that position is a tough position to play and you are in the spotlight a lot of times, especially when the ball is in the air and it is coming to you. There are going to be ups and downs but the key is that he needs to keep working his tail off and being a great teammate; he is seeing some rewards of that and we are. That is the big thing because he was obviously a big part in helping us take care of business yesterday.”

Q: How mentally tough is your team?

HALEY: “I think we are getting better in that area and that is one of the key things to me. I have had this talk with my father over and over again and even (Bill) Parcells because coach Parcells used to make us list the critical factors each year in the off-season for our position and I would put mental toughness on there at the top. Bill would say, ‘Mental toughness? How are his hands?’ and I believe that if you are mentally tough a lot of the other stuff takes care of itself. You will catch the ball over the middle if you are mentally tough because you are not going to be afraid, you are not going to be paying attention to who is coming at you. You will block somebody that is maybe bigger or stronger than you. When we ask you to come down in motion you will crack. Our team overall, the mental toughness is building and you can see it. I am a big believer that you can bring that out of people and that it is in everybody. Sometimes it takes dire situations to get it out of human beings but I think you build it just the way you coach them, by constantly pushing them. That is hard to do, it is hard to do for coaches. The easy thing to do would be to let up and pat them on the back and say, ‘hey, we are doing good.’ I don’t believe in that. I believe that you have to keep pushing and prying if you want greatness. Training camp is part of that mental toughness development, just understanding that this is what it is going to be so we might as well learn to like it. The guys have done a great job and we are getting better.”

Q: Where do you see this mental toughness growing on a day to day basis as they go about their jobs?

HALEY: “I think we are seeing signs of it all over. The fact that we have been in pads for six straight practices is a sign. There hasn’t been a lot of whining and complaining about it, they get it. The guys are just getting it and that is really good. I could tell them if you have to ask what “it” is, then you are pry not getting it. They are getting it and I think you are seeing signs all over with the way that we are practicing and preparing. Like I said also, this time of year winning is the only cure for everybody feeling pretty crappy most of the time. That is how you become a good team though, you find ways to slug it out and win in this period of the schedule and all the sudden guys want to come back a little quicker from injury if they can. They want to gut it out and practice a little harder and it kind of feeds on itself. The good thing is that we have a couple and now the most important thing is that we get our minds right and focused on this team that is going to come in here Sunday and they kicked the crap out of us.”

Q: Is what’s happening in Denver right now with the taping of the 49ers walk-thru validating why you didn’t shake Head Coach Josh McDaniels’ hand postgame in Denver?

HALEY: “I am going to stay out of that. I will save more Denver for Wednesday but it will be strictly about us getting ready to play our biggest game of the year. We need to play our best game of the year. That is what the focus is on. I am completely out of it. I am going to enjoy yesterday’s win for two more hours because that was a great win for us, a great win. Then we are going to get back to business which is winning our biggest game of the year.”

Q: It looked like you had RB Jamaal Charles running inside a little more in Seattle. Was that just something you saw in the defense?

HALEY: “I just think it is something we have to make sure we do enough of. We have a really unique group of backs that are very versatile but they definitely have their strengths. I think for us to be as efficient as we possibly can be and as hard to defend, we need to have all of our backs running all the runs yet still playing to their strengths the best we can. Jamaal is still a developing running back in the league and that is a great thing. Jamaal didn’t just come into the NFL and was a great player. You have to resist the urge to think that because it happens but Jamaal has been one of our very good success stories of developing the guys on our roster, making sure that we kept the right guys around, the guys that we felt could be our type of guys. He was clearly one of them but it hadn’t been an easy road but he sure impressed me. He is still developing and he has a lot of things he can do better and protecting the football has to be one of them. The arrow is up and that is good.”

Q: Was that the best game you have seen Cassel play in here?

HALEY: “That is hard for me to answer. I just know that it was a real good step for him. That is a hard place to play quarterback in a very big game, our biggest game to date. He went out there and did a tremendous job of leading our football team. Now he just has to learn from the positives and the mistakes and get better.”

Q: Do you have a target yard line you set for kick coverage?

HALEY: “No, I think it is a good question but each and every game is a little different. I know that Leon Washington is a game changer and that crowd is a unique crowd in that, if you let them get rolling, which I think anyone is there can hear it, there is a different pitch to the crowd. One of the keys to me going into the game to me was tackling and that we couldn’t miss tackles because in my experience a missed tackle even the crowd erupts and it almost feels like something worst than a simple missed tackle. You feel like you got scored on. It is hard to explain but I think we did a very good job as a staff of preparing our guys for the atmosphere because it is unique, it is different. Going back to the original question I did not want Leon Washington to make a play that could give them a spark, especially early. It backfired in that one of their up men, we had a misfit to start, missed a couple tackles and allowed a big return. Thankfully it didn’t hurt us too bad but we have to be better. No, I don’t have a target line, each game is different, each return is different and you have to do what you think you have to do to give yourselves the best chance to win.”

Q: How happy are you with DT Shaun Smith’s play right now and that he got a chance to score?

HALEY: “Sometimes Shaun has a hard time fitting through a door in general, although now it might be a head problem (laughing). Shaun is a great teammate and he has been a great addition to our team, an important addition to our team and has really helped from a veteran leadership standpoint in addition to helping us out there on the field. Shaun played a good game, he was productive on defense and we have had him in there for a couple snaps leading up to yesterday and he has some natural ability handling the football which is always the risk when you give the ball to somebody different than who usually gets it. We had a couple unblocked guys and he did a good job of pushing in. I think he got in on the first effort but the second effort was still there. We will see if we let that package grow, pardon the pun.”

Q: On the blocked punt were you mentally beaten, physically beaten?

HALEY: “The good thing is, number one, that it didn’t get us beat. Doing those things as we go forward, as these games get bigger and teams may get better, we have to learn from that. A little bit of both, there was a little mental to the punt block. We were in a hurry up situation which is supposed to help you and some of those things. What they were trying to do is bring the corner off the edge, one of the jammers that is out on the gunner. We quick snapped them but we didn’t quick snap them quite enough so it was close enough to be a factor and we lost the integrity of the protection by chasing him and leaving a crease there so it was completely something that we can prevent, we just have to be better technique wise. Like I said, there was a mental side to that more importantly because there were a couple guys involved. The field goal block was completely technique. It is an area that we have been working on and continue to emphasize. We have had some moving parts because some of our injuries. We have guys in different spots that haven’t had a lot of work so we just have to get better and we obviously can’t allow that to happen.”

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