Q&A with Todd Haley 11/8

Posted Nov 9, 2010


OPENING REMARKS: “So we got through the tape. Very disappointing ending to the game or final to the game but as I’ve said, there’s a lot to be learned from the game yesterday against the Oakland Raiders and a lot that can be a big part of us making this transition into being a good team and the important thing is that we take the lessons that happen in that game and learn from them and not allow them to occur at a later, even more potentially more critical time from a big-picture perspective. I think it’s pretty clear that when you play a game on the road and you number one, you get out of your team’s personality at least through five games and fall into a game where you start committing bunches of penalties, which a bunch of came in critical, critical points in the game that that’s something that we don’t want to allow to happen and we need to stay disciplined throughout games regardless of circumstances. Sometimes I think when there are a lot of flags being thrown and you let yourself get caught in that mode and distracted by it maybe and then you start doing things that are a little out of character and that’s something that we can’t allow to happen and we have to learn from that. As I’ve said in here multiple times, because we’ve been a fairly low-penalty team over a year and a half, it doesn’t mean that the next game that it’s going to happen just because of that. You have to make it happen and you basically are what you are. In that game, we had a punt return for seven points taken off the board, we had a field goal taken off the board, we turned the ball over in the Red Zone, which are points off the board of some sort generally, and we allowed their offense to make too many big plays which one of the keys to that game from a defensive standpoint was we could not allow big plays. As you went through the tape on all sides, which we did, it was very clear why that result was what it was. From an encouraging standpoint, which I think it’s very important that this result does not drag our team down, we got a lead on the road, we gave up that lead, momentum clearly swung there to start the second half, our guys regrouped, dug in, made enough plays to put us back in a position to win the game and then we just couldn’t make one or two of the plays that showed up there that had we made in all areas, the game would have ended in our favor. Difficult, painful, tough, but that being said, it’s the end of the second quarter of the season, end of the first half of the season and we’re starting 0-0 going into this third quarter, which the games will only do as they’ve done throughout this year – become bigger and bigger for our team from multiple perspectives. We’ve got to get back to work and we’ve got a big one coming up.”


Q: Did the referees run the clock the way it was supposed to be run at the end of the fourth quarter? Specifically, I thought there was a new rule that if they do a video review that stops the clock, I thought there was an automatic 10-second run off that goes with that?

HALEY: “Every week the NFL has a system in place that when there are things that come up in a game that are something that we as a staff want to learn from that we can send different plays in and get a response from the league that we can learn from and continue to teach our guys as we do a bunch and this game is no different than any other in that there are a couple each game that we’ll have some questions on but as I said, I’m not the expert in that field. These guys have a very difficult job and they’re the best at what they do and the game did not come down to anything like that. In my opinion, it came down to us doing those things that I talked about that got us beat and we cannot allow that to happen and we’ve got to learn from it.”

Q: So you’re satisfied at least from what you know at this point that everything happened according to the rules?

HALEY: “Yeah, like I said there’s always a couple things I feel like we could learn from that you maybe in the game don’t always get the answer to, which that game was no different. It just happened that there were situations that ended up being, end of the half or down there in the Red Zone, but they ended up getting most of those the way they needed to be.”

Q: Why did RB Jamaal Charles only carry the ball 10 times?

HALEY: “I’m assuming that you’re saying that (as) a negative question but Jamaal is a big part of our game plan. I thought Jamaal was productive in the pass game, which was one of our keys going in with the way that Oakland plays defense, we wanted to get the ball into Jamaal’s hands in the passing game some and we were able to do that and maybe not quite as much as we wanted to. We had a chance early; the first third down of the game that I thought was potentially a big play that we have to execute. In the run game, the Oakland Raiders did a very good job inside, specifically (DE Richard) Seymour, and I know I don’t talk about other players too much, but he really was a problem for us yesterday. He’s a great player and that’s one of those things we need to learn from. We can’t allow a top player to disrupt our game plan as much as he was able to do that and it was throughout the game and it caused us problems and even late in the game when we were trying to run out the clock, to have to take a minus play there was just a killer and we’re lucky it wasn’t worse because it could’ve one of those where he’s involved in the hand off and that would’ve been a potential real big problem. We go into each and every game with a plan, there are a lot of different factors that go to who’s getting touches when, a lot of that is dictated by the defense and how many times you were able to run the ball. We were still able to get a good number of runs, a number that generally gives you a chance to win, in my opinion, at least statistically. But we just weren’t efficient enough and that fell into all 11 players on offenses’ responsibility. We had a run late in the game that had we just finished a block, potentially the game’s over. Like I said, there were a number of those plays late in the game that once we had fought back that if we had just made one, the game ends in our favor and none of us feel the way we feel. The critical thing is that we learned from it.”

Q: Did Seymour have a local knowledge advantage given the fact that the guy coordinating your offense is someone he is fairly familiar with?

HALEY: “I don’t know that, Bob. We’re so different and like I’ve said, offenses evolve and it’s been a number of years since Charlie (Weis) and Richard (Seymour) were together. So, like I said in the evolution of the way things go, I’d have a hard time thinking that. I think that he came out, he was ready to play, we were worried about him going into that game and we knew that he was a potential problem for us and he was. From getting off on the snap and those are some of the problems you have on the road when it’s loud and you can’t do some of the things you like to do cadence-wise. You’re put in a position where guys really have to step up and handle some difficult situations and some difficult players and we just didn’t do a quite a good enough job on him. Again, it’s not just offensive linemen, it’s everybody. It’s an 11-man deal.”

Q: It seemed through the first three quarters that the first play of each of your possessions was a pass play. Was that something you went in with the idea of or were the eight or nine guys in the box dictating that?

HALEY: “It was not something that we went into saying we were going to do. We go into each and every game saying we want to be able to run the football because if we can run the football efficiently, especially early in the series, early in the game, early in halves, early in quarters where you’re going to have a chance to have success but that being said, we knew clearly going into this game, we were going to have execute in the pass game too which we did a number of times and we didn’t a number of times. It really was an 11-man effort of we weren’t as efficient in the run game as we would like to be, we weren’t as efficient in the pass game as we’d like to be, then we had six offensive penalties which are a problem and it just all added up and it added up to a loss for us.”

Q: You’ve said a lot that yards per carry can be affected by a lot of different factors, but when you look at 5.3 yards per carry for Jamaal Charles versus 1.7 yards per carry for Thomas Jones, does it not look like Jamaal had a better chance to be successful running the ball yesterday overall?

HALEY: “I think obviously off of statistics he did. He had more yards per carry but that being said, it is an 11-man effort. We’re making calls at the line going from right to left, left to right, pass to run, run to pass and there are a lot of things that factor into it. On the carry question, you have some plays that are passes that become runs that you don’t know for sure what’s going to happen. It’s just one of those things that you can’t entirely control other than just putting somebody in the game and leaving them in the game and even that you can’t control because Jamaal’s been fighting through a couple different issues. I have to take my hat off to Jamaal because he’s shown a lot of toughness and fight to get back on the field but there are times that he has to come off and that’s as much his decision as it is anybody else’s. There are just factors that go into it that you can’t control quite as much and because of that, sometimes after the game you look at something like that and say, ‘Well, geez, we should’ve done this. The bottom line for our team and trying to become a good team, which we are going to do, is we just have to tighten things up and we can’t allow ourselves to get into a game like that and allow things to happen that occurred in that game. That is what got us beat. Penalties, allowing big play, which were preventable, turnovers in the Red Zone, allowing returns for a touchdown, having a penalty on a return for a touchdown for ourselves, that return occurred when it’s 10-0. The score’s going to be 17-0 if we’re just a little smarter. As you go through the tape, there were multiple opportunities in the return game that there could have been two or three really big ones in addition to that one. We just have to do the things that we’re going to have to do right now as a team, I’ve said this, we’re not going to have a lot of pretty wins, we’re going to have to play ugly – but I don’t mean ugly in the sense of yesterday, that was not the ugly that I refer to – and what I mean is we’ve got to do the little things correctly right now. We’re just not good enough to overcome or play a certain way and still win.”

Q: The Raiders had a ton of penalties as well. Does that become a little contagious?

HALEY: “I referred to that early on in that it can but we can’t allow it to. Like I said, flags start flying, I thought we became distracted a little bit and then fell into doing things that we haven’t been doing but we did yesterday and we can’t allow to happen because we proved it last year, we’re not going to be a team that overcomes a lot of minus plays in any sense because that’s a lot of hidden yardage to try to overcome. Obviously yesterday we couldn’t do it.”

Q: What happened on QB Matt Cassel’s interception?

HALEY: “As I said, they were playing man-to-man across the board multiple times and bringing more than you can block. They did that multiple times at the end of the half and when that occurs, the ball has to come out and it came out, it was tipped up in the air and they made a play. From our standpoint regardless of what they are doing, we can’t be careless with the football. In what might of seemed like a good decision, it became a bad one and we just have to learn from it and go forward. When teams are bringing more than you can block there is going to be an issue but you have to make sure that you are not allowing that to be the end result. That is not strictly on Matt, it is on everybody. We just have to do a better job.”

Q: So if RB Jamaal Charles wasn’t fighting through the issues you talked about earlier, he might have had more carries?

HALEY: “I think he could have had more carries for a number of reasons, that being one of them. He had to come out of the game multiple times yesterday for different physical reasons and that is just the life of a running back and that is something that we have talked about in here. In addition, we have multiple audible calls in that can go different ways and you don’t exactly know what the play is going to be, whether it is going to be a run or a pass, especially when you are playing a team like Oakland that will show their hand and you can do some of that and change the play. Sometimes you are just not going to be able to control that.”

Q: Can a game like this be considered a building block even though it may not of been as planned?

HALEY: “It absolutely has to be. That was the first thing I said to our guys is that this wasn’t the result anyone wanted and we could of prevented it which makes it more painful but with that being said, this last quarter of the season there have been four tremendous learning opportunities and two went our way and two we allowed to go the other way. I think that is the best way to put it is that we allowed the other two games to go the other way. They are great learning opportunities and no different than last year as a building block to what we are going to be. I think adversity makes the man and adversity is going to make this team. This is another bit of adversity that was self imposed in a lot of ways that we are going to have to learn from. It will be a big part of what we are as we go forward and I don’t have a doubt about that, that our guys will take that lesson yesterday and we will help them as a staff and learn from it. It is not a feeling that anybody wants to go through, but in this league you are going to go through it. Most of the time history says you will go through some of them and the thing I don’t want lost in all of this is that our team went on the road against a team that had played a couple really good games. We got on top and we had a chance to put the game into a really difficult position and we didn’t do that. We allowed it, we allowed them to come back and they made some plays. You could feel momentum shift and our guys went through a period where they had to pull together and regroup which we did, which was a really good sign for our team. We battled back, we held them to a field goal there to keep the score at 17-13 which was a big stop for our defense after allowing a couple plays to let them get down there. We battle back, moved the football down and scored a big touchdown, put ourselves in a position to win. We got the ball back with a chance to run it out, we had a couple chances to get it done and didn’t do it. Then defensively we had multiple chances to get off the field and we didn’t do it. The fact that we were able to get back into that game the way we put ourselves ahead early on and the fact that we were able to put ourselves back into the game, those are all really great things for us. They could of gone a different way and as you watch games across the league you see those games go the other way and then it is one that you are really dropping your head in disgust. This hurts, it is painful, but there were a lot of good things. We are a team that is growing, developing and learning how to work together and play together. We have to be better in the second halves of games. The ironic thing is that we are starting the second half of the season and if there is one thing that I can point as we close out the first half of the season is that we need to be a better second half football team because we have scored less points than we have given up in the second half but when you total it all up, that is something that has occurred. We have to figure out a way to become a better second half football team because we have been in the lead or tied in six out of eight of our games. We were behind Cleveland and we were behind in Indy and really that one could have been a tie. We have to learn how to be a better second half football team and I think that it will make us a better football team overall if we continue to get better.”

Q: The fact that self inflicted wounds are popping up, does that tell you that things have not yet hardened, that things are a little squishy around the edges?

HALEY: “Absolutely, and I think that is a matter of some of the things I have talked about in here repetitively. Each and every game is a new opportunity itself and what you have done will not have a great bearing on that. You need to continue to do the things that you have done to win football games. We are a team in transition, we are not there yet and I think that is obvious. There are a lot of encouraging signs and that leads to hope that good things are coming. We just have to continue to make good things happen and learn from that. That is really all you can do. You have to come back out this week and get ready for a team that has had an off week and a team that will clearly be ready to go I would think. We have to make sure that we clean up this game and then get moving forward pretty fast.”

Q: What have you learned about LB Derrick Johnson from the first half of this season?

HALEY: “I think from day one that I came into this building, Derrick was somebody that had a reputation of being a big time college player. Although I wasn’t ever studying Derrick Johnson, I just didn’t have the opportunity to up until I got this job. He is a guy that has a great amount of ability, a great amount of skill and he is starting to turn that into talent. He is becoming a talented player and as I have said in here, there is a big difference between skill and talent. If you just have skill and you don’t have the other things, the discipline, the will to fight through, the will to win, the will to be great then skill sometimes can be wasted in cases but Derrick has not shown any of those signs. He fought through a difficult year last year from a number of different angles, health being one of them. He came in this off-season with a great mindset and a mindset to be part of something special, to be a great teammate and to be a great player. I think he is trying to do that and I think he has done nothing but get better. He hasn’t been perfect but he is getting better each and every week. Really we have a lot of guys that are doing that but Derrick has clearly been a big reason behind us starting to play better football.”

Q: Why is it taking LB Derrick Johnson this long to be that guy?

HALEY: “I don’t know, again I think that kind of comes off as a negative question and I don’t see it that way. I see it as Derrick, like our entire team or all the guys that were here last year, there were some major changes going on and some guys were able to handle it, some guys weren’t. He was one of the guys that was able to handle it and he kept fighting through. I don’t know that he was ever healthy but he found ways to get out on the practice field once he realized that was what was going to be expected. Nobody was going to feel really good but we had to be out there practicing and working hard to get better and he learned more and more about how we were going to play defense and he did nothing but grow last year. Last year was not a negative year for Derrick Johnson in my opinion. He made great progress last year and that is kind of what this is about for us. We are still in that foundation laying process and when you get down to individuals, it doesn’t change for anybody. Everyone has had to go through it and you are either getting better or you’re not and he has been a guy that is getting better all through this and I am just really happy that he has continued that and I think that we are starting to reach some of those rewards.”

Q: What about the competition he had going with LB Demorrio Williams for the starting spot this summer? Could that of been a reason that he is getting better?

HALEY: “Heck yeah. I think it is continued good coaching, his off-season preparation and work ethic. Once the expectations were set for how we wanted to do things and what I expected as the head coach, he has tried to reach those expectations and it is really becoming a year-round deal for these guys with the way the season is set up. He came into this off-season in better shape than he did last off-season and he got stronger, he continues to get stronger which then helps you fight through injuries and some of those things. He just has continued to work, he is ‘all-in’ in my opinion, he wants to be a great teammate and he wants to be part of a great team. When you have those factors and you have a skillful guy like Derrick is, good thing generally happen. As I have said in here a number of times, competition is really the key to this I think as your team grows. The more competition you create, the better. The types of guys you want are the guys that will respond to competition and push their games to a higher and higher level and I think that is definitely what has occurred. Demorrio (Williams) is a guy that loves to play this game and he is a productive player and he is probably one of our better players. It is a good problem that he has fought, clawed and pushed. Those two battle every day. If you watch individual and you watch them go against each other (you will see). But they care for each other, they push each other and they are for each other. They are pushing everyday and that is all part of the deal. I have to take my hat off to Demorrio. He is a great teammate and wants to be part of something special also and that is what you try to do at every position.”

Q: Did you sit next to CB Brandon Flowers on the flight home to try and feel his mood or is he one of those guys who you don’t have to say anything to?

HALEY: “I think that Brandon has a chance to be a really good player for us. He has shown signs of that and has been a really good player for us the majority of the time. Yesterday he had some plays that he probably would have liked to have taken a little different approach but that is life in the NFL. You have to take your hat off to WR Jacoby Ford because he played a big time game. That was a great competition out there and he made a couple terrific plays that were a little out of the norm of what you see made. Brandon is one of the leaders of our team and he is a very competitive guy and that one will eat at Brandon in a good way I have to believe. We talked a little bit about things but the key thing is that Brandon is one of the leaders on this team and your leadership has to show up in tough situations like yesterday for us as a team. It didn’t go the way we wanted it but that is the way it is going to happen sometimes and what we have to do is, the leaders have to stand up and we have to bounce back which I think we will, believe we will. We will go on the road and play a tough AFC West opponent which will start the third quarter of the season for us.”

Q: Can you confirm if LB Derrick Johnson has a new contract?

HALEY: Much like injuries I won’t get into those things.”

Q: Did you like WR Jacoby Ford before you met him?

HALEY: “Yeah, I did. I probably need to go reevaluate my grade though after yesterday. He is fast, productive and it showed up. He played good, he played great really.”

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