Q&A with Todd Haley 11/9

Posted Nov 9, 2011

OPENING REMARKS: “[We] began our preparations for Denver. This is the start of the next quarter of the season for us, the second half of the season. I think the first half is what it is – a lot of good things, some bad things, adventurous, as I said earlier. But that’s where we are. We’re not going to change that. I would say our goal each and every year is to win the AFC West to give us a chance to play in the tournament, and right now it’s a four-horse race and we’re playing one of those horses this week. So, [a] big, big week for us, as always. [It’s] the start to this quarter, always important also, at home in front of our fans, excited about that. And then this Denver team, I think a team that clearly as you watch through the tape, both sides of the ball and special teams, they’re getting better and better each week. They’re finding an identity, so to speak. They’ve been through some adversity of their own. They look like they’re a pretty resilient team and they’ve got some great leaders on the team, starting with their defense. You absolutely have to start with [Brian] Dawkins and Champ Bailey. I think you’re talking about two of the elite players for a long, long time, and they definitely set the tone for that defense and I would say probably for the team. They’ve got some good, young players that are playing up front, doing a good job creating pressure. They’re physical. They’ll play you man, they’re a fast-pursuing team, they’ll play you zone, they’ll pressure you and those pressures will be exotic some of the time. We have to offensively be ready to go out there and play fundamentally sound football and make plays against real good players in the run and the pass game.

“Offensively, I think you have to start with Tim Tebow. I think he’s done a terrific job in there. Like I said, they’re getting more and more comfortable as are most teams in the NFL. I know our team [is]. Each and every week you can see it on tape. They’re finding an identity. That identity is to run the football for a lot of yards, make plays in the passing game when their great run ability creates and allows that, and they’ve got a number of good receivers. I think you can see this [Eric] Decker is a good, young player, good at his position, makes a lot of plays, gets the ball thrown his way a bunch. Eddie Royal is a dangerous, dangerous receiver and returner. We’ll get to that in a minute. Demaryius Thomas is a good, young receiver, up and coming that has had some injury issues, but when he’s out there, he looks pretty good. In the running game, when you have a quarterback that can run the ball the way that Tim does, it creates major issues for defenses, as you see on tape. Essentially, you can gain an extra offensive player, in the run game specifically. And when that player is your quarterback and can throw the football, it becomes now different than just some of the wildcats and things we see. He, obviously, is a big, strong runner. [Willis] McGahee is a big, strong runner that really has been a great player ever since he was in college, one of the top players at his position and I think that’s held true in the NFL when he’s been healthy and had opportunity, which he got, obviously, last week. This year he is up over 600 yards, on pace to have a terrific year. They’ve got a couple younger backs and fullbacks that all can make plays. I really believe they’re going to be a great challenge here for our defense to defend on a full-time basis throughout the game. Again, we’re going to have to rely on fundamentals and technique and then make some plays when those opportunities present themselves.

“Then special teams, I think [they have] one of the great kickers, a great kickoff guy, a great field goal kicker, dangerous, very talented, surprise onside kicks, anything you want, he can do. And [their] punter, one of the real good, young punters related to our punter and I know they always – when they play against each other – they both are trying to put out their best. And then return-wise, Eddie Royal, you see it, one return, 85 yards, a big part of them getting that game turned around. We obviously have to be at our best covering to handle him specifically.”

Q: Where do you feel like your offense is at? Half of the games they have scored 14 points or less.

HALEY: “I think we’re making progress, and we are. We’re a young, developing team, any way you cut it, in all three phases. We are making progress. We’re getting better. I think that it’s important to understand our identity as a team and how we need to play in all three phases, again, to have the best chance to win week-in and week-out. Though we’ve come back some, I don’t think coming from long distances behind is going to be one of the things that is a strong point right now, though we are getting better and I may not be saying that down the road. We’re making progress, we’re moving forward and we’ve got to make sure that we continue that progress here this second half of the season, for us to get to where we want to get to. That’s the bottom line. Consistency is going to be a big word in that process, again, for our entire team. What good teams and great teams do is they become consistent, if not at the start, as the year progresses. We have eight games left in the regular season and that’s something that I think has to continue to occur, is that consistency on offense is no different than anywhere else. I think we have the ability and we’ve shown flashes, but we have to be more consistent as we go forward.”

Q: You probably don’t see another quarterback like Tim Tebow. What is the biggest problem that he presents for you guys?

HALEY: “I think No. 1, the offense is responding to him. I think that you can see there’s been a surge in this team, specifically since he’s been out there. And it’s not to take away from Kyle [Orton], I think he’s a heck of a good quarterback and all teams do what they think is best for their team in that regard. I think Tebow is big, strong, tough. His toughness is a quality that really makes him challenging because it affects so many things. He’s not afraid to take on tacklers when he needs to, which means he breaks tackles. He’s not afraid to stand in the face of pressure and hold the ball until the last possible second to make a big play, which you see on tape, and knowing that he’s going to be on his back when the play is over. So, that toughness is a great challenge because it carries him through in all areas, really.”

Q: How odd is it preparing for a read-option team at the NFL level?

HALEY: “I think it’s a great challenge. Like I said, we’ve had to do it here because the wildcat really is a lot of what you see at times, but the difference is that generally the guys running the wildcat aren’t the quarterback. So, you’ve got the quarterback running the option, which then makes it a triple threat. The running back is running, him running or throwing the football, so I think it’s going to be a great challenge. We have a plan and you need to have a plan for the plan, and then we need to make sure we go out and execute and do it the way we need to do it.”

Q: Have you seen guys get their surge back?

HALEY: “Yes. Like I said, even though I told them to get away, recharge emotionally and physically at this halfway point and really tried to stress to stay away from the building, we had a bunch of guys in here lifting, getting treatment. As these last couple days have gone on and now in today, I think the guys are excited, they understand the challenge in front of them and they understand that it starts this week against a division team that’s playing really good football and we need to go out and play our best. I would say the guys are ready to go and we’re going to have to continue to get ready as the week goes on.”

Q: With the read-option, do you essentially have to prepare for two offenses?

HALEY: “Yes, I think it will be a great challenge. It’s going to take our entire team to get ready from a show standpoint, who’s running what. Yes, I do believe it’s a big challenge because they are by no means limited to doing that. You see the quarterback under center in two-back and they run and throw out of that. You see empty sets in which they throw and run. You see a bunch of the different versions of some sort of option going on and obviously, Tim is extremely comfortable in that. It’s going to be a great challenge and we need to do a great job on our show teams and helping our defense prepare.”

Q: Who’s your Tebow?

HALEY: “We’ve got a couple Tebows. It’s good we’ve got a lefty quarterback in Tyler [Palko], who’s extremely athletic. But at the same time, though he doesn’t want this, I said I don’t want to hit our backup quarterback in practice and have something happen there. Like I said, Tyler is not happy about that. He thought I was questioning his toughness and I had to let him know that I’ve got to look out for the team and he’s our No. 2 quarterback that has to be healthy. Then we’ve got a couple other guys, [Ricky] Stanzi, Jerheme Urban, who’s big, fast, strong, has thrown, played quarterback some. We’ve got a number of guys we can put in there that then we can make sure we’re wrapping up and getting ready for a big, strong, physical player.”

Q: How do you judge a guy like Jerheme Urban’s contribution to the team when he hasn’t been active for weeks?

HALEY: “You have to look at the big picture. If you have tunnel vision or are just looking for certain things, you could overlook some real positive traits. Jerheme, I know it bothers him. He is extremely competitive, he’s been in big games, played in the playoffs, played in the Super Bowl and has been a contributor here and in Arizona and other places that he has been, Dallas and Seattle I’m sure. This guy is a great teammate and he’s given us great leadership within the building and on the road. That’s why you see him down on the sideline at all games because I think our receiver group really looks up to Jerheme and he does a great job of keeping them where they need to be. And there’s nobody that practices harder and makes more plays in practice than Jerheme. It’s always a great challenge for us as coaches to make sure that we are allowing everybody to produce and help as best we can.”

Q: How do you judge guys that turn up on the stat sheet and play but their production isn’t and hasn’t been there like Thomas Jones?

HALEY: “Thomas is such a big part of our team. We’ve always said everybody has to be good teammates, and that’s easy and hard sometimes, and I won’t speak for Thomas but there’s nobody more competitive than Thomas, that wants to be helping and especially when you have a poor outing, that’s when it hurts even more for guys that generally just want to help. I know that Thomas can and will and will continue, and along with his terrific, terrific leadership and work ethic, like I said, he is interwoven within the fabric of this team and is a big part of everything we do.”

Q: Has there been a change in the franchise or your thinking in the attitude of bringing guys in and turning over every rock?

HALEY: “No, I don’t think that will ever change. As an organization, as a coaching staff, we will always do whatever it takes to find guys that can help us be better and fit and we’ve worked out – every week we’ve worked out a number of guys – and as I’ve said in the past, we have a short list and a long list and we feel good about where we are in relationship to the guys out there that are available.”

Q: Does the toughness of Tim Tebow override a lot of things that are unorthodox about the type of quarterback he is?

HALEY: “I can only judge Tim as an opposing coach getting ready to defend him. We did a lot of work on him and have thought a lot about him. He is a winner and has won everywhere he has been and is showing that now at the NFL level. He is a heck of a football player and I always talk about that with the receivers, that I don’t just want pass-catchers, I want football players that do everything and are a part of the run game and the pass game and special teams. This guy is amazing – big, strong, tough. They tried to kill him last week. Physically, Oakland sent bodies at him from everywhere and I think it’s pretty clear this guy won’t crack in the face of pressure.”

Q: Has John Fox quickly built the Broncos into his image as a coach?

HALEY: “I have great respect for Coach Fox and he’s had success everywhere he’s been, at whatever level he’s been in and whatever position. He is a heck of a coach and you can see his fingerprints all over this team. Defensively is where it starts for him. I went back to watch a bunch of Carolina tapes in games I’ve been a part of or where we’ve had to play against him to make sure we understand what we could get, and the more you watch, the more you realize this team is doing a lot to mirror the way he likes to play football.”

Q: The streak is over, but the beard is still there. Is this a new lucky thing?

HALEY: “Like I said, I was in shock the question was asked after such a big game for us last week because there are so many important things going on right now and my grooming habits have nothing to do with the performance of our team. That’s my own obsessive compulsive disorder or whatever they call it. You don’t want to get set to see me when I’m picking up pennies and how I do it and what pocket I put them in and all that.”

Q: But only heads up, right?

HALEY: “Only heads up, absolutely.”

  Q: That’s a [Bill] Parcells thing, isn’t it?

HALEY: “No, in college I picked up a tails penny and broke my ankle in a pick-up basketball game about 20 minutes later, so many engrained from childhood unfortunately.”

Q: What about the hat?

HALEY: “Again, those are not things that I’ve put a lot of thought into. Our equipment guys – who do a terrific, terrific job – they put in my locker, generally, things in there that when we win, they stay there and when we lose they know to get them out, so some things hold up and some things don’t.” [laughter]

Q: What are your thoughts on the situation of Joe Paterno announcing his retirement?

HALEY: “I didn’t actually hear that.”

Q: He’s retiring at the end of the season. That’s what he announced.

HALEY: “Joe Paterno recruited my father and my father almost went. He chose [Pittsburgh] over Penn State. But what an icon, legend, and for living up in western [Pennsylvania], you watched [Pittsburgh], [West Virginia] and Penn State, so we’ve been watching him all our lives, and what an unbelievable, unbelievable coach and person and story. I’ve had the opportunity to go up there and work a few guys out through the years and it’s not by accident.

Q: What are your thoughts on his legacy and what’s going on there right now?

HALEY: “I would prefer… And I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to comment on much of that. I did see it and I think it’s disturbing from hearing the story, but I don’t know anything other than the story and that’s what I’ll leave it at.”

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