Q&A with Todd Haley 12/10

Posted Dec 10, 2010


OPENING REMARKS: “We got through Friday inside again. We had the good atmosphere in there, good energy. Friday’s a critical, critical day for us – it’s when we touch on our Red (Zone) area, some two-minute and review every other aspect in addition to goal-line/short-yardage, which is an area we’ve struggled, specifically short-yardage but starting to make some progress there and that needs to continue so today was a big day for us. Again I thought we had a good, high energy, physical practice, we were in pads again and I think the guys understood that this was an important week to have our best week of practice and continue to make progress and I feel like we did that.”


Q: Is QB Matt Cassel playing Sunday?

HALEY: “He’s going to be listed as doubtful right now.”

Q: You said earlier this week that if you don’t practice you can’t play but you determine the level of practice. Do you consider what he did today practice?

HALEY: “That’s not something that I really feel I need to or have to answer, Nick. I appreciate the question, but it will ultimately be my decision. It’s my policy and it’ll be my decision.”

Q: What was his role at practice today? Did he do more than watch, did he contribute?

HALEY: “He’s going to be listed as did not practice today and doubtful and that’s what I’ll leave it at.”

Q: Can you say how he’s feeling? He’s got to be feeling ok to be here?

HALEY: “Doug, I appreciate the questions, but just in staying with the policy and how we’ve handled everybody else I’m going to stay consistent and I hope you understand that.”

Q: Why is this the policy? This seems different than how most teams would handle it. Just curious as to why?

HALEY: “This is just the way that I and we believe is the way we want to do things from a competitive standpoint. I’ve been taught through all of my years of coaching that when you get into injuries and talking about injuries, though a lot of times probably not be real critical but again if you’re inconsistent with how you handle it there may be sometime from a competitive standpoint it hurts you. That’s just the way I’ve been taught and believe pretty strongly. I understand it’s part of the game and a lot of people want to know about it, but for our team, the Kansas City Chiefs, it’s for competitive reasons. That’s the bottom line. For instance, let’s say you’re talking about somebody that’s got a specific injury, then you talk about it then you’ve got some guys on the other side that don’t want to see us succeed that are going after body parts and people looks for wraps and tape jobs and braces. They do that and that’s part of the game and it’s a physical game so I just don’t want to ever put any of our guys in a position where you’re putting them in a position of vulnerability.”

Q: So why do you even release that he had a surgery?

HALEY: “We’re talking about the Kansas City Chiefs and what we’re doing to get ready for the biggest game of the year and like I said, I’ll always reiterate what we’re going to put on the [injury report], I’m actually doing that ahead of time, because that doesn’t technically come out until 3:00 p.m., so I’m giving you two and a half hour juice there.”

Q: Are you comfortable in that Charlie Weis is comfortable with what QB Brodie Croyle can do and what his strengths and weaknesses are?

HALEY: “Yeah, Adam. I think it’s a good question. I think though that one of the things I’m so excited about is our staff and how efficiently we’ve come together and we’re working together to give our guys the best chance to succeed each and every week. Our entire staff has great lines of communication; we meet a number of times a day throughout the week each and every day and I feel like we’ve come together and we’re operating at a high, efficient level. I don’t think I’d change anything about what we’re doing so for that reason, I think all of our players are well coached and well prepared and in the same respect, I think our coaches have a great feel for what our players are capable of doing, what their strengths are and what the areas we want to play to are with each and every player.”

Q: Can Matt come to you on game day and make a case for playing or is it purely the doctors?

HALEY: “I’m not going to talk specifically about Matt, Nick. In general though I have an open door policy with our players and I think as we’ve moved along here, coming up on two years together for a lot of us, I think the players understand me, I understand them and the communication there is very good and at a very high level which I think is very important. That may come into play on some things like you’re talking about where you know, a lot of times guys know their bodies better than we do most of the time. Obviously there are some guys that have been around and have some experiences with their own bodies more so than we do. Again, it’s doctors, it’s trainers, it’s players. It takes a lot of effort, communication and work.”

Q: How good is it for Brodie to be the starting quarterback for a full week of practice rather than to have all of this happen on a Friday or a Saturday?

HALEY: “I think if he does indeed play, the more practice time he had the better because it’s more reps, it’s repetition at the things that we’re going to be doing and it gives us a chance to look at the things he’s doing and we’re doing as a whole and it gives the players a chance to look and get a feel for what they’re doing. More practice is better. If he does indeed play, I think at least timing-wise it worked out from that standpoint.”

Q: You’re the only team in the league with a two-game lead in their respective division. Do you feel that the Chiefs are a better team than the San Diego Chargers?

HALEY: “I think Nick, I know our focus is we are starting the fourth quarter of the season. We are 0-0 and basically a four-game season that’s starting much like the first quarter started with the San Diego Chargers, the reigning AFC West champs for four years. They’re a highly, highly skilled team that is one of the hottest, if not the hottest team in the league and the best team that we’ve seen, no disrespect to anybody else. This is the best team that we have played. We’re a developing team that each and every one of these experiences is a new one but our guys are enjoying working together and practicing and even though we are starting the fourth quarter, I think our guys have a great energy and enthusiasm out there, as they did even last year through much more difficult and different circumstances. Those are all good signs for us but we are still in the foundation-laying process and we’re trying to become a good team and we’ve got to go on the road against a really good team that’s an established, good team.”

Q: So you think the Chargers are better than you?

HALEY: “I don’t know. That will be determined on Sunday. Really I’ve said that and I mean that. What happens on Sunday, the result of the game on Sunday, who wins will be the team that played better and that’s really all that matter. It doesn’t matter who the team is on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday or Saturday, last week, a month ago, last year. It’s going to come down to Sunday and who plays the best. That’s what we’re focused on, the things that allow us to play fundamentally solid football, physical, tackle, not miss tackle, not block tackle, disrupt the timing of teams when they’re throwing the football, run fit when they’re running the football and on offense, protect the football first and foremost; run it efficiently; and pass it when you have to or when you’re play-actioning off your runs. That’s just our philosophy on top of special teams – winning special teams each and every week, which has been a mixed bag to this point, so that’s an area of great focus this week for us.”

Q: Are the 2010 Chargers the kind of team that you don’t want your team to be? They top the league in offense and defense but they aren’t winning close games, they lead the league in lost fumbles, are high in negative plays, etc.

HALEY: “I’d be the Chargers. Four years from now I’d take some of the things they’ve been able to accomplish. They’ve been a really good team and continue to be a good team that’s won a lot of games in a league that’s very difficult to win. I always do a flow chart for teams of win-loss and above/below .500 and this team’s unbelievable. It’s like Camelback Mountain, Kent, every year there they go. For us, our focus is just totally different in what we’re trying to accomplish and where we are in our progression. They’ve been together for a long time, staff, players; it’s just a totally different set of encyclopedias for us.”

Q: I’m sure it’s been a stressful week around here. How’s the tone and the focus been at practice?

HALEY: “Like I said Doug, I thought we had one of our best weeks of practice if not our best. Our guys, like I said, we’re going into our final four games and we were out there in pads all three days and didn’t hear any complaints. They were good, high-spirited practices with good enthusiasm and though guys don’t feel real good, we’re beat up like everybody else; I thought we did a good job of making progress this week. That’s critical for us, that’s critical. We cannot go backwards ever. We cannot have a day that we say, ‘Jeez, that wasn’t good.”

Q: Was this a stressful week?

HALEY: “That’s a question for somebody else.”

Q: Was this a stressful week for you?

HALEY: “No, this has been a very exciting week. It’s the start of the fourth quarter of the season, it’s December football. As I said yesterday, one of the things we’re trying to get across and teach our team is the level of preparation and then the level of play once you become a good team, you’re at one level which you think is your highest level in the off-season; then you get into training camp and you’re able to amp it up a little bit from there. You get into the first quarter of the season, it goes up and you keep pushing and preparing harder than you thought you could prepare and I’m saying prepare for a reason – how you practice, how you work, even the weight lifting aspect of it, how you take care of your bodies – everything just has to just amp up and I think that’s what the good teams do, they find a way and they have some leaders that maybe show the way sometimes for new guys that are coming into the fold and they say, ‘wow, ok now I get it.’ That’s all we’re trying to explain and teach on our way to becoming a good team year-in and year-out.”

Q: You made a point about going back to basics. You have not grown what you do. Is that a good situation if you’re having a different quarterback come in?

HALEY: “Absolutely. I just think it’s good in general. It’s something that Coach (Bill) Parcells, there’s no way for me to really to relay to you but it’s great stuff in places where I’ve been where everybody thinks more bullets, more ammo from an offensive standpoint. Defense, you’ve got to have this and it’s real easy to say you don’t need your security blanket; I want to know what you’re really like. I learned from the inside of being an assistant coach of when say you have 50 plays on the game plan and he says no, you’re only allowed to have 30 so figure out what the heck you like. I’ve learned from that and I’ve always used it for myself when I became a coordinator, I lived it and now doing some of the same things here. I think it’s good, you’re able to do less better just because you practice it more and you just get better at the things that you do.”

Q: Coach (Charlie) Weis said that he thought having Matt (Cassel) out there today was a lift to everybody. Did you feel that too, that when you and the guys saw him out there, that kind of raised everybody a little bit?

HALEY: “I think that anytime you have a guy that’s part of your family, and that’s what we’ve become is a family, and you’ve got somebody that’s part of your family that’s down and out or whatever and is out there again is great. I know these guys have been fighting together now for a bunch of months and working hard and sweating and bleeding going all the way back to the spring time in the weight room and out here on the field and in the indoor. I think it’s always good to have everybody together.”

Q: If Matt doesn’t play, will he be on the sideline to see things from a different perspective?

HALEY: “I appreciate the question Karen. We’ll just have to see where we are as we move closer to Sunday.”

Q: When you were talking about why you have your policy, had you heard that Chargers LB Stephen Cooper was basically making threats about body parts on Matt? He basically said that he would put him back on the bench if he’s in the game.

HALEY: “No, I had no idea; you can fill me in after. I just mean in general, from a competitive standpoint, as the head coach, I would never want to put my players out there.”

Q: In your philosophy, do you have an offense built around your quarterback’s strengths and weaknesses or do you ask your quarterback, whoever that is, to go with the strengths and weaknesses of the offense?

HALEY: “I think it’s a little of both, Nick. I think everybody has different philosophies. I know that my overall philosophy and what our staff and what I want our staff’s philosophy always to be is to play to our players’ strengths. It will never be about trying to fit somebody into a system, so-to-speak. We have a system and we have terminology but that’s what it is, it’s more words and verbiage, offensively and defensively. I think that’s good coaching and that’s when coaches separate themselves, when they’re able to take their players, whoever they are and whatever they do well and figure it out, be good evaluators and understand the strengths and weaknesses of your players and then fit them together to have a chance to be a good team.”

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