Q&A with Todd Haley 12/6

Posted Dec 6, 2010


OPENING REMARKS: “We’ve gone through the tape. The guys are currently getting a team workout together, do a little running, lifting and then they’ll disperse up into the building to get started on San Diego, which now becomes the biggest game of the year and the biggest game since we’ve been here. Yesterday I thought was a well-earned team win for our guys. We’ve now had a number of close games. We know that almost 50 percent of the games in the league when the year is up, at least according to history and statistics, will end up being determined by seven points or less. In those games it’s very critical to be the smarter, more disciplined team. That said, I think yesterday, what led to that being one of those seven-points-or-less games was our lack of some of that in some critical situations. The guys are gaining confidence and they’ve been able to make a couple of those close ones like that, especially here at Arrowhead with the help of our fans, go our way. That’s a big, big thing for a young developing team is to start to trust and learn and have confidence that we can make things go the right way. It was another step for our team in this development. We do not want to lose sight of the fact that we are still building this foundation for the long haul and it is so, so good to see some positive outcomes for these guys that are working so hard – coaches and players alike and the fans. I thought the fans were terrific yesterday.


“I thought offensively, we did a number of very good things. We ran the ball very efficiently, very efficiently. We got some critical conversions in the run game. I thought QB Matt (Cassel) did a terrific job of protecting the football for the most part; we had the one late that could’ve been disastrous where the pulling guard caught the ball and popped it out of Matt’s hands. That’s something that we’ve got to learn from because that could’ve been a big, big issue for us but RB Jamaal (Charles) was heads up and got on the ball and that was a critical play in the game. I thought Matt did a very good job of handling and managing the team and overall played the game in a fashion that enabled us to win. As we’ve talked about a bunch, that’s his number one priority. Now we did some things that really kept that game probably closer than maybe we would’ve liked it in all areas and things that we stress and talk about a bunch that are a lot easier to talk about than to actually do in critical, high-pressure situations. Penalties at the wrong times really kept points off the board, which we cannot have happen, especially here in this final quarter of the season when these games are just going to get bigger and bigger. Overall I was really pleased with how the guys fought. Our number one key going into that game was to make that a physical game and that was just that, it was a very physical game from an offensive standpoint. You could hear the helmets and the pads hitting all day.

“Defensively, I thought early on we did just a terrific job of stopping the run and making them one-dimensional. I think what happened was by the game staying close, it enabled Denver to continue to keep working the runs and they were able to have a lot more success than we would’ve wanted for a number of different reasons but we did know going into that game that the back-end players, the secondary specifically had to be focused on the pass and I those guys did a terrific, terrific job of keeping their focus on that area without being distracted or trying to do more, so-to-speak, than what we were asking them to do and start to worry about other things. Starting with CB Brandon Carr, I thought the guys really stepped up and probably played their best game in the secondary other than we’d like to catch a couple of the balls that they had their hands on which would have really helped us maybe turn the score the other way. Brandon Carr has continued to just stack good games on top of good games, or a little better games each and every week and that was his best to date. He knew that he was going to be challenged in that game with some of our injuries and I thought he came through with flying colors. That was really good for us. I though overall the secondary did a terrific job. The run stuff we have to fix up but again, I think we put our front seven in a bit of a disadvantage because of how much we were having to work in the coverage aspect of it. They knew that, they were challenged and we just didn’t quite play with the technique that we have to. The effort, the physicalness of that group was phenomenal also. I thought our guys were running and hitting and made it a physical game which we were unable to do in the first game against Denver.

“Special teams, I thought our kickers did a terrific job. I thought our cover teams did a terrific job. WR Eddie Royal is a dangerous, dangerous player and we were able to keep him under wraps and that last punt was one of my favorite plays of the year, it really was. I just thought at the most critical time, P Dustin (Colquitt) hit a terrific, terrific punt with great hang time, great distance that Royal obviously misjudged a little bit because it was such a great punt, and then our guys, starting with WR (Verran) Tucker, who’s a young developing player who has continued to come on here, made a terrific play. It was a great team win. Three and one in the third quarter, so big for us the way it started to come back and reach our goal in this quarter was a big, big thing for these guys and they’re proud of it. I thought our coaches did a great job of preparing all week and had a great game plan across the board and like I said, other than some execution and penalty things, it would’ve been a real pretty game. It was ugly and that was alright and that was a win.”

Q: Will T Barry Richardson face any discipline from you guys for the actions on the sideline?

HALEY: “That’s going to fall under the family business area. Like I said yesterday, I was unaware of the complete situation yesterday but I will say that we’ve got a lot of guys that really, really care and it means a lot to. They’re being pushed hard every day and developing and getting better and Barry’s been just a model citizen, has bought in and he’s one of those young, developing guys that has done so much for us. That’s family business and we’ll do the right thing there. Again, I don’t have a problem with passion and emotion, but just within reason.”

Q: That action seemed to be the opposite of what you and General Manager Scott Pioli have been talking about since you got here in a disciplined team. His passion was there but it seemed excessive. Can that sort of thing be tolerated?

HALEY: “I’ve kind of said my peace on it. There are areas here that I appreciate everyone’s need and want to hear a little more but I’ll just leave it at what I said. We’ll take care of it in-house and do the right thing. What I don’t want to do is take away from what was just a tremendous quarter of football for our team, and it really was – 3-1 after the way it started, going into that quarter, knowing we’re going to have to go on the road to two difficult places to play in Denver and Seattle and have a couple home games, that’s a terrific quarter of football. Now we’re 0-0 starting the fourth quarter.”

Q: Have people just learned how to attack you with their run games?

HALEY: “I don’t know that that’s a fair assumption to make. We did a real good job in that game in stopping the run early. That team and RB Knowshon (Moreno), who as a player I thought a lot of coming out, really like that player, we had in here to the building and thought a lot of him – thought he had a chance to be a real good player. He’s had two of his better games if not his two best games against us. We just have to be better and the good thing is there are areas that we can improve on. It was not a situation where there was no answer. We just had to do a couple things differently to help ourselves in that situation and one of those would have been taking advantage of opportunities elsewhere to keep them one-dimensional.”

Q: Yesterday, WR Dwayne Bowe was shut out, the rush defense gave up quite a few yards. Before this year, this team hadn’t won many games where everything didn’t go its way. Does this show how much you’ve grown as a team or what is the significance of winning a game like that?

HALEY: “It’s a good statement I think is that you wouldn’t think that you’d win games like that just like last week against Seattle when you give up two blocks and one for a touchdown in the kicking game, you would think you wouldn’t win those types of games but we were able to do enough good things in other areas to overcome. Now what you can’t ever do is count on that because that’s not the way we want to play football. We cannot come out on the wrong end of penalties like that very often and expect to win; it just doesn’t work that way. As these games get bigger and the opponents probably continue to get better as most teams do as the year goes on, we have to make sure that we’re on it and don’t let it happen again. It’s like the kicking game last week; we knew we couldn’t have those kinds of things happening. I thought we did a good job in that area but like I said, penalties, that will never be alright and it can never stay the same. We’re on it, we’re going to stay on it, and we’ll put an extra emphasis on it again. Like I said, the officials, Carl Cheffers group I knew coming into that they called 63 line of scrimmage penalties for example, meaning shifts, alignments, motions, two people moving, false starts, encroachments, so that’s heavy. That’s a lot. They’d called I don’t know, 12 games to that point, so do the math real quick, so it was coming out to over four. I’m talking about in the specific line of scrimmage which is something that I stressed because that is clearly something that they stay on and they weren’t going to let go. Now you figure a home game, that should be to our advantage and we didn’t make it that. We stressed that we knew how important it was going to be that we didn’t have penalties in that area and then to have them where we had them, to have a touchdown taken off the board and then another a tight Red (Zone) penalty which were not a lot of penalties but once you get inside that 20 it’s a no, no, no, no and we did it so we have to be better.”

Q: Did you need to win a game like that where you had to overcome some adverse situations? With all those different things working against you, you still found a way to win. Is that more significant to win one like that to blow someone out?

HALEY: “I’ll always take a blowout. We just needed to win. We needed to accomplish our goal of the third quarter of the season which is a critical part of the season. To get to 3-1 was our goal and we reached it and that’s what we needed to do. I would much rather it would have not come down to the wire like it did but we got the win and like I’ve said , we’ve made some of those games go our way, close games specifically, that last year we weren’t able to make go our way. That always helps guys in belief, trust and confidence but this week it’s going to start all over again and we’ve got to figure out a way to play better than the San Diego Chargers.”

Q: What is it about QB Matt Cassel and what he’s doing specifically that’s allowed him to dramatically cut down on the interceptions? Four interceptions compared to the rest of the league is impressive. Is it awareness, where he’s throwing the ball, what have you seen that’s leading to this?

HALEY: “I think the coaches are doing a terrific job of helping him understand each and every concept or scheme that we’re running when we’re throwing the football. I think Matt has done a terrific job of preparing and knowing where he wants to go with the football in each situation but I think for Matt really it comes down to some of these fundamental things that he’s been working on so hard going all the way back to last year, true fundamentals: footwork, depth of drops, some things that don’t get a lot of play or airtime but that he’s increasing his margin of error and by doing the fundamental things right and creating more space for him, creating more margin of error for the offensive line and the tight ends and backs, whoever is in protection, he’s increasing his margin of error which increases decision-making time from when gets ready to throw the football to when he throws it, he’s putting less pressure on himself by dong all the little things right to then make good decisions. There are always going to be some things that can happen that he can’t control but he’s making good decisions, but I think that’s because he’s doing fundamental things right.”

Q: Would you rather have a guy like Cassel who manages the game well and doesn’t put up as high of numbers or a guy that puts up big numbers but maybe doesn’t take care of the ball as well?

HALEY: “No, statistics mean nothing to me, they really don’t. It is about winning games and that is proven. With yards thrown for you can go through years and years of passing yardage and you just can’t find a correlation between that and winning and losing where in turnovers you can. His number one job is to lead the football team but within that scope, his number one job is not being careless with the football and he has to make good decisions. That is what he is doing. Like I said, there will still be tipped balls, drops, those things that he can’t control but he is making good decisions. His fundamentals have continued to improve and I know that (offensive assistant) Nick Sirianni is working hard overtime with him on those fundamentals on his off days, his on days, before and after practice. Matt is putting that work in and he is seeing results. I thought he did a very good job yesterday with a couple inaccurate throws but he was missing them in the right spots. This was a great situation for us to learn from and one I have already written down to put into that training camp work that someone brought up. When we go through our situations, that fourth-down situation was something that I feel like we let Matt down because when he came off the field, and I understood exactly what he was saying when he said, ‘it was fourth down and I needed to make a play. ‘ But we as a coaching staff were looking at the fourth down as if you get it, you score a touchdown, if you don’t, they have to go 99 yards, you may get a safety the next play and you can make good things happen. We weren’t on the same page and it is a great learning situation that thankfully we got the win from. It didn’t cost us but that one is written down. You will see us in training camp next year working on that one.”

Q: Are you able to remember each individual interception Cassel has thrown this season?

HALEY: “Yeah, I think I have them all pretty clear.”

Q: When do you stop looking at it as a learning situation and start looking at it as a game-winning situation? If you get in that situation next week do you go for it again?

HALEY: “We did win. Not from an egotistical standpoint, I don’t have regrets of how we managed the game. I thought we did a lot of good things in the management of the game. I think if you look at the final score I would make a different decision. With the facts that you have at the time you make some of those decisions you don’t have the final score, that is not one of them. I think you have to do what you think is the right thing at that time. The regret I have is that I didn’t do a good enough job in having our guys prepared, Matt specifically, to understand that situation that if we didn’t get a touchdown that we wanted them to be on the one-yard line and having to go 99 yards. I don’t know what would of happened, they might of handed the ball off and had a 99-yard run for a touchdown but we might of sacked them for a safety, got two points and got the ball back. You just don’t know but like I said yesterday, we worked hard on this four down mode. We are not in it all the time but we were in it on that particular possession before we ever even crossed the 50. I think the advantage of the four-down mode is that you are going to get more runs called and it can’t be obvious. It can’t be just when you get inside the 30 and it can’t be reactionary in my opinion because I think you may make more mistakes. On that particular drive to start the second half I think we called 11 runs in that drive to open the second half. That is how you win football games because you are physically wearing out your opponent. That is what we have been able to do in games by having a lot of run calls and part of the way we have had so many run calls is by being in four-down mode. We have a strict set of rules when we are in four-down mode of what the calls are, especially on first, second or third down. We called 11 runs in that series out of 14 or 15 plays. We had the touchdown taken off the boar and we had another tight red penalty and those are things that we can’t do. I think at that point in the game I did not feel like we were having any problem moving the football. We were having a problem scoring and that was our own doing. We hurt ourselves enough but I am not going to assume that we are going to keep hurting ourselves. It didn’t work out and like I said, the regret that I have is that I should of done a better job of having Matt understand the situation that if we didn’t get it, we wanted to go 99.”

Q: On that fourth-down call why didn’t you call a run?

HALEY: “Absolutely after the fact. We called the play that we thought was going to give us the best chance to score. Within drives we have a number of run-pass options, things that I won’t go into that what the defense does determines somewhat what we are going to do. After the fact I wish we would of called any other play than the one we called.”

Q: It seemed like you ran the same play three consecutive times during that drive?

HALEY: “Going back to the first time against Denver when we talked about getting back to fundamentals, one of the things that I wanted to make sure that we did was, I think sometimes as you start to have some success you want to do more. It is just human nature and we have really honed it down to doing less, more so to speak. Just running the runs that we think are good runs and throwing the passes that we think are good passes and then just changing formations to run the same plays. That is what we have done real well here and staff wise we have done a really good job plan wise.”

Q: How are your younger players going to handle this weekend’s game in San Diego? This is one of the bigger games some of these guys have been a part of.

HALEY: “That is part of the process and I think they handled this one very well. This was our biggest game of the year and the biggest game for a lot of those guys this past week. Each week the games get bigger and they get more important. That is the way it is when you are having some success but the guys have done a very good job. Someone asked me yesterday if I thought they were peaking ahead, I said pretty emphatically that no, I thought our guys were focused and that is what we have to be right now. I was just in there in the weight room with them watching them. They were having some fun because it is fun to win but they were working hard and each and every one of them, at least the ones I was able to have a conversation with were pretty focused on what we had to get done this week so we are just going to continue to do that, practice hard, well and fundamentally sound. We will keep working on fundamentals and keep developing players and hopefully get more and more back feeling well enough to be able to play and reach our goal in this fourth quarter of the season.”

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