Q&A with Todd Haley 12/9

Posted Dec 9, 2010


OPENING REMARKS: “Before we get started on Thursday, I know and I appreciate the desire for all the QB (Matt) Cassel questions that are probably out there. I’m just going to keep it as I always do, he’ll be listed as (DNP) today on the (practice) report, meaning did not practice, and then we’ll have his status tomorrow. But I do appreciate all those questions, but I’m just going to leave it at that.


“We stayed inside again today. I thought we had another good, up-tempo practice with a very good sense of urgency from our guys which is a good sign. At this stage of the year it’s just about continuing to stack good practice on top of good practice which means we’re making progress and getting a little better every day. I’ve talked thoroughly about San Diego, we know that this is a great, great test – clearly our most difficult challenge to date – and we need to play our best game to be in the game and be competitive, especially being at their stadium on the road. We’re working hard to be ready to go and I felt today so far was a good day and we’ll be into the meeting rooms here in an hour and a half or so.”

Q: Just to clarify what you said earlier, you’re listing QB Matt Cassel as did not practice today?

HALEY: “Out of practice. Did not practice. Today we don’t have to put out any status and I don’t know what the status would be as of now. Did not practice.”

Q: How are Matt and Brodie Croyle different quarterbacks?

HALEY: “I was asked this question a little earlier. We were just talking inside and the good thing is I think there are a bunch of similarities. I think they’d both be viewed as drop-back quarterback, though they both have enough mobility to get themselves out of trouble when necessary. Obviously Matt’s a little bigger, but arm strength, all those things, there are a lot of similarities in the two quarterbacks. For that reason, when you do have to work one or the other in, you’re not making a whole bunch of adjustments.”

Q: Given the amount of time that Brodie has to get ready, if you come to the realization that he’s going to have to play, what are the things that are the top priority on your checklist to get him ready?

HALEY: “If he does indeed have to play, I think a lot of that should have been done here through the season. I think that it’s our job as coaches to have each and every player ready to go and we constantly remind players that you don’t know when your number’s going to be called, you don’t know when something’s going to happen and you have to be prepared and you have to prepare like you are preparing in a game even when you may not be playing. Brodie has not had to play any and he’s one of the few positions that we can even talk about that hasn’t been in there at one time or another as a second-line guy, a lot of that preparation better have been done here over the entire season, off-season and training camp. As far as this week goes, it’s going to be more reps, it’s going to be a bunch of discussions which we have with him anyway. Before each and every game we talk to our quarterbacks that aren’t necessarily the starter what are their favorite plays in the game plan, what do they like so that if you ever have a situation that you come up with in the game, that you have a game plan for each guy. That’s something that we go through each and every week as it is and like I said, Brodie’s been around here a long time now, the entire time I’ve been here and I have a very good feel for Brodie as do the coaches.”

Q: Everyone says you’ve got to be ready, but you still can’t simulate that game experience. What do you do to try and get any player, particularly a quarterback, ready for the speed of the game or what he might face in a road game?

HALEY: “I think that’s a very good point, that you’re not out there in the action, it’s been a long time, all the way back to training camp for Brodie. You try to do some things; we had a play clock out there, working the time simulation of the game so that I think that’s something that a quarterback misses when he’s not playing a bunch. We talked about our defense really taking a great deal of pride in the show team this week and really that’s for all sides always, but to really try to up the ante, so-to-speak, for the look that the offense is getting. The guys understand that and they understand that we’re potentially trying to get somebody game-ready that hasn’t necessarily played a lot. Then again, it’s not a lot different for all the positions. When something happens, it’s each and every player on this team’s duty to be ready to go and that’s something I know our guys pride themselves on. I know the entire team takes pride in that. If it is a situation where he plays, I know the guys will embrace that opportunity to help him have his best day.”

Q: We’ve seen instances on teams that when a key guy goes out, other guys on the team really try to step up their game to try and make up for the loss and help out the team. Did you see any evidence of that at practice yesterday or today?

HALEY: “That’s kind of just the point I made. I think that the guys understand the potential situation, but that being said, I’ve said multiple times already, this is our biggest game of the year – it’s the start of the fourth quarter of the season, it’s against the reigning AFC West champions at their place, so I think it would be a disservice to our guys to say it’s not amped up to the mark that it needs to be and each stage of the season, something we talked about that the level of intensity has to step up if you want to be a good team, starting from preseason games to the first quarter of the season, to the second quarter of the season, the third quarter and now we’re in the fourth and final quarter of the season and each and every one of them we have to step up our preparation. That’s not saying that you haven’t been pushing yourself as hard as you can, you just have to find a way to push harder.”

Q: That sense of urgency in getting the quarterback ready to go, it’s not just limited to the quarterback. The receivers, linemen and running backs have only played with Cassel in game situations. How do you get those guys ready for someone who is similar, but is certainly not the same guy?

HALEY: “Again, talking potentially, that was the reason for the clock out there and we obviously, we would have noise anyway but we made sure that was up to the top levels. Cadences would always be an issues, center-quarterback exchange is something that we work on, we work on all these things with all of our quarterbacks throughout the year so that’s part of the reason you do that, when something does potentially come up, you’re not scrambling to get ready to go. That’s how you prepare your team I think, it’s not just the quarterback position, it’s every position. You’ve got to be ready when you’re number’s called. We have limited reps during the week as it is but Brodie always gets reps within each period throughout the whole year – he’s been getting reps with the guys that are out there, the frontline guys as the season has progressed. I don’t look at it as a scrambled situation, it’s a situation we’ve prepared for as he’s prepared for and if it comes to fruition, we’ve got to be ready to go.”

Q: In what areas have you worked with Brodie and in what areas has he developed as a player since you’ve been here?

HALEY: “Some of the same things. When they’re working their footwork stuff they’re working together on it because it’s so critical and something that I’ve learned the more that I’ve been involved in that particular area is how critical those baseline fundamentals are and you just can’t work enough on them to have just be muscle memory then, where it’s a repetitive action and it’s one less thing to worry about as the quarterback so you can worry about the really critical things, where you’re going with the football and just managing the team overall.”

Q: You’ve talked about players having to practice to play. Is the quarterback position any different for you, could Matt theoretically not practice and then still play Sunday?

HALEY: “I think the policy is that you have to have some semblance of practice so again, we’ll just see as the week plays out exactly where we are. Right now we’ve got two days under our belt and we’ve got a couple more left.”

Q: Is it your belief or feeling that mop up duty for a quarterback is not really useful? Two out of your last four games you could have easily put Brodie in to get him ready for a potential situation, or is that not a big deal to you?

HALEY: “I don’t think with where you are in some of those games where you’re not going to be throwing the football and doing some of those things, I don’t know that you’re not getting a lot of the same things in practice.”

Q: WR Verran Tucker said he was a little more familiar with Brodie from training camp and early in the season. Is that potentially a good situation to have a contributing receiver comfortable with your potential starting quarterback who isn’t normally the starter?

HALEY: “I think it’s a very good point. Verran’s been working his way up here but obviously with the limited numbers on the roster that we have those receivers are having to take a lot of show team reps – now we make everybody take show team reps which may be different than some other teams – but everybody always got, even frontline guys, take reps. Obviously he’s had a bunch with him. If it ends up coming to be that may not be a bad little storyline.”

Q: QB Quentin Jammer seems to be a pretty physical guy. Denver CB Champ Bailey seemed to crowd WR Dwayne Bowe at the line of scrimmage to shut him. How much would you expect to see that out of Jammer and how much of an issue will that be for Dwayne to go against that?

HALEY: “As you continue to take steps as a player in the league and specifically a receiver, you’re going to garner more attention when you start to put up really big numbers on a consistent basis and teams are definitely going to look for ways to try and take you out of the mix. That can’t be something that we allow to happen one way or another and it’s our job as coaches to find ways to help the receivers and it’s the receivers duty to continue to step his game up against the competition and make plays. That’s what I fully expect from Dwayne is that he’s trying to continue to make steps to being a really good player in the league and this is the next step for him is going against really good competition that knows that he’s one of the guys that gets the football a bunch.”

Q: How big of a problem could it be catching balls from different quarterbacks?

HALEY: “I wouldn’t over think that as a problem. We have worked so much together, all of these guys. Everyone has been around here now and there are no late comers onto the scene like last year when we had some guys that hadn’t gone through a lot of this process. Everyone has been here, everyone has been working together. Those guys do a lot of throwing and catching together before the week is up, even on game day when we do our warm-up. I don’t see that as being a major issue.”

Q: Is there anything you can do to jump start your return game?

HALEY: “I think it is just fundamentals. It is understanding the things you have to do to have good returns. It is a hard job because there are a lot of big, fast guys coming down to cover kicks on teams and they all have some really skillful guys that (covering kicks) is mainly their job. It comes down to the front line guys on kickoff return, they have probably the toughest duty in getting back fast, finding the switches, weaves and twists and figuring out on the fly who you have to block. You just have to practice it, you have to work hard at it and you have to do a good job on Wednesday and Thursday of working those two specific areas and then you have to go out and execute on Sunday when the tempo picks up even more. We have been working hard at it, we feel like we are making progress, we feel like we have been close and we just need to finish one off. It is about time that we did something like that.”

Q: Do you feel like you have been close?

HALEY: “Yeah, there is no doubt we have been close, especially these last few games. Things have to fall into place for us to have a big time return. This day in age, the kickers are so good that you may have it wired and the guy kicks it six yards deep or the punter puts it one yard from the sideline or puts it in an area that makes it almost impossible to return. The kickers are so good that you have to have some things fall into place then you have to have everybody execute. You have to have a returner that is generally able to make someone miss.”

Q: Is this team really that close to breaking one?

HALEY: “We have clearly made progress here. I think that we started fast and some of those returners were banged up for part of the year. It appears to me that we are getting guys closer to full strength, at least as returners go. They obviously have skill and ability to do it but everyone else has to do their job but you have to make one or two miss on most returns. We have been making progress but I feel like we just need to keep working at it and something good will happen.”

Q: How are these two teams different this time around?

HALEY: “It is two totally different teams in my opinion. They are the hottest team in the league to me, at least that I have done a lot of work on. They have some guys back or that can be back that were not there the first time around. We didn’t know a lot about our team that first game of the year but we know a lot more about our team now. We are still in the process of trying to become a good team and we are still in the foundation laying process for our developing team but we made a lot of progress since that time.”

Q: How are you guys different?

HALEY: “The biggest thing is that I think everyone has a much better understanding of what their role is on the team. That is such a big part of being a good team is guys understanding the role that they are playing. When you are a really good team it is really clear and everybody knows exactly what is expected of them. When you are a developing team like we are it is not quite as clear cut because you are trying to find a lot of things out about yourself. The biggest thing to me is that we have come a long way from that standpoint. The guys understand their roles a lot better than they did starting out the year.”

Q: How much more difficult is the situation with Cassel since it is not a typical injury?

HALEY: “I am not going to get into the injury aspect of it, I just think that we will see as the week goes on where we are and try to make decisions as best as we can for our team as we get close to game day.”

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