“Like I said, I had a good meeting with our position group leaders and as I sat in there, we talked through what we have to do this week to give ourselves a chance to compete number one and have a chance to win, number two. That is our goal, to win one game. We’ve had goals all season. The regular season is over and we’ve given ourselves a chance – we’re one of 12 teams that get to play another game, at least one more game and we want to take full advantage of that. I feel like we’ve got a good group of veterans that can help our young guys, this young developing team understand what we need to do. We have a very good staff with great experience that will also be a big part of that. We need to have our best week of preparation, our best week of practice and then play our best game because this is now our biggest game to date.
“The other thing I’d say is a number of players and coaches on this staff that were in Arizona with me and (there are) probably some similarities – this is a team that hasn’t been in this situation in a while, hasn’t won a bunch of postseason games in a while, if any in a long time. We were in that situation with a team that didn’t have postseason experience in a team but yet we had some key guys on that team that were able to get that message out there and help a lot of guys that had never been in that situation understand how to function, how to do things and that was a big part of us making the run that we did and almost really, truly shocking the world. I feel good about our group and they’re excited. We had a very good run and lift today and had a bunch of guys watching tape getting ready for our big game.”
Q: What’s the biggest message that your coaching staff or your 21 players with postseason experience can pass on to the other guys about being in the playoffs and how it’s different than the regular season?
HALEY: “I think there are a number of things but the biggest thing is that these are the best teams now that you’re going to play. These are the teams that have played the best during the regular season to put themselves in a position to play more games. There are only 12 left so there will be more scrutiny, more potential distractions as far as the focus, rather than being spread out amongst 32 teams, it’s focused on 12 teams now and we’re one of those teams. There are pitfalls there. They need to understand I think that the competition is going up, the pace is going to go up a little bit. It’s still football, it’s still played on the same field, it’s going to be at home which I know we’re all excited about so the atmosphere will be great but you need the preparation though. Obviously I’ve expected these guys to have fully prepared as hard as they can prepare and as thoroughly as they could prepare each and every week but you’ve got to find a way to push that preparation even further and into more detail so that on Sunday at noon when this thing kicks off, our players are able to go out there and play fast and physical and with as little thinking as possible. So you’ve got to get to know your opponent and what they do and then obviously understand what we’re trying to do. We’ve started that process. Like I said, there’s a great energy in the building. I know the guys are excited. This is what you’ve worked for – to give yourselves a chance while a lot of other guys are packing their stuff up and are figuring out what they’re going to do with themselves for awhile, we’ve got a chance to play for five more weeks potentially. The key is to win one game. As we showed in Arizona, if you win one game, you’ve got a chance to do anything. The other factor is allowing these guys or having these guys understand that the regular season yesterday means nothing. We’ve all seen it, history has proven it doesn’t matter whether you’ve won nine games as we did in Arizona and ended up being two minutes away from a Super Bowl title or New England winning 17 and then losing the same as we did. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done, it’s what you’re going to do now. The slate is clean and the important thing is we’ve got a chance, we’re one of those 12 teams and what we do with it – that’s reason for excitement and I know the guys are excited. I know I’m excited. I know our coaches are excited.”
Q: Why was QB
HALEY: “It was a situation where he had a little physical issue that we just felt it wasn’t in his best interest if he sat for an entire game and were to have to go in or if something were to come up. He was obviously still available but you know the third quarterback rules. With what he’s dealing with I felt like if he sat in the cold for an extended period of time and had to go in then it could be an issue. We just wanted to try to get him up to speed as best we can because you don’t know if you’re going to need (him) or not need (him). I thought QB Tyler (Palko) went in and did a good job.”
Q: Will he be your number two quarterback this week?
HALEY: “I don’t know. We’ll just have to see how the week goes.”
Q: After going through the tape from yesterday, are there maybe some things that you thought about your team that maybe blew up a bit with yesterday’s game?
HALEY: “Adam, I’m not going to dwell on yesterday. As I said I think it’s really important that our focus now is on the Baltimore Ravens. That being said, I think I take the hoopla out of it, we did things that will get you beat and doing the same things this week will probably get us beat and those things were pretty simple, we missed opportunities on our first couple possessions, missed real opportunities that could’ve changed the scoreboard and you turnover the ball two times that are essentially instantly 14 points, that’s going to get you beat. If you’re unable to stop the run, whether it’s reverses, quarterback scrambles or just the running back, we are a team that needs to be on point at all times and I thought our team was ready to go, I really believed that, they had a great energy, they had great enthusiasm, they were excited about getting out there and getting going yesterday and I thought the game started that way and as the game progressed, we did things that put us in poor positions, whether it was offensively being in a number of second-and-longs and ultimately third-and-longs which are going to be difficult situations for this team, difficult for any team, but for our team, really positions that we can’t get into and turn the football over. Defensively we were unable to consistently stop the run and as the game progressed we kind of went downhill with that. Again, I think the guys were ready; they were fired up about the game. I don’t think it was any case of overlooking or not concentrating or doing those things. In comparison to the week before where we took advantage of opportunities early and got ourselves in a good position, we didn’t do that and subsequently went downhill. I think no different than any other game during the year, our guys understand if you do those types of things that we did in that game, the outcome’s not going go the way we want it to. That being said, I thought special teams-wise we did some real good things. Our coverage teams, that was going to be a big part of that game – not allowing those returners who are pretty dangerous hurt us. I thought our cover teams did real well. We didn’t field a punt that ended up putting us in a bad position but those things are going to happen. There were a number of positives in the game, we just did some things that will cost you against any team, let alone a team of the caliber of the Raiders with some of the weapons they have.”
Q: Does Baltimore load up to stop the run or are they able to handle that with just seven guys?
HALEY: “We are still in the preparation portion of our week. So, I’ll cover more Baltimore on Wednesday and that’s what I’d prefer to do. They are a good defense, fifth in the league. They are a good team. The heart and soul of the team for a long time has been their defense and they are good. Like I said, I’ll cover it more on Wednesday but our team will have to be at its best to have a chance to be competitive, number one, and win.”
Q: For the first 12 games, the Chiefs had given up 17.0 sacks. In the last four games, you gave up 15. Is there a reason for that increase?
HALEY: “Obviously protection. It can be a number of things, Bob. There can be coverage sacks, quarterback sacks and (offensive) line breakdowns. It has been a little bit of each. Again, our focus is now on this week. We have done a very good job of cleaning up things that we need to do as you go through a season to make sure you are improving. I feel that we have made progress throughout the year. What’s important now is that we prepare as well as we have. I know that we will have a good game plan on all three phases. Then, we’ll get into practice and having our best practice week of the year so that we can win this game.”
Q: Without getting into specifics, Baltimore is the type of team that can bring the pressure just like Oakland, correct?
HALEY: “Absolutely. We’ve played a lot of those teams, Bob. As I think I’ve said in here, we are happy with how the schedule played out with teams we had to play leading up to now this week, our biggest week. We had to play some really formidable defensives. I think that will be good for us. (We’ve gone against) physical defenses, disruptive defensives, real good coverage defenses. Really, these last two, three games have been a real test for us. Again, I think we’ll have to be at our best. That’s understood. It’s the way it is when you go into the playoffs because there isn’t going to be – and there wasn’t in the regular season for us – but there isn’t going to be any one of these potential games that we can’t be at our best.”
Q: Is there anything to the notion of a game like yesterday’s humbling a team so that they have a refocus on intensity going into this week?
HALEY: “As the head coach, what I feel good about it the fact that the regular season we just went though, we had to go through a number of ups and downs. We had to deal with a number of difficult losses, tough losses. Like I said yesterday, that’s part of how you grow as a team and develop as a team. As I said, just three weeks ago, we had a very tough loss. It was very critical to us, being where we are right now, that we bounce back and have the fortitude to bounce back and the leadership to bounce back so we have some experiences to draw from, a number of experiences through this year – three in particular where we’ve shown ourselves that we can bounce back. I know from how we were today that our guys are excited. They have put that game behind them. They are focused and they want to have their best week. Now, it’s just a matter of going out and doing it. That has already started and it will continue on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. With a young developing team like we have, we just need to keep getting better and keep improving. The good thing is that we have another week to do that and then we’ll see what happens after that.”
Q: Do you approach this as just the 17th game of the season or do you sell it to the team as being special because it’s a playoff game?
HALEY: “I see it as a little bit of both, to not sit on the fence, but sit on the fence. I think it is a little bit of both. You guys have to understand that if you don’t go out and play your best game and be the best team on Sunday, the season will be over. Anybody that has had that experience understands that it happens quickly. And more quickly than you can ever imagine. If it is a year like last, you know you’re not in it and you can see the calendar. You know when it ends and it is very clear in your mind when it is going to be over. Right now, we could play for one more week or we could play for five more weeks. We need to understand that our entire focus has to be on this week. That’s what I expect from our guys. I know that we are capable and it is just a matter of doing it. So, I think that it is a little bit of both. But, at the same time, it’s football and it’s going to be played on our field, this game, and it going to come down to doing the things that we’ve done throughout the year to be the better team on Sunday and it’s as simple as that.”
Q: Do you relish the underdog role?
HALEY: “Like I said, yesterday isn’t going to matter. The last 17 weeks aren’t going to matter. What is going to matter is who plays the best on Sunday. Myself as the head coach and our staff, we need to make sure that we are very clear to our players about what’s necessary to do that.”
Q: Do you think that, just like when you blindsided everyone while you were making a run to the Super Bowl with Arizona, having the surprise element or the underdog element can help you sneak up on some of the powerhouse teams?
HALEY: “I don’t know. That depends on how the other teams look at us, at how Baltimore looks at us. Judging off yesterday, I don’t think that they’ll be scared.”
Q: You will obviously be looking to hire a new offensive coordinator for next year. Is that something that you put to the side until after this season finishes?
HALEY: “On that subject, I understand the questions and the desire for answers but our focus is on the Baltimore Ravens and all of that will be handled.”