Q&A with Todd Haley 7/31

Posted Jul 31, 2011

OPENING REMARKS: “Moving into day three, had a good core lift today. Really have a lot of sore guys after two days, this is a critical day in our opinion. Days three, four and five from a standpoint of just getting back, you’re really doing a lot of different things, being taxed in a number of different ways both mentally and physically, so these next couple of days will be real critical just to get it right from a standpoint of scheduling and heat and all those things. At the same time, understanding we have 44 days left or so until this season opens. A lot sooner until our first preseason game, so we have to get ready. Overall, I was encouraged again. I think the continuity of our staff here going into year three is real important to us. I sat in our staff meeting last night and just kind of had the feeling of what a difference three years later. The feeling, the communication, all those things, so I’m grateful that we’ve been able to move forward in that manner and really keep great continuity, staff and really player-wise. Like I said, we have a good core of guys that really get it. Today will be critical. We’ll have a practice this afternoon at three. I’ll ask one more time, just to bear with us. Any changes or tweaks, we’ll try to get them to you as soon as possible. Again, it’s in an effort to get the team ready and to be doing it the safest and best way possible within the rules.”

Q: Are you going with pads this afternoon?

HALEY: “No, we could. After seeing the way everything went yesterday and where we are today, I think it would just be counterproductive, potentially. We’ll stay pretty much in the same mode as you saw yesterday. I will have the lineman work together in the individual period in a drill with shoulder pads, only the lineman, and then we’ll take those off after 10 minutes of individual then we’ll go truly into the walk-through mode. The only reason I’m doing that is because in the latter half of practice in these walkthroughs, the linemen are doing far less than some of the guys pursuing, and we felt like we could work a little technique.”

Q: What about tomorrow?

HALEY: “I think if we do it any other way, you could be sorry. I think it’s a daily evaluation at this point. You’ve seen some guys struggling out there and those that have been around for a couple of years, the workload hasn’t been real close, at least in my opinion. It was expected coming into it. My goal through this first week or two weeks was to get the team at least close to the same fitness-conditioning level. Otherwise, I think we could have problems.”

Q: What do you want from LB Derrick Johnson?

HALEY: “I think back to mid-November last year and part of my problem was that same frustration of trying to get the defensive guys to catch the ball, so we’ll learn from that mistake. This entire team is evolving. What I’ve been really encouraged about is we have a great core of guys that not only are doing it, get it, work in the way that we would like guys to work, but also have talent. You can have a bunch of guys that work hard, if they’re not talented enough, they’ll be separated. Derrick is obviously a talented player, has been, a lot of his hard work paid off last year, I’m not really down about one thing from Derrick’s performance. I do know that if he was a great catcher, he’d probably be one of the top tight ends in the league right now. That’s something we work on. Tip drills, jugs, a lot of things you may not even see because it’s going on up here where it’s a little cooler. That’s a point of emphasis. We have to create turnovers on defense, stop the run, and be opportunistic, that’s our mission defensively. To do that, you have to take advantage when those opportunities come.”

Q: What’s the latest with LB Justin Houston?

HALEY: “As soon as we can, I can give you more information, I will. At this point, I have to keep it to the guys that are out there working. We have a lot of work to do.”

Q: What about the guys that are signed but aren’t working. Is that your decision?

HALEY: “No, there are some issues. They can be in meetings, that’s what they can do. There are some restrictions on working out and who can be present. Really the only time there are none of the coaches or equipment guys around this building is during practice. What I believe it to be, is they chose that time to go ahead and get some work in.”

Q: How much is a rookie missing if they’re not in camp, especially after not having OTAs or rookie mini-camp?

HALEY: “Not speaking specifically about him, I think I said it in here, these rookies this year across the league, though always a steep learning curve, I do believe it to be even a steeper one for them this year. They’ve missed a lot of what they might have had in the past and we’ve got to find a way to make it work. I’ll bring that back to coaching, I think the coaches that have the best plan to handle those guys and get them acclimated and integrated into the team, assimilated, will be the most successful with that young group. It’s by no means easy.”

Q: It can be tough for free agents as well because instead of having OTAs, he just has a string of six or seven practices in a row to try and convince you that he should stay on the roster. Does it make it that much harder on the team?

HALEY: “I think every case is different, depending on experience, what you’ve seen in other places. Everything’s condensed a little bit. As I’ve said, my only goal is to be ready on September 11. I’m not worried and I don’t want our guys worried about much else. We’ve got to be really worried about the Kansas City Chiefs and what we’re doing in all aspects of our team to be ready for that game and to start the season and it’s a condensed time but it’s enough time, I believe, if you get it right, and you get some breaks.”

Q: You talked about your staff and how it’s come together the past few years. You also have a lot of guys who played before coaching or played the position that they’re coaching. Was that by design or did that just happen because they were the best guys for the jobs?

HALEY: “No, I think it’s just that I’m looking for good coaches. With our group, we do have some former players but the other common characteristic is we were all on the same team so that familiarity aspect, the continuity that I’ve talked about in the past is really enhanced. Is it a mandatory? No. But as a head coach you’re looking for the right kind of guys to come help you coach a football team and the more you know the better. That doesn’t go for everybody. There are a number of coaches on the staff that I didn’t know first-hand before spending time with them and deciding they were the right fit – Jim Zorn being an example, Nick Sirianni, (Adam) Zimmer. There are a bunch of guys. It’s a nice mix and I don’t think that ever hurts as long as you’re a good coach. As I said early on, being a good or great player doesn’t guarantee that you’re going to be a great coach. That’s been proven through time. But I don’t think it hurts if you are a good coach and you’ve spent time at the position.”

Q: When you look for coordinators, you’re not only looking for guys to coach the team but also to coach the coaches. Why is that so important?

HALEY: “Absolutely. I think it’s just the way that I was brought up, the way that I saw work. I like hands on, I like guys that aren’t afraid to speak their mind to somebody else and to me. I’ve always been somebody that I haven’t wanted ‘yes men’ around me, I want people that will tell me their opinion and if that creates a little confrontation or conflict, that’s okay as long as we all trust each other and go forward. That’s the way as a young coach that I feel that I made progress doing some of those same things and performing in that manner. I think it’s a development. As I’ve said, developing your players is so critical to success and we’ve got a bunch of third-year players this year that I’m watching to see how it’s going and the same goes with coaching. The only way you develop coaches is by coaching them, working, talking, communicating. The saying is, ‘if you’re not coaching it you’re letting it happen.’ So I expect that across the board with our staff.”

Q: Talk about the impact of Zorn, having been a head coach and a coordinator in the league?

HALEY: “I’ve been pretty up front on Coach Zorn, that though we didn’t know each other personally other than running into one another in the NFC West and some things like that or when I was in Chicago and he was in Detroit, but, I’ve always thought a lot of him, and that goes back to when he was at Seattle playing quarterback. I just thought he was a cool lefty that played hard and looked cool in the new fangled Seattle uniform, and I think I even had a poster of him. So, I’ve always thought a lot of him through the years and have paid attention to him. We worked closely together at the combine through the years because he had quarterbacks and I worked with receivers, we were always field coaches for probably 10 or 12 years. When the opportunity came about that he was available and interested and we needed another good coach, it was a no brainer. I can’t say enough about the entire staff but I think Jim Zorn will have a really positive impact for me, our other coaches and our players.”

Q: He’s the new kid on the staff. What about him missing the offseason?

HALEY: “What I really like about Jim is, I think number one he’s a really smart guy, he’s an outside-the-box thinker, he’s a little ‘west coasty’ for me, California guy. But he’s not afraid of confrontation, yet he can smooth over a confrontation, you know what I mean? He’s one of those guys that can kind of tell you he doesn’t agree with you without completely working everybody up. He has a great demeanor and he’s a great coach, a great quarterback coach in my opinion and has a great understanding of not just the passing game but the overall offense and what we’re trying to do. Then, you throw in he was a head coach in a pretty difficult situation, it does nothing but help myself and the rest of the coaches. That’s why I said I couldn’t get him fast enough really. We spent a little time together but it didn’t take much to know and everything I’m seeing is what I thought it was going to be. Now we’ve just got to put him to work and make it work so I can be right.”

Q: What do you want Jim to do to the quarterbacks this year?

HALEY: “What all of us have to do, players and coaches, we’ve got to continue improving and continue getting better in all aspects. Our goal is not to make the playoffs one year and be a yo-yo team. Our goal is to be a championship team or have a chance to play in championships year-in and year-out. It’s obviously really hard to do. It’s hard to win games in the NFL. You bring up Charlie (Weis); Charlie was such a big part of what we did last year and an integral part of our development. Now it’s year three and that development needs to continue and I think the right guy’s in place, by circumstance, that will give us and our quarterbacks a chance to do that. You watch him coach, he’s a detailed guy and he’s relentless. He’s like the Energizer Bunny. There will be some days when these quarterbacks are pretty annoyed and it won’t bother him any. He’ll keep going. That’s coaching and that’s how I think you become as good as you can possibly be.”

Q: How is it to go into the season with so little experience behind your number one quarterback?

HALEY: “We obviously think about those things across the roster of what-if scenarios and you can go all day talking about them. The number one thing we have to do is develop players as coaches. We have to develop players and coach the team, especially in this stage of the year. This is training camp, we’re not playing games, we have to develop players. If we can do that, I think good things will happen. Then we’ll be able to make better decisions from the information we have and at a point we feel like it’s too risky then it’s up to us as an organization to do what’s necessary to try to improve the team. I don’t think we’re at that point right now. We’re working hard, these guys are going to get better and then we have to determine how good they can be and do we need extra help.”

Q: Could Jim being a left-handed quarterback be especially helpful to QB Tyler Palko?

HALEY: “I’m excited about that. I think that’s a good story but a little more than a story in my opinion because I thought of it even before I hired him. Tyler’s getting to the point when he has to decide if he’s going to be a good player or not. By circumstance, opportunity, there are a lot of things that go on with quarterbacks. Tyler, for instance, whenever he’s been in a game, it’s been with the threes or the fours and he runs around like a crazy man trying to keep plays alive. I think coming back to coaching, we have to develop these guys, we have to give them an opportunity, and then we have to make sound decisions for our team and what we need to do. A lefty quarterback coach that played a similar style of the game, Jim was very athletic – not athletic anymore, let’s be clear about that – but was very athletic and tough. Tyler has some of those attributes, and in no way would I ever disrespect Jim by comparing the two right now. I think it’s nice for Tyler because he finally gets to see somebody that sees it from his side of the mirror.”

Q: Did you have any posters of Bill Muir?

HALEY: “I did not have any posters of Bill Muir, but I do have a nice Pro Bowl coaching picture of Bill Muir and me sitting next to each other. This is turning into a sugarcoating session, but it comes from the heart. Bill and I go back a long way. I was a quality control coach just trying to keep my head above water and Bill already had about 40 years of coaching in the NFL at that point and he wasn’t afraid to let me know it in a number of different ways which were very painful and made me tired and I lacked a lot of sleep for a couple of years. There might not be anybody that taught me more about certain aspects of the game and how you do it. He’s coordinated both sides of the ball in the NFL and has a Super Bowl ring. He’s in my opinion, the best offensive line coach in the league and that’s no disrespect to anybody else. He is a talented coach that I like to give a hard time because he’s getting up there in age. He says the same thing every time, he says, ‘I’ve got more gas left in the tank than any of these guys on this side of the hall.’ And he may be right, that’ll cause a fight. He’s a great resource. I’m 100 percent confident, and I was really excited for a team guy that has done through the years whatever was asked of him to give the team the best chance to win, whatever role. I was very excited to move him to the position I did because I knew he would be excited, and I think it’s a real good thing for our team, for our quarterback, for our staff. It will play itself out, but Bill Muir is a great football coach.”

Q: Is leaving the arrowhead logo off the helmets of some players a form of motivation?

HALEY: “Yeah, you guys have seen me do it early on with the whole team. What has changed at this point is that, anything can change. Anything that has to be done, will be done, it doesn’t guarantee anybody’s spots or anything like that. I think it’s a sign of a core group of guys that have earned the right to wear that arrowhead with pride, and at the same time, make it clear to these young guys that they have to do the same thing. I think the players appreciate that because if they’ve worked their butts off for a couple of years to be where they are, they want to see then young guys have to do similar activities.”

Q: It looks like you’ve given a logo on the helmet to everybody that was here last year?

HALEY: “Yeah, and that’s created some waves with the equipment guys because us coaches don’t think about the price of decals, how hard it is to put them on and take them off. I try to work within reason.”

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