Q&A with Todd Haley 8/22

Posted Aug 22, 2011

OPENING REMARKS: “Alright, so, moving right along here. We just got through our little on-field assignment period. I thought yesterday was a real good work day for us. We had a significant, significant lift in the morning that you all don’t get to see, but we felt like we made significant process coming off the day off for the players. We had, obviously a hot practice, a long practice yesterday where I’ve made it pretty clear to the team that this stretch here is a pretty critical stretch for us here over the next week or so, from the standpoint of things have started to progress physically. We’re making progress. The practices, in turn, have become a little more and more difficult each day, which is part of the process for us. So today, again, I don’t know exactly what the weather is doing. Hopefully, we can get outside, though, and get this afternoon’s practice in which begins at 3 p.m. So, any questions?”

Q: Anything with the draft? Who are you taking?

HALEY: “The draft?”

Q: The Supplemental Draft today.

HALEY: “Oh, yeah, that’s getting a lot of attention, isn’t it? I can’t give away any secrets.”

Q: On the Joe Flacco incompletion the other night where the referees consulted each other and Harbaugh didn’t have to use a challenge. Before you throw the red flag, can you ask the referees to discuss?

HALEY: “I don’t know exactly what occurred over there. The only thing that was a little surprising to me was that I thought we had passed the play. Obviously, you’re not officially past the play until you run the next one, but they had lined up to punt. Generally, you don’t see a huddle by the officials that late in the process. So, I thought there was a chance he could challenge it, and I did look over and I saw him holding his red flag, but that’s what I asked. I asked the official on our side, ‘Was this a challenge?’ and he said, ‘No, they huddled,’ [and] I said, ‘Well it did appear…’ I just wondered the timing of it is all. But, they, for whatever reason, decided to huddle, which I’m all for and I believe in and I think, ‘Hey guys, just get it right,’ and that helps the game. And they got it right. So, I don’t know the process, though, to get there.”   

Q: Is that something to think about now when you see a marginal play before you do throw the red flag?

HALEY: “That’s assuming they’ll listen to you? They listen to the red flag. But yeah, I mean, those are important. I had to use two right away, didn’t get the one. The second one I thought was real good. It saved us in a significant situation in the game. But, if you get one of them wrong, then you basically are out of your third one, so that was tough during the game. There were a couple situations that came up that I thought you could have looked at, but, again, we’re working at this, too, and just trying to get our process right from upstairs to down and some of those things.”

Q: That might be an avenue to explore.

HALEY: “I’ll talk a note. I have considered that, though. But again, there’s no guarantee that they’re listening always.”

Q: With regards to the reported incident between [Thomas] Jones and [Jonathan] Baldwin, it was local early in the day on Friday, but by early afternoon on Friday every national media outlet had picked it up, and it’s my understanding that some of the media in Baltimore had been told that you were going to address the incident after the game. But, then when Adam [Teicher] asked you about it, you said, ‘What are you talking about?’ You seemed to not know about the reports. Can you just explain why you didn’t seem to address the reports?

HALEY: “I thought I did address it. I just didn’t understand the initial question was all. I addressed it as family business, falling into family business. I felt like I addressed it. I’m sorry if you didn’t think that.”

Q: Are you denying the reports?

HALEY: “I’m neither denying nor confirming. It’s one of those things, again, injuries are one of those things that fall into the family business category. Again, it’s just what I see as the head coach as what’s best for our guys, and that’s every decision that we are making.”

Q: What are you seeing in the competition battle for those safety spots behind Kendrick Lewis and Eric Berry?

HALEY: “I think that we have good competition. That’s actually… I think it’s a good question because as we went through the game review as a staff and graded the guys, that was definitely one of those spots, areas that we talked about. Usually, when we get through going through a position and we know it’s going to be critical and there’s good competition, that’s one of those where I kind of stop the meeting and I’m like, ‘Coach Hoffman, now are you hearing this?’ Special teams might be one of the separators here in this battle. I think it’s a real good competition. Obviously, S Jon McGraw is in there, and he’s not out of the mix to even be out front in the mix. And, then you’ve got a pretty good competition between S Donald [Washington] and Jersey Shore, I mean S Sabby [Piscitelli]. So, I think it’s a good competition, but I do think that as you get in to some of those fourth safety, sixth linebacker, fourth receiver, fifth receiver – special teams might play a big role in it.”

Q: Where are you with evaluation of your whole roster? Are you where you need to be halfway through preseason?

HALEY: “Yeah, I feel like as coaches you’re never happy. You want more, more, more and more time is always good. But, I feel like for the circumstances – that’s one of the reasons I felt really good about coming through that game last week – is I felt like we made significant progress in a number of areas and that was one of them. I think in that game you saw Allen Bailey just as a sub rusher, not that that’s what he is for sure, but we were able to evaluate him in that role. Cameron Sheffield only was on the sub-rush team, so you didn’t see him at linebacker. Again, not that he’s not in that competition, but for last week that’s the direction that we chose. Now, I think you’re seeing some of those guys get a few more reps in a base position. And again, that’s across the board. You saw WR Keary Colbert, his reps were coming out of the slot, like I talked about. I think that helped with the evaluation. Again, you’re going to have to crunch numbers and guys are going to have to cross train, but right now, three weeks in, two games under our belt, I felt like we made significant progress as far as our understanding of what our guys can do and the direction they’re going.”

Q: You’ve got to cut a few guys next week and then you have the big one after that. Are this year’s roster cuts going to be any easier or more difficult than usual?

HALEY: “I think it’ll be as difficult as ever. It’s never an easy thing, and the harder it is, the better it is, I think. For us as coaches and as an organization, we kind of feel that way, that when those decisions get more and more difficult – they’re always difficult from the standpoint of you’ve got guys that aren’t going to be here and have put a lot into it – but when they’re more difficult from a decision-making standpoint, that’s good for us.”

Q: Has anybody caught your eye on special teams? Young guys?

HALEY: “Yeah, the first week I really stressed to the guys, especially the young guys – the guys in certain position groups, those linebackers, the receivers, the running backs, the extra fullbacks, the extra safeties and corners – that they had to try to show up and separate themselves, and I think that occurred. I don’t know that there’s just one guy that I could pick out, though. I think what is evident to me is I saw much better team speed on special teams, and I’ve felt like that each year. The first year we were one place, last year I felt like we were faster, but still needed to improve, and this year is the most speed I’ve seen from our groups, regardless of who’s in there. And again, I think that’s a pretty good thing. They played physical, they played hard; we just did some dumb, dumb things that cost us a lot of yards.”

Q: Do you see any young guy making the team like [Cory] Greenwood did last year based off his special teams ability?

HALEY: “Yeah. Again, I don’t think I’m ready to say who, but I do think there’s a couple guys that maybe are not ready for primetime, so to speak, at their particular position, but that are starting to really flash.”

Q: And these are guys that you think would be on your 45-man roster?

HALEY: “Yeah, you find a way. Like you said, the good example is Cory, that last year wasn’t quite ready for primetime as a ’backer, but we said we’ve got to get him on the team; he’s making that kind of difference.  So, we’ve got a lot of plays left – in practice and in the games – and we’ve got to try to get it right. And like I said, that’s part of the specialization process, also. There some guys, like Cory Greenwood last year, through the offseason and training camp – we signed him a little late, didn’t we? He was getting reps on special teams, he was getting reps in the game. With those guys – I think especially this game specifically – you might see some guys that, more specifically, just play special teams, that we just don’t have the time or can afford to have guys at both spots. Because it’s either to see what we need to see out of special teams from that particular player or see what we need out of another guy at his position.”

Q: With regard to Greenwood, would you have kept him last year if he wasn’t able to help right away on special teams?

HALEY: “No, I think he would have been a guy we liked and were interested in and we would have kind of kept our eye on or got him on the practice squad or done different things. He caught our eye, but special teams is what got him onto the team. There’s no doubt about it.”

Q: Have you been disappointed in this year’s group of rookie free agents?

HALEY: “No, I’ve been really encouraged with them. I think our scouts, again, did a terrific job in a difficult situation. Now, you had a little more time to think about it, but they all… It was like a second draft there once that thing opened. I think, again, our guys did a great job of pinpointing who we really thought had a chance. No, I’m as encouraged as ever with that group.”

Q: What were your evaluations of DL Allen Bailey and WR Keary Colbert? They are guys that are kind of on different ends of the spectrum.

HALEY: “This Bailey has a long way to go. He’s a guy that played multiple positions in college but I’ll tell you what separates him a little bit, he definitely helped our sub-rush in the game against a pretty good offensive line. But what separates him from maybe some of the guys in that group is that he’s got the label defensive lineman but you watch him run down the field, he’s not a defensive lineman from an athletic-ability or speed [standpoint]. And that’s at 285 pounds right now. He’s an interesting prospect for me as the head coach because if I can get a defensive lineman that can still run down on kicks in this day and age with some of the rule changes or being on your punt team or your punt return team, that’s a big thing. DE Wallace Gilberry is close, we used him in some specialist situations, but Wallace, no disrespect, he still looks like a defensive lineman more times than not. Allen’s interesting that way.

“WR Keary Colbert, for a guy that’s been out, he shows some ability in the slot which is an area of need for us, in my opinion, as far as getting somebody to kind of take that role by the horns. The true, when I’m saying slot, third-down type of guy, and that role is not for everybody. I think I’ve said that in here before. The great third-down receivers, the Wayne Chrebet type, Wes Welker, Patrick Crayton when I was in Dallas, that’s how he made a name for himself and became a starter but you may be sitting for 20 minutes, 30 minutes and then all of a sudden it’s a big third-and-eight and you’re expected to make the play and like I’ve said as a receiver coach, that role’s not for everybody but the fact that he got in there and now it’s third down, he makes a play in a contested throw, a guy kind of draped over him, that was encouraging for me. Again, all the guys are competing. There’s real good competition there at the receiver spot.”

Q: When looking at the receivers, one guy at the top of the group with WR Dwayne Bowe and WR Jerheme Urban but who has had the least number of snaps is WR Steve Breaston. Is that partially because you know what you’ve got with him?

HALEY: “He’s coming off a little off-season work and he kind of falls into that group of you miss the whole off-season, some guys miss rehab, some guys miss lifting the way they might have lifted or trained and we’ve got a number of those guys that I think you just take it one day at a time. We don’t want to move too fast and I think you’ve got to keep a little more individualized plan for guys, even though we’re a pretty young team and I would resist doing that most of the time, but this year’s different. You’ve got to plan for each guy to try to figure out how you best can be ready to go when the bell sounds.”

Q: You’ve said you were tough on the guy (Breaston), how were you tough? Was it just verbally or was it constantly? What does that mean?

HALEY: “You can ask him. From my perspective, I tried to break him. I said I think there’s a chance but he’s a long way off and you just quickly realize as a coach that for whatever reason this kid responded. He wasn’t shying away from any kind of push, prod, pull. I pressed him hard in the meetings, on the field, walking in the hallway, really was relentless on him. Like I’ve said, you coach everybody different. You coach everybody the way they need or deserve to be coached, and I think those are two different things. With Steve, it was clear to me, there was a look in his eye – because he wasn’t good enough early on, just from a standpoint of going out and being ready to play – but the guy returned punts for touchdowns for us in big games. He came back through that offseason, you could tell he had a chip on his shoulder and again, as a coach, that’s where I say ‘I don’t expect you to want to be my friend. Just respect me in the end.’ I think that’s a great testament, the fact that here a guy wants to come back and be coached and be pushed to see how good he can be. That’s exciting stuff as a coach.”

Q: Did he ever push back?

HALEY: “No. He’s not your typical western Pennsylvania guy. You just knew there was a line there you had to make sure you didn’t quite go across because he doesn’t say much, so if you start to even hear some rumbling, you say, okay, I’ll pull back. You’re a good guy, I believe in you Steve. You’re going to be great one day.”

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