Q&A with Todd Haley 9/28

Posted Sep 28, 2011

OPENING REMARKS: “OK, Wednesday, got my hoodie on. [laughter] We had a good morning thus far getting ready for Minnesota. We’re going to get out of the field here shortly. I know the guys have some of that positive energy and things that I talked about after the game and Monday, feeling exactly how I’d like to see things going. What’s important is we get out on the field and continue to make progress, to just build on the good things we’ve done in each game. Obviously, those have increased a little bit here and they need to increase more, and that’s our goal to try to build on those things and just get better as a team. Minnesota is 0-3, but one of those teams, you know they’ve had three games that have been decided by under seven points. They have three of the 28 or so games that that’s been the way it’s gone. Offensively, they have the or one of the best runners in the league. He’s the complete package. Arm tackles aren’t going to cut it with this guy. You need everybody doing their job and everybody getting to him because it generally takes more than one to get him down. [Their] quarterback in Donovan [McNabb], very experienced, looks like he still has it. He’s in a new place with new players around him. I think you can see him getting more and more comfortable as he plays. He can still hurt you with his feet. He’s got a great arm. He’s smart and can hurt you and hurt you big in a number of ways. They’ve got a couple real good tight ends that they use a bunch. They’ve got a premier playmaker in Percy Harvin that they do a great job of getting him the ball in a number of different ways – handing it off, throwing it, returning it, catching it, a bunch of different ways they use him. And you put on the tape, he is fast. He’s one of those guys when you watch the tape, he stands out from everybody else. They’ve got a bunch of good receivers – starting with [Bernard] Berrian – that can hurt you. Defensively, we’ve got to continue to improve. Offensively, everything starts up front with this defense. Their front four is as good as you’ll see, starting with [No.] 69, Jared Allen, who I have just a tremendous, tremendous amount of respect for. I kind of always wish he was still hanging around here, but he’s not. But, a tremendous motor, tremendous determination, relentless player that the other guys seem to feed off of. The other end in [Brian] Robison, it looks like sometimes from the end zone view, those two are ripping around the edges, you’ve got to look twice to figure out who’s who because they’re both bringing it. They’ve got [Kevin] Williams back inside, [Remi] Ayodele, that front four and the guys they rotate in are really good, really active and they count on them to do a lot for them to allow them to play a certain type of defense. In the back end, they’re active, typical kind of Tampa-type look that you’d expect and they rally to the football. They make you go the distance if you’re going to do it. Special teams, between [Lorenzo] Booker and Harvin, dangerous, dangerous returners. They’re a talented team that does not match their record right now. So, any questions.”

Q: What did you think of the way the run defense played on Sunday? Did you see some glimpses of improvement that gives you confidence going into this game?

HALEY: “I think I’ve seen improvement each week with the run defense and the defense in general. I’ll say again that you put a defense on their side of the 50 20 out of 28 times in those first couple games, it’s not going to look good. I really don’t think it matters who’s playing defense and who’s playing if you get that many chances of just needing a few yards to get into scoring range. They’ve showed improvement. San Diego is a good running team with a couple of really good backs, but we didn’t do well enough. We’ve got to just do a better job of playing with technique, getting tackles made and not broken or missed, and that’s what we’re going to work on. When you talk about Adrian Peterson and even [Toby] Gerhart and you’ve got to lump Percy Harvin into it and Donovan, obviously, they’re at the top of the list for a reason in run differential. They run for a lot of yards. There’s a reason why, so we’ve got to be at our best and it really takes all 11 every snap to have a chance to slow them down.”

Q: The roster move you made at tight end, was that because Anthony Becht wasn’t going to be available Sunday?

HALEY: “No, no, just again, in our constant desire to try to get better and play to our strengths, Jake [O’Connell] was out there and we were able to get him back on the roster. Unfortunately, we had to make a move, but we’ve been very happy with a lot of things Anthony has done also. Again, just trying to figure out a way to maximize what we’re doing.”

Q: What’s the situation with Brandon Flowers?

HALEY: “I’ll know more after today, but I would suspect that today there’s a good chance he’ll be limited to out today of practice.”

Q: What do you think has been the difference with Jared Allen coming off a little bit of a down year and the start he has gotten off to this year?

HALEY: “Like I said, I just can’t say enough about the guy and just how he plays the game. He’s a guy that coming out probably wasn’t an obvious choice for somebody that would be a star. Sometimes in this league you see guys that have something special inside and he clearly did and does and he’s kind of grown into that, even physically, and that makes him pretty scary to look at when you’ve got to line up and play against him. He’s the heart of their defense from everything that I see and as you watch the tape, the other guys feed off of that energy, so it’s important to try to stymie him and the rest of the front as best you can because I don’t think you’re going to win a lot of them, but if you can tie a bunch of them, at least you keep negative plays from happening.”

Q: When you’re look at the Vikings tape, do you see why their record is 0-3 and does that help you?

HALEY: “I don’t know if it helps, but I think with them you do see some of it. It’s kind of that hidden yardage thing that we talk about. They’ve probably not been as disciplined as they want to be and some of those things that have set them back and a few turnovers here and there and missed opportunities. But, it’s not much. When you lose three games to good opponents and they’re by scores that they’ve lost, it’s not a lot of things. It’s a couple little things here and there that become big things. Not a lot different than us other than ours got real exaggerated early on with turnovers which just put us in positions that we’re not able to climb out of.”

Q: You guys had to use a couple of timeouts to avoid getting a delay of game? What’s been the cause of that? It seems like the team is breaking the huddle and getting to the line of scrimmage late.

HALEY: “I don’t know about the breaking the huddle. Sometimes we have a set way, a time that we want to break it as far as how we want the game to go. But, the other day it was as much anything when Becht was unable to play, you make an adjustment and ours in that case was a tackle going in. It’s something that you talk about, but you really can’t put a lot of practice time to. There was gymnastics to that that we could have taken a risk and snapped the ball, but I think the prudent thing was to make sure that we had it right. Like I said, it’s something that was created strictly by the loss of a player in that game that really caused some moving parts and we just have to handle it better or stay out of that group.”

Q: You had the big play to Steve Breaston and had a long distance to cover and had to take the timeout after.

HALEY: “Same thing. It was the personnel we called. You plan all week, again, to run certain plays in certain situations. You get down in there in the goal line and that’s where it’s generally a bigger people group. We thought we had done enough talking and adjusting to get it, but again, in that situation with the play happening fast, obviously we hadn’t done enough because there was confusion and the last thing we could do is have a penalty in that situation and go backwards when you’re down close to the line. But, something that definitely we have put time into, but not necessarily in a situation where we’re missing a guy, so like I said, we just as coaches have to do a better job of making a better choice there of what we do.”

Q: Did Leonard Pope have an explanation for his helmet?

HALEY: “Yeah, he did and Leonard is a great guy and an honest guy and he’s not malicious in any way. It seemed to be true to what occurred. He said the helmet had gotten severely jostled on his head and was turned down on his face so his first instinct was to take it off. It ended up we were able to, thankfully, do a pretty good job of covering and get a stop and have a chance to move down the field. But, you just never know and our team can’t afford to move backwards first down-and-a-half.”

Q: What factor does your run defense have that you haven’t been in your base defense except for about half the time?

HALEY: “It can have a big effect, but that being said, we’ve got to play run defense whatever personnel group we’re in, whether we’re in base or sub because teams are going to run out of both sub and base-type formations. Whether it’s because they think they have an advantage against us or it’s just their best personnel group, we’ve happened to see a bunch of it. As in the base side of it, we’ve studied both and it doesn’t appear to be out of balance one way or the other too much. Some of those base-sub runs are coming on third-and-longs and things like that and you’ve got to factor in how much did you allow. We’ve just got to get better across the board, our whole team. We’ve just got to continue to make progress, our players need to understand how our coaches want it done and then we just need as coaches to continue to try to best put our guys in best position to succeed and play to their strengths. Like I said, defensively more than anything with the [Eric] Berry situation, we’ve probably had to adjust probably more so just because of what an integral part of how we had gone into this year thinking we were going to play defense.”

Q: When you lost Jon McGraw, it seemed like you guys had two different subs.

HALEY: “Yeah, again, I wouldn’t look… McGraw coming out of that game, it hurts us always whenever you lose anybody. We’re defensively still really a work in progress of trying to best figure out how we need to play to give us the best chance to succeed, no different than offense, but like I said, this may be a little more of an adjustment defensively because of how we had gotten ready to play. We’re in that mode of trying to figure out the best way to defend pretty good offenses and this week we’re going to see another one, so we’ve got to be better than we were last week.”

Q: How is Jonathan Baldwin progressing and when do you expect to see him out there?

HALEY: “Without talking about injured players, I think you’ll see more and more activity and we’ll just have to see how it goes.”

Q: Does this game fit into a must win category?

HALEY: “No, I think it’s just very important for our guys to understand that you can’t dig too deep of a hole. We’ve already lessened our margin of error, but I think if we continue to just do the things that we need to do to get better – obviously our goal is to get a win here in this quarter of the season and then put it behind us and start 0-0 – that’s how we’re trying to stay focused and it appears to me that’s how our players are pretty intent on staying focused and that’s good. Right now it’s about right now. I think it’s really important for a team like ours to just stay in the present tense and keep chopping away.”

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