Q&A with Todd Haley 9/7

Posted Sep 7, 2011

OPENING REMARKS: “First week of the regular season. I know the players are really excited. There is a high energy in the building. I saw a bunch of them yesterday even though it was their day off, you could just feel a bunch of them around watching tape and getting ready to go for Buffalo. We practiced Monday, which I thought it was a good, efficient practice, but today will be our first real Wednesday. With the schedule, we had a workout this morning and we’re going to practice in the afternoon on Wednesdays. I’m kind of excited to see how everything goes today. And it’s on to the Buffalo Bills. I think Buffalo is a well-coached team; first of all, that has a number of very talented players. They’ve done a great job in the off-season, even through training camp, of continuing to add to their arsenal.

“I think offensively, the quarterback is a very mobile player that can hurt you with his feet or his arm, which he showed a bunch last year. They have a group of talented receivers, led by this Stevie Johnson, who I think is really one of the up-and-coming guys in the league at his position. I think the addition of Brad Smith, who you can list anywhere on the depth chart, a guy that I went over to Missouri and worked out one-on-one when he was coming out and really liked the player. I think that’s a great addition for them. He gives them great versatility – he can run with it, he can throw it; he can catch it and return it. Between (C.J.) Spiller and (Fred) Jackson, they are a formidable duo that has great speed to the edge, but yet have size to run inside. I think this will be a very good test right out of the gate for our defense. For us it starts with stopping the run first. They have done a great job of running it in the preseason and I think that’s something that they’ve probably emphasized and we’ll see a bunch of.

“Defensively, the secondary was one of their strengths last year and I think it continues to be one of the better groups you’ll see. They have a very good threesome of corners that can play any way you need to play, but they can definitely play man-to-man and they’re a big, physical group that gave us all sorts of problems last year, in my opinion. Up front is where you see the biggest change. There are still some core guys that have been there, (Chris) Kelsay being one of those guys, and Kyle Williams is one of the up-and-coming inside players I think is very disruptive. Shawne Merriman looks like he’s back to how he used to look when we used to go out to San Diego and have to deal with him. They added a real good veteran linebacker in (Nick) Barnett and I think you’re going to see their defense has got a chance to be real good this year. Offensively that’ll be a great test for us.

“Special teams, I think they’ve got two of the better kickers. They’re got a bevy of returners that all can hurt you. (C.J.) Spiller, (Roscoe) Parrish and Brad Smith (are guys) you can’t lose sight of. They’ve got a lot of weapons. This will be a great opener for us. I’m excited to be at Arrowhead in front of our fans and like I said, I know the players are really excited. We’ll be out there this afternoon trying to get ready.”

Q: Who’s going to call offensive plays for you?

HALEY: “Bill Muir. As we’ve been doing, Bill Muir. And like I’ve said, really the play calling for us and a lot of places I’ve been will be a group effort throughout the week of kind of trying to get everybody on the same page for game day and I think each and every week that’s been an area that it takes some work and practice and you really only can get that work in games and I feel like we made progress as a staff throughout the preseason. Now it’s the regular season and we’re ready to go.”

Q: How much input are you going to have in the offense on Sundays?

HALEY: “Really about the same as it’s been, at least the last two years because obviously I was having to do a lot of that [play-calling]. It’s in-week thoughts, contributions during practice, at night – which is what’s gone here for the last couple of years. In the game, I think we get to a point by the time we get through Friday and we have our end-of-the-week meeting to finalize all of our thoughts. The quarterbacks are included in that. It’s a group contribution of what we like, where we like it and place that along the call sheet. Ultimately it will fall to Bill to make those decisions.”

Q: Bill Muir doesn’t have a ton of experience calling offensive plays. What led you to say that Bill was going to be the primary guy?

HALEY: “The biggest thing with play-calling is the guy who’s scripting through the week, that’s really how you get the final feel for calling the plays – you script the plays you want versus the defense you want once you get to the regular season. The guy that’s doing a majority of that during the week, which is him, ultimately has the best feel for what he thinks he’s going to see defensively first and foremost and what we think we can run that gives us the best chance to succeed against that defense, knowing that a lot of that can change.”

Q: Was he doing much of that during the preseason? There wasn’t a lot of game-planning going on during the preseason?

HALEY: “You’re still scripting what you’re going to practice each and every day.”

Q: How much of that was Bill doing back then, as well as calling the plays in the four preseason games?

HALEY: “He was the guy. It really hasn’t changed. Like I said, we’ve continued to get more and more comfortable as a staff offensively and that’s exciting to me.”

Q: All the attention goes to the game-day guy calling the plays. What you’re saying sounds like you think what goes on during the week is more important?

HALEY: “I really believe that, Bob. And I believe that through experience, having been in a lot of different areas on the offensive side of the ball, that’s why practice is so important. Understanding the plays you’re trying to run is just part of it. Really the feel of understanding of what you’re going to see from the defense and trying to predict that as best you can but at the same time calling a play you feel like has answers for anything that you see. Where you can get caught is when you have a play that doesn’t have answers and that’s a problem. We work real hard during the week at trying to get more and more comfortable with not only what we’re going to see defensively but almost just as importantly, what our guys do the best, can do the best, knowing that it might be a couple different guys doing it on a similar play.”

Q: Did you try something different in Green Bay because it looked like when there was a sideline huddle, you were well away from Jim Zorn and QB Matt Cassel? You have the headset and can chime in, but was that something different you tried?

HALEY: “I think I’ve made it clear that I’m really excited about Jim Zorn being here. I think he’s one of the best in the business, specifically coaching quarterbacks, but he’s an excellent, excellent coach who’s got great experience in a number of different areas. He’s here predominantly to coach the quarterbacks and I think he just does a phenomenal job. The way we have it set up is he’s on the field, so that lends itself to great communication between him and the quarterbacks. I don’t know if it’s anything happening intentionally but I think it just shows comfort level with knowing that he’s saying and coaching that we as a staff and me as the head coach want passed along. Not saying that there are not going to be situations where I want to or need to talk to Matt.”

Q: Are you comfortable with Demorrio (Williams) crossing over to the strong side if he has to behind (Jovan) Belcher?

HALEY: “I know we have him listed that way. I think Demorrio has been one of the bright, bright spots of camp. He’s a guy that’s a tough, tough guy that was fighting through a few things for the last couple year. He came in; he said he found the fountain of youth. He really has run around fast and aggressive. There’s not a better guy to have on your team from the mentality of this guy just loves to play football, loves to play defense, loves to play special teams. I’m just really excited about where Demorrio is. That being said, the way we’re currently set up, if there were to be an issue, it would more than likely be Derrick (Johnson) sliding over and Demorrio filling into his more natural role. All those guys have made just huge progress, Derrick and Demorrio being at the top of the list. I feel really comfortable as far as our depth there within the game.”

Q: You’re expecting Matt Cassel to start Sunday?

HALEY: “Yeah. I’m expecting him to be full today. That’s the way he would go on the [injury report]. I know his expectations are to play. He did a good job Monday and I know is excited and ready to go today.”

Q: You’ve always stressed the mental side of the game. During the preseason, you’re team wasn’t very smart. How does that change in a week?

HALEY: “We weren’t smart as a team through the preseason. The team’s obviously changed since the preseason as far as numbers and who’s going to be practicing and who’s going to playing. I think that in itself [will help] – having guys getting more reps, more situational football now that we’re in regular season mode. I think we as coaches just have to coach it, coach it, coach it, not allow things to happen that can’t be happening throughout the week and then that’s got to carry into the game. I think we’ve got a good, smart group of guys that showed they can be smart and disciplined and I’m excited about where we are right now and we’ve got a few days here to get things to where we need to be to be ready to go against the Bills.”

Q: On offense, it seems like you’ve called a number of unnecessary timeouts because people aren’t where they’re supposed to be. Is that because guys aren’t getting enough practice reps?

HALEY: “It’s players’ responsibility to know what to do and we’re pretty clear on that but as coaches you’ve got evaluate your team and see if you’re asking guys to do too much. Some of that is just that game-plan, game day mechanics of the call sheet and the wristbands, which our quarterbacks wear. We’ve been real good for the most part throughout the last couple years with the system and the way we do things from a mechanics standpoint with calling plays. I would expect that with a week of practice in regular season mode to not be an issue. And it can’t be an issue for our team because we just can’t do things to set ourselves back or we won’t have a great chance to have success.”

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