Todd Haley Postgame Comments

Posted Oct 2, 2011

Opening Statement: “I just want to point out to all the players and everybody, all the people around the stadium on the breast cancer awareness day, it was a terrific, terrific day for a lot of women that really fight, have to fight…I’m happy to see everybody supporting that, trying to be there any way possible for a bunch of women that have a real fight.

It was it a terrific game for our team. I thought all week that it was critical that we built on last week; that we weren’t going to play significantly different, but that we had to get better in some finer areas of the game. We were able to do some of that again today, and just a little bit better. The crowd was terrific, all those things at home that help you. Overall, I was impressed with our guys and how hard they fought and worked all week coming off a difficult loss and we were able to pull together and play a good game today. A couple guys in particular: Ryan Succop who did a terrific job today kicking the ball off and field goals. The one there was a little steep, waffling back and forth on the 54-yarder, but Andy Studebaker, with conviction, said to me, ‘he’ll make it,’ so that was a good decision. Matt [Cassel] I thought battled today. We’ve been going through a little rough stretch here, but he battled throughout that game and made some real big plays for us. Jackie Battle at the end of the game, getting the must first down to end it .... Defensively, I thought we played very similar to how we did last week, but we hung in there, kept fighting and making plays, did a real good job in the run game. We got a couple of those reverses out that probably hurt us a little bit, that had we been able to continue to do a little bit better job on those, I think we would have felt pretty good about how we did versus the run. It was a real good game for our team, very important for us to finish this quarter strong, building off the positive of last week, which I think we were able to do and now we can put this quarter away, thankfully. Now we get to start fresh, 0-0 with a better understanding that if we don’t beat ourselves in games that we have a chance to be a good team.”

On the sideline conversation with QB Matt Cassel being one of motivation: “I give a lot of motivational speeches throughout the game. Matt wasn’t perfect but I don’t think any of us are and he understands that too; none of us coaches are either. He battled throughout that game and, once again, what he showed, one of his great qualities is the ability to keep fighting and keep bouncing back and he did it throughout the game. I can’t say enough about how the line protected for him; that was a challenge last night to our guys to protect our quarterback and keep hits off him and I thought, up front, the two tackles and the tight end: Casey [Wiegmann], Ryan [Lilja] and Jon [Asamoah], and the backs did a terrific job giving Matt a nice clean pocket. Then guys like Dwayne [Bowe] and Stevie [Breaston] and all those guys made big, big plays for us.”

What specifically upset you about that play? “I don’t know specifically the time we are talking about…I have a number of coaching moments throughout a game. We do certain things in games. We have to make sure we’re all on the same page and I thought that was a great example of, despite having a couple of guys, Matt and I, and a number of others that passionately care about trying to make this team something special, that you’re going to have some emotion and feeling, but the critical thing in that now and throughout my past as a coach with a number of players, is that you get on the same page and you get it right. Like I said, Matt had a great response in how he played and that’s all that matters. He did a very good job throughout that game, helping us win.”

On the reason for certain guys stepping up this week: “It’s a result of practice, a result of training camp, a result of everything. We’re an evolving team and we’re trying to move into a good team and early on those first couple of game we really did a number of things to hurt ourselves. These last couple of games we’ve shown that number one we have some guys that know how to persevere through difficult times; they’ve pulled tighter and they’re not going to crack. They’re going to keep fighting and trusting their teammates and believing in their teammates and that’s what they’ve done. They’ve really done it the last couple of weeks and we’ve gotten better each week. We just have to make sure we keep doing that and then we’ll be able to feel some happiness and joy.”

On taking another look at the Vikings fourth quarter one-yard touchdown pass: “The toughest thing is just not challenging and understanding that when it’s called a score that you can’t challenge it or it will be a 15-yard penalty. I never had a clear shot from our vantage point worth looking at, no different than had we been where we could challenge if it had been a non-scoring play…They have all the views they need there and I’m assuming they made the right call.”

On making adjustments late in the 2nd quarter: “I think there’s always some adjustments but not from the game plan, just maybe philosophically of throwing it a little more because they were doing a good job in the run game versus us where we were struggling running the football for the most part. Matt’s an evolving quarterback; I’ve said this a number of times – last year if you judged him too early, you probably could have a chance of not thinking that he couldn’t’ have the type of year like he had last year. This year, didn’t start a lot different…and it’s a different year; there wasn’t an off season; there were a lot of variables that were going to make it a challenge for us and everybody else, but especially a developing team. Those kind of things can slow you and some of your guys down. The key is that he’s getting better every day and every week in practice. We need to continue to get it to the game and then have the guys around and execute, which is a big part of it. The line giving him some time today sure gave him a reasonable chance to do a good job in the passing game and the receivers also, they have to factor into it that they’re doing the right thing at the right time and making plays. One of our big things all week was run after the catch for everybody…I really want to take my hat off to the receivers for taking that challenge, specifically receivers, tight ends and backs, because I think they all did a much better job after the catch and that’s a lot of hidden yardage in our book that ends up translating into points.”

On the dialogue between Haley and Matt Cassel: “I tell all these guys, ‘You can say what you feel because I’m going to.’ The important thing is that we move forward because I know that’s how I operate: you know how I feel, I put it out there, there’s not a lot of question about how I feel about it. I take accountability when I’m off or wrong on something immediately, and the key is that you’re just able to move forward. You get it cleaned up and everybody’s on the same page. I love it. There’s nothing like a game like that where you’re fighting to try to continue to get some positive things going for you. It was fun today.”

On the defense improving week to week: “So much of the early judgments on the defense you had to take into account the positions they were put in those first two games. Like I said, I think it was 28 possessions where 20 of them were on their side of the 50 and it’s just going to be very tough sledding when you’re playing in that kind of position. We’re a team: we win as a team, we lose as a team and what we understood was that field position had to improve through special teams, through lack of penalties, lack of turnovers, things like that. Today we were 1. We did have some penalties that we can’t have and, generally expecting to win the game, a couple that really, could have potentially been killers. We just have to make sure we learn from those. We are evolving as a team, but defensively, when you have a player missing four snaps into the season that you really build a lot of your defense around, because he’s probably the last one you think about not being there, and he has unique abilities, then we have to adjust. That’s still going on. We’ve really had to adjust how we thought we were going to be playing defense. The big thing, especially in a shortened off season, is you’re really re-tooling a lot of what you worked hard to try to be set to go on. Then you throw in there that they’re starting on their side of the 50, that’s going to be a difficult test. We’ve got some warriors now on defense that I’m really, really proud of. They keep battling and that’s why I’m really encouraged and was able last week, despite looking pretty bleak, to say I believe in these guys and I feel we’re going to be okay. We just have to keep getting better and win games. Hopefully, we’ll have a chance to have more fun.”

On the conversation with Matt Cassel on the sideline: “I have it with everybody, though. I’m going to coach you hard; they know it, they understand it, they respect it. But I say to them, you have a right to say what you want to and that has to go with ideas, game plan, that kind of thing, like Andy Studebaker feeling strongly we were going to make that kick [the 54-yarder in the third quarter]. These guys understand me and I’m really getting to understand them a lot better. We just have to keep getting better and start this next quarter a lot different than we started the last quarter.”

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