Following Chiefs practice today in Kansas City, Todd Haley met with the media. Here are the highlights:
Are there players that just don’t fit and how confusing is that for a young coach?
“I wouldn’t say confusing. I would say we’re trying to get better and do the things necessary to get better as a team and that doesn’t always have to do with players. It has to do with how we run the building, how we operate, and little things, trying to do all the little things all the time.
“When it has to do with the players it’s trying to get as many players as we can on board that are here. As we’ve moved along it’s become clear that we’re finding more and more guys who are in. Sometimes it’s a guy that we’ve picked up midway through the year that shows signs pretty quickly that he wants to be a part of what we want to do.
“We knew it was a big job and we’re kind of in a beginning process.”
Can a team improve by parting ways with a talented player?
“I would think so.”
Your defensive line is composed of some young guys who have been getting to the quarterback. Is that four-man rotation becoming a position of strength for you?
“I think that has to be a position of strength to be a good team. That’s fact. We need to make it a position of strength. I would say that group has continued to improve and has been one of those spots that we have talked about that has clearly gotten better to me, both individually and as a group.
“I think they’ve done it through hard work. If you’re out there and you see what those guys are doing they’re working before, during and after [practice]. The other day when I left guys come in late because our plane was leaving late they were the group meeting in the room ahead of time early. Some of that work is starting to pay off and it’s definitely a position that has improved.”
With rookie defensive linemen do you expect to see more improvement from week one to week 17, or from the end of their first year until the end of their second?
“I would say closer to the second. You got to remember those guys haven’t had a full off-season. They were behind coming in and playing a tough position and going against a lot of different guys than what you’re used to going against. You’ll see more once they get through a second off-season and a second training camp and know their way around a little bit.”
Chris Chambers said after the game that he let you know during the game some things that might be successful. Do you like that from him, being a veteran, being able to give you another element?
“I think without a doubt in my experiences the better feedback you can get from your players who are on the field and out there and know exactly what’s happening to them the better. Some players over time are much better at that than others. You kind of find your way with each player individually.
“There are a lot of instances over the years where a player said something during the game and then you go watch the tape and it’s the total opposite. It’s just one of those things, some have a better feel of what’s going on. Chris has been around this league for a while and speaks very thoughtfully during the game and I think that’s a big bonus when you have somebody like that. When you can take advantage of that it obviously helps the cause.”
Have you seen this team grow together over this last month, or improve, become more optimistic?
“Winning does so much for you. The way we started and to go through the pre-season – even though we know those games don’t count – and this being the embryonic stages you need some positive reinforcement. So, I think that the guys were working really hard and were into it and trying to get better every single day. But until you actually see those results and have that validation that’s when you can start taking little bigger steps. We were taking baby steps. Then we win on the road in Oakland and you come back home against Pittsburgh in front of your fans and defeat the defending Super Bowl champions. There’s no doubt there’s a little more bonding that goes on; the guys want to hang around a little more and success breeds success.”
What’s changed about the Chargers from the first time you played them?
“They just look better. I thought they looked good to begin with but they’re rolling right now. I think they’re running the football really well. There are obviously a couple of backs back there who can really run with it. I think that’s probably the biggest difference I see on offense. Defensively, I think they’re playing with a lot of energy and enthusiasm. It’ll be a major test for us to go on the road and compete and have a chance to win.”