Following Chiefs practice today in Kansas City, Todd Haley met with the media. Here are the highlights:
How important is this game for Matt Cassel and his development? The last time these two teams played it was one of his worst games.
“I’ll reiterate again, that as far as quarterbacks go this is still a guy who is getting close to getting two years under his belt. Every game is an opportunity for him to grow and this just happens to be a very good defense and a very difficult atmosphere. It is an opportunity but each week Matt is excited and works hard. He’s into it and is super competitive. I feel like we’ve made some progress here of late and it’s another chance for us to take another step for us as an offense and for him to take a step as our quarterback.”
What area or player this year has made the greatest progress?
“I think one of them is pretty obvious: Jamaal [Charles] has really made big steps. When you talk about that since November only one guy has had more rushing yards than him and that’s Chris Johnson that’s pretty good. Now, we can’t put him in Canton yet. It’s only been a handful of games. Part of being a good player in this league is doing it consistently over a period of time. That’s just where Jamaal is at. That said, there are a bunch of guys without going into detail that I feel like have made big strides. But if you pin me down I’d say Jamaal is the more obvious.”
How has your defensive line progressed or has it not progressed as much as you would have liked?
“It has been up and down and that’s what we have to eliminate. We need to get a group there that can hang in there week-in and week-out and when they’re a little off then have some guys that make up for them. We’ve had some games where they’ve really played solid, even last game [vs. Cincinnati] where the front seven did a really good job throughout the game. They had only two or three plays they’d like to have back. The smaller that number gets the better. That’s really where we’re at as a whole.”
Have you figured out why the inability to score in the first quarter?
“I think this has been a difficult task again, and I’m not making excuses for these guys because they don’t want any excuses made for them. But we made major changes; we’ve done a lot of things. What I think is important now is we’re making progress. Even these last few games we’ve started more positive than we did earlier. Is it good enough? No, clearly not. But I don’t have any regrets about the things we’ve done. I think it’s all happened for a reason. As I said, it’s going to get better and we’re going to be a good team. But you’re got to take your lumps sometimes. The [teams] that haven’t taken their lumps are few and far between that I know of. The teams that have started with everything’s golden and everybody’s happy I don’t know when you’re starting from ground zero. I know there have been growing pains for a lot of different teams and a lot of different staffs, a lot of organizations in general. We’re in that process right now. They’re going to be character builders for us and be what makes us a great team.”
One of your goals was to establish a new mindset or attitude for this organization. Do you feel that’s been done?
“Again, it comes down to wins and losses. I know it’s gets old when you say we’re making progress, but I’m the one out there and I’m the one that sees them. We just lined up today in the 16th week of the season and ran gassers and they’re running hard and they practiced hard today, they’re communicating, they’re here on time regardless of the weather conditions and working together to do the things necessary to be a good team. That’s progress from the inside.”