Q&A: Todd Haley Season Review

Todd Haley met with the media in Kansas City to talk about his first season as head coach of the Chiefs.  Here are the highlights:

Have you had any conversations with Romeo Crennel about your defensive coordinator’s position?

“No. Romeo is another guy who is a very good friend of mine that I spent three years with.  He’s a guy I’ve always looked up to and no different than Charlie, a guy I talk to periodically looking for advice.  No conversation in that order.”

As you evaluated the team what do you think is this team’s most glaring need?

“We have a lot of needs.  I don’t know that I can point out one that’s more glaring than others.  One of the less glaring is quarterback.  I think our quarterback made tremendous progress over the year especially over the final eight games.  I think he’s shown a toughness and, moreover, a mental toughness to overcome some of the tough times that were thrown at him.  I’m pretty excited about the direction he’s going.

“As far as glaring needs, we need players that can help us win.  Our general philosophy is to get good players on the roster and no different than my philosophy to get good coaches on my staff.  We’ll get as many good players as we can into this mix that fit what we’re trying to get done.  I work very closely with Scott on a day-to-day basis so we’re on the same page.”

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Todd Haley Press Conference – Part I

Jan 06, 2010, 4:25:54 PM

NOTE: This is part one of head coach Todd Haley’s final end of season press conference. Part two will be available tomorrow.

TODD HALEY: “Afternoon everyone. This is the end of year one here. As a staff, I really believe we were able to lay a foundation for the future of the Kansas City Chiefs. We were able to implement systems on both sides of the ball which we will continue to methodically improve. We will be able set expectations for our players who will be here as to what is expected of them both schematically, off-season, in-season, in practice, the way we’re going to do things as a team on a consistent basis.

“Though a very difficult year, it was a year we were able to make progress, as evidenced as the season wound down. We were able to build the team’s overall mental toughness, an ability to withstand some of the pressures of everyday life in the NFL. I was really encouraged with the way the team finished, beating the Denver Broncos on the road, a team that was trying to make the playoffs. It will give this team a boost without a doubt in my mind.

“We’re now in the process of evaluating all areas of the team and staff. I will be evaluating myself, my other coaches and will quickly get to an evaluation of the team.

“One of the things I really enjoy about working with Scott [Pioli] is that he’s an excellent resource for me. We have a background together and philosophically a background in which we believe. But ultimately the staff is my decision. As I’ve said numerous times: I’ll do everything possible to make this team and its operation better.

“We now have a year under our belts, and I have a year under my belt as a head coach. There is a lot more known than unknown for everybody involved which will allow us to move into this second off-season together in a more efficient manner.

“I’ve talked about this process multiple times, but I think now there is some tangible evidence that progress was made as we got through this year. Some of the numbers that I’ve been going through in the last couple of days show this improvement offensively.

“In the final eight games we went from averaging 15 points a game to 21 points a game. That’s progress.

“Yards per game we moved to about 350 yards from 260 yards. That’s progress.

“Third down – a real area of disappointment for us early in the season – we went from a 22 percent conversion percentage to almost 33 percent over the last eight games.

“Our three-and-outs went down considerably. Our rushing yards per game went from 96 yards a game to 145 yards a game over the final eight – a big jump for us there.

“Yards-per-carry obviously ended up being one of the better in the league.

“Rushing TD’s went from zero to eight over the final eight games.

“Yards per passing game went up almost 42 yards per game. That’s progress.

“Our [giving up] sacks is another area that is tremendously improved. As these guys worked together and gained confidence it went from 30 over the first eight to 15 in the final eight. That’s significant progress.

“Big plays went up, negative plays went down.

“Defensively, our ability to get teams off the field on third down went up almost eight percent.


“Takeaways, we had nine over the first eight games and 19 over the second eight games. I think that’s a big stat when you’re talking about winning football. Interceptions went from three to 12.

“Net passing went down almost 40 yards, so that was an exact flip flop with our offense.

“Passing TD’s went down, big plays went down significantly and sacks went up.

“Penalties is another area that you have to be aware of as a coach. It’s an important number for us and an important sign of discipline as a team. We went from being 32nd in the league in [most] penalties in the first four games to ending up eighth in the league in penalties called and sixth in yardage called. That’s a good number for me.

“Return TD’s we had four here over the last eight games.

“I think our kicking game stayed relatively consistent and strong throughout the season. Both Dustin (Colquitt) and Ryan (Succop) had above average years and our coverage teams continued to improve as the year went on. But our special teams is an area that has to continue to get better.

“So, overall, I think we found a core group of players which I think is a very important part of this first year.

“Although disappointed in the win-loss number, I feel like significant progress was made and which we’ll take into the off-season.”

Q: Is Charlie Weis coming here as your offensive coordinator?

HALEY: “Again, coaching evaluation has just started. Because I was the offensive coordinator, it’s a little easier for me to know the pulse.

“Charlie is a friend of mine, a guy who I have said before that we shared three years together in a small office that really could barely hold two full-sized desks. Charlie is a guy I have a great amount of respect for as a coach. He’s a coach that system-wise I feel we’re as close as we can be. It is the same system [that we run here now]. I’ve talked to Charlie throughout the year but no different than I’ve talked to Coach Parcells or some of the other guys that I lean on for advice.

“I cannot say I haven’t talked to Charlie because I do talk to Charlie but the evaluation process has just started. I would ultimately like someone to run the offense. It’s the most efficient way to run the team. “But what’s most important to me in making some of these decisions is that this team made good progress offensively and it showed down the stretch. What I want to make sure is that the fit is a good one. Speaking of Charlie, he would allow us to run the offense we’ve been running.”

Q: Have you gauged his interest in the job?

HALEY: “As I’ve said consistently: private conversations are private. It’s my decision on staff and it’s very important that the staff is right and that’s the biggest part other than the players themselves. I will do everything I can do to get the best bright football minds in a position to help us. Charlie is a bright football mind who I have first-hand experience with and he would be a guy that I would consider.”

Q: Will you give him freedom to call the plays?

HALEY: “Fit is the most important thing. I was hired very late in the game last year and felt that there was going to be over time a process to getting this right. Other than the players themselves you must have good coaches who can work together and can teach and make the players understand exactly what you expect of them. That’s how you have success.

“I’ve said in here that I think the most efficient way to go is to have coaches you can trust on each side of the ball. When you’re talking about an offensive coordinator, he needs to run the offense, gets all the coaches on the same page and gets all the players on the same page and ultimately is the best guy to call the plays.”

Q: What’s your timeline to hire one?

HALEY: “No timeline. I’m going to go about it methodically like we do everything else with great research.”

Q: When did you decide you didn’t want to be the offensive coordinator for this past year?

HALEY: “I came into last year with that belief. That was the ideal goal. I made some difficult decisions back on offense that probably it would have been easier for me to just stay status quo. But for the team and the overall development and foundation, I felt it was necessary to make those changes. I’m completely at peace and by evidence of what I’ve talked about we’ve made very good progress. If any changes are made or additions it will be taken into account that we have made progress and we’re not going to go backwards.”

Q: Are you thinking of making any other coaching changes?

HALEY: “We didn’t renew Coach Krumrie’s contract or Coach D’Alessandris. The offense has been a little easier just because I was the offensive coordinator. I’ve been able to put more thought into that one. But the evaluation has just really started and there are a lot of factors involved. The most important thing for me is fit and any changes that I make will include staff cohesiveness, the ability of the guys to work together and convey the messages you as a coach want to make. That is critical.”

Q: Have you had any conversations with Romeo Crennel about your defensive coordinator’s position?

HALEY: “No. Romeo is another guy who is a very good friend of mine that I spent three years with. He’s a guy I’ve always looked up to and no different than Charlie, a guy I talk to periodically looking for advice. No conversation in that order.”

Q: Could Clancy Pendergast be your defensive coordinator next year?

HALEY: “Again, I would say defensively there was progress made in significant areas in the final eight [games]. I would not rule out anything. What I want to do is take the necessary time to evaluate each and every coach, myself included and then make good sound decisions.”

Q: As you evaluated the team what do you think is this team’s most glaring need?

HALEY: “We have a lot of needs. I don’t know that I can point out one that’s more glaring than others. One of the less glaring is quarterback. I think our quarterback made tremendous progress over the year especially over the final eight games. I think he’s shown a toughness and, moreover, a mental toughness to overcome some of the tough times that were thrown at him. I’m pretty excited about the direction he’s going.

“As far as glaring needs, we need players that can help us win. Our general philosophy is to get good players on the roster and no different than my philosophy to get good coaches on my staff. We’ll get as many good players as we can into this mix that fit what we’re trying to get done. I work very closely with Scott on a day-to-day basis so we’re on the same page.”

On the team’s core players:

“I preface this with there are a bunch of players that I feel pretty good about.  I’ll single a few out but that doesn’t mean the guys I don’t talk about are not part of that core.  The core we’re talking about isn’t always starters.  On good teams it’s very important that guys understand their roles and have a role they fit.  The key to having a winning team is having good competition with guys that are here and guys that are coming in.

“I’ll name some of the obvious ones.  Jamaal Charles, when you see the development that he’s made over the course of the year.  I think he’s someone it’s hard not to get excited about and understand he’s going to be one of our core guys.

“I think a guy like Tamba Hali, who was put in a different position to transition, but who after being around him for a year is going to be a core guy for us in some capacity.

“Glenn Dorsey is another guy that has made tremendous strides.  I think that was evidenced by the fact that when he was missing for most of that Buffalo game and the Cleveland game that coincidentally they were games that we struggled versus the run.  Glenn is a guy who made great progress after coming in to the off-season not looking like we wanted him to look.  All these guys I’m talking about have critical off-seasons coming up and Glenn is one of those.

“Brandon Flowers was a guy who showed a tremendous amount of fortitude in that he was playing when a lot of guys wouldn’t have played and yet he played at a pretty high level.  This is a very critical off-season for him.  When you get into that year three that’s really the one where guys either continue to climb and become great players or, if they stay the same, generally start to decline.

“Offensive line across the board.  Those guys came a long way.  We’re going to have some older players and some younger players that are going to be part of that core.  That’s not to say if we get a chance to add somebody we feel brings in great competition or forces one of those guys out that we won’t.

“Receiver Dwayne Bowe is a guy who has a critical off-season to continue to make strides in a positive direction.

“One thing that I made clear to this entire team is we can’t in the off-season go backwards.  We must come into this off-season program at least where we ended this year physically and mentally and build on it from there.  Dwayne’s a guy for which this is critical.  He comes into this off-season in the condition or close to the condition he’s in, hopefully better, and then builds from there.

“We’ve had some young developing guy like Quinten Lawrence.  He’s a small school guy who’s developed and in these last two games made an impact for us.  Where he wasn’t ready to make an impact early on, he’s continued to make strides and this offseason will be critical for him.

“Brodie Croyle you can’t overlook.  I perceive him playing a critical role for us as we go forward.  That’s a critical spot and he developed as the year went on and gained confidence in what we were doing.  That role is pretty critical that there is a cohesiveness in that [quarterback meeting] room and it’s not always the case. Everybody wants to play and everybody can’t play.”

Of the guys you mentioned, Quinten Lawrence is the only [2009] draft pick.

“Again, I don’t have a list in front of me.  I had a long talk with Tyson Jackson that I won’t go into the specifics of, but this is a critical, critical off-season for him.  Those guys playing on the defensive line go from playing against boys most of the time to playing against men all of the time – every week.  That’s why it’s such a difficult transition.  He now has a year’s experience under his belt to help him understand how much harder he has to work to put him in a position to succeed.  He’s got his mindset in the right place, he’s got a plan, he’s got his off-season mapped out and I’m looking for him to make big strides.

“Everybody across the defensive line – all those guys now have gotten significant amounts of play time.  To me, what it tells those guys more than any other position is any time you spend out on the field in a real game it lets you know how hard you have to work.  They don’t know coming into it.  They really don’t. T hey think they know but they don’t know until you exactly experience what a double-team in the NFL is like.”

On Derrick Johnson:

“Derrick is another guy who has a chance to help us as we go forward.  It’s easy to point out those two plays he made in the [Denver] game.  There are only 25 who ever did that [return two interceptions in a game for a touchdown].  But Derrick has really made strides.  He handled a difficult year very well and I think a lot of positives will come out of it for him. I  spent some time with Derrick and I think he has made big strides in a lot of different areas and I hope that those pay off for him and for us.”

How much is the improvement on offense just the play of Jamaal Charles?

“I think when you talk about offensive football you have to have 11 guys working together to make anything go.  Now, Jamaal obviously made a huge impact for us.  But I think there is tangible evidence and evidence I saw on a day-in-and-day-out basis of the guys understanding what we wanted done, how we wanted it done and then doing it.  Any time you have a guy running like Jamaal was running it gives everybody a boost.  That’s why teams that can run the football generally have a chance to win.

“Jamaal seized his opportunity and has given us an excellent body of work to evaluate him and I think he has a chance to be a pretty good back.  But we need all 11 guys thinking and doing the right thing most of the time to make the majority of those plays go.  Now, turning the 10-yard runs to 50-yard runs, a lot of that is Jamaal.”

How will you use the difficult times you went through this year?

“The same way I’ve always used them but in a different capacity.  I don’t want to fail.  I don’t intend to fail.  People are driven by different things; I’m driven by that, whether you call it fear or whatever.  I don’t want to fail.  I want to succeed.  Ultimately, I’m going to be the one who is most responsible for determining that.  That’s what has always driven me.  I want this team to be a great team.  I don’t like that feeling of coming home on a plane or going home to the house after a loss.  There were too many this year.  We were 2-6 in games decided by seven points or less.  If we just catch the football we don’t have those six losses, they turn into wins more than likely.  But I still wouldn’t be happy sitting here at 8-8 and out of the playoffs.

“That’s the bottom line.  That’s what drives me and continues to drive me is the fear of failure.  I don’t want to fail.  I’ll be judged by my record and right now, it’s 4-12.”

With this first year completed, has it confirmed to you or not that your foundation is the right one?

“Great question. I think they re-affirmed 100%.  I don’t think there is any secret formula.  You have to do things in my mind a certain way in all areas to be successful.  I saw that crystal clear this year even more.  We are going to continue on.”

What will you do different next season?

“It’ll be a different year, but I will still follow the base philosophy that helps you win.  The number one thing is having coaches that can teach it and coach it.  Then it’s finding players that can fit and play within your philosophy.  Paramount to success is finding those guys.  The mindset has been established over years about how it has to be done.  You may adjust to certain player’s talents, but you have to have players doing it the way you want it done.”

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