TODD HALEY: “It’s very good to be back here in Indianapolis. It’s very good to have a year under my belt – no longer a rookie, which is a good. I’m really excited about the progress that the Kansas City Chiefs made last year, especially late in the year. I think, just like I have a year under my belt and understand what the job entails fully, the players, at the same time, understand what we expect as a staff and as a team. I think a lot of progress was made in those areas and finishing strong and especially our last game of the year will be a good thing for everybody involved. I’m also really excited about the additions I’ve been able to make to the coaching staff, adding to what I already thought was a strong staff and some quality coaches that we already have in place (Assistant Head Coach) Mo (Maurice) Carthon and (linebackers coach) Gary Gibbs and others. Being able to add coach (Charlie) Weis and coach (Romeo) Crennel, obviously they’ve been talked about a bunch, but also, (defensive backs) coach Emmitt Thomas I think will be a really good addition for us. You can feel that things are going in the right direction and that’s what I think has us all really encouraged and excited. Any questions?”
Q: After RB Larry Johnson left and RB Jamaal Charles took over, what changed about your running game that made it so much more efficient?
HALEY: “I think number one, there was a lot of change going on with the team in general. We were involved in a process of kind of getting to know how we were going to do it and the players getting to know he we wanted it done. That takes time but once Jamaal got in there, he had himself ready to go because he had some opportunities early in training camp and in the preseason, and even when the season started and he wasn’t quite there yet. But when he got the big opportunity he was ready to go and took it and ran with it, pardon the pun. Each week, he raised the bar. That’s another thing that’s got everybody excited, when you see a guy do the things that he did and continue to raise the expectations, for instance, there was talk during the season with some of our local guys that was ‘how many touches a game can this guy get?’ We started out saying 15 to 19 and he ended up surpassing that and ended with his best game of the year in the last game. Again, I just think the guy prepared well and seized the opportunity when it came and everybody’s excited about the future with Jamaal running the football.”
Q: Are you guys looking at a way to get Charles some help so he’s not taking all the carries?
HALEY: “Yeah, one way or another we need to give him some help. He’s 200 pounds soaking wet and that’s something he’s working on and he knows this is a critical off-season, but I just think in this day and age, you have to give somebody some help or the time will be short.”
Q: How important is it for you guys to keep WR Chris Chambers since he is an unrestricted free agent?
HALEY: “I won’t get into any of that, but all of our free agents or just about all of them are guys that we’re talking to and would like have a part of the team. Chris is a guy that came in midway through the year and really did some good things for us. Again, there is a handful of those guys, or a majority of them I would say, that we’re talking to and would like to be part of the team.”
Q: What playbook is Offensive Coordinator Charlie Weis going to be working out of, his own or the one that you established this past year?
HALEY: “It’ll be our playbook. The great thing about where we’re at right now is the familiarity, Chris. As I’ve said a bunch of times, Charlie and I shared about a six-by-six foot office back in New York (Jets) and we learned under the same mentors and the same offensive philosophy. So, over the years, as you go different directions, that gets diluted and the system has things added, which is natural with any system, but what we’ve been working real hard at is getting back to the basis of the system even as we knew it back then and really trying to clean up and get back to the purist form of our system that we believe in. The continuity there is just tremendous. It’s refreshing. We sit in there and you’ve got a lot bright guys, I’m not putting myself in that group, but those guys that are bright, it’s fun and we’re having fun with it. That’s the best way to term it, our playbook and again for a bunch of coaches, that’s what they know. Though they may know other systems, that [system] is what they know and believe in most and that’s what’s kind of exciting.”
Q: Have you had a chance to assess the offensive tackles yet in this draft and do you see T Branden Albert’s future on the right side instead of the left?
HALEY: “Branden is a guy for us this year that I think wasn’t a lot different than Jamaal, and made progress throughout the year. This time of year last year, when we got ready to roll in the off-season, he wasn’t in the best of shape and then he put his nose to the grindstone and got himself into a position to compete. He had his ups and downs, there’s no doubt about it, but continued to show signs of progress. He’s a high-character guy that I think really cares about football, which is the type of guy that we’re looking for. I think the sky’s the limit for Branden and what he’s capable of for us.”
Q: At the wide receiver position, Dwayne Bowe had some issues this past season, but now after the season and in the off-season, has your enthusiasm about him sort of turned around?
HALEY: “I know at that position, the wide receiver position, we have to be better. If you could point, without placing blame, but if you could go through our season and look at situations in games that ended up hurting us, dropped balls were a major issue. It wasn’t only the receiver position, but that’s their job, to catch the ball, and that’s an area that we have to improve in. I’ve talked a bunch to Dwayne since the season ended and I think he’s got his expectations where they have to be, which is high, and he knows he needs to be better. I think as long as he’s thinking that way and understands what the big picture is, he’ll come into this off-season better than he was last off-season and then that’s the way you get ahead of the bar. Again, I think the important thing with Dwayne are that his expectations are high and he knows he has to be a better player to be what he wants to be and to help make this team a great team. I’m encouraged by Dwayne. I’m not tempered at all. I think his mind is in the right place.”
Q: At the running back position, it is becoming more of a hybrid-player position as coaches want to try and get the ball in open space. How do you see that happening in the league?
HALEY: “I think when you have unique ability guys that have some of those qualities; it’s an advantage to whoever has those players. As we went through the year with Jamaal, there were times that he was split outside and I know against the San Diego Chargers he caught a go route, or double-move on one of the top corners, I believe, in the league, and looked like a receiver doing it. So when you get guys with unique abilities like that who can do multiple things – we ran a couple Wildcat snaps with Jamaal but we really didn’t ever push it much farther than that. But he’s got a unique skill-set that anybody that’s in the offense gets excited about. When you see some of these guys who have really good production in multiple areas, they have a unique skill-set that you’d be excited to try and utilize.”
Q: Are you talking about how to address the nose tackle position, especially given that there are a couple that are highly-touted that are predicted to go in the first couple picks, just before the Chiefs pick at number five?
HALEY: “Well, we’ve got a couple of nose tackles on the roster so we need to have those guys continue to improve and again, we’ve got a core of guys on this team in general that I think we can go forward with and just add some talent around. When you win four games, you obviously needs in a lot of different areas. For us, to specify on particular need or another, we just need to add good football players that like to play, that have ability and think the way that we believe the guys have to think and we’ll continue to improve.”
Q: So there’s a lot of needs?
HALEY: “Again, with four wins, we’ve got a lot of needs and we’ll just try and get the best ones we can get.”
Q: Do you think this has the potential to be one of the top draft classes in recent years?
HALEY: “To me that’s all hypothetical. No matter what I say we won’t know until a couple years down the road. There are a lot of guys here that look hungry and a lot of them are working out and rising up to the competition, so that’s good. It’s always an exciting time of the year.”
Q: Address QB Matt Cassel’s play throughout the year?
HALEY: “I think Matt, throughout the year, had ups and downs like all of us. The thing about Matt is that he did continue to improve. He continued to go in this direction (up), which is good. He’s an extremely tough guy, mentally tough, because it was not an easy year to be the quarterback of the Kansas City Chiefs and he withstood that onslaught. He didn’t show any signs of cracking, he’s working his butt off right now, he’s into football. I think he’s got the ability to continue to get better and I just know he’s really excited, and I know that when you get a tough-minded guy like that, just being around long enough, you know that those guys generally will find a way to succeed and I think that’s what Matt’s going to do.”
Q: How about Matt’s play late in the year, particularly the Cleveland game?
HALEY: “The Cleveland game in particular? I don’t know. He did a lot of good things throughout the year and I talked about the drops and when you have that many drops – we led the league in drops, it has an effect on everybody, but it directly has an effect on the quarterback. As Matt’s head coach, I’m excited about the direction he’s going and I know he’s excited. We just need to continue to improve the players that we have, coach them better and add some to the mix and I think we’ll start to see the improvement that we want to see.”
Q: In general, would you rather have a higher first round pick or be able to trade down for an extra one later?
HALEY: “We just want good football players, however we can get them. The more players the better. So, I’ll take them however they come.”
Q: You’ve got Matt, and you have an experienced backup quarterback in Brodie Croyle, but is there always an outside chance that you’ll look at a quarterback in the first round?
HALEY: “Again, I think any position would be open to address in some form or another. Now, it may be to get a guy to develop to step into the role at some point. Across the board, we have needs and that’s only natural. We just have to do a good job of finding as many good football players as we can get, however we can get them. Then we can work them into our system, our way of doing things, that’s the way it works, and just stay with the plan.”
Q: With your background in personnel from being around your father, how does that play into the selection process for you and your staff heading into the draft?
HALEY: “Coach (Bill) Parcells has always told me that to be an effective coach in the NFL, you have to know personnel. I don’t think there is any doubt about that. I’m very fortunate to have been raised by the man I was raised by who I think was pretty good at finding guys that could play football. I enjoy this time of year a bunch and I’m happy that this time of year (this season), we’re not really in full scramble mode probably trying to fill six or seven spots on the staff so I really didn’t get to enjoy or get into this process as much as I would have liked to (last year). I’m in a much more settled position where I can really put my head into finding players, which is fun for me.”
Q: Can you talk a bit about DE Glenn Dorsey?
HALEY: “Glenn’s another guy similar to Branden Albert that came into the off-season not in the shape that he wanted to be or we would expect him to be and it was an uphill battle early on for Glenn because again, he was fighting from the start. He continued to fight, he got himself into much better football condition and stepping into a situation that was new to him, I thought he handled it very well and we were clearly a better team when he was playing than when he wasn’t. He missed a couple games late that we missed him pretty dearly I would say. This is a big year and a big off-season for him as it is for a bunch of the guys. I think his mind is in the right place. He wants to be a top player and again, when the player is thinking that way and has their expectations where they need to be, you have a chance.”