Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley
I think that Haden is a heck of a player. He’s the best cornerback we’ve seen this year, for sure. He’s just really a good football player. He has great feel, instincts and speed. He’s a complete package, and it has shown up against some of the big-time receivers that he has faced. Go as far back as last week, and you see a guy that rises up to the occasion to play against good receivers. Antonio has a great challenge ahead of him, so he has to play his best game.
Are you inclined to go into no-huddle or start with it with the success of it last week?
Let me just tell everybody. [Laughs] I am not going to divulge anything like that. Sorry.
Re: You and
We’ve been on the same page. I’ve been saying every Thursday that I felt like we were on the cusp of playing pretty good offense. We hadn’t put a complete game together. I still don’t think we have. We’ve had a lot of moving parts up front, at running back and across the board. We had a couple of really good periods of no-huddle in practice for 3-4 weeks leading up to it. We tried to get to it in games. In situations or whatever, we got behind the chains a couple of times, so it didn’t even really show up that we were in no-huddle. We had a good feel, heading into that Detroit game, of what we were facing, some of the matchups. I felt like early in the week – I started saying we are going to start out this way. If we get things going, we can stay in it, and that’s really what happened. We had a couple hiccups, probably one or two many three-and-outs that we would have wanted. But those were more about us shooting ourselves in the foot than not. I thought Ben did a great job of preparing to be ready for a game that could go that direction. And it takes a lot of preparation to be ready. Throughout the game, I thought the communication and conversation between the coaches and him, and to other position groups, was tremendous, which it has to be when you are playing like that. I tip my hat off to everybody that was out there executing, because we were mentally real good, which sometimes creeps up on you in a game like that. Guys make some mental errors or you miss that it’s happening, and they start to add up. But I thought the whole group really came out and executed, and it started with Ben.
I think that’s what he’s trying to prove and what we are all trying to see. I don’t think it’s as much settling down, it’s just that he is getting better every week. That’s been his mentality wherever we have plugged him in. He’s going to work at it. You will see him visiting with Tunch Ilkin and Craig Wolfley on the side. He’s in Coach Jack Bicknell’s ear all week long. That’s what he is about, trying to be as good as he can be. I think you are seeing and improvement every week, and he’s had good competition every week. This week, and I keep saying it, but this is probably the best test to date as a group of what we are going to see.
Re: Pregame planning in place because of weather conditions:
When you are up here and playing up here, and I learned this a long time ago from Coach Bill Parcells, you better always have a four-minute/bad weather plan, because you never know what you are going to get. Going to Cleveland, you never know what you are going to get. Some of the no-huddle conversations revolve around some of that. Obviously the weather – we have a great mudder, so to speak, in Ben, that likes to play and executes well in bad weather, which you are really happy to have. At the same time, conditions could get to the point where you better have a plan that involves a lot of big people.
So the no-huddle would be harder to run in a very windy day?
It all depends on the conditions. Last week it was not a pretty day but both quarterbacks seemed to move the ball down the field pretty good at times. Regardless of what your plan is, you have to have a bad weather plan. There’s a little box on your sheet that you make sure you cover. If you have to get into that slug it out, and put 10 big guys in there and pound it up inside – you saw in the Chicago and Baltimore game last week. When the weather gets to a point, it’s going to be hard to execute with the ball in the air much.
Is this team as hard to run on as Detroit?
I thought Detroit was real good but I think this team is better. Statistically they are better. It starts inside with Phil Taylor and Ahtyba Rubin. They are up there. I thought last week Detroit had the two best interior guys. These guys I think top them. Their front seven in general is probably the best front seven we’ve seen. They play the 3-4 defense. They give you a lot of looks. Week-in and week-out, they’ve done a real good job stopping the run. We have our work cut out for us. As we move into late November and December, I think you have to be able to run the football effectively when they know you are running it.
In general, is it harder to run the football these days? Why?
I don’t know. We obviously are showing some splashes at times. We’ve had to work for every yard. Some of it is circumstance within games. Some of it is moving parts with injuries. I do feel like we are making progress. Last week, we had our plays to give ourselves the best chance to win, and it worked out that way for us. I think we are making progress even with some of the moving parts and different people we’ve had to plug in. I think our backs are getting closer and closer. What we need is a couple of breakout runs. We are earning every yard. When the long run is 13, it’s hard to get the total up very far. You need one of those to breakout and everybody is chasing them down the sideline. We are going to keep pounding it and keep working. We have to keep working our technique. I think it will happen. Hopefully it’s happening at the right time.
Did you have to come up with a plan in the offseason in case
We went into it as if he wasn’t going to be there.
That will be coach’s decision. I didn’t get to see him a whole bunch. He was in carded periods and things. He has been working hard. We will see where it goes.
Was it icing on the cake to get Miller back as quickly as you did?
I am glad we did. He obviously is huge to have back in a lot of different areas. I am glad we did. I am not going to worry about what didn’t happen.
Re: Le’Veon Bell’s production:
There’s been production, it just hasn’t been in the run game, but there have been some efficient runs when we needed them. Even starting the game last week, that was a big start. When you are running no-huddle, how you play on first down is very critical. I said there were some games where we’ve come out in no-huddle and nobody [besides the offense] really knew it, because we got behind the chains and ended up having to huddle on a third-and-long or something like that. He’s made a couple of real big plays in the passing game the last two weeks. We just expect him to keep growing and keep getting better. Like I said, I want to see one of those breakout runs here pretty quick.
You don’t call many quarterback sneaks at the goal line. Do you worry about injuries to Ben or do you think you have a better shot handing the ball off and scoring?
I think you always worry a little bit when you call a sneak. You have a lot of big bodies taking head shots and things like that. When Ben is in there, he’s competitive and he’s going to keep fighting. It’s not something that we don’t have, and we do work on it in practice. I would say we probably had some plays, although we didn’t execute the way we wanted. I am not disappointed in the plays that were run down in that area. We just can’t let chances end up on the ground or missed.
Is Miller at where you thought he would be at this point of the season, coming off an injury?
It was a significant injury. We were all worried when a veteran player that has played a chunk of years has an injury like that, because you don’t know always what is going to happen. Like I said, we didn’t have expectations in general, and we tried to stay out of that business, because he is so competitive. You don’t want a guy to come back to early or try to do too much and get ahead of schedule. Those things generally don’t turn out well. I am just happy he is here. He is a pro’s pro. There is just nobody like him, during the week or on the sideline. He is just a great person and presence to have around. He’s going to continue to get stronger as the weeks go on. Obviously, we are going to continue to need him.
Defensive Coordinator Dick LeBeau
Jason played really well. Obviously, he had a lot of splash plays, which everyone could see, but he had a lot of close in plays that maybe only the video showed. He played real well.
Cleveland has used three different quarterbacks. Do they pretty much do the same thing regardless of which one plays?
I think they want to call plays to the strengths of each one. They’ve got a good veteran quarterback there now. He’s started a lot of games in the NFL and they can pretty much run whatever they want to run.
You coach your guys to have short memories. Did last game kind of push that to the limit?
I’d say we went right to the edge of Niagara Falls, but we didn’t go over.
What do you attribute that resiliency to?
We’ve got good leadership on the team and both sides of the ball, offense and defense. All of us just stuck together, got out there and really had a good second half and beat a good football team.
You’ve got a guy who has been with us before and really practically started all of last year for us. It’s always good to have a good veteran experienced guy back there. It makes calling – it opens the book more, yes.
How many athletes have you had through the years that played better on one side of the field compared to the other? Anybody that jumps out?
Not really. I think we all get kind of acclimated to what our position is. If you move a guy, it will take him a little period of time to adjust. Some guys, particularly in the secondary, they have to play on both sides of the field anyhow. Usually players become accustomed to one side of the ball or the other, left or right. It’s not going to be easy for them to permanently change, but any guy that’s a backup, reserve or multi-positional person, he’s got to be able to play up and down the line on both sides. I think it depends on the individual. I think they all have the capability of playing anywhere. Sometimes it takes them a little bit of time to get used to looking at it from the other side of the field. I would give them that.
Has Worilds been noticeably better on the left side than the right side?
I think Jason played a lot of left in college, but I think Jason has been real productive on both sides. The big sack that he had that was almost a safety was on the right side. Jason has got good speed and a good burst and he can play on both sides. He had to play on both sides last year, and being our swing outside linebacker, he played almost the whole season, some left and some right. I think he’s pretty much at home on both sides of the ball.
Can the same thing be said about
No doubt. Any of those linemen in there. Again, Ziggy has played a whole lot at left, but all of those guys end up playing on both sides. Cam [Heyward] was swinging back and forth for [Brett] Keisel and Ziggy. So, Cam is probably more at home playing on either side. Without Brett in there last week, Ziggy played left and Cam played right, but all of those guys could play either side.