Coordinator's Corner vs. Falcons


Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley**

Re: Plan for offensive tackle Mike Adams this week and how he could fit in if Marcus Gilbert can play:
He will be doing what he normally does. If Gilbert is able to go, Mike is the next guy up, so he will be ready to go at either tackle side. He is preparing as if he is the starter though, as he always does.

Re: Having three legitimate team MVP candidates on offense and your vote and if they are league candidates:
The one that gets us the win this week (smiles). I will go with that one. I am not really paying attention to any of that. These guys are performing at a high level though. But they need to continue to do that, because we have the biggest game of the year this week.

Re: Facing Kansas City, your former team:
This is a huge game for both teams. A lot is at stake for both of us. They have a very good defense, probably the best we've seen this year. We need to have everybody on point and doing their job, and executing at a high level against a defense like this that can do a lot of different things to hurt you. They have two of the best pass rushers in the game in Tamba Hali and Justin Houston. They have a very good secondary. They have some big run-stopping dudes inside in Dontari Poe and Allen Bailey, and some of those guys who do a good job. We have our work cut out for us. We probably have to play our best game.

Re: They have held really good quarterbacks in check all season and what they've done well:
They bring a consistent pass rush. They got the ball out on I think all of those quarterbacks in sack-fumble situations. Even when they have given up yards they are really good in the red zone. They really tighten up and have done a great job of keeping teams out of the endzone. When we get opportunities we have to execute at a high level and get the ball in the endzone because it's going to take touchdowns to win.

Does it help that you coached a lot of their defensive guys?
Maybe in year one. But defensively there aren't a lot of guys left. Eric Berry is out of the lineup. We send our 'Haley' prayers out to him from the first time we heard about it. Hali is still there. Houston is still there. Bailey is still there. Derrick Johnson is on injured-reserve. Those are the guys. There aren't as many there now as there had been in year one. So it's not much of an advantage, maybe it will give you more nightmares.

Re: Le'Veon Bell and Jamaal Charles being different but similar:
They are different types of runners with different skill sets but I would agree they are a triple threat, really. Jamaal does a good job in blitz pickup also. They can run for a lot of yards. They can catch the ball out of the backfield for a lot of yards. They do a great job when it comes time to protect the quarterback. They are very similar in that way.

Are guys like Heath Miller almost a dying breed in today's game, guys that can catch and block?
You don't see much of it at all coming out of college. You take maybe your best accurate guess on which guys can actually be able to do both. In college you just see them flex down and play receiver, really. As I have said, Heath is a great football player that is great for this team. The guys really count on him. He comes through when called upon.

Re: Heath's run blocking being at an extremely high level:
Yeah. Like you said, it's hard to find guys that can do both. You have some big tackle-types that slim down to be blockers and some receivers that beef up to be tight ends/receivers or h-backs. But Heath does a great job in both areas, (particularly) when it comes to running. Not only that, he is so smart and understands. He allows us to do so much schematically. You would be worried with some other guys. But we have Heath, and we know he will understand and he will know what he has to get done. It's a huge benefit to have a guy like that who does it at a high level. And he's a big reason why we've been able to run the ball very well this year.


DC Dick LeBeau Post-Practice Interview – Thursday, December 11, 2014**

What are the two most important components when building a 3-4 defense? Is it the nose tackle and outside players?
I don't think you can name a position. A defense it doesn't matter if you're playing 3-4 or 4-3 or any configuration. You have to get 11 guys out there that can play and know what they're doing and can coordinate what they're doing (and) what the people around them (are doing). You can talk forever about this position or that position. You just have to have 11 good players.

Do you have to get pressure as well?
I think that's true with whatever defense you're playing.

What problems does Jamaal Charles present?
He's a great back. He's dangerous and they don't have to block everybody and they don't have to block anybody for a while. If they can just hold them for a little bit, he gets a little crease (and) he can do the rest. Always have had a lot of respect for him. They're way up there in rushing in the league. He's got a bunch of touchdowns but that's pretty much a routine regular year for him. He's a great back.

Re: Alex Smith being sacked a lot and having a lot of rushing yards and what he's seen:
Well they've had some different combinations in their line a little bit and they've been playing from behind in some games. That usually helps your sack total a little bit. He's always been a tremendous athlete (and) great scrambler. (He) created a lot first downs (and) created a lot of plays on the move over the years. He's a very veteran guy. He gets a lot of extra first downs with his athletic ability.

Is it harder to get after the quarterback these days and sack them?
I don't pay much attention to that. Sacks may be the most important thing. You have to get pressure. You have to get him off his throwing point. You have to get him moving. You have to break up the rhythm of the passing game. If you can do that consistently the sacks will be there pretty good for you. The best pass defense I've ever seen is the quarterback laying on his back. That's always very, very important.

With offenses having three-step drop backs and quick throws does it make it harder to get after the quarterback?
Well I think they do. Going back to when I played, they've modified the pass protection rules considerably and that helps the offense a little bit. I think it is more difficult certainly for the guys now than the guys when I played.

Does James Harrison looked re-energized after sitting out the last couple of weeks?
He has plenty of energy. He just had an injury that was keeping him from going. He was never tired. James is in great shape. He probably needed a little football early on when he came back but he had that quite early. Those two games back-to-back where he had the multiple sacks, I think that's where he got into football shape. He's been ready to go ever since then.

Do you expect Harrison to pick back up when he returns?
Oh yeah. He's ready to go. The doctors and the trainers let him go and they're letting him practice so I'm sure he's 100 percent.

Re: Ryan Shazier not playing much in the base defense and will he be eased into that role:
He played some snaps. I don't have the snap total right in front of me. But I know he played a lot of special teams (and) did a great job on special teams. We'd like for him to get a few more snaps in for it.

Do you like your depth at the linebacker position and is there anything that you can do to get James Harrison, Arthur Moats and Jarvis Jones all snaps on the field?
They'll all play and I think they all are going to be back. They're practicing well, all of those guys. You can never have too many good players and those backers that you're naming there are all pretty good players.

Is there anything that you can do scheme-wise to get them all on the field?
This is Week 16. I think it's kind of late to be throwing in too many schemes. But we have plenty of defense that enables those guys to get some snaps.

Would you rather have too many guys to use than not enough?
Yeah. Early part of the year there we were looking around to see if we had four to play.

Re: Shazier making a couple good plays when he was on the field:
Yeah and I think if you look at a special teams reel you'll see that he was very active and very effective. I think he's about 100 percent now and that's good to see. He's a tremendous athlete, can really run and we really like him.

What has William Gay done this season as far as returning three interceptions for touchdowns?
Part of Will's skill set has always been really good ball skills. He's always been an interceptor, a steady interceptor. Interceptions again are like sacks. They come and they go. Sometimes some years more than others. He's got a couple in the open field and then made a couple good runs with them. Sometimes it just falls that way. But in order to have that happened you have to get the interception. Will has always been a really intelligent player and if he gets close to the ball he's going to get his share of interceptions. I think we're just seeing Will doing what Will Gay does.

Did Rod Woodson or Lem Barney get a feel for returning interceptions for touchdowns?
That's a tough two to compare anybody to. Those guys are both in the Hall of Fame and if they got the ball they were dangerous. Lem was a great kick returner (and) Rod was a great kick returner all the way through their careers. In college they were great open field runners. I don't think you teach that. But I think Will has had a tremendously productive year. Last year, he scored against Cleveland up there. This isn't the first time he scored a touchdown with an interception. He's gotten the ball consistent for us.

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