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Q&A with Head Coach Todd Haley

Mar 02, 2009, 3:55:58 PM


Q: How long did it take to work out a deal for Matt Cassel?

TODD HALEY: “I won’t get into the specifics of the deal, but Matt’s a young player in the league with a good year under his belt starting. He was able to win 11 games last year and I think he’s the type of guy we would like to have on the Kansas City Chiefs as we go forward.”

Q: He looks like he could be a quarterback for a long time in this league.

HALEY: “Again, with one year of experience he’s coming from a very good system and a place where they’ve done a good job of winning games in the NFL. I think anytime you can get a player who’s been around winning it’s a good thing. He’s a player that I’ve watched a bunch this year just because it just so happened that the Arizona Cardinals and New England had many common opponents. We did a lot of study of their offense playing the defenses that we had to play. I would say we also played a similar style of offense as the year went on, so they were a team we enjoyed watching to try and get a feel for how defenses would play us.”

Q: How important is it to secure the quarterback position?

HALEY: “I think, as I’ve said, we’re trying to accumulate as many good players as we can – guys that we think can play and can be competitive. We’re for getting them in here. I don’t know if you can say that the quarterback position is secure. We’ve got another guy to come in and compete for the starting quarterback position.”

Q: Is Cassel in the competition or the starter on day one?

HALEY: “I just got off the phone with Tyler (Thigpen) and I told him that I’m a very selfish coach. I think that’s evidenced by Arizona and what we did. We’re going to play the guys that give us the best chance to win. I would say that Matt Cassel is coming in here to compete for the starting quarterback position.”

Q: But he wasn’t told officially that he was the starter?

HALEY: “No. We hadn’t any conversation like that.”

Q: What does having a year of experience mean as opposed to drafting a guy?

HALEY: “I think it’s the known versus the unknown. You’ve seen a guy who’s performed in the NFL, started 15 ½ games. That’s a big item. Scott (Pioli) has great familiarity with him, a lot more than I do. But like I said, I did a lot of studying of the New England Patriots this year so I got to watch him and was impressed from where he started to where he finished. Here’s a relatively unknown guy who didn’t play a lot in college and hadn’t played a lot in the NFL, and to come in and play like that is an impressive story and someone who earned my respect.”

Q: You can’t get the experience of the NFL in the draft can you?

HALEY: “I think anytime you can get a player who’s been around winning – and New England has done a lot of winning over the last few years – those are good players to get on your roster whenever you can.”

Q: What are your thoughts on the way Tyler Thigpen played?

HALEY: “I think Tyler’s an intriguing guy. I think he’s very athletic. He’s got, without spending a lot of time with him and having only a brief phone conversation with him, a little moxie and you can tell he played with passion. I would say he’s an intriguing guy who presents some problems for the defense when you’ve got a guy that athletic.

“He threw 21 touchdown passes and it’s hard to throw 21 touchdown passes in the NFL. I’m glad we have him on the roster.”

Q: How were you able to pull off what seems like a lopsided deal?

HALEY: “Again, I won’t get into specifics of that. I’m glad we’ve got both players on the team. Mike Vrabel is a guy I have great respect for. We played them late in the year last year and he was a guy who plays physical, is a true pro in every sense of the word, and a guy who’s used to winning and knows how to prepare to win. Around a young team like we have I think that’s a valuable asset. I’m excited about both guys.”

Q: Brian Waters is apparently offended by both you and Scott Pioli. Any reaction to that?

HALEY: “Conversations that happen between me and my players will stay private. I’m in the business of trying to win football games and it’s very early in the game and we’ve got a long way to go. Right now, along with Scott I’m trying to find some football players to add to this roster. We’re still in the process of finding coaches and I don’t have a lot of time to worry about a lot of those things right now.”

Q: I can’t recall a deal like this where the contract isn’t worked out already. Does it worry you that it might be hard to sign the quarterback?

HALEY: “Time is on our side. There will be plenty of time to get something done. I stay out of that business. The important thing is we’ve got a player who wants to be here, wants to be a part of this turnaround and I think when you have that type of motivation things tend to work themselves out.”

Q: Vrabel is on the tail end of his career, but what does he bring to this team?

HALEY: “Again, he’s a professional who knows how to prepare to win in the league. He’s been very successful as a player, as a linebacker, as a rusher, and even some offense. The important thing to me is you get a guy who’s won a lot of games in the NFL and knows how to win. I’m counting on Mike to bring a bunch of these young guys with him and let them know what it takes.”

Q: Does he give you more flexibility to go to maybe a three-four defense?

HALEY: “It’s something he’s played a bunch in and has been a successful player in it.”

Q: Did you draw up any pass plays for him yet?

HALEY: “We talked about it and I think it’s an area where he’d still like to contribute. You know once you taste the end zone a few times you like it. The more you can do and he’s shown he’s been pretty versatile and been able to help New England win in different ways.”

Q: How close are you to settling your defensive staff?

HALEY: “We still may add one or more pieces here. We’re working on it. We’re getting closer. Offense is pretty well set and defensive we may add one or two more pieces.”