Q: How do you explain the turnaround from last season to this season?
Haslett: I don't have a clue. We're just playing better football. We're handling the football a lot better, we're getting some turnovers on defense, guys are playing hard. For the most part, we're doing a better job taking care of the ball.
Q: This season was precipitated by a pretty good housecleaning job on your part. To lose some of the players that you lost, one would think you guys would suffer some sort of slide, but it's just the opposite.
Haslett: Well, we just started by letting some guys go that would enable us to be a one character football team. We had to make some tough decisions on the salary cap, whether to pick some guys who were older or guys who have some injury backgrounds… we wanted to go a different route. We wanted bigger guys inside on defense. Being away from San Francisco and St. Louis twice a year, we thought we would get away from the smaller defensive lineman and pass rush type and we could go with bigger bodies. We did a lot of it based on where we were going, the different division that we were in, money, and the well being of the football team.
Q: Was it obvious that there were a handful of players who didn't want to be in New Orleans?
Haslett: I don't know if they didn't want to be here per se, but I just didn't think a couple of them were the type of football players that we really wanted from a character standpoint and the make up of our football team. We wanted to go in a different direction.
Q: When we last saw you, the Niners kind of had their way with you in that season-ending game in New Orleans. How much did that have to do with the players just needing to get out of there because the way you ended the season?
Haslett: It wasn't just that game. We played bad the last four games. We played Tampa and Tampa beat our brains in and we beat them this year. We played Washington and they beat us worse than the 49ers beat us the week before. Last year was last year and this year is this year. We stunk that game. We were awful on offense and we gave up too many big plays. We were banged up, but we were just bad that game.
Q: Did you have a group of players that quit on the team last year? Was that why the overhaul on the roster was made?
Haslett: I don't know. I thought we played hard for awhile and then we flopped around for awhile, but we factored in a lot of different things for the reasons why we made the changes.
Q: The re-alignment looks like it could potentially be good for you. What are your thoughts about not having to play Rams and the Niners twice and the schedule of how it sets up for you here?
Haslett: Well, first of all, I don't know if it is going help us out. We have Tampa in our division and Carolina is playing good football and Atlanta is playing pretty good. The team that you would have thought to be playing better, St. Louis, is not playing that well. We played St. Louis pretty well. I don't know if it is better for us or not to be honest.
Q: What were your feelings on Terrell Owens' post-touchdown routine of signing the football?
Haslett: Well, I think the media blows s--- out of proportion to be honest. You guys are making more of this than it is. I thought it was innovative and kind of funny. I see people talking about it, disputing. One guy says it is bad for the league, one guy says it is good for the league. I think it's all blown out. I thought the guy was pretty creative and innovative myself. I think the guy is a heck of a football player. I don't know if I was playing against him I would be too excited about it. The guy is a great football player, he really is. I don't know him personally, but he doesn't seem like a bad guy. He's got a lot of spunk. I heard him speak on the radio a couple of times and he sounds like he is very intelligent and articulate. I would love to have him on my football team, I know that.
Q: Would you feel the same way if he scored a touchdown in New Orleans and signed the ball and handed it to someone in the luxury suite of the cornerback that he had just beat?
Haslett: If I was playing against him, I probably wouldn't be that happy about it. You know what, guys throw balls in the stands all the time, they do the dances. He didn't do any dance or anything. All he did was take out a pen and sign it and put the ball in the stands. I would rather have him do that than do some of those wild dances players do in the end zone.
Q: When you see the 49ers with Hearst and Barlow, do they do anything differently with either or of those two guys in the line up?
Haslett: I know Kevan and I think they are both excellent. They got a great one-two combination. They are both powerful guys, who can break tackles. They are great cutback runners. They have great vision and good hands. Kevan is really an up-and-coming guy in the league. The guy that amazes me is Garrison. I am at awe just for what he did when he came back off his two year injury. I'm also happy for the guy when he came back because that is hard to do. When you miss a year, it is hard to come back. When you miss two, it is just unbelievable to me. I give the guy all the credit in the world.
Q: Do they pretty much do the same plays with both of those guys?
Haslett: They can do anything they want…those two. Both of them are great players. They have great running skills.