Q&A: Bruce Arians

Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians provides insight on Mike Wallace, Maurkice Pouncey, Doug Legursky, Ben Roethlisberger, and more, with Pittsburgh media.

Bruce Arians, offensive coordinator, Pittsburgh Steelers

Are you seeing anything on tape about Baltimore's run defense?

Yeah (laughs), they're really good. They're the best there is. No one has very good running days against them. Last couple weeks some teams have cracked them a little bit, but they're as good a running front that we see, the best front seven we see all year against the run.

Mike Wallace is averaging 27 yards a catch. Last year he led the league. Is he still that kind of guy without Santonio Holmes? Can he continue to get open deep?

I think it depends on the other guys. The other guys have to be able to attract some attention so he can get down there. But the thing that Michael has, with the speed, if you can hold the ball long enough he's going to get open sooner or later down there if you throw it far enough. Charlie (Batch) did a good job putting it up for him last week. Yeah, I think he can continue.

Last year, two of your three guys – when you used three – had speed. This year, one has speed. Does that hurt Mike at all?

(Antwaan Randle) El's fast enough, and the young guys, as they earn their keep, they're fast enough. But, no, what we're trying to do right now is run the football, get enough to make sure it's single high (safety). If they're going to double-cover Mike, we'll run the ball all day because that's some form of cover-2 and that's what you want. You want a guy that's double-covered so you can run the football.

Who gets the slant off the backside against cover-0?

Whoever's X (split end). We've got three different guys back there. And, yeah, that's always been Santonio (Holmes) in the past. Right now that's by formation and we've got three different guys back there.

Are you kind of hoping Antoni(o Brown)–

No. No, because I don't trust he'll see what's supposed to happen. He can become that, but he wasn't out there (at that position) in practice today.

Do you get caught up in the hype of this rivalry as much as everyone else seems to?

Yeah, because I've been in this thing for Pittsburgh and Cleveland. It's been 10 or 11 years for me. I can't stop now. It's fun. It's what football's all about, the archrival, from high school, pee wee. This one's special.

What's the difference in their defense without Ed Reed?

H-u-u-u-u-ge. Throwing the ball downfield, you always have to know Ed. He picks off things from sideline to sideline. Even if he's the backside safety, you always have to account for him with your eyes as a quarterback. These guys are good, but he's special.

Are they different formationally without him?

No, they're the same. It's just – I call him ‘The Raptor.' He's not back there. There's nobody that fast who can get where he gets. He's special. I hope he's back soon because the game misses guys like that.

With him, did they play a strong and a free safety?

He was interchangeable. He'd be in the box. You always had to know where he was. (Dawan) Landry is more of a box safety. If he is in centerfield, (Tom) Zbikowski is the strong. They're interchangeable. It's just that they don't have Ed Reed.

You've known what you had in Rashard Mendenhall, but do you think he's surprising everyone else in this division?

I don't know why. He showed it last year. He had 12 games, and 100 yards a bunch. All you have to do is watch tape and he shouldn't surprise you. If he's surprising you right now, you didn't watch him last year. He's just continuing on.

Are you surprised at Maurkice Pouncey's ability to get to the second level the way he does?

Yeah, I'm surprised anybody can. But just like with Ed Reed, God gave those guys something extra special. Not all the rest of them have it. There are guys that are good at it, but the speed and the quickness and the acumen of someone that size is very unique. He's a unique player and he brings a great attitude to the game.

How much did Rashard's touchdown run add to your confidence in him as a goal-line guy?

It's great. You don't want to substitute if you don't have to. We've got more capable-enough guys. (Mewelde Moore) Mo was really good at it we he was there, and we know what Isaac (Redman) can do. But you like the guy that ran it down there to get the touchdown. I always think of Barry Sanders, the greatest runner ever, he gets to the 3, they take him out. You got it down there, man, let him get it in. If he can't get it in, then put someone else in there, but give him the first shot.

He seems to have a nose for the goal line.

Yeah, he's got it good. He proved it last year. He made some really good runs last year, second-effort runs and tough runs. I thought his best run last week was his run from the 3-yard line.

Is that the first time he really buckled a guy? Ran right through him?

No. It's happened a couple times this year. Down on the goal line? I remember a fabulous run – I think it was against Green Bay – last year. He just hammered and hammered and hammered until he finally got in.

Are you surprised by what you're seeing from Doug Legursky?

No, not at all. He's a skilled tough guy. Stature? I think Casey Hampton said if he was 6-3 he'd be in the Pro Bowl. Everybody says he's little just because he's short, but he's 320, 315. That's stature. But he has great hand placement and knows how to play the game. He started all those games in college. He's just a good football player.

Is he one of those guys who gets a job and won't give it back?

I wouldn't be surprised if he's in it for a long time.

Can you talk about your excitement over getting Ben Roethlisberger back on Monday?

I'll hold on that one till Monday. There ain't nothing that's taking away from the Ravens. I haven't even thought about it, to tell you the truth, because of where we're at in the week. This is Thursday of Raven Week and, uh, when Monday comes, yeah, I'll probably smile.

Are you allowed to be a text-buddy with him, too?

No, I'm not allowed to do anything.

Do you know how to text?

Yeah (laughs), my granddaughter taught me.

(Talk about the interview here on the message board.)

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