Tomlin transcript

Mike Tomlin told the media he's pleased with the health of the 10-3 Steelers as they prepare to host the 9-4 New York Jets.

Mike Tomlin, coach, Pittsburgh Steelers

Good afternoon. Satisfying win for us. Any time you have an opportunity to get a division win at this time of the year they're all significant. Not easy to come by. Didn't expect it to be. Familiarity as always creates that type of an atmosphere. But we did what was necessary, really, in all three phases to get the job done, highlighted by the great efforts of our defense and some great individual plays. Some very good collective play really kind of spearheaded the charge for us and provided a wave all of us were able to follow. We're pleased with that.

We like where we are from an injury standpoint. We're not in too bad of shape:

* Flozell Adams continues to deal with his ankle sprain. He might be limited in the early portions of the week. Of course, he was able to play in the game, probably not to the level which he would like but he should be better this week if we continue with that approach.

* Bryant McFadden continues to deal with a hamstring. Again, he's able to play, a little less than 100 percent as could be said for just about everybody that plays football in the NFL at this time of the year. We may preserve him a little bit in the early portions of the week.

* Troy Polamalu is still dealing with his situation. We plan to continue to follow the same protocol that we have the last several weeks in terms of not letting him practice early in the week and giving him the necessary work as we push closer to game time.

* Aaron Smith is a week better. He started lifting and stuff. He's going to be in at some point [Tuesday]. We'll see where today takes us. We're still optimistic about him potentially joining us at some point. He's done a nice job with the rehabilitation. We like the progress. We're just going to continue to live day-by-day and take the medical information we get from the medical experts and let that be our guide.

* Some other minor bumps and bruises: Anthony Madison with a knee contusion should be fine; Keyaron Fox hyperextended his left elbow but didn't miss any action and he should be fine; Heath Miller worked out this morning, passed his post-concussion test, has absolutely no symptoms and he's a full-go for participation [Wednesday], which is a good thing.

This week we're faced with a stiff challenge, an AFC challenge, in the New York Jets, a 9-4 team that like us has a desire to remain in the elite. That's what December football is about. Got a big-time respect for those guys starting with Rex Ryan and his coaching staff. They have unique leadership. When you look at some of the names, guys that I know, like Tony Richardson, a veteran fullback and quality professional; LaDainian Tomlinson; Jason Taylor; Bart Scott. This team is stacked with quality leadership and that's probably why they're in the position they're in. They're also extremely talented. [Mark] Sanchez is their quarterback, a very talented young man. He's got a complete arsenal of weapons to throw to, starting with Santonio Holmes, former Pittsburgh Steeler who's provided play after play for them like he did for us. This is a guy who embraces those moments whatever those moments are, and he's always at his best in the midst of them. He's shown that time and time again when he was here and now he's doing similar things there. He's accompanied by Braylon Edwards, a guy that we're also very familiar with, a former Cleveland Brown, a very talented high-round draft pick at the other wide receiver position. The wide receiver group is rounded out by some quality guys who can play in [Jerricho] Cotchery, who's probably one of the tops in the AFC in third-down catches, and of course the multi-talented Brad Smith. Their tight end is a vertical threat, a very athletic guy, a guy we have to contend with. They drop a lot of passes to LaDainian and Shonn Green out of the backfield, be it screens or checkdowns. I think LaDainian might be leading them in catches. So, Sanchez spreads the ball to a bunch of quality people. Nobody really jumps off the page statistically, and I think that's because he has so many options, to be honest with you.

Defensively, boy they're going to bring pressure from just about every angle you could imagine. I think they're up to 32 sacks, but when you look at the distribution of it it's not heavy in any area. They're spread out. They get contributions from a lot of people. They're good up front. They've got Shaun Ellis up front and others. Their linebacker group is spectacular. This [Calvin] Pace guy, 97, is a top-notch player. He's been probably the most impressive thing that's jumped out on tape to me. I don't have a lot of exposure to him. I've just been really pleased watching him play. The inside linebacker tandem is as good as any in football. Bart Scott and David Harris, a Michigan man and friend of LaMarr Woodley, man they're 9 on 7 linebackers. They're going to turn your backs around. They don't turn it down. They're very combative. They're awesome players. Their cornerback tandem, [Darrelle] Revis and [Antonio] Cromartie, not a lot needs to be said about what they're capable of. They'll shut down your No. 1 and your No. 2 weapons. They do it repeatedly. So we've got a lot to be excited about. We've got a lot of work to do.

What's your opinion of Troy Polamalu's lateral?

We desire to educate our guys to situational football. It wasn't a good situational-football maneuver. … His reaction kind of sums up the situation, but it's also something to learn from. That's what you try to do this time of year when things come up such as that lateral, particularly when it doesn't prevent you from winning. I think it's a great teaching tool, just like the muffed punt by Antonio Brown. We're leading in the football game, a punt falls short, it's rolling in the ground; what we want is possession of the football. Too risky of a maneuver under the circumstances.

Revis said he's frustrated because teams aren't throwing his way. Is he that good to warrant that kind of respect? And how will that affect your offense?

I assume he's that good. I don't have a lot of video evidence because nobody's thrown the ball in his direction. He has a right to be frustrated. Hopefully he's frustrated on Sunday.

Does that affect your offense?

We're at such an early portion of our game-planning, I can't speak to what his presence will do at this juncture.

Have you pinpointed your red-zone problems?

We want to score touchdowns. In the recent past we haven't done as well as we'd like. There are a myriad of reasons, usually centered around execution and detail of. We're going to work toward getting better this week.

You've had 17 holding penalties in the last four games. Why so many?

We've been holding and we need to stop. We need to cut down on holding. No question holding occurs on every snap in the National Football League. I think anybody in the industry will acknowledge that. What we need to do is cut down on the actions that are triggering the flags, which is grabbing and restricting the jersey coming away from the body and so forth. We've got to do a more detailed job of playing technical.

Is there anything you can do about Ben Roethlisberger getting hit late without penalty?

No, I don't have a flag.

Did you complain to the league?

Like I say in here repeatedly, the things that go on between me and the league will remain between us. I think that's the prudent approach in terms of getting what we desire, which is clarity and/or change. I don't think talking to you guys about it helps me in that regard, so I won't do it.

How is Ben dealing with his injuries?

He's got a broken nose. He's got a foot. Ben'll be fine. Ben'll be there on Sunday.

Will he be limited at practice this week?

No.

Is William Gay more comfortable inside as a nickel than on the outside?

You'd probably have to ask him that. I know he's been providing some quality play for us, not only in coverage but in pressure. He's batted a number of balls down when pressuring the quarterback. Like a lot of guys, he's playing quality football for us right now. We're appreciative of it.

Does Sanchez remind you of anyone?

He's his own man. He's got great arm strength. He's got pretty good mobility. I guess you could say he's [Drew] Brees-like. He plays with great confidence. He's very aware. He's mature beyond his years. He's his own man. I think all of those guys that are top-talent, high-round draft picks really have characteristics that are individual to themselves.

Could you take us through Polamalu's first interception?

Troy had a tremendous break on the play. Whether he was baiting Carson [Palmer] is debatable. It was a route he was familiar with. T.O. was the intended receiver and he may have tripped or stumbled coming out of his break. I think that provided the necessary grass that Troy needed to come downhill on the ball and make the play. But no question Troy was in great position. He had a great break on the ball. I think a little click between maybe T.O. and who was defending him or an area where he was playing created an opportunity for us.

What's the difference between how Holmes is being used by the Jets compared to when he was here?

There's a definite difference, of course; two different offensive systems. I think his unique skill set lends itself to some similarities. Santonio's a great route-runner. He's very good after the catch. He has strong hands. Any time you have a guy with his talents, you're going to utilize him in similar ways.

What was it like for you to say goodbye to him?

It was very much part of this business. Those decisions come around every year and we're going to do what's best for our football team. That decision was one of them. We realized we were potentially weakening ourselves at the wide receiver position, but we were very optimistic of what Mike Wallace was capable of, and we also knew that what we got in exchange for him would probably strengthen us at another position. Of course, we eventually used that pick to get Bryant McFadden, a starting corner for us.

Were you a fan of Hard Knocks?

I don't watch it. I don't watch it at all.

Does that mean you wouldn't go for something like that?

I have no interest whatsoever in doing Hard Knocks. Hopefully Art Rooney feels the same way.

The Jets lost their tackle Damien Woody. What does that do for their offensive line?

It's a talented bunch. They've got a top-round draft pick in [D'Brickashaw] Ferguson at the left tackle. They've got a first-round center in [Nick] Mangold. You know, I tease Maurkice [Pouncey]. You know he wants to be the best center in the world. He could try by being the best center in the stadium on Sunday. They've got some quality players. Of course, Damien Woody, a veteran right tackle, is going to require an adjustment. They're not going to get any sympathy for us. We know about backup tackles playing.

They haven't scored a touchdown in two weeks. What have been their issues?

They've played some good defenses. They played some hot teams, some teams that have created issues for them. They've turned the ball over some; they're not a team that turns the ball over quite a bit. It's things you kind of go through during the course of a season and I'm sure they're excited about rectifying them here this weekend at our expense.

Have the injuries at tight end hurt you in the red zone?

I'm not going to blame anything. If we want to employ three tight ends and we've only got two of them suited, we can report [number] 79 as eligible and go about our business. We're not executing in that area to our liking because we're not executing in that area to our liking.


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