Q&A: Troy Polamalu

Here's the complete transcript from Wednesday's mob interview with the Steelers' engrossing strong safety:

Troy Polamalu, SS, Pittsburgh Steelers

Q: You made some strong comments about the Incognito ordeal yesterday, didn't you?

TP: Um, I didn't think they were very strong. I just commented about the environment in our locker room and in the facility of this organization, and I realize that different teams' organizations have different personalities and different systems on how they run their team. But we've always had a family atmosphere here with the Rooneys and the foundation that they've laid for this organization.

Q: Ever witness anything like that? And if you did, what was your response?

TP: Well, I've never witnessed anything like that. I don't know either of those players. I never met Incognito before. I don't know. I would like to say I'd do the right thing if I were to witness it, but I've never been in that situation, thank God.

Q: If they would've said 'cut your hair' as a rookie, how would you have responded?

TP: When I came here I was scared that would happen. I mean, I would've done it, but thank God I wasn't drafted anywhere else but here.

Q: Did you get a look at the video from New England? And is what happened any more clear?

TP: No. I knew where the mistakes were. Thank God they're all correctable and we'll see if we can get back on track this week.

Q: Were you reading his eyes a little bit?

TP: There were a lot of mistakes. That's one of many, for sure.

Q: But wasn't that Dick LeBeau's fault?

TP: Huh?

Q: Wasn't your mistake Dick LeBeau's fault?

TP: It depends on who you're asking, I guess. Not in my opinion.

Q: Does it affect you guys when you hear people questioning his ability to reach you guys when you have a bad day?

TP: (Points to previous questioner) This is the first and (points to current questioner) this is the second comment that I'm even aware of it. I'm probably the last person who would be aware of anything that happens outside this locker room.

Q: Is it more execution than coaching?

TP: For sure. It's definitely execution.

Q: It looked like Tom Brady had you with his eyes. The announcers commented as such. Is Brady that good, that smart? Do you find him to be the most difficult to read?

TP: Any of the top-flight quarterbacks you name, from Tom to Peyton to Aaron Rodgers, they're all going to be tough. Everybody in the league has tough times against them.

Q: How important is it that you're one of the necessary players on the field for the defense to work?

TP: I wouldn't say me and myself but the safeties have a huge role within this defense. We're the last line of defense. If it comes down to anybody scoring, there's a breakdown somewhere in the secondary.

Q: Can you still salvage the second half of the season? What's left to play for?

TP: How I feel now is irrelevant. What matters is whether we turn it around or not and we can't really tell until the end of the season.

Q: How do you feel about your season? Was Sunday an aberration?

TP: It's not time to look in hindsight. We're only halfway through the season. God willing, I'll have a lot of time whenever I'm done playing to look back on how every season went, but now's not the time.

Q: You mentioned a family atmosphere around here. Has that atmosphere changed at all as you guys have gone through this losing stretch?

TP: No. I don't think so. Maybe we haven't started 2-6 but we've had seasons when we've been down and nothing within the locker room has ever changed. We always know how to have fun and rely on one another, whether it's adversity within football, whether it's family adversity, adversity somewhere else that's not in this building. So we've all learned to lean on one another.

Q: You started 2-6 in 2006. Do you remember anything from that at all?

TP: Well, I forgot that we were 2-6 that year (laughs). Next year I'll probably forget this year, too.

Q: So there will be a next year?

TP: God willing.

Q: How are Jarvis Jones and Vince Williams handling the defense?

TP: I joke with them all the time that my rookie year I should've been the league MVP, not giving up a touchdown every game. (Laughs) So they're doing a lot better than I did. You know it's tough. This defense is tough to learn, especially when you're an instinctual player. There's a whole lot that has to take place and things happen fast, especially when you're in the box. So I think they're doing fine.

[Enter the reporter who grilled Mike Tomlin the previous day about why he would still support Dick LeBeau. Imagine a phony, sorrowful look as he asks about all of these presumably other people who are questioning the abilities of "Coach."]

Q: Troy, Coach LeBeau is the kind of guy who brought James Harrison to tears in an interview. What makes him --

TP: He said he didn't cry.

Q: I know he didn't, but he choked up. What is it about Coach LeBeau that makes him so special?

TP: (Pauses. Sighs as if he's answered this 10,000 times in the past.) I don't know. You guys know him, with the little time you guys have, how special of a person he is. And you're not even talking about football credentials. Obviously the numbers and what he's done here since he's been back speak for themselves. Not to belittle his coaching but he's a far better person to us than anything.

Q: So when you guys give up that many points and that many yards, people start to question his ability to keep it at a high level. Do you take that personally and want to fight back on the field for him?

TP: Like I said before, I'm not aware what happens, or what people's opinions are outside of the room, and in truth they're not relevant to me anyway. I know where the breakdowns were, and they had nothing to do with schematics. He's in my opinion the best, still the best.

Q: Do you feel at all protective of his image?

TP: I doubt he even cares about image. It's all ego-based anyway.

Q: Ryan Clark said that Coach would be upset if he knew you guys were getting upset at what was said. He wouldn't want you to even worry about it, that that's the kind of guy that Coach is. Is that true?

TP: Yeah, he wouldn't want us to worry about any of that stuff.

[New reporter ends line of questioning with the character to ask questions with his own face:]

Q: Troy, you guys have always stopped the run and prevented big passes. Are you surprised that's happened so much this year?

TP: Yeah. I mean, we don't prepare to give up those things you know. It's kind of weird, we joked around in other days that it's amazing we've been on a defense that's only given up only one big offensive run and one big pass play. Now we've given up so many. You hate to look back like that. You try to think of what your mental preparation was going into each game and how we were prepared going into each game, what the difference is between now and then.

Q: You said it's not schematics. Is it something as simple as focus, technique?

TP: Yeah. All of that stuff. You can say going into a game that anybody's focused. Whether Kobe Bryant shoots 15 balls and he wasn't focused on the ones he missed, I think it would be unfair to say. Sometimes you just give up plays. It's not focus. I don't know. You can point your finger at whatever mistakes there are. All I know is they're correctable and we'll have an opportunity to correct them this weekend.

Q: Could not stopping the run lead to big pass plays?

TP: In some cases, yeah.

Q: Has the defense changed at all since you've been here? Or is it all the same stuff? Have there been any wrinkles in this ever-changing league?

TP: Yeah, we're running pretty much the same stuff. (pauses) Honestly, we're running pretty much the same stuff. As time evolves, as the league evolves, how they attack our defense and the flavor of the month of what offenses want to do, I think that all has been what's made Coach LeBeau so special. He's evolved as the game's evolved.

Q: Are you guys judged differently than other teams because of the history here? That each team on its own merit is not given the same respect because it doesn't measure up to past years?

TP: Our standard is always to be the best here. That's our own personal standard. Whatever the standard outside of our room is, if it's to be the best than we're right in line with each other, and they have all the right to believe so. We've got the talent. We've got the coaches. We just haven't been doing it. So if they're disappointed, we're disappointed also.

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