Bill Cowher Press Conference Transcript

<b>BILL COWHER</b><br> First of all, we had a little bit of a development this morning. Mathias Nkwenti has been complaining about his back so we got it checked. He's got a disc fragment that's pressing on a nerve in his low back. So he is going to have a second opinion. It will need surgery and at this point he's out a minimum of six weeks, so given that news being received this morning, we're in the process of looking at all the options that we have at this point.

The other players in regards to the game, Jay Riemersma is doubtful with an MCL sprain that he suffered yesterday in practice. Also doubtful is Marvel Smith, who still has that pinched nerve in his neck and still has not subsided. He's gotten his strength back. It's gotten better, but not to the point where he was able to even practice yesterday. We're not putting him out there until he's recovered enough to be able to hit people. Both those players are doubtful, and that's very doubtful. We have two players who are probable and that's Clint Kriewaldt (hamstring) and Mike Logan (groin). So that's our situation. And, you know, uh, talked with both Amos (Zereoue) and Jerome (Bettis). Jerome will start, um, Sunday and Amos will again play three-wide packages and on third down along with Verron Haynes, so that, outside of the changes on the offensive line, which would also put (Alan) Faneca at left tackle, Keydrick Vincent at left guard, and with that lineup we're ready to go.

Q: Are you looking for a tackle?

A: Yeah, we're looking at all the options right now. Again, this was brought on to me about an hour ago. We're kind of in the process of exploring all the options we have.

Q: Who's the right tackle?

A: Todd Fordham. Oliver (Ross) will back up both tackles and Chukky (Okobi) will back up the three interior guys. And those are all our healthy bodies.

Q: So (Kendall) Simmons will start at right guard and (Jeff) Hartings at center?

A: That's correct -- today.

Q: If Riemersma can't go, who's the tight end?

A: (Jerame) Tuman.

Q: What led you to switch the running backs?

A: I don't know if there was any one thing. Like I told Amos, it wasn't really anything he didn't do. I think that just right now, where we are and a little bit of the flux with the offensive line and the status of our running game that I think the way Jerome's run and it's just more conducive to the power running style that he has right now.

Q: Is Simmons on any kind of short leash?

A: No. If you're healthy these days you play.

Q: Is he healthy?

A: Uh, yeah.

Q: What can Bettis bring to the team?

A: Well this isn't about Je--. I don't know if there's anything one player. This isn't about one guy being put in just to give us a spark. I mean, I don't think - Jerome's played. I mean, he's played in all the games. I mean, so has Amos played in all the games. So this isn't about one player, this is again um about just making a lineup change and right now we've just got to play better as a football team. This is more about team than anything any one player needs to do. I think we all need to pick up our game, players and coaches, and recognize the situation we're in and it's a 10-game season. I mean, it's a 10-game season and we're one game out of first place and that's the scenario, and we have, the further along the season goes the less margin of error you have. And so you know it's not so much about you know the standings or who we're playing, and as I told the team, this is more about us, us getting back to playing the type of football that we are capable of playing, not beating ourselves, being a disciplined football team, being a tough football team and giving ourselves a situation to win football games. We were able to put ourselves in that situation against Denver. We weren't able to finish it. We had opportunities to do that, and I think if you go out with that same approach each week and give yourself those opportunities, I think that's all you can ask. And the players have worked very hard. I liked the demeanor they were in when they came back here yesterday.

Q: Does going to Jerome maybe signal a new approach by the offense?

A: No. I don't think it signals anything. I stated that from the beginning. As I stated about a minute ago, this is not about any one player, um, you know, trying to pick up the team or about sending any type of message at all. It's about us just putting in players that at this time that he's it. He's played in all the games, and so he's starting and Amos is going to go back to his role and that's where we are this week and that doesn't mean that it couldn't change you know next week. Like I said both those guys, you talk about positions, this is just like we've done with the offensive line. We're just looking for, you know, a combination and uh we will continue to do that.

Q: Would Marvel go to right tackle when he's healthy?

A: We'll deal with that when Marvel's healthy.

Q: Is there any fear that Marvel might not get healthy?

A: Oh it certainly is a possibility. I mean, I, you know, at this point, you know, um, I mean he's more frustrated than anybody. I mean, and uh, and he understands that. He tried to play through it. At this point he just can't protect himself. And you know as I told John (Norwig) and told Marvel, until I see him on the practice field able to go out there and play to a level you know he can play at, we're not going to subject him to going out there and being less than healthy and at the same time not subject our football team by putting a player out there who can't protect himself, so um and there's no need for anyone to dwell in self-pity. I mean this happens around the National Football League. Everyone's going through it. You know and that's why it's a whole season, and, uh, you know, so I mean it's very important that uh that we sit there and focus on you know who we're playing and and and the job that we have to do, not about you know um you know go through the old 'O woe is me' uh, uh scenario because um you know everybody's going through it around the National Football League. Everybody team has its own issues that they're dealing with right now.

Q: Bill, are there like any veteran guys that are out there?

A: How much do you weigh, Tunch? No, um, I'm not going to sit here and discuss every scenario with you guys. We could talk sit here and talk the whole 20 minutes about that and it really wouldn't serve any purpose. Just understand that we're looking at all the options that are possible. We've discussed them all and we're going to do what's in the best interest of this team obviously for the near future and also for the future. We're discussing that as a staff, as an organization, so I can't sit here and go over every scenario with you. Just trust that everything's been discussed.

Q: What does Keydrick bring to the table?

A: Well I mean Keydrick, he's a tough guy, a hard-nosed guy. He's played, like you said. He's got some experience and played very well the other day at Denver and you know I think the biggest thing right is that uh he's an experienced lineman. I mean he understands this offense. He understands what we're doing. You know Alan played well at left tackle certainly for a guy kind of thrown in there for the first week. After a couple days of practice he'll get better at it. It's a very unselfish group and we got as good a line coach as there is in the National Football League and we're testing him right now to get these guys ready to play. But um and it's a very unselfish group and they understand it and um you know I think as with this football team you know we're going to find a way to get it done regardless of who we put out there.

Q: Does the iffy status of Marshall Faulk affect your preparation?

A: Well, obviously I think if he's in there he gives them a dimension that uh you know that's unique because he's such a unique player. I mean he's uh a very special player. He's a guy that they're going to try to get the ball in his hands. Whether it's Arlen Harris or (Lamar) Gordon is the other back, they certainly are not in the caliber of Marshall Faulk. They're good backs. Don't get me wrong, but Marshall Faulk is in a class by himself. And I think that you know if he does play certainly we have to have an awareness of him in the game and what he is able to bring and um he certainly you know brings another weapon that's already a pretty good offense you know that we have to be aware of.

Q: How do you slow the Rams down?

A: Well, you've got to be able to mix it up. Marc Bulger's been very impressive. From the time he's come in his decision-making, his accuracy, I mean, he's got some mobility. I mean he he moves very well in the pocket and uh he'll move out of the pocket. He steps up and not afraid to run with the ball and so I mean um I think you've just got to be able to disrupt it and it's going to be a good challenge for us and uh whether it be with pressure or whether it be with coverage we've got to try to mix it up. He's a very smart quarterback and I think if you sit there and try to do the same thing against him all day he'll make a quick adjustment. He's played in the league long enough, he's got a veteran presence about him and they've responded very well to him. You can just see some of the timing routes that they have and it's a well-timed offensive machine so we've got to try to disrupt that timing again, whether it be through pressure or whether it be through disrupting their receivers.

Q: What do you like about their receivers?

A: Well I mean with (Isaac) Bruce and (Tory) Holt, I mean those are two Pro Bowl receivers and uh they run great routes, um, you know Isaac Bruce is probably one of the better route-runners in the National Football League and you know Tory Holt has just been a tough guy, makes all th- great hands, makes tough catches. And then they bring in a kid like Dane Looker and he's been a very good addition for them and you can see him getting more confidence with each game. It's a good group and it's a good system. They've been running it for awhile and they got some players. Like I said with Marc being in that system now for a couple years you can see the comfort level he has. A lot of time routes that he's throwing the ball before these guys even come out of breaks, so it's a timing passing system. It's quick at times. They do a good job with different shifts and motions that can create some problems for you, match-up standpoint, on the defensive side of the ball.

Q: Can you be physical and throw them off their routes?

A: Oh, we need to be, you know, we need to disrupt them. You know, we need to disrupt them. We need to get some pressure, again, you know, up into the pocket, and do it that way. At the same time, we need to be able to, you know, to, you know, disrupt the timing of some of the timed routes that they run. And um like I said they do a good job with a lot of the shifts and motions that they present you with to try to create a little bit of that space, but, you know, it'll be a big challenge for you.

Q: Is their offense more conservative without Faulk?

A: Yeah, I mean, I think, you know, certainly with Marshall it's just, there's a dimension that's there that uh you know that only he can bring, particularly when you spread people, you know, from sideline to sideline as their offense does and you get a guy like Marshall Faulk, and get him again in space, get him matched up on linebackers I mean he's a guy that's always exploited that. And so you know I think it is a lot of the same offense, you know, different wrinkles but you see the quick screens, you see the seam routes, you see the uh again a lot of the shifts and motions and yet they still run the ball with a good play-action off of it and I think the thing again that's a little bit different is the mobility factor that Marc brings as opposed to what Kurt (Warner) was and Kurt was obviously a very productive quarterback, and still his, has won a Super Bowl, so I mean uh again there's a lot of good offensive weapons. They got (Kyle) Turley and (Orlando) Pace now at the two tackles and they solidified their offensive line. And I think a lot of the issues they had last year, you know, they had (John) St. Claire out there playing last year and they went out and got Kyle Turley and Pace and both those guys are playing very well.

Q: What do you hang your hat on from the Denver game?

A: I'm not hanging my hat on anything. I mean we didn't take any moral victories out of that game. I mean certainly I think the fact we did not beat ourselves uh, um, and I think we were able to take the ball away. And um and again we put ourselves in position where we had opportunities to win the game, on the road, at a place where uh Denver has notoriously played very well and they were playing very well at the time and still are. But um you know I think again that you know um when we come and play with all three phases, and we're going to need all three phases to step up, that uh you know we feel like that we can play with people in this league. And uh you know all you can do is give yourself a chance to win games and expect to win close games and uh and we fell short uh, uh obviously against Denver but uh we gave ourselves a chance.

Q: Do you see anything different in the Rams on the road?

A: No, not really. I mean, you know, I think you, that they played in Seattle and you know, you know, a game that uh they had the lead throughout that game. That was a tough game for them to lose and uh they really played well. So I mean um you know I haven't followed them. They're not in our division. I just know in looking at them, from what I've seen on film, they're a good football team on both sides. They've got great speed on the defensive side of the ball too. You know moving Aeneas Williams back to safety. He's a very smart guy, a free safety. And uh you know they probably get (Adam) Archuleta back this week, so those two safeties are um, they're good players. And then you've got (Leonard) Little and (Grant) Wistrom on the ends and they're playing very well on defense. They've got great team speed and they're playing very sound.

Q: How much of their offense is called at the line of scrimmage and is that a factor in their road problems?

A: Well, I don't see a lot of it being check-with-me, I mean he will get out of certain plays at times as most teams will but I mean I think again you know certainly you know noise can always be a problem, particularly from a protection standpoint and you know getting off on the snap. Again, when you're dealing with a timed offense certainly any degree of disruption, whether it be through noise, whether it be through disrupting receivers, whether it be through pressure, is going to help. So there's no question that noise can be somewhat of a factor in trying to slow down their offense.

Q: Do you see a lot of similarities with Lovie Smith and what the Rams do compared to Tampa Bay and what they do?

A: Yeah, I mean, you know, there are some. You know, although Lovie's kind of taken his personnel, that's a little bit different than what Tampa has, and has catered it around his people. And you know but there are some. Again I think it's a team that's built on team speed, a lot like how Tampa was. It's a team that's not going to beat themselves. They will pressure you. They'll bring some blitz. But they're still a team that uh they're going to play a Cover 2 and they play it very well. And uh you know you've got to be very patient against it because they do, I think, have some playmakers in the secondary at safety that you've got to be careful about and they got a couple guys that can rush off the corner, so I mean again they present you with um a team that can put pressure on you, uh, in a lot of different ways, outside of rushing, just from the standpoint of testing your patience.

Q: Any reaction to coaching the 1,000th game?

A: Well, um, I don't know if it means anything for me personally. I mean, I just, um, been very blessed to be a party of a, a storybook franchise, really. I think you look at you know what this franchise meant for the National Football League with one owner and um who's been through all the change, where teams are moving from city to city and changing owners from year to year. This franchise, with Mr. (Dan) Rooney and his father, have just been, um, um, a rock of stability and I think really it's been the backbone of the National Football League. And I think that's what they should be recognized for, and certainly you know to be a part of that, a small part of that, I've been blessed and, you know, there's been a lot of great tradition that's been established here and uh a lot that we feel that we are trying to continue and uh put our own niche on it and uh you know we're still in the process of doing that. Certainly a thousand games in this city with this ownership says a lot about the National Football League and more so about the ownership of this football team.

Q: What are your thoughts on instant replay?

A: I think it's working very well. And um I have no problem with replay. I may not always agree with what they see when they go in that little booth, but um I think the system that's in place is one that um, like I said, regardless of what people may think about it, it's there to correct the obvious missed call. And uh if in the course of you know that process there are calls that people have different opinions about and they're close calls, that's going to happen whether you have it or don't have it. But to have a system in place that can correct a call that was obviously wrong because the officials were not able to see it with the correct angle, I think would be foolish to do away with. You know, again I go back to, you know, to our championship game. If that call was made a completed pass and we were denied an opportunity to go the Super Bowl because the right call wasn't made and we have a system that we've used, and to do away with it because of a few flaws I think would be an overreaction to what the system was put in for.

Q: Would you change anything?

A: Oh, I'd be doing a lot of tweaking, but with the system? I don't think so. I like the two challenge. I like the fact that the last two minutes is taken out of your hands. It's put into people that are working with it. Like I said, you're not always going to agree with what they see um when they look in that booth, but when they're seeing it, understanding that when you slow something down might not be the truest measure of whether it's right or wrong, but that's the system and you know what? What they see is their opinion. You have yours. You don't always agree with what they see but my gosh you know it's still a system that's there for the obvious mistake. And today's game, where one game can make a difference between going to the playoffs, where one game can make the difference between jobs and franchises and um I just think that we've come this far. It'd be foolish to go in the other direction.

Q: Coach, with this game being so big, is there any chance that the team could come out too amped up for the game in terms of emotion?

A: No. I don't think so. I mean, you know, certainly, again, you know, you know, I think you got to play the game with emotion, certainly go to play smart and recognize it's a 60-minute game but I've always encouraged our football team to play with a lot of emotion and you know hopefully we get off to a good start to get our crowd into it and feed off of that.

Q: A couple of coaches have used unusual motivational tactics to get their team going. The Jacksonville guy obviously paid price, but have you thought of any of that?

A: You got any suggestions? No. I'm not looking for that. I think our football team recognizes what they have to do. I don't think there's anything I can do along those lines that would take us to another level.

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