Bill Cowher Press Conference Transcript

<b>BILL COWHER </b> In regards to the health of our team, basically we're pretty healthy. The two players who are doubtful are the same from last week: Jay Riemersma with his knee and Marvel Smith with his neck. We'll see how they are by the end of the week. Both are a little bit better. I'm not sure if they'll be able to play this week but we'll see how the week unfolds. And then probable is Chidi Iwuoma with a groin. Those are the only players listed.

We'll leave Friday to go out to Seattle and certainly recognize at this point that this game is a very important game for our football team.

Q: The players said times are desperate and can that be a good thing?

A: Well I think that we have to play with a degree of desperation. There's no question with that. There are a lot of words that could be used. Certainly when you talk with anybody after a game at this point, having lost four straight games, there's going to be frustration and disappointment. Those are feelings that I would expect to be there and I would hope that they don't ever lose those feelings. Again, you have to be careful about looking into too many things that are said after a game when you're going through the emotions that losing can bring out. So I don't look too much into what's being said, particularly when it's done within an hour after the game. But I certainly believe that desperate, that's not a bad word. We need to start playing that way.

Q: Plaxico also said he was open all the time. Was he?

A: Like I said, when people talk after a game, I understand the significance of the emotions that are poured into it. Matter of fact, I made this statement to the assistant coaches, 'you guys don't have to do this but I go in there and talk to you guys first before the players' and it's not always an easy thing to do. I've understood that as being part of the responsibilities of this job but I can also understand with players after the game there is frustration and there is a lot of disappointment and sometimes some of the questions that are asked to them are very difficult to answer. I understand that. The assistant coaches don't have to go through that. And also they're the ones out there dealing with the same questions that are asked every day. We have a day off and we're in here in our own little world coaching but they're out there dealing with the feelings of the public, which at this point is a lot of the same frustrations and disappointments that they feel. And there aren't a lot of answers right now. There aren't a lot of answers to questions. As I told them, right now we have to make our answers be done with our deeds. We've just got to go out there and play. We've put ourselves in some situations, we've missed opportunities along the way, but we are not doing things consistently to win football games. And until we do that, there's going to be questions that are out there, rightfully so, but there's no need to comment on them. There's no need to answer them because until we put those words into actions those questions are going to exist. Right now, the only answers there are is us going out there and performing and find a way to win this football game this week.

Q: So you don't become frustrated when players question the calls?

A: Again, I understand having played the game and being a part of the game. I know how I feel after a game, and sometimes I have to bite my tongue. So I totally understand after a game the emotions and frustrations. I think it's very important again that we all look in the mirror, and I try to echo that to each and every player, not just any one guy individually. And we don't have time to be worrying about people that are feeling sorry for themselves or dwelling in self-pity, and I don't feel that anybody on this team is doing that but certainly if there are actions on the field that are such that you feel that's the case, we've got to move on. We've got too many other things to worry about than people worrying about their own feelings right now. No one likes where we are but this is where we are. The only way to get out of it is to get out there and prepare harder, not to work less. And that's really the only remedy at this point that we can do is prepare ourselves and give ourselves a chance to win on Sunday and do the little things that will hopefully allow us to do that.

Q: Bill, will there be any lineup changes?

A: Not at this point, today.

Q: Do you have to fight that urge, when things aren't going well, to make changes?

A: No, I think you've got to look and see what your options are and do what you think's in the best interest of this team to give them a chance to win. Sometimes those changes may be necessary before a game, they may be necessary after a game, they may be necessary during a game. I try to be very objective about it and also be subjective to see what indeed your options are in regards to that. So that's where we are again today.

Q: You made some changes in your dime defense. How did that go?

A: We were moving people around. I think it was to keep everybody involved and trying to get Clark (Haggans) out there as well. The other day we gave up (11) pass plays for over 20 yards and it's hard to win games like that. There were too many big plays. We did a better job in the red zone. When you do that you walk off the field you don't feel as bad. I mean you kept yourself in the game. I thought we came out in the third quarter 17-14 down and on the third play we throw an interception and the defense holds them to a field goal. That was big. We came back on offense and respond with a touchdown and go up by one. You prove a lot of times that those points you're saving down there and the ability to put touchdowns on the board and not field goals, I tell you, that has a lot to do with momentum swings in football games. Still we still have to do a better job particularly offensively on third down. Certainly from a passing standpoint we had opportunities for some interceptions the other day, some jump balls that we weren't able to come down with. One went through Troy (Polamalu)'s hands. I couldn't have asked him to play it any differently. It was played perfectly, just catch it. Those are the plays right now that people are making against us. Those are plays good football teams make. Those are the plays you have to make to beat good football teams. We've got to find a way to make more plays at critical times.

Q: When you don't have success, coach, do you worry the players might not believe their coaches anymore?

A: I don't think so. We have the same system that we've had here. This is the third year with it. We've had a lot of the same coaches and to a large degree a lot of the same players who've won two divisions. You know the system can be successful, has been successful, but certainly what you have to do is make sure you're not tweaking it to the point -- the same thing with coaches or players, you're not trying to worry about trying to make the perfect call. You start to worry about things that instead of attacking an offense or attacking a defense, you've got to be careful you're not more concerned with what you aren't able to do on a side of the ball and I think you start to get into a very tentative mode from a play calling standpoint. If you're asking the players to play loose, to play aggressive, to take chances, be aware. The other day, a ball was going down the seam and Joey Porter's all over it and Brent (Alexander)'s sitting there and instead of going up to get the ball he's going to cradle it in. Why? Because he's thinking about the Denver game. He didn't want to drop this ball. He thought it was going to be overthrown. Go up and get it. Go up and get the ball. I mean, I couldn't believe he threw the ball. I was watching (Marc) Bulger and I said, 'My gosh, Brent's right there. It's going to be an interception.' Brent thought it was going to be overthrown. Instead of going up and getting it, he was real cautious. Those are the types of things you have to guard against. You can't be tentative in your thinking, because when you are you start being too cautious, you're a step behind. That's the difference between making a play and not making a play. Like I said, it's true with players, it's true with coaches. We just have to be careful we don't fall into that.

Q: In regard to your third down offense, are teams taking things away from you?

A: I don't know. A lot of the questions you have are the same questions that until we go out there and perform they're going to exist. We've been on the short side of that third-down ratio right now for three consecutive weeks. It's very hard to get in any type of rhythm for a quarterback, or for anybody. Tommy (Maddox) is a streaky quarterback but it's hard to get into any type of rhythm when you're not converting third downs and staying on the field.

Q: Have you noticed teams adapting to your systems?

A: I don't think so. Systems are always put in to have balance. Systems are put in to counter what teams are doing against you. It's not like a system that was successful a year ago, that teams didn't see us for four or five games, study us for six or seven games and come in and they're going to take one element away and hopefully what you do is have another element you feel just as comfortable with. Any successful system has balance and has the ability to counter anything that's being taken away from them. I don't think it really has that much to do with it, other than when you're not executing people say 'boy they've caught up with you.' And that's what's really happened. We're not executing on a regular basis and we look like we're sputtering out there and at times we are.

Q: Does it come as a shock to you? Or does it concern fears you had coming out of training camp?

A: You're asking me to reflect Stan and I don't think - when you're in the process of something you're not reflecting. I know where we are right now and I know the opportunity that we have and I think the bottom line is you sit back and you try to correct the things you're not doing well, recognize what strengths you have and try to exploit that, and look at all your options. I'm not going to pass judgment on this season, this football team, when you're right in the middle of it. I think that would be an unfair thing to do.

Q: But there's no doubt in your mind that you're good enough?

A: Obviously there's got to be doubt because we're not getting it done.

Q: Bill, you said everybody needs to look in the mirror. Have you done that? And have you questioned anything about your approach?

A: I do it after every game Jim. I do it after every game. I don't think it's anything I need to sit here and talk to you about in a public forum. You guys tell me what I do wrong.

Q: Bill, your sacks total is low. Is that accurately reflect that you're not putting pressure on quarterbacks?

A: I don't know. Again, when you're not winning football games it's hard to assess that. You'd like to have more pressure, yes. We'd like to just keep them out of the end zone more efficiently. Yes, I'd like to have more pressure but again it's hard to look at one sack and say 'are we on pace?' I mean the bottom line is we're not on pace winning games at the rate we like to win them and that to me is more important than any individual stat.

Q: How did the offensive line grade out? And will there be any more changes?

A: We were better. I think we have a long way to go but we were better. I don't know. We'll continue to look, try to utilize everybody we have to give us a chance. There may be some more changes but I don't know. It was better but we have a ways to go.

Q: Is Polamalu playing better? And should he play more?

A: He is playing better. Mike Logan's played well. He's on the field really in the nickel and the dime so he's playing quite a bit. He's playing very well in the kicking game, which, I guess is like anything else: When you guys don't talk about something that's when I know it's good because the kicking game has been pretty good for us and he's been an integral part of that so he's playing well.

Q: Why aren't your players breaking up more passes?

A: It's a problem down the field when you've had opportunities to make some plays, but I look at it and sometimes they are by design. You're going to give up some completions, and even though the completions may not be for big yardage, I go back and when you look at the first six games prior to this last game - and I know they completed some big plays - the pass defense was pretty good. I think the one thing that wasn't was our red-zone defense. And I think if our red-zone defense would've been even average in those first six games, it would've been pretty impressive what we were doing defensively. I know Sunday we had a quarterback make some plays and we had some breakdowns at times, but really up until that point I know a lot of people were questioning our secondary, and you have every right to question it every week, but I will say that in those first six weeks I think a lot of the questions I had were relative to the red zone.

Q: Does Alan Faneca give you the impression of a left tackle for a long time or is he an emergency guy?

A: Well, he's our starting left tackle right now. That's where we're looking at him and he's a good football player. I think he'd excel no matter where you put him.

Q: Does he have skills to be a left tackle?

A: I think he's got enough skills to play any position on the line. Right now I'd rule out center.

Q: Would moving Marvel Smith to right tackle when he's healthy be a possibility?

A: Possibility? Yeah. We've just got to get him back. We'll look at the possibility when the time comes.

Q: Is the problem with his injury that he can't protect himself or that he could do further damage?

A: I think the two of them go hand in hand. We talked extensively with Dr. (Joseph) Maroon after the game, and so we're working very closely with him and (trainer) John Norwig just to make sure he'll be out there and working the shells part of practice. He's getting stronger, there's no question. He's better than he was last week at this time. We've just got to be very careful that when we do allow him to hit that he's at full strength, otherwise we'll be back to where we were before and it could even be worse. It could be the rest of the year. We've got to be careful with it.

Q: Coach, how has Seattle impressed you?

A: They're making a lot of plays on defense. They're coming up with a lot of turnovers. They've got Trufant and Springs is back, so they've got two really, really good corners. Up front they're flying around with Simmons and Chad (Brown) and Godfrey. I don't know if Godfrey will play this week or not. Then Randle and Hand inside as tackles. I think they're playing well defensively, and then offensively Hasselbeck is having a very good year and this is a very good runner, too. Shaun Alexander is a good running back. He's a guy that's very shifty, very strong, breaks a lot of tackles. He's a very thick guy. And then Koren Robinson is another N.C. State guy we're facing again this week. He's a premier receiver. I'm all for N.C. State except when we have to play against them every week.

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