Bill Cowher Press Conference Transcript

<b>BILL COWHER</b><br> I'll give you the update on the health of our team. First of all, Marvel Smith, I'm going to list him as out this week, but he's made great improvement. Barring any setback this week, there's a strong possibility that he will be participating in full-contact practice next week, so that's the kind of timetable we're on.

He saw Dr. (Joseph) Maroon yesterday so again barring any setbacks this week - he'll continue to work when we go into the shells portion of practice - he should be ready for full-contact next week.

We've got two players questionable: Jay (Riemersma) with his knee, and he's going to work (Wednesday) and we may have a chance to update him as the week goes on, and Clint (Kriewaldt) with his hamstring will also be questionable. Again, we're hopeful to have him by the end of the week.

We've got four players that are probable: Plax (Burress) with his shoulder, Chidi (Iwuoma) with a groin, Lee Mays with a back and Ike (Taylor) has a finger. Those four players are probable for Sunday's game.

Q: Can you sum up the first half of your season?

A: Disappointing. And we've created a mountain for ourselves to have to overcome. The only way to do that is one step at a time.

Q: Will you make any changes this week?

A: We will. We will make a change at right corner. Deshea Townsend will start. I have not made a final determination on the rest of the packages, but Deshea will start. I told Dewayne (Washington) that yesterday. I think right now it was just, in my opinion, a change that needed to be done, not just based on one game but based on performance and based, in my mind, on the state of mind Dewayne's in. I think he needs to sit back and look at it right now, and this is the change we're going to make.

Q: Was it him more not making the tackle on that play?

A: I don't want to get into specifics. I did what I felt I had to do at this time, going into this game, and we're making this change. I think that just speaks for itself.

Q: Is Ike Taylor coming along to the point you might be able to use him a little?

A: That's a very strong possibility, yeah.

Q: Has the offensive line continued to make progress?

A: Yeah, it has. When you look at the last three games - Denver, the Rams and Seattle - I think that we've run the ball better each game, we've protected better each game. I think we've made some small strides in that area. I don't think there's any question.

Q: How is the team reacting to everything?

A: As I stated, it's disappointing. I'm sure there's frustration. But I think there's determination to recognize we need to turn it around. We've had opportunities. I think if you look at the last three games I think we've had opportunities in those games and the one thing we're not doing is taking advantage of them. We're not finishing a game. My sentiments are that we put ourselves in those situations. We've got to just keep plugging away, keep working. Anything can happen. The most important thing right now isn't the big picture but right now it's the next team. The task at hand is Arizona. Looking at how they responded last week in practice and how they played in the game, we fell short but certainly there was a lot of great effort. We just couldn't make the play here or there. I think if we keep that same approach, hopefully we can get a win and get on a roll and see what happens.

Q: What's Dewayne's state of mind?

A: I think there's a lack of confidence right now. I think that has more to do with it than anything.

Q: Will you continue your methods or will you adjust how you attack offenses and defenses the final eight games?

A: I think it depends on who you're playing. We're going to continue to do the things we've done as a staff. Take the players you have, try to put them in position to be productive, and attack the offense, defense and kicking game. I don't think you can change that approach, but certainly you have to recognize where you are with your football team and the strengths you have. That is not going to change. We're going out to try to win a football game. Because our record is the way it is, we're not going to change the way we approach the game.

Q: Schematically, are there things you can't do that you thought you could?

A: Every week we go in, we go in with the idea, Mike, of trying to win the game, and putting together a plan that we think is going to win the game. I don't think you're going to change that approach, I mean schematically. Certainly if things are failing and you're not doing some things well, you will continue to try to take a look at what your alternatives are. But that really doesn't vary whether you're winning or losing. You attack a football game, or prepare for a game, by seeing where you are and more importantly to see where the opponent is in areas that you can take advantage of and expose. That's part of preparation that goes into every game.

The state of where you are as a team is evaluated every week. You may make personnel changes and you may make changes to try to get a better performance from certain areas and sometimes you may change an approach to get a better performance if you're not getting it done.

Q: Is the no-huddle something you may consider going to earlier in games?

A: We have at times. We've gone to it throughout the course of this year. At times we were trying to pick up the tempo and at times it was out of necessity. It has at times given us a lift and given us some big plays, as it did the other day. We feel comfortable going to it at any point but I think it's hard to say going in how much more you'll use it or how much less. We'll see how the game unfolds.

Q: What determines, when you're in that mode, whether Tommy Maddox brings them back in the huddle?

A: We're giving him the call. Obviously we can talk to him up till the 15-second cutoff, and a lot of times Tommy's making a lot of his own calls out there based on what he sees. He gets up to the line and he'll call what he thinks the defense is in, and at times, if we get involved in a third-down situation where Mike (Mularkey) may want a particular play that needs to be called in the huddle as opposed to being called at the line, that would maybe necessitate us going into a huddle.

Q: You had five sacks against Seattle. Was that an approach to the game or players making plays?

A: Probably a combination of both.

Q: So you tried to turn the heat up a little bit?

A: I don't know if we turned the heat up. We probably blitzed a little bit more than we have in the past.

Q: Will Dewayne play in the nickel or dime?

A: I haven't made that determination on the rest of the packages.

Q: When you're preparing for a team, does it make it tougher when you have so many questions with your own team?

A: No. I don't think so. Like I said before, the questions that we have are questions that can only be answered on Sundays. Part of that question being answered is our preparation, so like I said we had a very good week of work last week and we have to continue to take that same approach. Hopefully this week we'll get our crowd into the game early and feed off of that. That's something we haven't been able to do. We've got to finish a game. We recognize it. Every week is a test for us, a challenge for us, and it's a very, very critical game.

Q: Jeff Blake has had some success against you. (?)

A: Jeff's a quarterback. We understand his mobility, his deep balls that he likes to throw. He's got a different surrounding group of players that still are pretty good … with Marcel Shipp, who's given them a big lift, Anquan Bouldin, who as a rookie has stepped in and been a big go-to receiver, along with Freddie Jones, the kid they got from San Diego. It's a different group around him and it's still Jeff Blake. He loves to play against us. He may know Heinz Field as well as anybody. It seems like he's been here with every team that's been in our division.

Q: Have you been able to put players in position to excel?

A: We're trying to do that.

Q: I believe you're trying, but -

A: That's all I can tell you. That's not for me to pass judgment on. That's for you guys to write articles on.

Q: Do you take motivation from other slow-starters that have finished strong?

A: I don't know if you can take motivation from it. Certainly there's a history maybe that's there. Maybe there's a history that we may have to create ourselves. Again, I think the biggest thing right now is for us to take it one game at a time and not worry about anything but that. I like the way they've approached it from a standpoint of preparation. What we need to do is become more of a 60-minute football team on Sundays.

Q: When might Chris Hope be able to play from scrimmage?

A: Chris has done fine. He's played well. He's really, really picked up his game in special teams. We've got a situation where Brent Alexander's played well, Mike Logan's played well, Troy (Polamalu) has come in on the dime and he's played fairly well. At this point I guess it's more of a numbers thing for him more than anything. The one thing he's done is excel in the kicking game. He was challenged by it early in the season, even last year. I've been very pleased with what he's done. He's playing very, very well for us right now.

Q: Was part of the reason for the blocked punt because Clint Kriewaldt was out?

A: No. That was not the reason that it happened.

Q: Isn't he normally your right guard in that situation?

A: He is but that had nothing to do with the blocked punt.

Q: Did a guy block the wrong guy?

A: We had a guy go the wrong way.

Q: Was the guy-

A: I don't want to talk about the guy.

Q: Do the coaches upstairs see the same replays the TV audience sees?

A: They see whatever's put on the monitor. It could be a TV one, now that may not necessarily be the one the official's looking at, too. It depends on what stadium you're in. Sometimes the feed is given on the screen or on the monitor in the coaching box, and that might not be the same one that's being looked at by the officials.

Q: The reason I ask, on the challenge of breaking the plane-

A: No one saw it in time. It didn't come back up, so that was just my gut feeling.

Q: But they were very late in showing a replay and I'm wondering if the coaches upstairs saw something the TV viewer did not?

A: No. I did. It was me. I thought I had a great angle from the sideline.

Q: Did you have a good view of the taunting penalty on Hines Ward?

A: I didn't think it was a good call, personally. I thought the way the game had gone, he was actually looking into the crowd. Obviously it got interpreted the other way. It was a judgment call and again as I said to the players, you cannot put yourself in situations with judgment calls for it to be interpreted the way it did because it cost us 15 yards. We've got to be more aware of that and make sure there's no chance he would interpret it as spiking the ball at the defender.

Q: Is the division the same or worse?

A: You know what? I think right now I'm not going to sit here and reflect where teams are. I'll answer that question when the 16-game season is over.

Q: Are you more inclined at 2-6 to take more chances?

A: If you're asking players to not try to do too much, I think it'd be a little hypocritical then, as a coach, to try to win a game with a call or win a game by doing something that has higher risk than reward. I look at this as an important game, as you do every game. You've got to be careful not to send the wrong message from that standpoint.

Q: Was there a consideration of going for a touchdown instead of a field goal at the end?

A: Yeah, there was. But at the same time I thought at that point, if we get the score - there was still 2:40 to go in the game with two timeouts, obviously the pass they completed on second down took a lot more time away from us - with less than two minutes, it'd probably have been a different story. But I thought, with that much time, we still would've had some opportunities to throw the ball in the end zone.

Q: What happened on that play? Did Jerame Tuman cut his route short?

A: No, he got a little bit of pressure before he could throw it. He actually had to throw it before the route took place. Hines actually just made an adjustment to the ball. It was a situation where he couldn't hold on to it any longer because of some of the pressure.

Q: Will you make more changes by the end of the week?

A: Not that I can think of today. A lot will have to do with practice.

Q: Bill, talk about parity.

A: Some people say it's not good for the league. I think it's great for the league. It proves again, with the system we have in place that you can turn around a program quickly and there's such a fine line. Look at last year. How many teams were still eligible for the playoffs going into the last week of the season? It just proves that it's a system that gives people an opportunity to win a championship. It gives cities an opportunity, teams an opportunity. You're never as far away as you may seem and you're probably not as close as you think. I think it's good for the league. I think it's very healthy.

Q: Are you concerned that frustration turns into something else with the players?

A: Well, I guess we'll see. It's hard to say. Certainly we've got to take this thing one week at a time. I guess time will tell.

Q: Is the coach's biggest nightmare when players say the coach as lost control of the team?

A: Well, I don't know. I don't concern myself with other teams. The biggest thing is to be yourself and to address your own football team, and I will continue to do it. I won't sit here and pass judgment on other football teams and on other issues. No one likes to be in this situation. It's foreign to myself and I'm dealing with it as everybody else is dealing with it. They're trying times. I just know the answer to it is take the approach we're taking, try to keep things in perspective and try to find a way to win a game and not overanalyze it any more than that.

Q: Why so much trouble on third downs?

A: Well, we converted our first five of six in the second half against Seattle. So maybe we're on track to righting the ship.

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