Bill Cowher Season Ending Press Conference

<b>BILL COWHER</b><br> I really don't have a lot to elaborate on. I think last night's game was a very gritty effort from our football team, a tough loss to lose in overtime. When you look back on the season -- and I know it was very unfulfilling and frustrating through the course of it - and look at it and have some time to sit back and reflect on how close it could've been to winning some close games and maybe taking a different turn, but it didn't.

I think that's probably the theme throughout the course of the National Football League this year.  Some of the teams that are playing this upcoming weekend and the weekend that follows, they won some close games. Those are the close games we've won in the past that this year, for whatever reason, we weren't able to win and that's probably the most disappointing part of it. Now what you have is two months to sit back and see what kind of moves you need to make, that you have the options of making, and try to re-tool this team as this system will ultimately make you have to do and come back with the expectations and go into next year with the same intent, and that's No. 1 to win this division and ultimately to win the championship. I don't foresee making any moves at this point. Certainly we have two months to talk about the roster. I haven't had an opportunity to talk with any of the players, which I'll do tomorrow. I'll talk with the coaches probably if not tomorrow sometime Wednesday. At this point, as I sit here today, I don't plan on making any moves. As I said, we'll have a chance to sit back and reflect and look at what we did and hopefully learn from it and grow from it and become better because of it.

Q: So there won't be changes in your coaching staff?

A: Yeah. I mean, I don't anticipate anything at this time. Certainly I'd like to sit down and talk with every coach and sometimes through the course of those conversations things may materialize, and I'm sure that there maybe some coaches we have, with the openings that are taking place, with Mike (Mularkey) and Tim (Lewis) that there may be some requests for people to speak with them. Mr. Rooney hasn't informed me of any official requests to date, as we sit here and speak today, but I'm sure there'll be some to come with some of the openings that evidently have been created as we speak.

Q: Do you see yourself making any moves?

A: No, not at this time. You've got to be very careful to sit here 24, 48, 72 hours after putting five months into something and to start saying 'OK, this is what we're going to do. This is what we have to do.' I think that's not being fair so I think you have to make sure you have time to sit back and reflect and sometimes you may have to make a decision from a coaching-staff standpoint because there is a trickle-down effect. You lose a coach and you've got to make some moves quickly while some guys are available. I think that's why the coaching staff is probably the first thing to take place and that's why I'll sit down in the next couple days and talk with those guys and make sure we're all on the same page.

Q: What areas need fixed?

A: I don't know. Again, you're asking me to make a statement 24 hours after our last game. It's unfair to do. I can't do that. We'll have two months to deal with the cap. I'm sure we'll have some issues that will have to be dealt with there. I've asked Kevin (Colbert) not to inform me about any of that because when I talk to the players tomorrow it's not going to be about the cap or what their numbers are, it's more about what we've experienced in those five months and give them an opportunity to sit down and talk about it. That's what I try to do every year and will continue to do this year.

Q: You used the word re-tool instead of reconstruct. Do you not think you need a whole lot at this point?

A: No, I mean we've got to be more consistent in certain areas. What we can do in terms of doing that we will need to explore. But look at eight of the 12 teams that were in the playoffs a year ago all having losing records, and having eight new teams in the playoffs, there is a very, very fine line. Look at the top two teams in the AFC. They weren't even in the playoffs last year. So I think there is a very fine line. I don't think you're that far away from being a good football team and I think some of the good football teams aren't that far away from having a tough year like we've experienced. I believe that. Now, what is that fine line and how can you regain that edge? That's all part of it and that's part of what the process is. In one year's time we didn't all of the sudden become a really bad football team. We had some tough breaks. We lost some tough games early in the season and our confidence probably wavered a little bit. Take Tennessee and Kansas City. We get up by 10 points and can't hold those leads. I think we started playing better defense later in the season. I think our special teams were as strong as any in the National Football League as the season ended. But those were not our strengths at the beginning of the season. It just seemed we couldn't get in sync all at the same time and maybe win one of those games that maybe we shouldn't have won early to maybe get on a roll. We never could get on a roll. We could never get a streak going. I think that was evident, obviously, in our record but I think it was evident in our play.

Q: How is your cap situation?

A: I don't know what's good and not good. I guess it's all relative to how you would measure it against other people I guess. I don't know. I know we're going to have to do some things. I know we're going to have to make some moves because of that. But is it good? Bad? It's hard for me to assess that.

Q: Will you have to blow it all up like Baltimore did two years ago?

A: I don't know. I have a hard time when you say 'blow it all up.' I still look at Baltimore and there are a lot of good football players who were on that Super Bowl a few years ago. So did they really blow it all up? You guys classify it as that but I don't look at it that way. You do what you have to do based on the bed you made for yourself. That's all part of the system so I don't look at it that way. I don't term it that way, so I can't answer that question if you ask me to put it in those terms.

Q: Plax Burress said last night that if you play Cover 2 you'll beat the Steelers. Is that true?

A: I think that's putting something in its simplest form and it's not that simple.

Q: Is there anyone who surprised you positively with his play this year?

A: I refrain from singling anybody out because I don't want to overlook anybody and offend anybody by not mentioning them.

Q: Have you seen more Cover 2 than a year ago?

A: Again, you're asking me to reflect on 16 games. I don't know that. What he said last night was a reaction to one game and you're asking me if it's related to a whole season and I think that's an unfair statement to make. I can't give you statistical data that will support what you're saying. I think it's unfair to ask that question. I understand you want a reaction based on what he said.

Q: Have you come up with a theory as to why an offense that looks so good on paper is so inconsistent?

A: No.

Q: Do you have to get better running the ball?

A: We have to become a more consistent football team. You can't obviously be ranked 30th in the National Football League running the football and think everything's fine doing that. No. You've got to become more consistent from that standpoint. You've got to have more balance. And we were not a very balanced football team. You can't come off a game like the one you had last night. We played very well the week before and really we were either really good or really bad. Last night we had about 120 yards of offense. That's not very good. But give credit to Baltimore. They played well. They made the plays they had to make. Listen to how they talk. That game was as important to them as any game they've played since their coach has been down there and we understood that going in. We loved it. We just didn't meet the challenge. They made more plays than we did. That's the kind of game it was. I don't want to sit here and sum up the whole season in one game on either side of the ball, but certainly our inconsistencies, really, in all three phases were a part of the inconsistencies we had as a team, which was never being able to put together any degree of a winning streak. That's why we sit here with a 6-10 record. I mean there's not a lot of good that comes out of 6-10.

Q: Does being 6-10 help you make the tough decisions?

A: No. I never take any solace in saying that it's better that we lost more games.

Q: What defensive adjustments did you make last night?

A: We got Mike Logan a little closer to the line of scrimmage in the eight-man fronts we were putting in there and a couple of the defenses we kind of inserted on the field, and then we kind of played much better. He didn't have much after that first quarter. Even after those first two series he didn't really do a whole lot. The players did a great job of executing it. He made some good runs. He made us pay early. The biggest run after that was a 10 or 11-yarder. We made contact after four but that big man kept churning and we brought him down seven yards later. He's a special back but I got the sense that after the first couple series we really played pretty good.

Q: Would you rather have had Joey Porter tone it down a little bit in the pre-game?

A: Why? I mean they sat there and watched Ray (Lewis) come out and do his dance in front of the music. You know what? It's an emotional game. I told you, these two teams don't like each other but they respect each other, and as I told Brian (Billick), Ray and Jamal (Lewis) after the game, they represent our division now and I'm pulling for them. Hey, they're representing us. They're the best from our division so let's see how far they can go and I'm pulling for them. They play the game the way the game's supposed to be played. They play with emotion. They play physical. The same way we play. They were the better team this year.

Q: What gives you the belief that you can turn it around so quickly?

A: You're making it sound like this is a long-term drought we've been in. We've been in the playoffs, had the best record two years ago, won the division last year, one game and an overtime away from the championship, then this year we had a tough year. I don't know why but it's happening. I just think there's a very fine line, and with the system that's in place I just think there is a very fine line. It's hard to keep good teams together for an extended period of time, because of the system that's in place, and I think that because of the two it's hard to have quality depth. If you get hit with injuries in more than one position for the most part most teams are going to suffer, and if you lose key players you're going to suffer. Some teams have been able to overcome that but for the most part they don't have a lot to do with the team's long-term success.

Q: Couldn't the large movement of coaches lend itself to that as well?

A: I don't know because it seems it's always been that way. It seems like very year there are six or seven openings. I think when I came in I think I was one of six new coaches. I don't think that's changed. I think that's always been there. You have to be careful to overreact to the one year. Let's see how it plays out. Hopefully we're one of the new teams in next year and they're answering the same questions I'm answering this year.

Q: Are there any health issues?

A: I haven't even talked to John (Norwig). I know Chris Hope came out. He had a shoulder. He was getting an MRI on his shoulder. Nothing long term, but he hurt his shoulder last night and that's why he did not finish the game. Amos (Zereoue) has a mid-foot sprain. That's why he was out of the game. That may be a couple weeks, nothing surgical needed. There will probably be some clean-ups that are needed to be done.

Q: Will you move Chris to running back?

A: You know I told Chris last night, 'I didn't know you could run that good with the ball when I put this in.' He said 'you know I was a high school All-American running back.' And I didn't know that. We put it in Friday. We saw it, put it in. Kevin (Spencer) was a little surprised about running it when we ran it. You've got to be a little discreet about these things too. I didn't want him running down to me 'Are we going to do it?' I mean, if it was less than five yards we were doing it and I didn't care where we were on the field because you knew what they were going to be doing. That was a no-brainer type of play. It was almost like the Cincinnati play.

Q: What do you see in Jerome Bettis' future?

A: You know what? Jerome's a quality back. He's a quality person. We're going to have to sit down, talk with him, see where it sits with the cap. I mean those will all be decisions we have to make in the next couple months, but I have so much respect for him and the way he plays the game. This is one quality individual. I was happy for him to pass Jim Brown last night. When you look at the yards he's amassed and what he's done in his career, it's pretty amazing. These are all things we have to sit down and discuss within the next couple months.

Q: What position will you take in the draft?

A: I don't know, Bill. We'll have to sit down. I don't even know where we're picking. We're picking way too high I know that. We'll look at it.

Q: If someone had told you at the start of the year you wouldn't win two in a row, what would've been your reaction?

A: (Laughs) That. It really would've been very surprising, particularly since I really felt coming out of the preseason I felt we were ready to play. Our starters played well in the preseason games. I didn't even look at the score. I looked at how our starters played. That's how I judge it, and we were ready to play. We had a good camp. We got things going. I really felt good. We opened up the season with a very good performance. We went to Kansas City, were up 10 points early in the game and Dante Hall started his deal, his streak. We had two returns for touchdowns in that game. We come back against Cincinnati and had the perfect formula where Amos gets 16 (carries) and Jerome gets 16 and it looks like everything's exactly what we wanted it to be. This is what we had in mind. Then the next week one of the big things was the interception late in the first half against Tennessee. We were up 10 points early in that game, then we get a safety. We were up seven, with a chance to go up 10 going in at halftime, and we end up up by four, maybe going to seven. But instead of having a lead we have the interception returned to the one yard line and we end up going in with a deficit, coming out in the second half getting a field goal blocked, an interception returned for a touchdown. It seemed a lot of big plays happened against us and I think we started to waver a little bit there and I don't know if we ever really recaptured any true confidence of being able to overcome things. That's my synopsis of the season as I sit here less than 24 hours after the last game.

Q: Plax almost disappeared in many games. Do you have an explanation?

A: No.

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