Coach Cowher Press Conference Transcript

<b>Bill Cowher</b><BR> Let me give you the update in regard to the health status. First of all, we have signed Mike Quinn, a quarterback. We have added him to the practice squad. At this time, that is the move we made in regard to the injury to Tommy (Maddox), which as I stated yesterday, is basically a six-week no throwing motion, and then we will kind of go from there.

He has a strain of ligaments and tendons in his right elbow. I think given what the initial possible diagnosis could have been, it was the best-case scenario, which makes Ben (Roethlisberger) the starter. Questionable for the game is Kendrell Bell with his groin. We will see how he is as we go through the week. If he is able to go, he will. If not, he will not. Verron Haynes has a hip pointer. He may miss a couple days. He is questionable at this time. Mike Logan has a hamstring. He also will miss a couple days, and we will see where he is at the end of the week. Chad Scott has a groin. All four of those guys are questionable for the game.

After looking at the game, I don't think a whole lot is different than what we experienced out there. There were a lot of self-inflicted wounds that we could not overcome. At this point, we are 1-1 as everybody else in our division is. We are going down to play a Miami team that I am certain that this is a very, very pivotal game for them after being off to a 0-2 start. We recognize that and it is going to be a big challenge for us going down there and playing in the heat with the state of their team. It is a very big game for us, as well.

Is Chidi Iwuoma OK?
Chidi is fine.

Is that a bit of a relief after the way he was carted off the field?
It is always scary, you always think about the neck. When you see a guy down there with dry heaves, you start thinking about the internal organs. Everything turned out, and he will be out there practicing tomorrow. He has a contusion on his stomach.

Can Tommy Maddox come back in less than 6 weeks?
I don't know. It is hard to say. It can be sooner than that. It can be later than that. I can't give you any timetable. I am just trying to give you a general timetable right now.

How is Quinn eligible for the practice squad?
There are two things. If you are active for nine regular season games on a 45-man roster, you are not eligible for the practice squad. Or, if you have been on a practice squad in any one-year for three or more games, you can only do that for two years. Those are the qualifications for the practice squad. While I know Mike has been in the league for a long time, he has been the third quarterback for a long time. But he has never really been in a game nine times, per se, where he has been active in nine games. He has always been the 46th guy in a lot of cases, and he has only been on the practice squad one time. That was last year. As crazy as it sounds, I know he came in 1997, but he is going to be on our practice squad. Like I told him, he has gone full cycle. He is back where he started.

Did that make him more attractive?
Yes, he has played that role. At this time, that is where we are. We looked at a lot of the options, and we will continue to do that. That is the move we made at this point.

Might he still recognize your offense from when he was here?
It has been through several since he left. He has been around. He understands that role. I think he has to get caught up as quickly as possible, but obviously at this point Brian (St. Pierre) is our second quarterback.

How do you feel about Brian being the second quarterback?
That is where we are. You hate to lose two. We went into this with what I thought was a pretty good set up at quarterback. We had Charlie Batch, Tommy Maddox, Brian St. Pierre and Ben Roethlisberger. Now we are down to two. Obviously, you would like to have some experience. But I think when you look at where we are and I think given what we heard the diagnosis was for Tommy, we feel at this time, this is the way to go.

Will you have Tommy on the sideline?
We will see what his comfort level is. But yes, as much as possible.

Will you modify or change any protection schemes for Ben because of pressure?
No, we are going to try to play to his strengths. There are some things that we have done with Tommy that we felt played to his strengths. We are not going to cater the whole offense around him. But we will try to do some things that we feel he does very well and that he is comfortable with. I think it is not so much what we are doing with Ben, it is that everyone around him right now has to make sure that they hold up their end of the bargain. I think Ben will be fine. No one has to do anything special. Right now, everybody has to pick up their game. Ben just has to go out there and manage the game.

Did Ben learn anything from watching Miami the other night?
It is one thing to watch that game. He was in here today watching tape. That is all part of the preparation. It is probably happening a little bit quicker than anyone imagined. We were just sitting down last week talking to him about what he needs to do as a back up quarterback because he is not getting reps, and the mental element of it, listening to plays, watching on the sideline. That lasted for about two days. Now he is the starter. That is where he is, and he is fine. The one thing that I will say about Ben is that he is not overwhelmed by this. From day one, since he has come in, he has a good presence about himself, he has poise and just takes it one week at a time. He really does not get overwhelmed, and I think that is the best thing about it. I think he does not need to be, just go out there, play your game, do the things you feel comfortable doing, and I think everything else will take care of itself.

Do you think there is less pressure on Ben entering the way he did, and do you think he can hold onto the job?
I think a lot will take place between now and then. As far as pressure, Ben has been under pressure. I think any time you are a number-one pick, and a high profile pick, even when he took the trip up to New York, there is a lot of scrutiny that goes with that, and with that position. Sure there is pressure, but I think there has been pressure for him ever since he has taken that position, and I think, since he has walked through those doors. Now that he is starting, I think he is looking forward to it. He knows why he was brought here. Obviously, you don't want the circumstances to happen as they did. But they have. This is where he is. It is his opportunity to come in here and lead this team. I think he is going to embrace it.

Would a bad six weeks hurt Ben development?
You look at young quarterbacks and there is a growth that takes place. It is inevitable that it is going to take place. How people handle success, and how people handle tough times, that is not just true with quarterbacks, that is true with any young player. The game is faster at this level. The game is more complex at this level. There is more scrutiny at this level. I think that a lot of it is how you are able to deal with circumstances you are handed, and some of the results that take place, and how you learn and grow from it. Confidence is a very fragile thing at times. I think that is true with sports, in general. I am comfortable. The more you are around the kid, the more you realize he has a good demeanor about him, and a good presence about him. He is not overwhelmed by it. He understands the responsibility that comes with that. I think he is more looking forward to it than he is worried about it. That is what you like about him. I think he is excited about it, as he should be. Like I said before, this is not just about him. It is about our football team. There are a lot of things that we have to do better than we did last Sunday. We did not play a good football game.

Are you looking forward to it?
I don't worry about it. It is what it is. I don't just look at his situation; I am looking at our team. We have to do a better job offensively of creating some continuity, and getting some first downs. In this football game, we are going against a very, very good defense. It is one of the top defenses in the league. They have given up one touchdown in two games. It is going to be a big challenge. We have to be able to establish a line of scrimmage. We are playing down there; it is going to be loud and hot. They have some quality football players on the defensive side that is going to make it a big challenge for us this weekend, not just for our quarterback, but for our whole offensive football team.

Does the Dolphins' defense do a lot of unusual strange things?
They are pretty good because they line up and play their defense very well. They have probably pressured more this year than they have in years past. I will say that. It appears that they are blitzing a little bit more than they have in the past. Some of it may be due to some of the circumstances that they have had being behind in some of the games that they have been behind in and having to create some situations. They got a little more aggressive, just out of necessity. But they are a good defensive team. You still have to block Jason Taylor coming off the left edge. He is going to be a guy that is going to be there. That is why he is leading the league in sacks, or up near the top every year. Zach Thomas may be one the top middle linebackers in the game. You put Junior Seau beside him, and they are not too shabby. They will probably get Tim Bowens back. He is a big load inside. (Sam) Madison and (Patrick) Surtain are not too shabby of corners. They are Pro Bowl corners. Sammy Knight heads up the secondary that has a lot of veterans. The defense is very solid. They are not very fancy in what they do. They will pressure you. They will bring some people. Junior Seau will be running into the line, and running out of the line. There is no telling where he is going to be. Sometimes, I don't think they know where he is going to be. He is a very disruptive type player. I think that is why they play the way they have, particularly these last two weeks.

Did the Ravens have answers for your offense?
No, not really. I don't know who said what. A lot of things that happened in the first half, we had five offensive penalties and one third down called back. We never really got into any kind of sync. We had some opportunities. I don't think we helped ourselves with our punt game. Our punting game was not very good the other day. When you play a tough defensive team like this one is going to be, field position becomes a big part of it. Outside of that first drive when they went 90 yards, after that, they really did not move the ball very much. They had 12 other series after that and I think had 147 net yards. But they established a tempo with that first series from which we were never really able to come back. Again, some of the things that we didn't do certainly we were able to look at it, and they were very correctable.

Is your running game where you would like it to be?
Not after two weeks. Certainly, we didn't run the ball very well last week, and it was even a little spotty against Oakland. We just have to keep working at it. Outside of the first drive against Oakland and probably the last drive against Oakland, we have been very sporadic. That is just something that we have to keep working through and keep pushing through. It is not where we need to be; there is no doubt about that.

What are your thoughts on Miami's offense?
They have a lot of new faces on the offensive side. They have gone to A.J. Feeley as their quarterback, and he will be the starter against us. Lamar Gordon ran for the first time in that offense. They have kind of gone through some backs since Ricky (Williams) left in the off-season. There are some faces on the offensive line so they are in the process of growing together. They still have two or three quality skilled players in Randy McMichael, Chris Chambers, and Marty Booker, who they just obtained from Chicago. So they have some skilled people that can make some plays. They are growing. I thought they played very well against Tennessee. They did some good things in that game, but they had some tough times against Cincinnati the other night running the ball.

Is there more emphasis on the run with Ben at quarterback?
I don't know if there is any more. It has always been there. We are going to continue to run the ball and establish a running game and utilize the play action off of it. But, I would not say we would not deviate from the way we approached the first two games.

How did Ben play against the Ravens?
He played OK. When he came in, he was not handed the best of circumstances. But given what he was, I think he got better as the game went along. He is more wide open. It wasn't really a case of managing the game, he was just kind of playing the game because we were behind and went to the no-huddle pretty quickly into it. He under threw Hines (Ward) on his first ball for the first interception. And, the last one that has been documented was a miscommunication. All and all, I thought that he did a good job managing the one-minute drill. He took us down there, made some good throws and good reads. He did some good things.

How was his mental performance?
It was fine. It was not a situation where you had a lot of opportunities to really analyze the situation because it became more of a hurry up by the time that he got into the game. From that stand point, it was pretty vanilla and wasn't like it was at the beginning of the game where it was on going and changing. But I thought he did fine.

Are you any more encouraged about Kendrell Bell?
I just listen to (trainer) John (Norwig) and see where he is.

Can you evaluate the offensive line?
I thought physically, we have been fine. They played well the first week. Last week, we just had some mental breakdowns that were uncharacteristic. That was a little bothersome. Those guys have physically been fine and I would like to think that they we continue to get better. They have a big challenge this week. It is a good defense but they are fine.

Can players worry too much about picking it up because Ben's playing?
No. I think we have to pick it up as a whole football team. We are 1-1 going down to play a very good Miami team. This isn't about one player; it is about a whole football team. They don't have to worry about Ben; they just have to worry about themselves and doing their job. That is a message that we have tried to send to them.

Couldn't your offense overcome the tone set by the Ravens on the first series?
There is no question. You have to be able to respond to situations like that and, unfortunately, we weren't able to do that. The game was not lost by the first drive; there is no question about that. But all that I am saying is that we got behind against that team, and we were not able to respond in the first half. We really weren't and really for most of the game, we were not able to capitalize on some opportunities that we had for some big plays. We had the intentional grounding call that knocked us back, but we still have to make that kick. Then we had the ball at the 47-yard line with 2:50 to go, and we had an illegal block in the back that pushed us back to the 17. We missed a long pass down the middle, Plaxico (Burress) was right there. And then we turn around and punt a ball 35 yards and it is returned 33. It could have been 10-6 or 10-3 at the half but it got to be 13-0. Then we turned it over twice in the second half for touchdowns. Yes, a lot of that can be mitigated with responding with the drive, responding with the big play, and that is what you have to do in this business. You have to learn how to come back. You have to be able to overcome things. You have to become a resilient team and we have to be able to do that are some point. That is what breeds and builds confidence.

Any change in your opinion on the play to Plax?
It was an incomplete pass.

Was there interference or was it an overthrow?
That ball was overthrown.

What is your opinion on Joey and Heap?
We talked about it. It was not condoned. I think a lot more has been made of it than needs to be.

Joey said he was worried about Heap faking injury?
It was talked about with the team and was not condoned.

Is 22 penalties too many?
I am with you. I agree. We turn them in and then we find out. A penalty is a penalty. I just want to make sure that we are coaching our players the right way and that is the most important thing. I would not change anything about that play that was called intentional grounding. There is nothing that I would change about that play from our standpoint. We have to be able to adjust to how officials are calling the game.

You said that you were going to investigate the grounding call?
It is over. It is done.

Is your defense making enough plays?
Like I said, if you would take the first drive away, we were very undisciplined in that first drive. Everyone wanted to make a play, and they were very patient with the running game. They hit some cutbacks. We didn't wrap up at times and knocked guys off guys. After the first drive, the same defenses against the plays with the same players, and the results were dramatically different. That is the thing we have to do, we have to come out and play that way in the very beginning. Give credit to them. Chester Taylor hit a couple runs, Jamal (Lewis) broke some tackles and fell forward. We hit him one time at the line of scrimmage and he got seven yards. He ran hard; he really did, and he made a couple key third downs. On the first drive we had them first and thirty and we let them convert and they get a field goal out of that. We can't allow them to do that. They were trying to do their best. We had a chance to get off the field even in that first drive, second down and twenty and we let the quarterback run for 17 yards and then we had a 15-yard penalty on top of that. There were a lot of self-inflicted things that happened in that game on both sides of the ball. We did not play well in the kicking game as well. Things that we have done very well the week before we didn't do this game. We have to stop doing the things that I would like to think to be uncharacteristic of this football team but give us a chance to win. If we do those things, I like this football team and what we are capable of doing.

Will Duce (Staley) get more opportunities as a receiver?
Let the season play out, and we will see how things go. Certainly, the game the other day the way it unfolded and again we could not get a first down to get rhythm in the first half. We couldn't convert a third down and when we got a good play there was a holding call that would set ourselves back. We had five penalties on offense in the first half. Those are things that make it hard to establish any kind of continuity when you are playing like that.

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