Three players that we have that are probable: Duce Staley with a groin, Jeff Hartings with his knee, and Deshea Townsend with an Achilles. We are relatively healthy, I think, going into this game.
Last week's win, when you look at it again, there are a lot of good
things. We played very good situational football. I think that was
the best thing we did last Sunday. When you look at Dallas from
the standpoint of offense, defense, and special teams with their
situation coming off a tough home loss, I don't think there is any
question that this will be the stiffest challenge we have had this
year. This is a well-coached football team, a playoff football
team, and they are going to be a mad football team. I don't think
there is any question that this will be a big, big challenge for us,
and a good barometer to see where we are.
Do you get excited with a match-up like this because there is a
coach like Bill Parcells on the other side?
I don't know if I get excited. I have a lot of respect for coach
Parcells. I think of all the coaches in the league, I look up to him
as much as anyone, no one any greater than him. I think what
he has accomplished, how he handles things, I learned a lot
watching him. If you watch other people, you can learn a lot, I
think, in any profession. I know I have learned and grown a lot
just watching him deal with things through the years even when
he was with the Patriots, the Jets, and now down in Dallas. I
have a lot of respect for him. I think he is an outstanding football
coach. He and I are not playing, but I think his football teams are
always very, very prepared. Coming off of a tough loss, there is
no question that this is going to be a tough game for us.
What have you learned about the team over the last two weeks?
It is an ongoing process. It really is. Certainly, we came out fast
the other day. We played very good situational football. I think
that was big. If you throw an interception for a touchdown, it is
hard to give up seven points. I think the figures and stats will
show that rarely do you come out on the win side when that
happens. It happened so early in the game, and it was a very
fast paced first half, probably not what a lot of people expected.
These guys are starting to get confidence and gain confidence.
We are still growing together. Like I said, we have done what we
needed to do to this point. But certainly there are some bigger
challenges ahead of us and an opportunity to kind of gauge
where we are as it relates to the greater scope of things. I think
the biggest question we have right now is, as we get ready to go
into this bye week, is going down into a very hostile environment
against a playoff team coming off of a tough loss. This will be a
very stiff challenge for us, there is no question about that.
You know a lot about Vinny Testaverde?
Vinny has played very well. When you look at what Bill (Parcells)
has done down there, he has brought in his guys. He brought in
Vinny. Rich Anderson is down there at running back. He brought
in Eddie George this year, then you have Keyshawn (Johnson)
from the Jets, Antonio Bryant is a guy that he has picked up
there. Terry Glenn is a guy from the Patriots. He has
surrounded himself with a lot of his guys. It is a very good
offensive line, as well. Larry Allen is a Pro Bowl player. It is a
very impressive group of guys that rank seventh in the league
passing and ninth offensively overall. It will be a big challenge
for our defense because they work very, very efficiently. Vinny
has worked very efficiently. He has been very impressive to
Would it do you any good to look at Cleveland and Baltimore
tapes when he was a quarterback there?
You are not defending the quarterback as much as you are
defending the system. I think that is the thing you have to
realize. You are looking at a system. I think that is thing, that
watch them, and they are going to do a little bit of the
unexpected. He is going to have a little bit of a package for us
that they are going to work on and present, and it will be a little
different from last week and the week before. But there are
some basic concepts that are there. He wants to run the
football. He is going to throw it and he is going to get the ball to
Keyshawn (Johnson) in the red zone. You know that is going to
happen. They have been productive. Like I said, it is a quality
How significant is good health to your team?
It is very significant. The more that you play together, the greater
the continuity becomes, particularly on the offensive line. When
you look at the right side with Keydrick (Vincent) and Oliver
(Ross) and now all of a sudden, they keep working with Jeff
(Hartings). They are starting to develop a little bit of
The whole offensive line has. There are a lot of calls that take
place. Jeff has played very, very well these last two or three
weeks. He has kind of been the anchor, and makes a lot of
those calls. Alan (Faneca) and Marvel (Smith) have been so
solid on the left. That whole offensive line has been healthy.
The secondary, for the most part, we lost Mike and he has been
in and out. But that starting group has been pretty healthy. They
are starting to communicate more and more along with the
defense in general. Larry (Foote) is in there with James
(Farrior). It is important. It is important in what you are trying
accomplish. It is important in trying to make adjustments with
people that have been playing together and you are talking to the
same people, and you are dealing with the same faces, and you
not dealing with new bodies and new faces every week. There is
no question that the more you can put the same 11 out there, the
better you should become.
Has the offensive line play been as improved as the rushing
I am not into comparing. They are playing very well. Duce
(Staley) is running very well.
Can you update us on Tommy Maddox's progress?
Everything is right on schedule. That is about all I can tell you.
He had an MRI yesterday. It is healing, and he is starting to
strengthen it. We are not close to throwing, yet. Everything is on
Does he get the starting job back when he returns?
I am just going to laugh at that question, at this point.
Do you expect Dallas Cowboys to come after Ben Roethlisberger?
That would fall in line with a little bit of their characteristics.
have been a team that has put a lot of people up in the box. I
would imagine them to come after us, yes. I think we are going
to have to protect the blitz. Roy Williams is like a linebacker
when they bring him up there, they are very fast defensively. This
is a good defense. Greg Ellis, I think, has five sacks. Dat
Nguyen is a linebacker in the middle that can run like the wind. I
would expect to see a significant amount of blitzing, yes.
Was the field unusually slick the other day? Did guys have to
change their shoes?
It is just getting acclimated. Duce (Staley) went out and then he
changed his cleats after pregame. You have to get acclimated to
the field conditions, particularly at this time of year when there is
dew and change of the weather.
Did they over water it?
No, they did not over water. The field was fine. You have to get
acclimated with the right footwear.
With Mike Logan out, where does Ike Taylor fit in?
We will see what out options are. He will be active on game day
now. We will keep him going and getting in there. We will utilize
all those guys now.
What qualifies as quarterback pressures/hits, and can you
explain why they are up over last year?
A quarterback hit is obviously hitting a quarterback without it
being a foul. A pressure I think, is due to the feeling that he can
feel your presence and that it may have some degree of effect on
the throw. Is up over last year? We probably have pressured
more than we have to this point a year ago. We have some guys
playing well. Joey Porter has played well, he and Clark
(Haggans). The whole front line, with Kimo (vonOelhoffen) and
Aaron (Smith), and Casey (Hampton) has had an outstanding
year rushing the quarterback. He already is against the run. But
he has been very good at putting pressure. Being able to bring
in Travis Kirschke has given us quality time, and Brett Keisel,
and we have had Chris Hoke. We have had six linemen up now
the last few weeks because we are trying to keep those guys
relatively fresh. We are calling a few more blitzes. The
combination has created a lot of pressure. The sacks have not
been up, but we are getting around the quarterback a lot. I don't
just measure everything by sacks. I don't know how many times
we hit the guy the other day, and he did a great job of throwing
the ball into some area where there was some eligible receiver.
I don't know how he saw them half of the time. None of those
really were grounding. He just did a great job. We had him on
the ground a lot, and that is a mobile guy.
Is there something you saw in the first quarter especially, you
seemed to have a lot of success with Larry Foote and James Farrior on the right side, is that something you saw leading up to
the game? Or did you just want to get those guys a little bit more
I don't think it was anything particular. It is pretty much our
package. We have a pretty extensive package that is based on a
lot of what we are going to see that week. Then we try to make
the calls accordingly. We like to think there is good diversity in
what we have and we rep it all. There are some blitzes that we
have been repping for the last five weeks that we have not even
run in a game, yet. You really just don't know what is going to
happen in the game. Like I said, it is a pretty diverse package,
but it is one right now that we are starting to get a good feel for
and we like to feel that as the game unfolds, that we would have
the ability to utilize whatever weakness we feel that we could
exploit. Sometimes going in, you may think you are going to do
something, but them they come out and they show you
something different. You have to be able to adjust to that.
Were you calling more blitzes because of the trust factor in your
No, I don't know if it is so much that. It has been the make up of
how this season has unfolded. I think it is the make up of Coach
LeBeau, and as long as they are working, keep calling them.
What are your thoughts on Deshea Townsend?
He has played very solid, not just in the package, but he moves
inside in our dime and nickel package. He is involved in a lot of
the blitzes we do. He has a good feel for the timing with it. He
has played very well in first and second down as well. He has
had a very, very good start, a very solid start to this season.
When did he get hurt?
I am not exactly sure, he finished the game. I am just listing him
as probable. He did not miss any time.
Do you give coach LeBeau more freedom to blitz than coach
I am not going to compare. I think that is unfair to do. Coach
LeBeau and I talked just like Tim and I talked. We have a good
Why are there more 100-yard rushes?
I haven't looked around the league. It is what we are trying to do
this season, again, I think some things that you look at after five
weeks. I think you have to let the season play out before you
jump to too many conclusions.
How have special teams coverage units been, specifically
Verron was outstanding the other day. I think we had six kickoffs
and he made tackles on five of them. He has been excellent. The
kickoff coverage unit on a whole - it is a challenge every week -
but they have done a great job. Jeff is kicking the ball very well.
They have a great feel of the balance that is needed on the team.
We have speed with Chidi (Iwuoma), Sean Morey is down there,
and James Harrison is playing off of him. Clint Kriewaldt is
playing off another guy, Ricardo is coming in from the side, Willie Williams is coming up big, and Lee Mays. It is a very solid group
of coverage guys. We knew that going in and even what we tried
to do with our punt team, we have kind of gotten Troy off that
because of all that he is playing on defense. Now we have
moved Sean into that fullback position to make some of the calls
so that we can get another good coverage guy on the field. When
you look at the starting points on a kickoff I think we are in the
five or six. Really kickoff return and kickoff coverage it is so
important because teams who will have to drive the field against
us are going to have a hard time doing that. Our punt coverage
has been good when we needed it to be. The only thing that has
been a little bit bothersome to me is that we haven't been able to
get (Antwaan) Randle El going on the punt return. Some of that
has been some short punts, and then we have had some
returnable punts where one guys gets down there and in his
face so that he can't get started. That is just something we have
to keep working on. But, overall, I think that our special teams
have been very, very solid.
Do you have a guy like Wes Welker?
That was very, very impressive. Not that I am aware of, and I
hope we never have to find out if we have one.
Would it be the same run-pass ratio if Tommy Maddox was at
I don't think we would deviate. This was something we had
intended and I think when you look at the preseason on, those
are the same numbers that we were hopeful would happen.
Certainly we have been up in games, we have gotten the lead.
When you're not behind and when you are not playing catch up,
the numbers are going to be as they are. When we get up, we
kind of shut down the pass, that is just the way we play. We are
going to run the football, we are going to use the clock, we are
going to try to win the football game, and not to get too concerned
with anything more than that. So, I think because we have had
the lead, the numbers are probably a little bit more leaning that
way because of that situation. Again we aren't winning just
because we are running it, we are winning because we are
doing a lot of the little things. We are converting third downs. We
are holding teams in the red zone to field goals instead of
touchdowns. We are scoring in red zone touchdowns instead of
field goals. Those are big. When you get a lead and you are able
to run the ball that is a good formula to have.
Why are you so much better in the red zone?
We probably are running the ball a little bit more. That would
probably be the first thing I would say that comes to mind. Is that
we have been very successful running the ball inside the 20-yard
line. And I think that, that has opened the other elements of it.
How about your red zone defense?
It is hard to say. I think we have mixed it up very well. You will
us drop back into zone or you could see us bring maximum
pressure. I think we are trying to keep people off balance down
there so that it doesn't become predictable. The guys have
executed very well and they have made excellent calls. To this
point, it has been big. I thought it was very big last week. You
look at the first half and they were 0 of 5 on third down which was
big. I think that is huge, third down is key and that has been
something around here that we have pointed to is that we can't
get off the field on third down. I am just so glad that we got
through five weeks of press conferences, and I don't think that I
have even answered a question about third down. That's good,
when you guys aren't asking questions about something that is
always a good sign. Like the offensive line, when you don't
mention their name that's a good sign. When you guys don't ask
a question about third down that's a good sign. Situational
football is what this comes down to, red zone scoring over the
field goal, third down converting, and them not converting. Within
there, you are going to have some big plays that you are going to
have to be able to minimize on defense and try to minimize the
turnovers but at the same time the situational football part of it
has been very good for us. And, I think that is a big key to our
success to this point.
Have you been influenced by New England's all-for-one
I don't know if it's been done because of New England. When
you look at their success you look at what they have been able to
do and the acquisition of players and in this salary cap era to be
able to keep a core together through a period of time. They have
played very solid football. I think there is a lot of change that
place with our football team from last year to this year. There
have been a lot of changes on the roster, particularly veteran
players, and a lot of changes on the coaching staff. With that
being the case, I think it's very important we get to know each
other before we start worrying about all of the other things that
are involved with this. I think our football team understands that.
We're still growing. We're still learning about each other. We're
still a relatively inexperienced team when you look at how long
they have played together on our football team, with a young
quarterback who has now taken off. You look at the right side of
our offensive line; Duce is still getting acclimated to our running
style, which is going to be an ongoing process. Defensively the
secondary and Larry Foote is in there now with James Farrior.
There are a lot of elements to our football team that are new.
That being the case what I have talked about is more relative to
our football team makeup this year than it is anything else.
You seemed to pick your spots in free agency last offseason and
got some important guys.
You would like to think so. The people that we have tried to bring
in we have brought in for the right reasons. They are coming in
here with no mixed messages and wondering where they stand.
It's been good. You look at the people we brought in with Duce
and Travis Kirschke and the roles those guys have played. They
have been very instrumental. It's a solid group of guys and right
now we are just trying to get better every week.
Is Duce a good fit for your running style?
When we got Jerome (Bettis) I remember watching Jerome run
and we felt he would fit very well into this offense and how we
would like to run the football. I think when you watch Duce run the
ball you knew that his style was one that he would fit very well in
this offense because of some of the running plays that we like to
think are our base plays. There is no question that does play a
part in it. A guy coming from a wide-open offense where it's all
draws and it's spread out, there is going to be some acclimation
that takes place and maybe sometimes those aren't great fits.
It's a lot like Jerome when he was coming from the Rams. You
thought he might fit what we like to do. I think it's turned out, and
he'll get better the more he runs some of these plays.
What happened that caused you to have to re-emphasize the run
It's hard to say. I am as guilty as anybody of getting a little
enamored with the wide-open part of it when you have a little bit
of success. Then all of a sudden you don't have that immediate
feedback from running the ball, you are only getting three or four
yards. You have one of those games where you don't run it and
you start to deviate a little bit and say let's go ahead and try to
throw it. There has been a bit more of a priority. You have to stay
with it. I will say this, some of it has been conducive to the fact
that we have been in games and games have been close.
Sometimes when you get behind in games the element and
option of running isn't an option anymore because of the clock.
Coming into this training camp we wanted to get back to doing
that. There is a carryover it has with your defense. Defensive
guys get excited about watching their offense run the football. I
don't diminish the importance of that. I think there is a lot to be
said for that. That's where we are right now. We're doing it well to
this point. We still have a long way to go, and we have some
pretty stiff challenges ahead of us.
How closely do you have to monitor Duce's carries or is that a
I think we have a pretty good group of backs. If it becomes a
situation where it becomes much then we move on to the next
guy. That's why I think it's important to have the group of guys we
have. I have a lot of confidence in Jerome, Verron and Willie Parker if he has to play. I hope it's a nice problem that we are
going to have because it means we are running the ball a lot,
which probably means we are ahead in some of the games.
How much credit for running the football should go to the fullback
A lot. He is like an extra offensive lineman in that backfield.
Danny Kreider has had a very good year. I see a lot of fullbacks
in this league, and I wouldn't want any other fullback in this
league than Danny Kreider.
It seems he is really blowing people up?
I just know he is very sore on Monday's and that's a good thing.
Will he get any carries?
He'll probably get at least one in the next three or four games.
Are you isolating him more on linebackers?
Danny is just a very solid player. The thing you can do with Danny
is give him some assignments where he is going to have to
work his way through to get the designated guy. He always
seems to make the right judgments on how to get to people.
Playing that position isn't just going in there and ramming
yourself into someone. A lot of times it's trying to get to that guy
and taking the best path to get to that guy. A lot of times you will
find the ball carrier has a good feel and trust him because he is
going to take you to the opening where it may be. It may unfold
differently. It's hard to say. He is a very trustworthy type of guy.
Is that position undervalued?
It depends on what system you are in. I think a lot of people
recognize the importance of it. It's hard to measure because you
are not measuring by carries or catches. A lot of times in the past
the fullbacks have been measured because they have been in a
pass-happy system where they get a lot of catches. Again he is
like a lineman. His good games come on good blocks. We get
him in the passing game a little bit and rarely get him in the
running game. His touches usually come in the pass. What he
has been able to do is open holes and he does it very well.
Bill Cowher Press Conference Transcript
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