Bill Cowher Press Conference Transcript

<b>BILL COWHER</b><br> Let me just give you an injury update going into Game 7. We have two players who are out: First guy is Tommy Maddox. Tommy threw about 15 balls yesterday about 10 or 15 yards so we'll continue to monitor that. He's not close to practicing, but he's making progress which is a good thing.

He's out this week, as is Chad Scott. He's been immobilized and we'll have a better idea of what his timeframe is by the end of the week. We have two players as questionable: Kendrell Bell with his sports hernia and Lee Mays with turf toe. Kendrell did a little bit on Monday and practiced. We'll see how it is as the week goes on and we'll go from there. We've got two players who are probable: Duce (Staley) with his knee and Verron Haynes with the knee. That's our situation health-wise going into the game Sunday.

Obviously it's a big game from our team, just from the standpoint of trying to stay one game ahead of Baltimore at this point. And it is a chance to play the team that's made all of the headlines for all the right reasons. They've won 21 straight. It's an opportunity to break that streak. More importantly, it's an opportunity to win another game. It certainly will be a big challenge. It's a four o'clock game and we're looking forward to the atmosphere that goes along with that.

Is there any one thing that stands out about his Patriots team or is it a variety of things?
I think that's the thing that sticks out, the ways that they win. They've won high-scoring games, they've won low-scoring games. They're able to adapt to the game however it unfolds.

The one thing that stands out is that, I think, in their last 14 games, they've been the first one to score. Hopefully everyone will be in their seats early for this game and get us off to a good start. But I think the thing about them is they find ways to win in the fourth quarter. They won't beat themselves. It's not a team that's going to self-destruct. It's a football team that's very patient, very resourceful and they just find ways to win games. They've done it in an impressive manner. There's nothing flashy about them. They take each week as it comes and adapt a plan for that particular team and they're able to execute it.

What impresses you most about Tom Brady?
I don't know if he's underrated, but he's as good a quarterback as I've seen in this league in the last couple of years. He's got great vision. He's mobile, but he can maneuver to still see down the field. If there's an open guy on the field, if there's a window, he will find it. I think that's the biggest thing with this guy. He's able to read defenses, he's able to find the open guy, he's able to buy time and he's able to get the ball there very accurately. Like I said, he can manage a game and make plays on a consistent basis that separates him from most quarterbacks in this league,

How much better does Corey Dillon make their offense?
He's a premier back. Last year they had Antowain Smith, the last couple of times we played them. He's a big powerful back. Corey's not just a powerful guy, but he's got that speed out in space where he can make people miss. He's a premier back, there's no question about that. They've done a good job of utilizing him and (Kevin) Faulk and bringing Faulk in on third down and spelling him with Faulk and getting him back has given them a good one-two punch. Corey's a powerful slashing runner. You could see last week, when they needed some tough yards to run the clock out, he was able to give them that. He's been a dependable guy where they've used different guys in the past, a committee, sorta speak. This year, it's Corey with Kevin Faulk spelling him periodically. He's good.

Does that change the way you prepare for them?
I think you have to defend everything. They're very balanced. I think the big thing with these guys is third down. They're like fifth in the NFL on third downs. You have to stay patient with them. I think people have gone in the last couple of years trying to take away a certain element of it and they've found ways to be resourceful enough to find other ways. We've got to play our game. We've recognize that (David) Givens and (David) Patten are two good guys on the outside. Daniel Graham and Christian Fauria are two good tight ends who are good pass-catching tight ends. Again, you've got a quarterback who's resourceful, who can see the field. I think the biggest thing that is we need to take away the big plays and win the situational part of this game because that's what they do so well. We're going to have to get off the field on third down. That will have a lot to do with keeping them out of a rhythm and not letting them control the clock. That's what it's going to come down to.

Do they do unique things that no other team does or do they just do things better?
Obviously they've been doing it better for 21 straight weeks. But I would say they're a little bit like Dallas. We played against coach (Bill) Parcells. There's going to be a package of the week that we're going to see that they're going to attack us with. They'll do some base things. If they get a lead, they'll go with two tight ends. That's been pretty standard and they'll have some wrinkles off of that. There will be some things, particularly on third down, that we'll have to line up and match up against in terms of what they want to do. They'll leave their regular package on there and it will be third down and six. They create some situations going in where you have decide how you want to match up against them. I think it's going to be important to us to be flexible enough to get a feel for what that package is and be able to adjust. You're going to go in with a thought in mind, but we're going to have to be ready to adjust to what they're going to attack us with offensively. From a defensive standpoint it will be making the adjustments and trying to counteract what that may be.

Is coaching a more significant element this week?
No, the players are still playing the game. You have to execute. It comes down to execution. They're a well-coached team. Bill Belichick, what he's done speaks for itself. He's developed a mindset up there that's very much like him. He keeps things simple for them. He's able to take each opponent, identify what he wants to take away and identify the weaknesses they want to attack and the players have played that out. It comes down to the execution that takes place on the field and the ability of us to put our players in a situation to make plays.

Do you think Belichick has anything unusual planned for Ben Roethlisberger?
I don't know. Ben's started four games, so he's got all of that experience. I'm sure there will be something he'll see. They do a good job. They've got a veteran defense with Rodney Harrison and Ty Law back there. They'll give us some things we'll have to adjust to. We just have to play our game. We can't get caught up in what they do. We have to establish our plan and play smart, control the clock and make some third downs. If opportunities come to throw the ball down the field, we've got to take our shots. We can't get too caught up and enamored with what they've done. We just have to play our game. If we play our game, minimize the mistakes and try to seize some opportunities, hopefully the ball will fall the right way and we'll have an opportunity to win this game. I think it's a game where we're going to have to execute and be on top of our game to win this.

They have a reputation for causing confusion with their defense. Is this evident on film?
Well, we're going up against a 34 defense like we play. I think a lot of the confusion at times comes on third-down situations when you start getting into some of the sub packages with some of the blitzes that they have and some of the athletes they have back there. They're a defense that plays very much under control. They don't give up a lot of big plays, and the one thing they've done a great job of, and I think the big challenge for us is, they're number one in the AFC in red-zone defense. I know we're probably number one in red-zone offense. If we can get down there, coming away with seven and not three is big in this league. When you look at their streak, that probably played a large part in it. People have moved the ball but it's hard to score against these guys because they've played their defenses very well and they're very opportunistic. They can create some confusion but nothing more than what we see week in and week out.

Has the five-yard rule, after all the talk before the season, dissipated?
It depends on who you talk to. If you talk to Deshea (Townsend) and Chad, they'll think the rule's fine. I think the most important thing, as in any rule, is just be consistent. I always make the reference to the NBA. Are they calling handchecks or are they not calling handchecks? If they're not calling them, then you'd better be ready to do some handchecking. If they are going to call it, you have to understand that's how the game's going to be called. It's going to get called today. So we have to be able to adjust, and for the most part it's been pretty consistent. We'll see how the game's going to be called Sunday. I'm sure they'll set the tone early and we'll be able to adjust accordingly.

How do you keep Chris Hoke from getting overly excited?
You'll never keep him from being overly excited. I think he gets excited for practice. I know the offensive guys are really happy because he won't be on the scout team giving us a look now, and so that's one less guy they have to go against during the week. But Chris will be fine. He's earned this opportunity. He's worked very hard and I think he'll be fine in there. I really do. I've seen no indication to think that he wouldn't. Certainly time will tell. I think he'll be fine, particularly once he gets into the flow of the game and gets a few plays under him. I think all of that adrenaline tends to wear off after the first couple of hits.

How is their offensive line?
It's good. They do a very good job of working together. They're good scheme blockers. They do a great job of getting a hat on a hat. They're not big guys, per se, as it relates to a lot of the NFL, but they do a great job of identifying bodies and getting a body on a body and creating seams for Corey to hit and they do a great job of protecting Brady. And he has a good feel for them and where to step up in the pocket. He's very good at sliding in the pocket in terms of escaping and feeling pressure. I think it's a very, very solid offensive line.

Do they "reach block" well?
Yeah. That's the kind of line that they are. You talked about the running game with Denver. People saw that last night, and you don't have a lot of massive bodies there, but they try to get a hat on a hat and hit the seam quick. They have some different running plays. They've got a package of plays where they may come in and try to spread us out with three wide receivers and one tight end and run the ball, and they may come in with two tight ends and two backs and try to run the ball that way. Depending on the personnel you have on the field, there are certain plays we've got to be prepared to see.

Teams coming off the bye week are less than .500. Why?
I don't know. There's probably a little bit of rustiness you have to shake off early in the game to get up to the speed of the game because it's been a week off, particularly when you play a team that isn't coming off a bye. I think there's a degree of that that takes place, but when all's said and done and everyone's acclimated I think it becomes immaterial.

What's your team's identity?
We've had very solid line play through the first six weeks. I think that our specials teams have created good field position for us. And I think we've been an opportunistic team that's played good situational football.

I think that's something that's been consistent throughout. That's not a bad foundation to work from. I still say a lot has yet to be defined, sorta speak, but I think a lot of what we've done to this point I'd like to think is us. Again, not beating ourselves, being physical and controlling the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, and having solid special teams will give you a chance to win a lot of football games. I'd like to think that's a very solid identity to have if we can continue that.

Will Hoke play as much as Casey Hampton did?
No. I mean, we'll see how it pans out. Even with Casey, you plan so much substituted defense, and depending on how this game would unfold - whether we have to play more nickel or more Okie - we'll have to monitor that. I don't think it will be (a problem) from a standpoint of conditioning. Maybe anxiety will enter into it but we'll monitor that.

Will Kimo von Oelhoffen see any time inside this week?

Will you downplay or celebrate the fact that this is a big game?
You know what? It's our seventh game. I don't think you should look at it any other way. I think the game of itself will take on its own magnitude, and that's a good thing. We've been here before. We've had some veteran guys there before. Certainly, we want to stay a game ahead in our division. That to me is the most significant part of this game. It has nothing to do with New England and what they have going on with them, it's more about us and our opportunity to stay in first place in this division. And that's what it is. We're playing at home. It's a four o'clock game. Sure you get excited about that, and I'm not going to downplay that. There's nothing to downplay. It's a big game. It's why you're in this business is to play in games like this. There are a lot more left to be played after this game, too. There's a lot of football left to be played. Nothing will be accomplished or defined, sorta speak, with this game. There's a lot of football left, a lot of tough opponents ahead of us, but this is the game we're playing this week and this is the challenge we have and everything else that goes with it - New England's stature and what they've accomplished - adds to it, but for us it's a game we need to win just to stay in first place.

What's the longest streak you've been a part of?
I don't know. Probably since we've been here. I know it's not gotten above seven or eight.

You won eight in 1995.
Well, that was it. Midget wasn't real good; high school was OK; college was just OK; pros, very average when I played.

Will you use this game as a barometer to gauge your team?
Will I? No. Will you guys? Yes.

Was Belichick a different kind of coach in Cleveland?
I don't think so. I think he's always been a bright coach. I've known Bill from way back. When we both became coordinators, myself at Kansas City and him at New York, we actually spent a whole day together talking football. I've got a lot of respect for him. We went up to Cleveland and we had some pretty good games when he was up there. Even back then, he had to make the unpopular decision with Bernie Kosar, just like he had to do in New England with Drew (Bledsoe). He's a football guy. He'll do what he thinks is in the best interest of his team. And sometimes people have not always agreed with him and maybe have drawn too quick judgments of him because of that. Certainly now he's kind of vindicated his past, which I don't think he ever needed to do to begin with, but he's a football coach. He's a good football coach who's very level-headed, keeps everything in perspective, and has made a lot of tough decisions in his time up there. It's good to see a guy like that have success.

Have you talked about bringing in a third quarterback?
There's been talk about it. Yeah.

Has Maddox reported pain from throwing?
I don't ask him. Sometimes those things are better left (alone), but John (Norwig) says everything's on schedule.

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