Q&A with Tom Coughlin

<b>Q:</b> What is the latest on Chris Snee? <br><br><b>A:</b> It sounded like that he may be allowed to go home, if not today, then maybe tomorrow. Hopefully that will be the case. They do have some more tests that they have to administer, maybe just one more.

Q: They really don't know what it is?

A: Well, I haven't been told. I know that they are thinking that it is in the viral area, but other than that, I really don't know. I won't know until somebody tells me definitely what it is. It is kind of vague because it is in that (viral) area; is my understanding.

Q: When he comes home, will he be able to…?

A: That is what we don't know. We will have to find out all of that stuff. Whether he goes directly home for more rest, or whether he can come in here and not practice but meet and so on and so forth.

Q: Has he improved?

A: He sounds better. He tells me he still does have the gland that is swollen. But he sounds a lot better and I think he feels a lot better about it.

Q: Do you expect Norman Hand to practice?

A: No.

Q: Did he try running yesterday?

A: He has tried for probably two weeks. He has tried to do some work. He is not cleared to go.

Q: What about Barrett Green?

A: No. Barrett is going to have a scope on Friday. He will be out.

Q: Out for the year?

A: In all likelihood. But I won't make that decision just yet.

Q: Will Greisen practice today?

A: Yes. He will be limited but he will practice.

Q: How about Wilson?

A: No.

Q: Any update on his condition?

A: As I said, it is always week-to-week, and it doesn't change a whole lot.

Q: Have you had a year like this when you were in college or pros, where you have had so many injuries, one thing after another, it snowballed on you, players dropping like flys?

A: Have I ever had one like this? No. Quite frankly, no. Does it make it any easier or make it any harder? No. Again it is week-to-week and it is the NFL and injuries are a part of it. Most unfortunate is the illness part of it, which no one wants for anyone.

Q: As a coach, how have to dealt with it? You try to find people to put in and bring guys in and they get hurt – do you just throw up your hands?

A: No, you can't do that. You keep your eye focused ahead and you do the best you can with maneuvering, trying to find ways to do things in a positive way with your team. Keep your team motivated, keep their spirits up. Get as much possibly done as you can, as all teams are doing right now. Everyone is in the process of trying to piece together good, solid practices with players that can practice, can't practice, that type of thing.

Q: Based on your evaluation of Roethlisberger before the draft, are you surprised at all how quickly he has adapted to the program and functioned as well?

A: Watching him play and knowing the amount - he has won 11 in a row, they have won 11 in a row that he has been the quarterback - watching his progress, he was rated extremely high and he has done very well. They have a good, solid football team around him. He has made plays when he has had to make them, and he has also benefited the way the Steelers play – the outstanding defense and the good running game, etc, etc.

Q: Was there any thinking on your part because of the level of competition or whatever else that it might take him a little longer to become a pro?

A: I don't think that was (the case). His talent level was extremely high. We were there for the workouts, we did all of the interviews and went through the whole process and had a very, very strong feeling about him.

Q: When you met with him individually, what kind of vibes did you get from him?

A: Solid, real good, real good. We had dinner with him and then had an opportunity to look at some tape with him. Very good.

Q: Yesterday Deion Sanders said that playing against the Giants was almost like playing against a team that couldn't wait until the season was over. What are your thoughts on that? Also, Sanders supposedly told Manning that he would be a star. Can you confirm that?

A: I can't confirm anything. Because this is the first time I have heard about it. But I won't even comment on that. I haven't read it; I don't know about it, and I am not commenting on it.

Q: Last week you told the team that the game against the Redskins was unacceptable. Did you say the same thing this week?

A: Yes, basically…My thinking after the game was, "You are not going to win a game in which you turn the ball over six times, which you have nine penalties in the game, eight of them on offense, and you create the kind of start in the first half that literally puts the opponent in front of the goal line from point blank range. So, that is not going to be the case. That is not acceptable. There were plays in and out of the game which were very acceptable. Special teams plays, some defensive plays, some opportunities there. There was not much on offense that was acceptable at all.

Q: Is it reasonable to believe that no matter what rookie quarterback was plugged in as Pittsburgh's quarterback, he would succeed?

A: I wouldn't be able to say anything like that. The Steelers came off of a season in which they knew they were going to have to improve, and they obviously worked very hard at it, and are having one of those very, very rare years, in which you look at the teams they have beaten – back-to-back teams that they have beaten in this league – the Philadelphias and New Englands – they are a pretty darn good football team.

Q: You vowed in January to improve turnovers and penalties? Has that been a tougher chore than you envisioned?

A: At one time it wasn't. I think that when we started the year and we were +12, that looked very good. We have just taken – in this last week – and thrown all of that out the window. We were still +6 going into the game last week. So, in one game you see how, perhaps, Washington felt when they left here after our first game against Washington. But that is not the way that I want to play, and as I said right after the game, it makes me sick to my stomach to think about playing a game like that.

Q: RE: problems with run defense last two games.

A: We were better last week than we were two weeks ago. Our problems two weeks is well documented. Again, we got cut off, we got the back side cut off, we were attacked by basically a slash team that cut one side off and got themselves to the linebacker level without a whole lot of resistance, and then on to the secondary level with relative ease because of some failures up front to execute responsibility. Last week we gave up some runs, no doubt about it; some untimely runs. I think more of the third-and-nine draw than anything else. But we made some plays and didn't make some plays. We had some people who were in relatively new positions. For example, Robbins at end, that a couple of cutback runs we didn't take care of. So there was a spot here or there. But I thought the physical part of the front last weekend was better.

Q: Do you anticipate Robbins at end again if Norman can't play?

A: We will be flexible with all of those people up front.

Q: Is Jamaar Taylor going to play?

A: No.

Q: He hasn't made much progress?

A: Very little. He did some running yesterday. And I think he is in the right direction, but can he go forth and be full speed? No.

Q: Given the way the Steelers are playing and how your team is, how perfect or near perfect do you think that you have to be on Saturday?

A: We have to play very well, and obviously with the Steelers, the number one thing that you think of is the physical play. And you have to be able to match that. Now, in addition, because of the way they swarm and play on defense, they rely on that for momentum. You can't turn the ball over. If you turn the ball over to that team, it is points on the board again. So you are going to have to play extremely well and have to make plays in all facets of the game, which is a lot of what they rely on. They rely on their punt returner, they rely on solid field position. They have a strong kicking game. Reed, their kickoff guy, drives the ball deep. They rely on field position. We have to do the exact same thing. We have to create some way, some opportunity, to turn it over ourselves. We had our hands on a couple of balls last week and didn't catch them. That was all there was to it. It was ‘make the catch.'

Q: You have two coaches on your staff what were coordinators on Cowher's staff in 2000. Is it difficult to keep a relationship with a coordinator – on an even keel – when things are not going well? ……..when do you have to get rid of the coordinator?

A: I don't know that there is any one thing. Obviously performance is part of it. But basically people just have differences of opinions on things. If they are not able to be resolved, that is normally the way it goes. If a guy is in a position where he doesn't like something and it is a conviction on the part of the other individual that it is – I'm just speculating – I wouldn't know – in this case I wouldn't know, but if there is a difference of opinion that is not able to be resolved, normally that is what happens – people go their opposite ways.

Q: Philosophically in terms of strategy?

A: Perhaps. Perhaps there is something that someone clings to that the head coach doesn't think is the way to go. There are all kinds of things.

Q: Has Tim Lewis been more helpful this week?

A: Tim has certainly a tremendous amount of knowledge about the personnel. And that is basically where our offensivee coaches, in addition to Dave Gettleman and his staff, where we would get information about personnel.

Q: As a former receivers coach, have you put your finger on the problem of your receivers not getting into the end zone?

A: Well, getting into the end zone has been a problem all of the way around. It doesn't have anything to do with the receivers. There were plays the other day. I thought Amani had a couple steps early on when that was the under thrown ball. Ike was behind his guy when the ball was over thrown. So, it is the lack of consistency. The way things are magnified right now, offensively, if there is an opportunity, you had better take full advantage of it, because it might not come around again. The disappointing things to me are, for example, not only the inconsistencies, but the inability at times for us to control ourselves in situations such as false starts. That to me, at this level, has absolutely no business in the professional football game.

Q: If Eli struggles like he did last week, would you think of switching quarterbacks earlier in the game?

A: Probably not.

Q: Due to fact that Eli was confused by all of the different defenses he saw, would there be any validly in starting Kurt and giving him the first series or two, hoping he could kind of map it out for Eli, and then put him in?

A: No. I don't think that would be - first of all, the confusion that everyone wants to refer to, I don't necessarily think Eli was confused. I think Eli, just like anyone else, would like to have had something go right early on in the game that would have given him some – the basis from which they came – the moving around, Eli got caught a couple of times just having to change the mike call. In the mike call change, the clock would wind down on him. That is basically the confusion. Did he know the mike – would he settle on the mike at the snap of the ball, yes. But at times he had to relocate and readjust and re-designate who the mike was. That is why it looked like he was standing there for a long amount of time. And some of the things that were indicated by the media earlier in the week about, ‘can he get up to the line of scrimmage and snap the ball and go?' Yeah. That is a pretty good point. There are times when we need to do that. Forget about all of that crap and get up there and snap the ball – let the kid play. So, I don't agree with the confusion deal. I agree in some case, obviously, being outplayed. But I don't see the confusion.

Q: You said, though, that he was mentally tied up, meaning?

A: Mentally tied, I think as it went deeper go along. As I said, I think the lack of success, perhaps the errors that were made, compounded that. And there were times when he was - frustrated is probably a better word than mentally tied up. Frustrated by his inability to make a – to just make a call and go with it. So I think maybe that was the case.

Q: Seems like this has been a problem all year – taking a long time to snap the ball.

A: At the line too long. It could be the case.

Q: Because you have two new quarterbacks?

A: Could be, that could be. There are times when there is doubt that you would like to say snap the ball before someone does flinch. But you have to understand that on the other side of the coin, it ain't that easy. It's not that simple.

Q: Are Eli's physically problems, in terms of missing receivers; is that as big a problem as mentally?

A: I think you would want it all to be one. I don't know what physical problems you are referring to?

Q: Throwing, accuracy.

A: I think that has pretty much been well documented. If he starts in one direction, decides in effect that he has to go back over here for a second choice, not getting himself organized and throwing the ball flat-footed or something. That is way the ball comes off like it does sometimes. If he is able to set, shuffle, deliver, it is fine. If he is not able to do that in rhythm, then it is not.


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