Bill Cowher press conference, Oct. 31

A frustrated Bill Cowher is searching for answers to the reason for the Steelers' 2-5 start to the 2005 season.

Bill Cowher held his weekly press conference Tuesday to talk about the woes of the Pittsburgh Steelers and their upcoming game with the Denver Broncos, a rematch of last year's AFC Championship:

Opening Statement: OK, let me give you the injury report here. First of all we have two players we will place on injured reserve and will be out the remainder of the season, that's Verron Haynes and Arnold Harrison. We will make a roster move at some point here in the next couple of days. When we get that information we will release it to you. I'm not ready to disclose any of that at this point. There's four other players that are out for this game: Mike Logan with a hamstring; James Harrison with an ankle; Willie Reid with his foot; and Jeff Hartings with a knee. Jeff actually has a MCL sprain. It will not need surgery, but he is week to week. He will be out this week. Two players are questionable, Casey Hampton with a hamstring and Clark Haggans with an ankle. And the following players are probable, Deshea (Townsend) with a quad, Larry Foote with a shoulder, Santonio Holmes with a shoulder, Chris Kemoeatu with an ankle, (Dan) Kreider with an ankle; (Sean) Morey with a toe, Troy (Polamalu) with a foot and Cedrick Wilson with a groin. Let me just say this, obviously there's a lot of disappointment to be sitting here where we are at 2-5. First of all, I accept full responsibility for that. It starts with me. There's been a lot of frustration that has taken place in the course of these games in terms of the different ways we have found to lose. The bottom line is that we have lost. Each of us is going to have to do more and that starts with me. I can assure you that we will do whatever we deem necessary to win a football game. Certainly this opponent, Denver, is a formidable one. They're coming off a tough loss to Indianapolis. But at 5-2 they're one of the better teams in the AFC. It's a big challenge ahead of us. But the focus right now is to win this football game and get out of the funk we're in.

Do you think the fact your future is up in the air, that you're taking it year to year, is a factor in your focus or the player's focus?

No.

Do you think Ben (Roethlisberger) is trying to do too much at times?

I don't think there's any question. You go through a game the other day, I'm not a big stat guy, but you come down to it and the only stat in my mind that is evident is that we gave up 14 points on offense and six points on defense. We talked about it. He had four interceptions. I can see the one he threw down the field, I saw what he saw. But the other three, he's got to use better judgement and he would admit to that. There are times when he's trying to do too much and certainly when the opportunities we had are there. To get the ball at the one yard line and not to be able to score with first and goal at the one. So many things are taking place right now, inconsistencies, we've got to eliminate them. And we are not doing that. That's the frustrating part of it.

No quarterback doesn't have these kind of struggles. Wasn't this due to happen at some point?

To answer you question, yes. The important thing is how you deal with it. Ben Roethlisberger is a good football player, he's a good quarterback. He will learn from it. I think the greatest thing about that is he recognizes that. He's accountable. He's a stand-up guy. Those things will make him a stronger player, a stronger person through the course of time. I truly believe that. What he's done in the time he's been here is unprecendented. The biggest thing is to make sure that you look at, not the big picture, but the little things. The understanding of where you're at and that you're not going to get back there in leaps and bounds. The thing is, he played two pretty good games in the weeks prior to this game. There had been no turnovers. He had not thrown an interception in two consecutive games, one at home and one on the road. Again, it's just you get into those situations where you don't get off to a fast start. I had cautioned the offense, because those last two games we had come out with such fast starts. If you don't get off to a hot start, don't try to get it back in chunks. Sometimes it's easy to say that on a Saturday night, but when you get out there in the heat of battle, sometimes you want to do things too quickly.

How much have his health maladies contributed to his inconsistencies?

That's a hard question to answer. It's all speculation. I think it would be unfair of me to make any kind of speculation at this point.

Did you guys talk about it and he dismiss it?

Yeah. We talk about it on a week-to-week basis. Based on last week and talking to him and the week of practice that he had, there was no question about him playing. What happens when you lose a lot of things come under the microscope, as they should. But all the speculation about him, about me, that becomes a part of it. You've got to be able to deal with it. You're in the public eye and we've had a few bad days at the office. How we deal with it will tell about who we are as people. You don't run from it, you don't hide from it, you deal with it. All I can tell you is that I'm going to deal with it. With the quality of players that we have, hopefully they'll make that same decision.

Do you have to do a lot of psychology work to make sure the confidence remains at a high level?

I think that's true of this business whether you're winning or losing. Confidence is a fragile thing. We have no reason to be a confident team at this point. We haven't done the things it takes to win football games. We have to go out there and establish that. You have to be careful about being a realist and not trying to sugar-coat things. I think it's important that we deal with where we're are and what the facts are. I think you have a veteran team that understands that. There's no easy and clear-cut answers to that. If there was, a lot of things would have been rectified at this point. The only answer to it is to go out there and pay attention to the little things. And that starts with me.

Last year in the last four games, you told them to wipe the slate clean. Is it time to do that again?

It's a new year. I don't think you sit there and say you did this last year. We are where we are right now. That's the bottom line. I'm not going to sit here with any magic formula we're going to go back to. The thing about it is that we are where we are now. I don't care about what people did in the past. I don't care what the potential is for them to do in the future. I want to see who we are right now. The people who are ready to stand up and do something about it right now, that's the people I'm going to surround myself with right now. And really it's that simple.

Do you need somebody in the locker room to stand up and make people more accountable?

I don't know. I'm just telling you what I'm saying. I'm just telling you the direction I want this football team to go and it starts with me.

Ben spent a lot of time at the doctor's last week. Did that cut into his preparation time?

No.

Did Verron and Arnold need surgery?

Yes.

What was the problem?

ACLs. Verron is actually going to get his done tomorrow. We've got to wait for Arnold's swelling to go down.

Will Najeh (Davenport) become the third-down guy?

We will look at what our options are. I'm not ready to make that decision today.

Duce (Staley) will factor in there?

We'll see how it unfolds.

How did Chukky (Okobi) do?

He did fine.

He'll step in for Jeff?

Yeah, he's been in this league a while and every time Jeff has gone down, he's stepped in and been a very consistent player.

Did he throw two blocks on Willie's (Parker) touchdown?

Yeah he did. We're fortunate to have some depth at that position. I have no concerns with Chukky stepping in.

Will Kendall (Simmons) take some snaps at center?

Yeah and we still have Marvin Philip, so we'll see what our options are there.

The situation at right guard, are we to assume …? It's week to week. It's week to week.

When you mentioned a roster move, is it a running back or a linebacker you're looking at?

Both. We've got two roster spots. We'll see what we can pick up to help us win this week.

On the fourth down pass to Santonio. When you saw it on film, did it look like Ben had an opportunity to run and have you noticed any reluctance to run?

I don't know about the reluctance part. Those are decisions he has to make out there. I know he ran earlier. On that play, he would not have gotten into the end zone had he run. The linebacker came up. He would not have scored a touchdown had he run.

Is he more reluctant to run, he's not run as much. Is that circumstance?

Like I said, we talked about it earlier in the season. He ran once the other day. I think it's more circumstance. We've gotten him out of the pocket a couple of times. I haven't sensed that being an issue.

His knee injury last year factor into that at all?

No, not that I'm aware of.

(The obligatory Denver defense question) Everybody is raving about Denver's defense, are they doing anything differently than they did last year?

They've played well. The biggest thing, the difference I see this year is Darrent Williams from when we played them last year. He's back playing. (Elvis) Dumervil has given them a pretty good rusher – the kid from Louisville – on third down. You're seeing pretty much the same guys, a little bit different, but not a whole lot. They've got a good front four, outstanding linebackers. They've got really good safeties in Kenoy Kennedy and John Lynch. And Champ (Bailey) is one of if not the best corner in football. It's a really solid defense.

They're a fast defense?

They can run. They're not real big per say, but they are very well coordinated in what they do and they can run to the football and those linebackers are special.

How are they using Dumervil?

Pretty much as a third-down rusher. He's a real good edge rusher.

A lot of times you mention the three phases of the game, the kickoff coverage unit has allowed big returns in back-to-back games.

The kickoff coverage team is 30th in the league in terms of starting points. Our punt, the opponent net punt, is 32nd. There's not question it's been one of the bigger disappointments with us, the kicking game. Those are the facts. We've got to find a way to rectify it. I'm not going to make any excuses, we're just not getting it done.

Did you give any thought to pulling Ben at all and will he be on any a shorter leash?

No.

Are you surprised or disappointed at the inconsistency of the offensive line?

Very much so. There's no easy answer to the inconsistencies of this team. It would be unfair to pinpoint any one area. You go back to some of our inabilities in the Atlanta game on third down and we played well in two of the last three weeks on defense. We'll have a big challenge these next two weeks. Offensively, we've not been able to run the ball consistently. We hadn't turned the ball over for two weeks, then we come back to that. We hadn't been throwing interceptions. We'd been turning the ball over and that's been the biggest thing. We have 18 turnovers in seven games. A year ago, we had 23 in 16 games. There's been a lot of inconsistencies with our team. And I've already talked about the special teams. There's a lot of work to be done. It's not going to get done overnight. We've got to tape steps when we're in here and it's got to start with our preparation.


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