Q&A: Mike Tomlin

Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin met with the media Tuesday to discuss the state of the team heading into week three. The transcript follows:

Mike Tomlin, coach, Pittsburgh Steelers

Opening statement: Good afternoon. I have a quick update from the weekend. We had very productive meetings yesterday. We came in and watched tape, like usual it was not as good as you expect and probably not as bad as you expect it. We feel like we identified some areas that need improvement and we made those corrections and watched, and then we get an opportunity to go out and go to work this week and work on those areas.

Specifically in some areas that we need to improve, I think our kickoff coverage needs to improve. You have to acknowledge that Terrance McGee is a very good return man. I don't want to take anything away from him. We can get better in that area, though in terms of running integrity, and just simply defeating blocks and putting ourselves in position to make tackles. We are going to work hard at that this week.

Defensively, there is not much you can be critical of there. I thought they played very well and with great energy and emotion. We did challenge our corners to do a better job perimeter tackling and some things of that nature. That was an area that if you wanted to critique, we could get better at. By no means is it below the line. I think that our group of corners is as good a group of tackling corners as you will find in football. We have a level of expectations for them and it is their job to step into stadiums on weekends and prove that. So we will work on that a little bit this week and challenge them. I know that they will respond.

Offensively, of course, the red zone issues, we have to do a better job there. But more than anything, it is the minor details that sometimes turn up in the form of points, a lack of points. It wasn't a deciding factor in the outcome of the game this past weekend, but it maybe at some point, it would be. So we have to continue to grow in that area. I fell short of perfection this weekend. I had the opportunity to challenge a kickoff return that could have saved us valuable yards and maybe preserved a shutout. I didn't get that done, so I am working and growing every weekend. We have to do a better job of taking care of our timeouts in the first half. I think we have been more efficient from that standpoint of protecting our timeouts; we may have had an opportunity to put seven on the board right before the half as opposed to three at the end of what was a great two-minute drive to down the field with no timeouts. We are thankful to be 2-0. We are working to get better as we look forward to getting back to business tomorrow.

On the injury front, I know everyone is interested in hearing how James Harrison is. We have great news in that area, he is going to be fine. Basically, what it amounted to at this point is a stiff nick, which is great news. We may limit him in some way tomorrow, but he has a clean bill of health so we look forward to moving forward with him. Matt Spaeth has a thigh bruise. When you are 6-foot-7 and catch balls on the fly, people are going to hit you in the thigh. That is how they tackle you. He has to get accustomed and used to that and how to defend himself in those situations. He will be limited some, we will see where he is tomorrow. But as of right now, he is going to be limited a little bit, particularly at the top part of the work week tomorrow. Other that, we are a healthy football team and moving forward to getting ready to play the 49ers who are also 2-0 and doing a lot of things right. Specifically, about them, before I take questions, offensively they are built around an explosive Frank Gore. He is a known commodity and is a great back. He has great vision, lateral quickness and power. He is a very good football player. He led the NFC in rushing and receiving last year, he has a complete football game. They built what they knew offensively around him. Alex Smith does a heck of a job administering the offense. They take calculated risks and are somewhat conservative, but they are putting themselves in position to win football games. It looks like everyone knows what their role is and when you watch them play, they have a very talented tight end in Vernon Davis. They have some weapons offensively. Defensively, we believe they have a very stout front, centered on Bryant Young who is a been-there, done-that guy and done it for a very long time. They have some young talented guys at linebacker in Manny Lawson. They have another great rookie inside backer and we'll see another one this week. They have some good free agents in the secondary, Nate Clements and Mike Lewis at the safety position. They have a very rock solid football team. I think their record tells the story of that. We are looking forward to preparing ourselves to play our game and to prepare ourselves and do what we do come this weekend. I'll answer any questions.

Is it easier to improve at 2-0 instead of 0-2?

I make a conscious effort to take the emotions out of it. That is what Monday's are about. We have been preaching that to the guys since we have been looking at ourselves on days after games and throughout the pre-season. I don't know about this team in that area yet, I haven't had a bunch of failures in terms of wins and losses, even though the pre-season. But the goal is to take the emotions out of it, to look at the tape and to look at the tape for the sole purpose that you can evaluate your play, identify the areas that you need to get better in so that you can that the next time you take the field. Ideally, you like to approach it as it is no different, win or lose.

On why the defense is playing so fast

I don't want to take any credit away from those guys. They are playing the game together. They are playing at a high level. They are playing with great energy and enthusiasm. That is a tribute to them. I think that Coach Lebeau will tell you the same thing. Those guys take a great deal of pride in how they play. They care about one another and it shows.

On how to improve the red zone efficiency

That is just guys recognizing the situation as it is what it is. Situational football is important. We have to have a finish it attitude down there and really, it is not that we need to change anything that we are doing, we just need to continue to do what we are doing and do it a little better and finish it.

What information did you have on the kickoff you wanted to challenge?

I was preoccupied trying to figure out what the break down was. It happened on the far sideline. I didn't realize the guy was so close to being out of bounds or my line of questioning would have been different for the people that I was communicating with. I was more concerned about contain and who was supposed to fill the alleys and why that guy got out of there.

Did anybody see a replay of it?

They did, but it was about a play into the drive. It was a little bit of too little, too late.

If a coach saw it, would he suggest you challenge it?

Absolutely, make no mistake that is my responsibility. I will ask better questions.

On the effect the pass rush has on pass coverage

They go hand in hand, they really do. If you have a great rush, you have to change to have great coverage. If you have great coverage, you have to change to have a great rush. I think we are experiencing success from a pressure standpoint because of the coverage. We have great coverage because of our pressure.

Is it better to spread the ball around, or get it to the best players?

We are just trying to highlight what our guys do well. We have more than 11 guys that are capable of contributing to our offensive effort. We have third and fourth wide receivers that we think can help us. We have second and third tight ends that we think can help us. We have two fullbacks that we think have special skills that can help us in some areas. We have a couple tailbacks. We are going to use all the weapons that are at our disposal and kind of feature what our guys do well.

Are you surprised by the level of domination your team has showed?

I really don't concern myself with that. All I want to do is prepare this football team, show up at the stadiums, give our best effort, show our best effort and be as close to perfection as we can be. We realize that we are going to fall short of that, but the outcome of the game is the outcome of the game. We are very pleased that we are 2-0. We like the fashion at which we are winning, but believe me, style points are not an issue with us. We just want to continue to win games and continue to get better week in and week out.

How important is it to win decisively?

We are just trying to win. In terms of building character, usually that comes with something that is less than ideal. We have character and we have displayed it when we faced adversity. I don't concern myself that much with necessarily how we are getting it done, just as long as we continue to improve in the areas we have identified that we need to improve in to continue to win football games.

Is 2-0 a positive reinforcement for your message?

I assume and think the buy in would be there. We are in the regular season and we are competing for a World Championship. Things you do in the off-season and things you do in training camp are to address some of those issues. Everybody has to have their hand in the pile at this point and move forward collectively, regardless of whether we win or lose. I would hope that would be the case and I think that is the case with these men.

On whether or not the team will continue to dress two fullbacks

We will make those decisions week-to-week based on a lot of things; how we choose to attack people, who is healthy.

On Troy Polamalu's impact, despite his stats

Troy is as good as advertised, no question.

How did James Harrison go from being on a backboard to having a stiff neck?

I didn't necessarily hear that much of the communication that was going on between him and the physicians that were tending to him on the field. I went out there and made sure he was moving his arms and legs, and he was. He was communicating and conscious with them. Of course, he was in a great deal of pain, but there was some clarity with him. Once I saw that, I settled the guys that were standing around on the field and asked them to go inside. I exchanged a few words with James and then I went inside. So specifically what happened in terms of communication with them, I was really unaware that he went off on a board. I was in the locker room for halftime. The reality is that those things happen. I am glad that he is fine professionally and personally. We move forward. That was good news for us.

Is it fair to call it a stinger?

I wouldn't use those words, no. It was a neck strain or a stiff neck.

On whether or not Willie Parker is getting too many carries

We are going to ride Willie until the wheels come off. He is game for that. He is in great physical condition. He wants the ball, he is a competitor and he has shown that is capable of doing it. He is getting better with each carry as these games do on, I am starting to realize that about him. He is a rhythm runner and we are going to feed him and we aren't going to make any bones about that.

Would spotting with Najeh Davenport take away from that rhythm?

We are going to play some people, but Willie Parker is our feature runner. That is no secret. We he needs a blow, he is going to get a blow. When he doesn't, he won't.

Do you like the way he runs (Willie Parker) inside?

I really do. And I think he is improving in that area in terms of showing his patience on the inside tracks while picking and finding holes. He is a finisher and he has more power than people give him credit for. I really think the evolution of his game as an interior runner was centered on his growing patience in terms of letting things develop in front of him.

Has he (Willie Parker) changed your attitude on having two running backs?

We do. Najeh has been our third down feature back. He has been our closer. Najeh has had a significant number of carries in these first two games. He had eight carries the other day and I think Carey Davis also had a carry. We are spreading the ball around. We are going with Willie Parker because we recognize what he is.

Are you pleased with Carey Davis' blocking thus far?

I really am. He is going a nice job. He does a nice job of sticking on people in space, sifting through traffic and getting on guys he is supposed to get on. He is growing every week and we look forward to him continuing to do that.

On how the Steelers defense shut down Wide Receiver Lee Evans

They did a nice job on Lee Evans. Our defensive staff had a good plan in terms of how to eliminate him from the game. A lot of times, good plans don't manifest themselves in play, so they deserve the credit. They took their play into action and they really shut him down for the most part of contained him as well as we could. It produced some of the rush and that produced some of the coverage. Like I said earlier, rush and coverage worth together and those guys did a great job.

Coach Tomlin's evaluation of San Francisco's pass rush.

We are just starting to get into what they do on third downs specifically. We have really been focusing on what they do on first and second down and versus various personnel groups. They have some guys that are individually capable of getting after the quarterback. They have a nice sub package when they do some obscure things. Coach Nolan is a reputable defensive coach and they have some good things going there. They have some looks that you have to work at in terms of picking up their blitz packages. We expect a stiff challenge in that area. Manny Lawson is a big time edge guy and Bryant Young is a known commodity, so we have to get ready to deal with those guys.

San Francisco is last in third down; you're first in third downs

I really think that is a combination of all of the above. We've had some third and short situations and your chances of converting those are pretty high, and we have. We have also had some third and longs. WE had a couple third-and-10's in the game where we had good protection, I would be remised if I didn't mention that. I thought Marvel did an excellent job against Aaron Schobel at the left tackle position. We identified that as a critical match-up in the game. We had great protection and Ben delivered the ball to the open guys and they converted. It is a combination of getting yourself manageable third down situations, and even when we weren't and were in less than ideal situations, from a combination of men we were able to deliver. In terms of it being important, it is, because when you move the chains you control the clock and you thus wear down your opponent and win by attrition. That is what we like to do and we have been blessed in that area so far.

On how quickly the timeouts were used in the first-half

It is more communication and getting the right personnel groups and personnel in the game that you want. It is a double-edged sword. We want to have a variety of personnel groups. We want to make people defend a lot of things. The responsibility comes with that, because we have to communicate. We have to get guys in and out of the huddle. Not only communicating on the sideline, but communication to and in the huddle, so they know who is coming in and who is coming off and being able to deliver the verbage that we need to get to the line of scrimmage in the appropriate amount of time and then to shift in motion, and ultimately snap the football. All of those things factored into the use of those timeouts. Whether it was the play clock winding down, whether it was us not being able to do the appropriate shift or motion that we want do on a particular play or not having enough time to look and see what the defense was giving us before we snap the ball. Those were the issues. We look forward to getting better at that this week we can preserve some of those timeouts.

Was a guy lined up wrong on one of those plays?

It usually was born out of something else. A lag in the communication, in terms of who was going in the huddle and then from there somebody breaks the huddle in the wrong direction and then snowballs. It if is just somebody misaligning themselves, you can usually have enough time to correct that and move on and not have to burn a timeout. Just about all of those instances it was a combination of those things that created the situation.

On right tackle Willie Colon

I think he has played well. Is he capable of playing better? Absolutely. Last week we challenged him to finish. I think he is a better finisher than what he is showing us right now, particularly in the latter part of the football game. I think one of the defining elements in his game is the way he finishes off blocks. He is a very good competitor in that way. He was better this week. The quality of his play has definitely been acceptable. We are pleased with where he is and all he is going to do is continue to get better.

What are the chances of seeing you in a suit on the sidelines and what are your thoughts on Mike Nolan doing it?

Very little chance. Maybe if Mr. Rooney asks me I will. Otherwise, you won't see me in a suit. But to each his own. I heard somewhere that it was to honor his father, which I can respect. That is great, but personally for me, I prefer to be in a sweat suit whenever possible.


Steel City Insider Top Stories

\r\n\r\nMike Tomlin, coach, Pittsburgh Steelers\r\n

\r\nOpening statement: Good afternoon. I have a quick update from the weekend. We had very productive meetings yesterday. We came in and watched tape, like usual it was not as good as you expect and probably not as bad as you expect it. We feel like we identified some areas that need improvement and we made those corrections and watched, and then we get an opportunity to go out and go to work this week and work on those areas.\r\n

\r\nSpecifically in some areas that we need to improve, I think our kickoff coverage needs to improve. You have to acknowledge that Terrance McGee is a very good return man. I don't want to take anything away from him. We can get better in that area, though in terms of running integrity, and just simply defeating blocks and putting ourselves in position to make tackles. We are going to work hard at that this week.\r\n

\r\nDefensively, there is not much you can be critical of there. I thought they played very well and with great energy and emotion. We did challenge our corners to do a better job perimeter tackling and some things of that nature. That was an area that if you wanted to critique, we could get better at. By no means is it below the line. I think that our group of corners is as good a group of tackling corners as you will find in football. We have a level of expectations for them and it is their job to step into stadiums on weekends and prove that. So we will work on that a little bit this week and challenge them. I know that they will respond. \r\n

\r\nOffensively, of course, the red zone issues, we have to do a better job there. But more than anything, it is the minor details that sometimes turn up in the form of points, a lack of points. It wasn't a deciding factor in the outcome of the game this past weekend, but it maybe at some point, it would be. So we have to continue to grow in that area. I fell short of perfection this weekend. I had the opportunity to challenge a kickoff return that could have saved us valuable yards and maybe preserved a shutout. I didn't get that done, so I am working and growing every weekend. We have to do a better job of taking care of our timeouts in the first half. I think we have been more efficient from that standpoint of protecting our timeouts; we may have had an opportunity to put seven on the board right before the half as opposed to three at the end of what was a great two-minute drive to down the field with no timeouts. We are thankful to be 2-0. We are working to get better as we look forward to getting back to business tomorrow. \r\n

\r\nOn the injury front, I know everyone is interested in hearing how James Harrison is. We have great news in that area, he is going to be fine. Basically, what it amounted to at this point is a stiff nick, which is great news. We may limit him in some way tomorrow, but he has a clean bill of health so we look forward to moving forward with him. Matt Spaeth has a thigh bruise. When you are 6-foot-7 and catch balls on the fly, people are going to hit you in the thigh. That is how they tackle you. He has to get accustomed and used to that and how to defend himself in those situations. He will be limited some, we will see where he is tomorrow. But as of right now, he is going to be limited a little bit, particularly at the top part of the work week tomorrow. Other that, we are a healthy football team and moving forward to getting ready to play the 49ers who are also 2-0 and doing a lot of things right. Specifically, about them, before I take questions, offensively they are built around an explosive Frank Gore. He is a known commodity and is a great back. He has great vision, lateral quickness and power. He is a very good football player. He led the NFC in rushing and receiving last year, he has a complete football game. They built what they knew offensively around him. Alex Smith does a heck of a job administering the offense. They take calculated risks and are somewhat conservative, but they are putting themselves in position to win football games. It looks like everyone knows what their role is and when you watch them play, they have a very talented tight end in Vernon Davis. They have some weapons offensively. Defensively, we believe they have a very stout front, centered on Bryant Young who is a been-there, done-that guy and done it for a very long time. They have some young talented guys at linebacker in Manny Lawson. They have another great rookie inside backer and we'll see another one this week. They have some good free agents in the secondary, Nate Clements and Mike Lewis at the safety position. They have a very rock solid football team. I think their record tells the story of that. We are looking forward to preparing ourselves to play our game and to prepare ourselves and do what we do come this weekend. I'll answer any questions.\r\n

\r\nIs it easier to improve at 2-0 instead of 0-2?\r\n

I make a conscious effort to take the emotions out of it. That is what Monday's are about. We have been preaching that to the guys since we have been looking at ourselves on days after games and throughout the pre-season. I don't know about this team in that area yet, I haven't had a bunch of failures in terms of wins and losses, even though the pre-season. But the goal is to take the emotions out of it, to look at the tape and to look at the tape for the sole purpose that you can evaluate your play, identify the areas that you need to get better in so that you can that the next time you take the field. Ideally, you like to approach it as it is no different, win or lose.\r\n

\r\nOn why the defense is playing so fast\r\n

\r\nI don't want to take any credit away from those guys. They are playing the game together. They are playing at a high level. They are playing with great energy and enthusiasm. That is a tribute to them. I think that Coach Lebeau will tell you the same thing. Those guys take a great deal of pride in how they play. They care about one another and it shows.\r\n

\r\nOn how to improve the red zone efficiency\r\n

\r\nThat is just guys recognizing the situation as it is what it is. Situational football is important. We have to have a finish it attitude down there and really, it is not that we need to change anything that we are doing, we just need to continue to do what we are doing and do it a little better and finish it.\r\n

\r\nWhat information did you have on the kickoff you wanted to challenge?\r\n

\r\nI was preoccupied trying to figure out what the break down was. It happened on the far sideline. I didn't realize the guy was so close to being out of bounds or my line of questioning would have been different for the people that I was communicating with. I was more concerned about contain and who was supposed to fill the alleys and why that guy got out of there.\r\n

\r\nDid anybody see a replay of it?\r\n

\r\nThey did, but it was about a play into the drive. It was a little bit of too little, too late.\r\n

\r\nIf a coach saw it, would he suggest you challenge it?\r\n

\r\nAbsolutely, make no mistake that is my responsibility. I will ask better questions.\r\n

\r\nOn the effect the pass rush has on pass coverage\r\n

\r\nThey go hand in hand, they really do. If you have a great rush, you have to change to have great coverage. If you have great coverage, you have to change to have a great rush. I think we are experiencing success from a pressure standpoint because of the coverage. We have great coverage because of our pressure.\r\n

\r\nIs it better to spread the ball around, or get it to the best players?\r\n

\r\nWe are just trying to highlight what our guys do well. We have more than 11 guys that are capable of contributing to our offensive effort. We have third and fourth wide receivers that we think can help us. We have second and third tight ends that we think can help us. We have two fullbacks that we think have special skills that can help us in some areas. We have a couple tailbacks. We are going to use all the weapons that are at our disposal and kind of feature what our guys do well. \r\n

\r\nAre you surprised by the level of domination your team has showed?\r\n

\r\nI really don't concern myself with that. All I want to do is prepare this football team, show up at the stadiums, give our best effort, show our best effort and be as close to perfection as we can be. We realize that we are going to fall short of that, but the outcome of the game is the outcome of the game. We are very pleased that we are 2-0. We like the fashion at which we are winning, but believe me, style points are not an issue with us. We just want to continue to win games and continue to get better week in and week out.\r\n

\r\nHow important is it to win decisively?\r\n

\r\nWe are just trying to win. In terms of building character, usually that comes with something that is less than ideal. We have character and we have displayed it when we faced adversity. I don't concern myself that much with necessarily how we are getting it done, just as long as we continue to improve in the areas we have identified that we need to improve in to continue to win football games.\r\n

\r\nIs 2-0 a positive reinforcement for your message?\r\n

\r\nI assume and think the buy in would be there. We are in the regular season and we are competing for a World Championship. Things you do in the off-season and things you do in training camp are to address some of those issues. Everybody has to have their hand in the pile at this point and move forward collectively, regardless of whether we win or lose. I would hope that would be the case and I think that is the case with these men.\r\n

\r\nOn whether or not the team will continue to dress two fullbacks\r\n

\r\nWe will make those decisions week-to-week based on a lot of things; how we choose to attack people, who is healthy.\r\n

\r\nOn Troy Polamalu's impact, despite his stats\r\n

\r\nTroy is as good as advertised, no question.\r\n

\r\nHow did James Harrison go from being on a backboard to having a stiff neck?\r\n

\r\nI didn't necessarily hear that much of the communication that was going on between him and the physicians that were tending to him on the field. I went out there and made sure he was moving his arms and legs, and he was. He was communicating and conscious with them. Of course, he was in a great deal of pain, but there was some clarity with him. Once I saw that, I settled the guys that were standing around on the field and asked them to go inside. I exchanged a few words with James and then I went inside. So specifically what happened in terms of communication with them, I was really unaware that he went off on a board. I was in the locker room for halftime. The reality is that those things happen. I am glad that he is fine professionally and personally. We move forward. That was good news for us.\r\n

\r\nIs it fair to call it a stinger?\r\n

\r\nI wouldn't use those words, no. It was a neck strain or a stiff neck.\r\n

\r\nOn whether or not Willie Parker is getting too many carries\r\n

\r\nWe are going to ride Willie until the wheels come off. He is game for that. He is in great physical condition. He wants the ball, he is a competitor and he has shown that is capable of doing it. He is getting better with each carry as these games do on, I am starting to realize that about him. He is a rhythm runner and we are going to feed him and we aren't going to make any bones about that.\r\n

\r\nWould spotting with Najeh Davenport take away from that rhythm?\r\n

\r\nWe are going to play some people, but Willie Parker is our feature runner. That is no secret. We he needs a blow, he is going to get a blow. When he doesn't, he won't.\r\n

\r\nDo you like the way he runs (Willie Parker) inside?\r\n

\r\nI really do. And I think he is improving in that area in terms of showing his patience on the inside tracks while picking and finding holes. He is a finisher and he has more power than people give him credit for. I really think the evolution of his game as an interior runner was centered on his growing patience in terms of letting things develop in front of him.\r\n

\r\nHas he (Willie Parker) changed your attitude on having two running backs?\r\n

\r\nWe do. Najeh has been our third down feature back. He has been our closer. Najeh has had a significant number of carries in these first two games. He had eight carries the other day and I think Carey Davis also had a carry. We are spreading the ball around. We are going with Willie Parker because we recognize what he is.\r\n

\r\nAre you pleased with Carey Davis' blocking thus far?\r\n

\r\nI really am. He is going a nice job. He does a nice job of sticking on people in space, sifting through traffic and getting on guys he is supposed to get on. He is growing every week and we look forward to him continuing to do that.\r\n

\r\nOn how the Steelers defense shut down Wide Receiver Lee Evans\r\n

\r\nThey did a nice job on Lee Evans. Our defensive staff had a good plan in terms of how to eliminate him from the game. A lot of times, good plans don't manifest themselves in play, so they deserve the credit. They took their play into action and they really shut him down for the most part of contained him as well as we could. It produced some of the rush and that produced some of the coverage. Like I said earlier, rush and coverage worth together and those guys did a great job.\r\n

\r\nCoach Tomlin's evaluation of San Francisco's pass rush.\r\n

\r\nWe are just starting to get into what they do on third downs specifically. We have really been focusing on what they do on first and second down and versus various personnel groups. They have some guys that are individually capable of getting after the quarterback. They have a nice sub package when they do some obscure things. Coach Nolan is a reputable defensive coach and they have some good things going there. They have some looks that you have to work at in terms of picking up their blitz packages. We expect a stiff challenge in that area. Manny Lawson is a big time edge guy and Bryant Young is a known commodity, so we have to get ready to deal with those guys.\r\n

\r\nSan Francisco is last in third down; you're first in third downs\r\n

\r\nI really think that is a combination of all of the above. We've had some third and short situations and your chances of converting those are pretty high, and we have. We have also had some third and longs. WE had a couple third-and-10's in the game where we had good protection, I would be remised if I didn't mention that. I thought Marvel did an excellent job against Aaron Schobel at the left tackle position. We identified that as a critical match-up in the game. We had great protection and Ben delivered the ball to the open guys and they converted. It is a combination of getting yourself manageable third down situations, and even when we weren't and were in less than ideal situations, from a combination of men we were able to deliver. In terms of it being important, it is, because when you move the chains you control the clock and you thus wear down your opponent and win by attrition. That is what we like to do and we have been blessed in that area so far.\r\n

\r\nOn how quickly the timeouts were used in the first-half\r\n

\r\nIt is more communication and getting the right personnel groups and personnel in the game that you want. It is a double-edged sword. We want to have a variety of personnel groups. We want to make people defend a lot of things. The responsibility comes with that, because we have to communicate. We have to get guys in and out of the huddle. Not only communicating on the sideline, but communication to and in the huddle, so they know who is coming in and who is coming off and being able to deliver the verbage that we need to get to the line of scrimmage in the appropriate amount of time and then to shift in motion, and ultimately snap the football. All of those things factored into the use of those timeouts. Whether it was the play clock winding down, whether it was us not being able to do the appropriate shift or motion that we want do on a particular play or not having enough time to look and see what the defense was giving us before we snap the ball. Those were the issues. We look forward to getting better at that this week we can preserve some of those timeouts.\r\n

\r\nWas a guy lined up wrong on one of those plays?\r\n

\r\nIt usually was born out of something else. A lag in the communication, in terms of who was going in the huddle and then from there somebody breaks the huddle in the wrong direction and then snowballs. It if is just somebody misaligning themselves, you can usually have enough time to correct that and move on and not have to burn a timeout. Just about all of those instances it was a combination of those things that created the situation.\r\n

\r\nOn right tackle Willie Colon\r\n

\r\nI think he has played well. Is he capable of playing better? Absolutely. Last week we challenged him to finish. I think he is a better finisher than what he is showing us right now, particularly in the latter part of the football game. I think one of the defining elements in his game is the way he finishes off blocks. He is a very good competitor in that way. He was better this week. The quality of his play has definitely been acceptable. We are pleased with where he is and all he is going to do is continue to get better.\r\n

\r\nWhat are the chances of seeing you in a suit on the sidelines and what are your thoughts on Mike Nolan doing it?\r\n

\r\nVery little chance. Maybe if Mr. Rooney asks me I will. Otherwise, you won't see me in a suit. But to each his own. I heard somewhere that it was to honor his father, which I can respect. That is great, but personally for me, I prefer to be in a sweat suit whenever possible.\r\n\r\n","mobileBody":" Mike Tomlin, coach, Pittsburgh Steelers

Opening statement: Good afternoon. I have a quick update from the weekend. We had very productive meetings yesterday. We came in and watched tape, like usual it was not as good as you expect and probably not as bad as you expect it. We feel like we identified some areas that need improvement and we made those corrections and watched, and then we get an opportunity to go out and go to work this week and work on those areas.

Specifically in some areas that we need to improve, I think our kickoff coverage needs to improve. You have to acknowledge that Terrance McGee is a very good return man. I don't want to take anything away from him. We can get better in that area, though in terms of running integrity, and just simply defeating blocks and putting ourselves in position to make tackles. We are going to work hard at that this week.

Defensively, there is not much you can be critical of there. I thought they played very well and with great energy and emotion. We did challenge our corners to do a better job perimeter tackling and some things of that nature. That was an area that if you wanted to critique, we could get better at. By no means is it below the line. I think that our group of corners is as good a group of tackling corners as you will find in football. We have a level of expectations for them and it is their job to step into stadiums on weekends and prove that. So we will work on that a little bit this week and challenge them. I know that they will respond.

Offensively, of course, the red zone issues, we have to do a better job there. But more than anything, it is the minor details that sometimes turn up in the form of points, a lack of points. It wasn't a deciding factor in the outcome of the game this past weekend, but it maybe at some point, it would be. So we have to continue to grow in that area. I fell short of perfection this weekend. I had the opportunity to challenge a kickoff return that could have saved us valuable yards and maybe preserved a shutout. I didn't get that done, so I am working and growing every weekend. We have to do a better job of taking care of our timeouts in the first half. I think we have been more efficient from that standpoint of protecting our timeouts; we may have had an opportunity to put seven on the board right before the half as opposed to three at the end of what was a great two-minute drive to down the field with no timeouts. We are thankful to be 2-0. We are working to get better as we look forward to getting back to business tomorrow.

On the injury front, I know everyone is interested in hearing how James Harrison is. We have great news in that area, he is going to be fine. Basically, what it amounted to at this point is a stiff nick, which is great news. We may limit him in some way tomorrow, but he has a clean bill of health so we look forward to moving forward with him. Matt Spaeth has a thigh bruise. When you are 6-foot-7 and catch balls on the fly, people are going to hit you in the thigh. That is how they tackle you. He has to get accustomed and used to that and how to defend himself in those situations. He will be limited some, we will see where he is tomorrow. But as of right now, he is going to be limited a little bit, particularly at the top part of the work week tomorrow. Other that, we are a healthy football team and moving forward to getting ready to play the 49ers who are also 2-0 and doing a lot of things right. Specifically, about them, before I take questions, offensively they are built around an explosive Frank Gore. He is a known commodity and is a great back. He has great vision, lateral quickness and power. He is a very good football player. He led the NFC in rushing and receiving last year, he has a complete football game. They built what they knew offensively around him. Alex Smith does a heck of a job administering the offense. They take calculated risks and are somewhat conservative, but they are putting themselves in position to win football games. It looks like everyone knows what their role is and when you watch them play, they have a very talented tight end in Vernon Davis. They have some weapons offensively. Defensively, we believe they have a very stout front, centered on Bryant Young who is a been-there, done-that guy and done it for a very long time. They have some young talented guys at linebacker in Manny Lawson. They have another great rookie inside backer and we'll see another one this week. They have some good free agents in the secondary, Nate Clements and Mike Lewis at the safety position. They have a very rock solid football team. I think their record tells the story of that. We are looking forward to preparing ourselves to play our game and to prepare ourselves and do what we do come this weekend. I'll answer any questions.

I make a conscious effort to take the emotions out of it. That is what Monday's are about. We have been preaching that to the guys since we have been looking at ourselves on days after games and throughout the pre-season. I don't know about this team in that area yet, I haven't had a bunch of failures in terms of wins and losses, even though the pre-season. But the goal is to take the emotions out of it, to look at the tape and to look at the tape for the sole purpose that you can evaluate your play, identify the areas that you need to get better in so that you can that the next time you take the field. Ideally, you like to approach it as it is no different, win or lose.

I don't want to take any credit away from those guys. They are playing the game together. They are playing at a high level. They are playing with great energy and enthusiasm. That is a tribute to them. I think that Coach Lebeau will tell you the same thing. Those guys take a great deal of pride in how they play. They care about one another and it shows.

That is just guys recognizing the situation as it is what it is. Situational football is important. We have to have a finish it attitude down there and really, it is not that we need to change anything that we are doing, we just need to continue to do what we are doing and do it a little better and finish it.

I was preoccupied trying to figure out what the break down was. It happened on the far sideline. I didn't realize the guy was so close to being out of bounds or my line of questioning would have been different for the people that I was communicating with. I was more concerned about contain and who was supposed to fill the alleys and why that guy got out of there.

They did, but it was about a play into the drive. It was a little bit of too little, too late.

Absolutely, make no mistake that is my responsibility. I will ask better questions.

They go hand in hand, they really do. If you have a great rush, you have to change to have great coverage. If you have great coverage, you have to change to have a great rush. I think we are experiencing success from a pressure standpoint because of the coverage. We have great coverage because of our pressure.

We are just trying to highlight what our guys do well. We have more than 11 guys that are capable of contributing to our offensive effort. We have third and fourth wide receivers that we think can help us. We have second and third tight ends that we think can help us. We have two fullbacks that we think have special skills that can help us in some areas. We have a couple tailbacks. We are going to use all the weapons that are at our disposal and kind of feature what our guys do well.

I really don't concern myself with that. All I want to do is prepare this football team, show up at the stadiums, give our best effort, show our best effort and be as close to perfection as we can be. We realize that we are going to fall short of that, but the outcome of the game is the outcome of the game. We are very pleased that we are 2-0. We like the fashion at which we are winning, but believe me, style points are not an issue with us. We just want to continue to win games and continue to get better week in and week out.

We are just trying to win. In terms of building character, usually that comes with something that is less than ideal. We have character and we have displayed it when we faced adversity. I don't concern myself that much with necessarily how we are getting it done, just as long as we continue to improve in the areas we have identified that we need to improve in to continue to win football games.

I assume and think the buy in would be there. We are in the regular season and we are competing for a World Championship. Things you do in the off-season and things you do in training camp are to address some of those issues. Everybody has to have their hand in the pile at this point and move forward collectively, regardless of whether we win or lose. I would hope that would be the case and I think that is the case with these men.

We will make those decisions week-to-week based on a lot of things; how we choose to attack people, who is healthy.

Troy is as good as advertised, no question.

I didn't necessarily hear that much of the communication that was going on between him and the physicians that were tending to him on the field. I went out there and made sure he was moving his arms and legs, and he was. He was communicating and conscious with them. Of course, he was in a great deal of pain, but there was some clarity with him. Once I saw that, I settled the guys that were standing around on the field and asked them to go inside. I exchanged a few words with James and then I went inside. So specifically what happened in terms of communication with them, I was really unaware that he went off on a board. I was in the locker room for halftime. The reality is that those things happen. I am glad that he is fine professionally and personally. We move forward. That was good news for us.

I wouldn't use those words, no. It was a neck strain or a stiff neck.

We are going to ride Willie until the wheels come off. He is game for that. He is in great physical condition. He wants the ball, he is a competitor and he has shown that is capable of doing it. He is getting better with each carry as these games do on, I am starting to realize that about him. He is a rhythm runner and we are going to feed him and we aren't going to make any bones about that.

We are going to play some people, but Willie Parker is our feature runner. That is no secret. We he needs a blow, he is going to get a blow. When he doesn't, he won't.

I really do. And I think he is improving in that area in terms of showing his patience on the inside tracks while picking and finding holes. He is a finisher and he has more power than people give him credit for. I really think the evolution of his game as an interior runner was centered on his growing patience in terms of letting things develop in front of him.

We do. Najeh has been our third down feature back. He has been our closer. Najeh has had a significant number of carries in these first two games. He had eight carries the other day and I think Carey Davis also had a carry. We are spreading the ball around. We are going with Willie Parker because we recognize what he is.

I really am. He is going a nice job. He does a nice job of sticking on people in space, sifting through traffic and getting on guys he is supposed to get on. He is growing every week and we look forward to him continuing to do that.

They did a nice job on Lee Evans. Our defensive staff had a good plan in terms of how to eliminate him from the game. A lot of times, good plans don't manifest themselves in play, so they deserve the credit. They took their play into action and they really shut him down for the most part of contained him as well as we could. It produced some of the rush and that produced some of the coverage. Like I said earlier, rush and coverage worth together and those guys did a great job.

We are just starting to get into what they do on third downs specifically. We have really been focusing on what they do on first and second down and versus various personnel groups. They have some guys that are individually capable of getting after the quarterback. They have a nice sub package when they do some obscure things. Coach Nolan is a reputable defensive coach and they have some good things going there. They have some looks that you have to work at in terms of picking up their blitz packages. We expect a stiff challenge in that area. Manny Lawson is a big time edge guy and Bryant Young is a known commodity, so we have to get ready to deal with those guys.

I really think that is a combination of all of the above. We've had some third and short situations and your chances of converting those are pretty high, and we have. We have also had some third and longs. WE had a couple third-and-10's in the game where we had good protection, I would be remised if I didn't mention that. I thought Marvel did an excellent job against Aaron Schobel at the left tackle position. We identified that as a critical match-up in the game. We had great protection and Ben delivered the ball to the open guys and they converted. It is a combination of getting yourself manageable third down situations, and even when we weren't and were in less than ideal situations, from a combination of men we were able to deliver. In terms of it being important, it is, because when you move the chains you control the clock and you thus wear down your opponent and win by attrition. That is what we like to do and we have been blessed in that area so far.

It is more communication and getting the right personnel groups and personnel in the game that you want. It is a double-edged sword. We want to have a variety of personnel groups. We want to make people defend a lot of things. The responsibility comes with that, because we have to communicate. We have to get guys in and out of the huddle. Not only communicating on the sideline, but communication to and in the huddle, so they know who is coming in and who is coming off and being able to deliver the verbage that we need to get to the line of scrimmage in the appropriate amount of time and then to shift in motion, and ultimately snap the football. All of those things factored into the use of those timeouts. Whether it was the play clock winding down, whether it was us not being able to do the appropriate shift or motion that we want do on a particular play or not having enough time to look and see what the defense was giving us before we snap the ball. Those were the issues. We look forward to getting better at that this week we can preserve some of those timeouts.

It usually was born out of something else. A lag in the communication, in terms of who was going in the huddle and then from there somebody breaks the huddle in the wrong direction and then snowballs. It if is just somebody misaligning themselves, you can usually have enough time to correct that and move on and not have to burn a timeout. Just about all of those instances it was a combination of those things that created the situation.

I think he has played well. Is he capable of playing better? Absolutely. Last week we challenged him to finish. I think he is a better finisher than what he is showing us right now, particularly in the latter part of the football game. I think one of the defining elements in his game is the way he finishes off blocks. He is a very good competitor in that way. He was better this week. The quality of his play has definitely been acceptable. We are pleased with where he is and all he is going to do is continue to get better.

Very little chance. Maybe if Mr. Rooney asks me I will. Otherwise, you won't see me in a suit. But to each his own. I heard somewhere that it was to honor his father, which I can respect. That is great, but personally for me, I prefer to be in a sweat suit whenever possible. 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