Cowher transcript, Steel Quotes

<p class=MsoNormal><b>BILL COWHER</b><o:p></o:p></p> <p class=MsoNormal>OK. Let me give you the health situation of our team going into Monday night. We've got four guys that are questionable: Mike Schneck with the elbow; Kendrell (Bell) with his ankle; Jerame Tuman with a quad strain; and Fu (Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala) with the rib cartilage. Then we have three players who are probable: Jerome (Bettis) with a knee; Lee Flowers with a lat strain; and Mike Logan with his hamstring.

That's our situation and looking forward to Monday night against Indianapolis. They're playing very well - Big game for our football team. 

Coach, sources indicate Jerome will be cleared of his charges. Could we get your reaction and has that been a distraction for him?

  • I don't think it's been a distraction at all. I think we've really not talked about it much as a team, outside of when the first allegations came out. With the facts that have come out, I think it shows the type of person he is and I think it's important that people understand that and that it gets the same amount of attention as the initial headlines got.

Has Schneck come along quicker than you thought?

  • Yeah. He's questionable and we'll err on the side of caution. I'm very pleased with Dan's (O'Leary) snapping and not displeased with it at all. But he's come along well and again we'll err on the side of caution; but with the extra day, we'll see how he works through the week, it's been a little bit faster than the initial prognosis. 

Will you show the players ‘Hoosiers' before this game?

  • No, I don't think so. I don't think you have to show a whole lot before this game. It's a big game. We've put ourselves in a situation that we were fortunate we didn't fall too far behind, because of the other teams in our division. And now every game takes on a very significant amount of importance. We know where we are but more importantly the direction we have to go. And we just have to play consistently. That's what we haven't done this year. We haven't been able to put consistent efforts in all three phases through a period of time, and that's the challenge we're faced with right now.

Coach, how do you get better field position?

  • Obviously it starts with the kick. Last week we had some wind elements we had to deal with. That's always going to be a part of it. I'm not displeased with when Todd (Peterson) hits it. It's been somewhat inconsistent at times. That, plus we've got to try to pin them down. If Josh (Miller) can pin opponents inside the 20, those are elements that are very important when you play good football teams. The kicking game, (it's) the hidden field position and hidden yardage that's there from a return standpoint and coverage standpoint. The other day when Todd had the wind, he kicked the ball pretty good, but yet we were going into it that second quarter when we were scoring all of those points.

When Schneck gets healthy, will you consider bringing in a guy to just kickoff?

  • No.

Have you guys ever thought of that?

  • Yeah, you think about it but we're not going to do it.

Coach, you pressured Cincy in all three phases of the game. What was the key to that?

  • We started the game fast. We were able to make some plays early. Certainly the field goal Cincinnati missed earlier in the game gave us good field position. We were able to go down and score and then we came back with an interception. We were able to get up early. I thought we started the game fast and we were able to play smart, didn't turn it over. We got a couple takeaways and that led to the big start. I mean, even the first interception that Tommy (Maddox) threw, it was a good throw and Plax (Burress) fell down on the turf. I just thought we started fast and we came up with some big plays early in the game. The way we recaptured momentum in the second half with the kickoff return was big.

What were you discussing with the referees about substitution?

  • They had interpreted a memo that came out. We cleared it up. There was a misinterpretation that they had. We came back and scored. After that series we ended up scoring and he came back and reassessed it. I've talked with the league. There's no –

What was the memo?

  • Oh, it was just about substitution. There have been some people that have tried to use substitution as a means to divert the defense, so there were some issues that had come out about some people who were utilizing people to try to create a competitive advantage on offense.

Was Oakland doing that in the second game?

  • Yes. They've been doing some of that. And the officials in that game did a pretty good job midway through it to not allow them. They were running two guys to the numbers and running two guys off to try to get a mismatch in match-ups. Really, at that point, when they were doing that, the officials did a good job of saying, "Listen if you want to match up we're not going to allow you to snap the ball until you match up." There had been some of those things going on throughout the league where some people were trying to create match-up issues in terms of personnel that they have on the field. There was an interpretation that we were trying to do that with our huddle that we start a series with and that's not what we're trying to do. So, again, I think it was just a misinterpretation.

Was it running guys to the numbers and then they turn around and run back to the bench?

  • That's what some people have been doing, yes. And we've done it at times as well. I mean, everyone's going to push every rule in the league, and (Director of Officiating) Mike Pereira does a good job of making sure that everyone's still not trying to gain a competitive edge and you're not trying to be deceiving, trying to create deception, by how you're running people on and off. Even in that game we were told we couldn't do it. I think the most important thing is you're still allowing teams the match-up they want to match up and they can execute without having to do it through deception.

Did you try to do it with that huddle?

  • Well, it's a huddle that we have 11 players in the huddle, and in doing that you've got to be ready to play against those 11 players. Now, when the official puts the ball into play, we may run another group out. We're not trying to tell a team what personnel grouping we have on the field through the course of a TV timeout or a regular timeout. We're not trying to do anything quick or try to run up to the huddle. We're either going to break the huddle with those 11 guys or we're going to run two more guys in – one of which is a quarterback – and run our play. It's well within what we've been doing. Some people look at that as being wrong and stretching the rules, but again, we've talked to the league about it and are making sure what we're doing is well within the structure of the guidelines that they've set.

Will that be changed in the off-season?

  • Anything can be changed. It depends on what else comes up and seeing how much time they have down there to see if they want to address it. It was talked about this off-season. We did it all last year. And again, some teams complain, other teams don't. I don't know if we're gaining much of an advantage, other than them not being sure what we're going to be in personnel-wise until the official puts the ball into play, and that's the only thing we're trying to do.

Coach, could you comment on the Colts' offense?

  • Obviously, Payton (Manning) is the guy that keys that offense. He does a great job of audible-izing. They do a lot of no-huddle. It'll look like he's going to snap the ball, then he'll back away. Once he reads the defense, he'll try to put them into the play that beats that defense. He sees the field, so disguise will be important. At the same time you've got to be ready to play. Marvin Harrison is one of the premier receivers in the National Football League. If you concentrate too much on him, they've got a back back there who's pretty good in Edgerrin James. So those three guys can create a lot of problems for a defense. Without a doubt, Payton does a good job of utilizing those players and putting them in plays that they feel will give them a chance to succeed. If he feels there are too many safeties in the box, he'll get to a pass. And his play-action fakes are as good as there are in the National football League. I mean, they hand it off and he's still going through his fake and it looks just like a running play when he's passing it. He's very good in terms of doing all the little things within that offense that sets up their play-action and puts them in situations where they can read the defenses and he audible-izes a lot. That's why noise is a problem, potentially, for a team that does that, so I am certainly hopeful the noise will be very loud Monday night so that can create some problems from a communication standpoint for him trying to change plays because that's what he likes to do a lot.

Does James look the same after the injury last year?

  • Yeah. You see him getting stronger each week. He's still a premier back. His numbers may not be as big as they once were but he's running hard and they're still 4-1.

Is it safe to say Kendall Simmons is getting a little more comfortable?

  • Yeah, Kendall's doing well. He's getting better each game and certainly there's no substitute for experience, but he's been solid. The more him and Marvel (Smith) and Jeff (Hartings) can work together, the more they'll be more in tune. At times Jeff is trying to help him out, but we've just got to let Kendall play. The more those guys play together the better they're going to get, all of them. It's a trickle-down effect with an offensive line. They've got to get used to working with each other.

Considering the start, are you happy with where your team is?

  • Happy? No. I wouldn't say that. I think, again, we're still in a process. I'd like to do things week in and week out. I think we're still, in a sense, trying to create an identity for ourselves and it's only going to come through consistency, through time. Every week we go out there, there's got to be a sense of urgency and a sense that we've got to continue to do things every week, recognizing that you can't have a letdown. There's such a fine line in this league and we all know what can happen any given Sunday. It's been proven week in and week out. We're fortunate to be where we are, based on how we've played to this point. The thing we've got to do is not worry about where we've been, but take where we are and the direction we're heading. Those are things you can control. Let's not concern ourselves with the past. Learn from the past and build off where we are right now.

What type of identity would you like to see them create?

  • Mistake-free. Make teams have to beat us. I think through the first five weeks, that's the one thing we've proven is that when we don't give up big plays and turn the ball over, I think we can be a very difficult team to beat. But when we have to overcome ourselves … now you're not only having to beat your opponent, you have to beat yourself. We may not be flashy in any respect, but through the course of 60 minutes we're not going to beat ourselves and we're going to force you to beat us. You like to feel through the course of those 60 minutes you're going to have enough playmakers making enough plays to allow you to do the things you have to do to win. That's what we're in the process of trying to create, that type of identity. Now what that manifests into, from a descriptive standpoint, I don't know. That may take a different approach each week you're playing, and you have to make adjustments through the course of that. But don't beat yourself. … If adversity does come up, respond quickly. One side picks the other side up. And that's how we have to get back to playing. In the last three weeks, we've been able to put two of those games together and we fell short in New Orleans. That's the consistency with which you play.

Outside of a QB's own physical performance, can a quarterback make that much difference in an offense, in terms of the way the linemen play and the way the defense may react?

  • There's no question. You can't just look at numbers for quarterbacks. You take a guy like Tommy who doesn't have the mobility, but can potentially, if you expose something, he may make you pay. Or take a guy like Kordell (Stewart), who, when the rush is going to be a little more conservative, is thinking he's going to run the football. How do you measure the effect that has on a team? That's hard to say, but there's no question quarterbacks in this league should not just be measured on stats, but measured on wins and losses. Be measured on how your football team responds to you in critical situations, or whether you're able to come back, or how consistently you perform. There's so much criteria that go into it than just a quarterback rating. You measure quarterbacks by wins and losses, and in so many respects that's a true statement. Now, some have better qualities than others. Take a guy like Payton Manning. The things he does for their football team and the flexibility they have because he is so good at seeing the field, of taking control. I mean, his mannerisms through a game, if you just watch him himself, you wonder what he's saying half the time. I wonder what he's saying half the time. It seems like he's talking so much between plays, at the line of scrimmage. But there are different guys who do it different ways. I don't think there's any one way of getting it done and it's proven down through the years. You know, it's the guy who's touching the ball every play. It's a guy that's calling the play in the huddle, every play. I think they have so many variables that are involved and they have such an influence, because, to a degree, your football team is built around that position.

Does this team have Tony Dungy's personality?

  • Oh yeah. Tony's defenses are not going to beat themselves. It's not a fancy defense. He does a good job with the fronts, of doing some line stunts to free up their inside linebackers. Rob Morris, he's trying to keep him freed up to get to the football. And he's good at it. The secondary is solid, they're rarely out of position. They're playing a lot of cover two. People now call it the ‘Tampa Two.' That's how it's known around the league and that's a coverage a lot of people use and it forces you to be patient. You don't want to get in a long-yardage situation against this defense because they do a good job of running to the ball. They're excellent tacklers. I think last week they created 7 fumbles against Baltimore. They only recovered two of them but this is a football team that tackles very well and they go to the football. They're built on team speed. They're built on being mistake-free on defense, and trying to create turnovers and trying to force offenses to being impatient. You cannot be impatient and you've got to stay away from the negative plays.

Is it difficult to play angry every week?

  • Angry's too strong. Mad you're more in control. And that's the truth. You don't want to be angry. Just mad. Mad, mad, there's nothing wrong with being mad because there's some poise, some determination involved with that. Angry, at times, you can lose your poise. You can lose your focus and you don't want to lose your focus when you're playing the game. Now, you can play with a demeanor and you're determined. Determined and mad, in the game of football, are synonymous in my mind.

Is the team mentally refreshed?

  • Yeah, focus is the word I'd like to think would apply. I'd like to think they're focused, not getting caught up in it. I don't like to keep talking about the things we're not doing because then you're putting thoughts in the mind that are negative thoughts. Let's talk about the things we are doing and let's try to build off of that. It's a focus you have to be able to sustain. … We are where we are. Certainly it was a big win, but in this business every week is a new opportunity. That's what we have to seize Monday. We're playing at home and when we play here we feel that we have that 12th man in our fans. And we've got to get off to a fast start so we can get our fans into this game. That's something we haven't been able to do these first two games at home. We haven't got off to a fast start and it's going to be important to do it and that we come out and play hard and smart and fast.

Has the new QB played a part in your improved running game?

  • I can't answer that. I don't' know that. To me, it looks like we're blocking better. What effect that's had? I don't know. I know the last couple weeks we haven't got as far behind, initially, so maybe that's had something to do with it. It's hard to say. Again, the first couple weeks with the turnovers and we couldn't get off the field on third down. We weren't controlling the ball. Since the bye week, we've played better. We're doing the little things. We're blocking better. We're not getting behind by larger deficits. I think a lot of it is we're blocking and running better than we were the first couple weeks.

After the now famous pre-game meeting, is there a better focus now?

  • Who knows? Who knows what effect any meetings have? You have a group of guys who are hard on themselves. And they have high expectations. There's so much emotion involved in the game and it's so natural to get caught up in the emotion of the game because you can't escape at all. You've just got to keep it in perspective. I don't want to draw too much into one game. We've got to be able to do this over the long haul.

How did Larry Foote play?

  • Larry did fine. He did good. Again, we got involved late in the game with a lot of dime defense, but I thought when we played against their regular stuff, Larry's fine. Larry's going to be good. Larry's very coach-able. He's a young player going through some of the growing pains. I think James Farrior is playing outstanding football right now. He's running from sideline to sideline; he's making the calls; he's being decisive; he's playing with emotion. The first couple weeks we've had two first-year players playing the inside of that defense; and we've had to go through some growing pains and we knew that going in. We thought we'd have Kendrell in there, but we haven't, so we're dealing with Larry and I think Larry's done a fine job.

Considering his poise, can you believe that was Maddox's first win?

  • I don't look at that. I don't know how many opportunities he's had. It's a great story based on where he's been, but the one thing I like about Tommy, since he's been here, he's got a good perspective on things. He doesn't get caught up in it. Maybe it's been because of where he's come from, but he plays with a lot of confidence and he feels good about what he's doing. I think the players feel good about what he's doing and that's the most important thing.

Should QB's spend a year in Arena ball?

  • Well, I know Kevin (Colbert) is looking at Arena ball a little harder these days. But, you never know. I just look at the kid (Michael Lewis) who was selling beer down in New Orleans a couple years ago and now he's returning kicks for touchdowns. Those are great stories, they really are. … Sometimes, just being in the right place at the right time and having a mindset that if you really want something bad enough you're going to continue to pursue it. And if you believe in yourself, you can make it happen. Those are great stories for anybody in life. Don't always listen to what people tell you you should be doing. If you really want something and you want it bad enough and the opportunity presents itself, a lot of times you can really make it happen.

Were there lingering effects of Amos Zereoue's illness earlier in the season?

  • In preseason he certainly had to play himself into shape just because of the off-season. He didn't have a chance to do a lot of conditioning. It was a pretty serious thing he went though, so the preseason for him was more or less trying to get himself back into playing shape, getting hit again. I think the anxiety that went with that the first time he got hit, I wasn't sure how he was going to react to it. He's gotten stronger and stronger every game and he's made some big plays for us the last two or three weeks. You get him in open field, get him in some space, he's a solid football player.

Concerning the dropped charges against Jerome, will you use that to serve as a reminder to other players about how they need to conduct themselves off the field?

  • No. We talked about it at the beginning of the season. It's not a situation that they need to be reminded of. I mean, they see it. There's a responsibility we have as professionals, as people in the public eye that you have to adhere to. People are going to want a piece of you, your time. There are a lot of people out there that can resort to different things. You've got to be careful of the situations you put yourself in and learn from what you see taking place around you. And don't be naïve. Don't be naïve. If something looks too good to be true, it probably is. Just be careful.

Will we see Casey Hampton in the backfield?

  • No. But he moved pretty good. He was going as fast as he could go and there was no question about it. He was going for that angle that would get him there. The only other player chasing him was an offensive lineman. It was like watching a movie in slow motion. He did a good job. It was a great play from Joey. And really, it was a case of a ball bouncing in your hands. It's about time we got one of those bounces that was for us. He did a good job holding onto the ball and that was the most important thing.

Didn't he do a good job switching hands with the ball?

  • Yeah, that was impressive. I've never seen a guy run so erect in my life. He was standing so straight up. Maybe that was just to catch the oxygen. But he did a good job. He was rumbling pretty good.

Can you explain your 9-0 home record on Monday night?

  • The Pittsburgh fans. It's not me; it's the Pittsburgh fans. This is a great place to play on a Monday night.


--Jim Wexell





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