SteelQuotes - Bill Cowher Press Conference

<b>BILL COWHER </b> <p>Let me give you the health situation with our team. We have two players that are questionable for this game: one being Kendrell Bell with his ankle, two being Chad Scott with his thumb. And then we have two players probable for this game: Jerome Bettis with his knee and James Farrior with his shoulder. We'll see how everybody is by the end of the week and hopefully we'll have everybody, and if not, we'll go with what we have.<br><br>

Will Chad Scott practice?

It would be minimal. He's going to run around tomorrow and hopefully try to practice Thursday, but it's very small, uninhibited cast on his thumb. He'll be able to see his thumb and it won't be too limiting on his wrist.


What's the difference between Holcomb and Couch?

They are not that different. I think the one thing that Kelly has is he's got some experience. He's played in this league and when he did come in, he did a great job of leading the football team. So you get a sense when he came into the game last week that the football team had a lot of confidence in him, and he's a confident player to begin with, and you can feel the players believing in him. And the fact that he did it earlier in the season and very successfully, certainly, I think allows him to feel very confident, that there's no reason he couldn't do it if he stepped in again just like he did last week.


How will you use your running backs?

We'll see how they do. We'll see how Jerome is by the end of the week. We'll use them both. He's running the ball very well, so I'm not going to sit in here and say how I'm going to use them, but I will say all three will be utilized.


Why do other people – not me, coach – say it's hard to beat a team three times?

It's the law of averages, I would think. It's just, you know, we had to do that in '94 playing Cleveland, and, I mean, it's not like the games were one-sided games. These games could have gone either way, both of them.
So, the one thing about it is it almost feels like we haven't played these guys in a while. I mean, the last game was a while ago. They are probably a more confident team than when we played them. Certainly, William Green has emerged to be a very good runner. When we played before, he really hadn't played that much. So they are taking on a little bit of a different personality, playing very solid defense, and there's been a lot of close games and we have won a lot of close games. We were fortunate to come away with a couple of three point losses. You know, we'll have our hands full. They won't be intimidated. They are a football team that's 6-2 on the road. They have a better road record than home record and I'm sure they're looking forward to the challenge.


Are the Browns better seasoned for playoff football?

We feel like we've been in that, as well. We certainly recognize that with our loss to Houston, and we had a half game lead. I mean, that certainly didn't put us in a situation where we could relax.

So I think from that game on, we've been kind of playing with that same approach. Even last week going into the game, we still had an opportunity to play for a bye. And you can just see right now that I think our mentality is such that we're just playing this one game at a time and making sure that we realize the significance of that game. Now that we are in the playoffs, we all recognize the significance of that game.

So I think we've been in that same type of mind set, as well.


Do you expect their defensive performance to carry over from the end of the last game?

They won the game. I mean, they won the game in a fashion that I'm sure will give them some momentum, and I think we won a game in a fashion that we feel pretty good about ourselves, as well.

I think they are a pretty good football team. They made the playoffs. You look at teams like New England and Miami and Denver who didn't make it, and Cleveland did; they earned that. They earned that right. And so they did that just by playing the games and not getting caught up with what everyone was talking about or saying about them, and so consequently they find themselves in the situation where they are going on the road and probably in a place they feel more comfortable going. With an opportunity for the first time since they have come back as the new Browns to play a playoff game, there's nothing more appropriate than to play it here in Pittsburgh, I'm sure.


Will there be trash talking?

I'm sure they will hear it periodically. They will see it. You guys will do a good job of bringing it to their attention and that's fine. We're going to show up on Sunday. You know, we'll see what happens.


How have Deshea Townsend and Hank Poteat played?

Yeah, I thought Deshea played fine and I thought Hank played well. You look at that third-down catch that that kid made, Hymes, that was a great throw, a great catch. I mean, there was a bunch of real good throws and catches that they made in that game. But I thought Hank and Deshea played well.


What's the difference in William Green?

You know, he didn't play a whole lot before. I think he's playing now and I think he's running with confidence. He's picking his slide very well in the hole. You see him doing that, not just kind of running into blockers. I think his vision has kind of opened up and he seems a lot more comfortable. I think that just comes with the more you play. He's a big guy. He's running downhill and he can be a load when he gets going. He's making good cuts and the linemen have done a good job of making holes for them.


Coach, I'm an idiot who needs to manufacture a story. Do you expect pre-game altercations?

I don't know how much I mean, the last time we played here, we had some altercations, so who knows? It's going to be an emotional game, you know, two teams that are playing for the third time. So who knows what that's going to bring?


Has Dan Kreider been more involved in the offense?

Oh, I don't know if he's been more involved. I think he's an integral part. We probably have utilized Danny more this year than we have in years past, in terms of the passing game, and we give him a few runs every now and then. He's a very solid football player, one of those guys that does all of the dirty work. But, boy, he's very effective at it.


Are Jerame Tuman and Matt Cushing playing well?

Yeah, I think you look at Matt and Jerame, the roles that they have had, I think they played very well last week, much better I thought than the last couple of weeks. So they are getting better, and getting John back, and Marco has been becoming more familiar with our system. So, yeah, they are doing well.


Is this easier than being a heavy league favorite?

Yeah, I mean, I don't know. I think that this year it's been really one of those years where, you know, I don't know if we've ever gained a real comfort level with how we've played, sorta speak. There's always been issues that you have to deal with, and there have been circumstances where, again, like we said, we lose to Houston and you have a half game lead. I think a year ago we kind of secured ourselves in the division, we secured ourselves with the conference at an early point; so you're trying to maintain the edge with your team. I think we've had the edge all year and we've had to play with that. I think a lot of the AFC has had to play that way.

That being said, I think entering into the playoffs, particularly in the AFC I don't know if anyone really has an edge, sorta speak. Probably Oakland and Tennessee and the way they have played of late; they got the two byes. But I think everyone else is kind of getting in and they all feel pretty good about themselves. We'll see what happens.

I think it's an interesting atmosphere I think that exists right now in the AFC, in terms because all of the unknowns that took place in the last week that all of a sudden, it's like all of the sudden the smoke cleared and here's the people still standing, and now you have an opportunity, you look ahead what's in front of you and everyone is going to try to seize that.


Teams haven't done what Oakland and New England did. Will this team spread you out?

But they did. I guess because we stopped it, they said they just didn't do it as well. They did do the same things, and so people looked at that and they said, "Well, they didn't do the same things." They didn't have the success that Oakland or New England had, so I guess it's all how you want to view it.

But, yeah, they have shown it and they could very easily do it again. So, everyone else had the whole season to look at it and everyone else to some degree tried to do it with what they had personnel wise, so we have to be ready for it every week.


Did you see it the second game against Cleveland?

At times. We didn't have a whole lot of snaps. I think some of it has been, as much as people want to look at the spread offenses, it's been third down. If you get off the field on third down and you've already sustained a drive and try to get some momentum doing those things. I mean, the first couple of weeks we had chances on third down to get off the field, we didn't succeed on third down which consequently led to a continuation of spreading it out, dinking and dunking and at times. If you're going to take an approach to let them dink and dunk you have to stop them on third down, and we just were not very good early in the season on that down, particularly.


When did they use it?

I mean, just in the one-minute situation, but I didn't sense it being early in the game.


Why didn't four of the top five rushing teams make the playoffs?

I don't know what the numbers were thrown, but I bet you a lot of teams probably have record numbers throwing the ball. It seems like that's the way the season started. I really didn't get caught up with the comprehensive of what was going on in the whole league. You're sort of worried about your own team.

I think still, it's going to come down to, when you look at the teams that are in there, regardless of what the numbers show you, you'd better be able to run the football, because you'd better have balance. You're not going to get there being one-dimensional. No team ever has and no team ever will.


What is it about this team in particular and pre-game altercations? Your team really seems to respond and play better when that kind of stuff happens, do you want to plant some misinformation?

I could bring them in and let them talk to you guys on Tuesday. No, I think it's just like anything else. I think Monday night that Monday night wasn't just because they walked through our warm ups because we played that way. That was a big game. That was a big game in Tampa that our guys were ready for. The playoff atmosphere, all of the implications, we had a chance to win the division that night and not let it come down to the last week, playing against a premiere team. I mean, those are opportunities. That's what you're in this business for. That's why you're in there. I mean right now we are in here with an opportunity, 0-0. Everybody else is starting 0-0. Do we have a difficult road ahead of us? Yeah, we do. Yeah, we do. But you know what, that's what sports are all about. It's about taking opportunities and seizing them when they come and not get caught up in the hype and not get caught in worrying where you have to go next. You take it one step at a time. You climb one little hill at a time. Before you know it, you may be at the top, but you don't get caught up in it, and that's the way we have to approach this thing.


Do you see any other difference, other than the emergence of Green, in the Browns?

It's a very balanced team. I think one of the big things we've got to also be concerned with, is the kicking game. I mean they had two premiere returners the last time we played them. Northcutt brought one all the way back against us and Davis has a couple returns for touchdowns and kickoffs. They are a very balanced football team. Consequently, that balance has allowed them to be in every game. So that's what makes them a good football team that they are all year, they have lost some tough ones, they have won some close ones, but above it all, they have put themselves right in the hunt just like everybody else has and I've got a lot of respect for them.

A question on the rules. The challenge you made Sunday on the fumble in the end zone, you challenged specifically whether the guy was specifically in the end zone, but also there was an issue whether Lewis's knee was down when he fumbled. When you make a challenge and the guy comes over, do you have to tell him specifically what you're challenging or can you look at the replay and say, yeah, the guy was in bounds, but it wasn't a fumble in the first place, does he have that kind of flexibility?

Yeah, he does. That's a good question. Because that was discussed. I remember being on the competition committee when this came up. You're not just challenging a call. You're challenging the play.

So in the course of a play your example is a very good one. I know the one we were using before was if it was an illegal forward pass but you're actually challenging the fumble that took place afterwards, that fumble may not be the case and it was an illegal forward pass. And that's what we had talked about in the committee that's the example we used: You're not just challenging a call; you are challenging the play.

So, what you're saying is absolutely the truth in that if he came back and said, "Well, his knee was down, even though he did not have control", I think we would have won the challenge because it would have been overturned. But that's not even what I was challenging. They would have gotten the ball at the one-foot line if they said the knee was down.

But that certainly should have come under review, which I think is why he was there so long. The longer they are over there, a lot of times you think that's good, because the longer they are over there, then maybe they are trying to gather information. I think the longer they were over this time was they may be looking at the knee, as opposed to him having control because he was over there for a long time.

When I looked at it, even when I was over there, I didn't think we would win it.
The challenge still has to be within whatever the guidelines are of reviewable plays.


So it doesn't matter what you tell the guy? You say "Here is what we are challenging and why we are challenging," it's still up to them to review the entire play?

Correct. The play is being reviewed, not what you're challenging.


Why did you pump fake with the flag?

I was just trying to get information from the coaches. And then at that point, I don't think the fans, I wouldn't have been real endearing to them if I wouldn't have thrown it. But no one would say anything. Those guys upstairs were not sure, he may have had it. That was enough at that point just to throw it.


Do the coaches upstairs see the network replays or do they have access to the same stuff that the review guy does?

No, it's just the network replays. And it may not be the replay the officials see. That's kind of the risky thing because it may not be the same replay that they are getting shown on that little TV deal.


Is that something the rules committee should look at?

No. Then it becomes unfair because what if certain stadiums or certain games, they have different angles? So it becomes an inequity thing based on games; so try to keep it consistent.


Is there anything that can be done to make the officials give you an answer to your challenges any faster?

Just get it right, I think. Personally, just get it right. I don't care how long it takes.


Does the field look good?

Oh, yeah, I think it is. I think it's been very good the last couple of games. The last re-sodding has held up very well, obviously considering this time of year. But it's held up very well.


What did does it mean to have the longest tenure as a coach in the NFL right now?

It means I'm very fortunate.


To what do you attribute your longevity?

The ownership, they have been very stable. I feel very fortunate having an opportunity to work here. So, we've had good players, outstanding assistant coaches, and a very good support staff.

--Jim Wexell




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