Q&A: Bruce Arians

Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians met with a small crowd of reporters after Thursday's practice. Here's the complete transcript.

Bruce Arians, offensive coordinator, Pittsburgh Steelers

Q: Let me ask you what I asked Ben. You guys play so much better offensively when you're coming from behind. Can you apply the same principles when you're holding a short lead?

A: Oh, yeah, sure. We kind of did that in Chicago. We kept going down the field, and I remember trying to get into a smash-mouth mode. I think that's the best way we play. Each game brings a different set of circumstances. If you feel you can take the time off the clock, and make first downs, you can run the ball three, three, three, convert a third-down; if not, you've got to continue to throw it and mix it up and make first downs. The key thing is making first downs and gaining possession of the football.

Q: Is it formations? It seems when you go two tights and bring everyone into the middle of the field, it's harder to run the ball, particularly when they know you want to run it.

A: Not necessarily. San Diego, we did it last year in the playoff game and were extremely successful. Each game's a little different. We were successful on first down in Cincinnati and not as successful on seconds. It set up a couple third downs where we were outside of a makeable third down when they all-out blitzed and tackled the hot receiver. You've got to get in 3rd-and-5 or less for that situation to occur. We came up a little short on the one because of second-down failure.

Q: Are you at the point where you're thinking of doing some different things in goal-to-go situations?

A: No. No. We were successful running the ball on the edges against Cincinnati the last couple of years. We walk in if we block it correctly on the first one. We just had a mistake, turned a guy free who shouldn't have been free. It's the same play we scored on two years ago, and last year. We just dressed it up with a different shift.

Q: Did you miss Carey Davis the last three weeks? Are you glad to have him back?

A: Yeah, as a person I love Carey Davis. I was glad that he was available with the situation that occurred with the two young guys. I hate that the two young guys are gone, but this is the NFL and there's always someone capable of stepping up and playing. That was our motto last year and we did it extremely well. I would anticipate him to play well.

Q: Will Carey make an immediate impact?

A: Well, he's going to play. I hope he makes an impact. He played well last year against these guys, and he's a veteran. He knows what to expect.

Q: How far along is Mike Wallace in his development?

A: Getting better every week. That was a breakout game, but for him it's kind of like Rashard (Mendenhall): What do you do with success? Can you maintain it? He's had a good week of practice. I think his confidence level is up. He'll start seeing a little different coverage. These guys are solid corners. They're going to really, really test us.

Q: Last year in the playoffs you gashed San Diego running the ball. Willie Parker looked as healthy as he's been in a while. He's nicked again, so is it the same approach with a different back?

A: Well, without giving our game plan away, when we played San Diego early in the year we had a lot of success with the no-huddle. The second time around, it was a good mix. But when we got in our two-tight end/fullback mix, we made – Willie made – a lot of yards. We'll see how he is. I feel very confident in Mewelde (Moore) and Rashard, so we'll just see how it plays out.

Q: Is it still up in the air between Mewelde and Rashard, if Willie doesn't play?

A: Yeah. We'll make that – coach will make that decision as we go along.

Q: Has Rashard shown enough this week?

A: He's had a great week of practice.

Q: Did you know, Bruce, going into the last game that you would not have Rashard?

A: Well, I knew we'd have him if we needed him. And in all honesty, when I saw Willie running the way he was, Rashard probably wasn't going to play, because when I see Willie running like he was in Cincinnati, he ain't coming out.

Q: As a coach, what bothered you most last week about his preparation?

A: Just his preparation. He didn't handle success as well as I hoped he would.

Q: He's very young. Does that have anything to do with it?

A: Sure it does. He hasn't played a whole lot. When you have your first success, you have a natural tendency to relax a bit.

Q: How did you like the three-TE formation with Ramon Foster in the game?

A: (Laughs) Not as much as I did with (David) Johnson. It took a lot of the passing part out of it. No, Ramon stepped in there and did a pretty good job. Hats off to him for a rookie doing that. He prepared without getting any snaps. He just had to learn it on paper. But, yeah, you lose a lot when you lose the three-TE package because D.J. is such a versatile player. We had some passes that we liked to have been able to use that we couldn't use, but we'll go back to two tight ends and a fullback and use that package.

Q: Can't you just throw one to Foster to show everybody?

A: (Laughs) No. Max (Starks) never got one. He ain't getting one, either.

Q: The two pass interference penalties on Hines Ward, did you go back to the drawing board for the timing issues on those?

A: No. We'll keep calling it, see what this crew's going to call. You guys trying to get me fined?

Q: Wasn't that one pass behind the line?

A: Oh, yeah.

Q: Doesn't that matter?

A: No. It's not like the college rule where you can block downfield when the ball's thrown. You have to be within a yard. If you put out a hundred of those in the NFL, one's been called. I don't know about anybody else's. But, it was illegal. We were downfield blocking when the ball was throw, so you can't argue with the call.

Q: How important is a franchise quarterback?

A: If you don't have one, you're not going to win. There are some defenses that can carry you: Baltimore's the one year. It was so dominant they didn't have to score a touchdown for a month. That doesn't happen too much anymore. The offenses are too good, and when you're facing one and you don't have one, it's hard to score enough points.

Q: And when you have one?

A: It's fun. It's fun to get in that scoring battle. You know you always have a chance. No matter what's happening, you have a chance to win the game. Just catch the ball.

Steel City Insider Top Stories