Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley
Re: The hand signals:
Everybody has to understand that the ability to go no-huddle relies on hand signals. A lot of our work throughout the offseason, OTAs and training camp is coming up with the signals. We have a lot of plays with a lot of different hand signals that go with them so it’s a complicated process. If there’s something in the past that relates, that everybody knows, and that can be used, then that’s what we do. It’s a complicated but very simple deal. The plays are the plays and attached to them is a hand signal that physically tells everyone the play without any verbal communication.
I hope it helps us a bunch. I think last game, though statistically you look at it and can say we’re not running the ball, but we went into that knowing what type of game it would be and they were going to have a hard time stopping us throwing the football. It was important that we ran efficiently. When we broke that game down, third-and-one’s, fourth-and-one’s, and second-and-one’s, we converted the first downs running. Now, the average isn’t what you’d like to see. You’d like to see some of those come out and be bigger runs but they were efficient runs. To get another difference maker back, hopefully will be a big deal for us. Our goal is to win every game we go out and play, to possess the football, control the clock, which we’ve done a very good job of, but we haven’t don’t a good job of winning the games. That’s what we really need to be working on.
Re: This team being similar to the personnel you had as the offensive coordinator in Arizona:
I said from the start here, the group we have and especially with Mendenhall coming back when he does come back, we’ve got a pretty complete group. You’d like to have them all involved, move the football, control the clock and score points. We’re doing a lot of things pretty good. We’re doing a good job in the red zone to this point. We’re doing a good job on third down but we have too many third downs. That tells me that we’re in the bottom of the league in first downs. We have to be a more efficient team on first down, whether we’re throwing or running and if we do that, I think we’ll continue to see progress.
Re: Concerns about a lack of big plays:
Not really. I know we’ll make them. We have the people to do it. We have the quarterback to do it. Those tend to come in bunches. Right now, I’m happy with the way we’re moving the football and moving the chains and the big plays will come. When you have big plays, then you’re not possessing the ball for 35 minutes a game and the defense is out there longer. They’ll come. We’re not forcing the issue. Those things, like I said, tend to come in bunches when they happen.
Re: Lack of big plays being due to facing a lot of zone defense:
Really, most plays we have designed have a shot aspect of it. If you’re not getting to the shots, it just means Ben is going through the reads properly and doesn’t feel good about the shot, then gets the ball to the second or third receiver. I think that’s why you’ve seen the ball spread around a good deal. A lot of it is what we’re seeing on defense. If it’s not there, the quarterback is taught to get the ball to the next guy and he’s done a very good job of doing that.
Is the running game a concern?
It is just because you need to have balance. The name of the game is to win games and right now we’re throwing it more efficiently than we’re running it. It’s three games. Last game, we weren’t going to hand the ball off a million times unless that game got into a position where we had the lead and then, much like the Jets, we’d have to pound it out and continue running the ball efficiently when they know you’re running it. It’s a small sample right now and I feel good about the guys up front, I feel good about the guys carrying the ball, and I think that you’ll see the running game come along. It needs to.
How important is balance when you’ve been able to possess the ball like you have so far this season?
It’s not critical as far as moving the chains and scoring points. Where the run game helps you is that it has a tendency to wear the defense out a little bit. Now, we’re wearing them out by being up-tempo and keeping them on the field. Really, what we focused on this bye week as a staff, even though it’s only three games, is minus plays. We’ve had a little over 200 yards, whether it’s an offensive penalty, a sack, or a minus run. To me, yards translate to points and. 100 equals seven. So, that’s 14 points that we’ve given back to the defense and if you have those 14 points on top of the points we’ve scored, maybe the results are a little different. So, that’s what we’ve really tried to focus on is eliminating those minus plays. They’re all easily remedied in a bunch of different ways. Some of them are bad calls, some of them are schemes, and some of them are individual break downs or mental break downs. That’s really what we’ve focused on this week. Starting out next week, everyone needs to have that at the forefront of their focus. If we eliminate minus plays, we’re going to score more points, get more yards, and probably win more games.
Re: Roethlisberger’s decision making:
He’s playing at a very high level and, like I said, if we can clean up the other little things, minus plays specifically, a bunch of our sacks came in the last series of the Denver game. If we’re a little more sound there, we might be singing a different tune. He’s very efficient in the operation, whether it’s no-huddle or huddle calls, he’s been very good. When you see us in quick mode where the ball is coming out on three step timing, he’s been tremendous. Those are all positive plays that he’s hit on. Then there’s going to be some situations where we’re going to rely on Ben to keep the play alive long enough to convert. In both instances, he’s done a terrific job. The key now is just to continue to get better and be more efficient in those other areas that we’ve been lacking a little bit.
Re: The trust between you and Roethlisberger:
I think it’s nice to have early success because it builds confidence in everybody involved. I expect us to have success offensively. The trust factor between the play caller and the quarterback, both ways, is critical. He has to trust that when he’s hearing my voice in his headset and I’m giving him a call, that I’m putting him in the best position to succeed. I have to trust him that when I make the call, he’s going to make it work. To this point, that’s been real good. I would expect it to continue.
What happens if the running game gets going?
I just think we’ll be in a position to really get after people. Like I said, the Oakland game, it wasn’t going to change. I don’t care if you had Walter Payton back there, we were going to play the game the way we played it. We felt, minus turning the ball over twice which really cost us, in my opinion we win the game. You can’t turn the football over ever. We’ll just continue to be more efficient across the board.
Is the running game close to breaking through?
Like I said about minus plays, whether it’s offensive penalties, sacks, or minus runs, our total is a little over 200 yards. In the hidden yardage realm, which I’m big on, do a lot of study of, and believe in, 100 yards equals seven points. So, that’s 14 points we’ve given away in just simple assignment error, a bad call by me, a scheme where we weren’t ready or were wrong in what we were trying to do or in any individual break down. As those things decrease, I would expect our offense to continue to be more and more efficient.
Defensive Coordinator Dick LeBeau
Re: The defense after the first three games:
We are short of where we need to be. We’ve given up too many big plays. We have to get our points given up total down. We’ve made some good plays but not enough. I think we all know where we are. We have plenty of time but we have to get it done.
Re: Simplistic to say
I think that’s too simplistic to say. The big problem for us has been big plays. In both of our losses we gave up two big plays. We can’t have those. It doesn’t matter who is out there. We can’t have that happen. We didn’t get off the field in the second half at Oakland. They got too many cracks and they got the football in there. We have to tighten down and get off the field. In both second halves in the games we lost, we weren’t very good. We have to be able to finish those football games. If our offense puts up 31 points, that should be good enough to win the game. We got some work to do.
Re: Guys might have been doing too much on defense:
I found with this group of guys that generally that is a condition. If a team is moving the ball just a little bit, they want to do a little bit more to stop them. That’s a good problem to have. But it is a problem nonetheless. We can’t do that. We have to trust the defense, trust the teammate, focus and play.
When watching the film, do you think of what you could have done differently?
Generally speaking, I usually say to myself, “Why did you call that defense?” We are not where we want to be. I think in this business, you are never as good as you think you are. You are never quite as bad as maybe they say you are. We are getting good effort and good plays but not enough. We just have to tighten up the cracks.
Re: Opponent’s third-down success:
I thought we had pretty good pressure in some situations, particularly in the second half. Carson Palmer was getting rid of the football very quickly. We have to make more plays. We do have to get more pressure. It’s a team situation. In any close games, a play here or a play there makes the difference. We have to be the ones making those plays, which in the two losses we weren’t.
What does fix the defensive problems?
I think the word to use is trust. We have to trust each other on defense. I think the results will come. I really do believe that.
I always look to myself first, and I hope they do to. When things aren’t where you want them to be, something has to be done differently. We are working on that. I believe in these guys and I believe in what we are doing. When people are making more plays than us, it looks like they have us figured out. When they aren’t, it looks like they didn’t figure us out. It comes down to how we play and how we execute. The coach is involved in this too. I have to give them things they can execute.
Why is the execution better in the first half than in the second half?
I wish I knew the answer to that. That’s something we have to address. Statistically, it’s right there. We finished the Jets game. That’s our only win. If we finished the other two games, we would probably have three wins. We are all aware of the problems and we are working on the corrections.
Isn’t it impossible to not become predictable on defense?
Football is still blocking and tackling. I think coaching can help. I don’t wash my hands when we aren’t playing like I want us to. We are all working on it.
Re: The stats being in front of you and if it has to do with home/road games:
Right now I would say it’s on the road. The Jets only got 10 points. We gave up too many points in the other two games. We haven’t finished a game on the road.