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Coordinator's Corner: LeBeau & Haley

Posted Sep 19, 2013

Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau and offensive coordinator Todd Haley talk about this Sunday's game.


Defensive Coordinator Dick LeBeau

Re: Matt Forte and how hard he is to stop:
He is an experienced, talented back and he can do everything. He can block, he can run, he can catch passes – they haven’t had him throw one recently but I ex pect that he can do that. He can throw it pretty good. He does everything else well. He’s one of those backs you have to stop. He’s really an excellent player, maybe an underrated player.

What do you think was the reason the Titans and Bengals were able to get their running games going as the games wore on?
We need to do better everywhere. Looking at the numbers, since you asked the question, I think the Titans were like 2.4 or 2.5 a rush. With a back like they’ve got, that ain’t too bad. He didn’t really go off on us. Over in Cincinnati, I thought they had too many first down runs that got five to six yards and left us sitting there and playing the short end of the sticks and let them have their whole field. We’ve got to make sure we cut that out. I think their rush, their average per rush in Cincinnati, was 3.7. Neither one of those numbers make you pull your hair out but I think they were a little more consistent and I think that’s what you’re talking about. We have to do better there.

In an ideal situation, would you like to have Kion Wilson or Vince Williams take over that role full-time?
Both of those players are key players on special teams and I think they’re both going to have to play some scrimmage downs. If one of them clearly separates themselves from the other, they’ll be getting the majority of the snaps. They’re young players and they’re getting some on-the-job training. I think they’re both pretty equal players right now. One of them shows up and they want the full-time job, I’m sure that’s what Coach Tomlin will do.

How did they do communicating with the rest of the defense?
For the most part, it was good. We had a couple breakdowns that were very costly and we have to be 100% in that area. It’s a little bit like the running situation we were talking about. Maybe the final numbers are not staggering, but with consistency, we have to better in that area.

Does Jarvis Jones have to practice tomorrow?
I think he will practice tomorrow. I think he’s okay.

Does Jones have what you’ve seen in the former greats at the position?
I think for this stage of his career and their career, when I saw those that I suppose you were referring Greg Lloyd, James Harrison, LaMarr Woodley and Joey Porter – we’ve been blessed with some pretty good outside rushers, Jason Gildon. I think he’s equal to those guys at this stage in his career. I don’t want to put that on him. We’ll see how he develops. He has great work ethic. Obviously, we think he is playing well or we wouldn’t have started him. I think Jason Worilds is playing well. I think he is going to get his snaps. I think those three [LaMarr Woodley, Jones and Worilds] are better players when they are all playing. It gives them all a little reserve in their tank. LaMarr can get out of there for a few snaps, and we can play Jones and Worilds. I feel good about this crew. I say it’s a long way to go here, a lot of football to play. We will see where Jones ends up. I think his future is good.

Are you concerned about the lack of turnovers the first two games?
The turnovers, we definitely have to get the ball turned over for our guys. I think the sacks will come. I think Tennessee ran the ball 40 times and Cincinnati ran it maybe 35 times. You aren’t going to get any interceptions or sacks [when that happens]. We have to force them to be in throwing situations but we definitely have to get more turnovers, no doubt.

Re: Playing six defensive backs in the last game and is that going to happen moving forward:
They were going to spread us out a little bit. It just gave us a little more speed with six defensive backs. From a standpoint of experience, I think we are more experienced right now with the extra defensive backs in there. We are going to use both.

Would it help in terms of your play calling in trying to force more turnovers if the team had a lead?
I don’t think the play calling would be influenced. But it’s a different game when you are playing with the lead and playing behind. We don’t want to make any excuses. The numbers are what they are. We are going to pick those totals up.

Have you noticed a change over the years with quarterbacks getting rid of the ball in a certain amount of time?
No doubt. They are going to get it out of there. I thought our pressure has been good these first two games. I haven’t seen their quarterback sit back there and have all day to throw the ball. We’ve gotten both quarterbacks hit early in the game, and I think it affected both of their play. We broke down on a couple of coverages in Cincinnati. It wasn’t the throws as much as beating ourselves. We can’t allow that to happen. I think the guys have done a good job of getting pressure. Their ball is going to be out. But we know that. There’s nothing new about that. They know we are coming. We are going to come. Sacks can be a deceiving figure, really. If you are making the quarterback throw the ball that fast, and he’s not throwing it very accurately, then the defense is doing a good job.



Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley

Re: Markus Wheaton not being involved that much:
The problem with some of that is when you are running 55 or 56 plays a game there are limited opportunities to get anybody in the game. We’ve been working him hard. He is up to speed. Where he can help us, we will get him in there. But we need to stay on the field and move the chains. We need to create more opportunities to get guys in there.

Has Felix jones emerged as “that” running back for this team?
I thought he did a good job on the carries he had. He found the holes when they were there. We need to do a better job creating some space for him, because he does look like he has some ability if we can get him in to space. I think he did a good job in the game, and he will get more of an opportunity this week.

Is it still a running back by committee approach?
When you hand it off 14 times in the first half for a three-yard average, I don’t care what you call it. It has to be better. Those guys know it. Our guys up front know it. Our receivers know it. To have an efficient run game, we need to do a better job across the board, because one breakdown will cause you to get three yards per carry instead of four, four-and-a-half and five, what we really want, or more. It wasn’t just one area. It was one or the other, it seemed like every time the ball was handed off, which prevented us from getting out of the gate a little bit when running the ball. We have to improve, up front, running backs, tight ends and receivers.

Re: Every receiver wants the ball on every play:
The ones I know. The ones I’ve coached for 12 years.

Did Antonio Brown handle it the wrong way the other night?
As far as…

As far as letting you know he wanted the ball a little more:
No. There’s no problem whatsoever between he or I. I didn’t see anything different in that game, interaction wise, between him and I or the receivers and Coach Mann. It was just about what it always is. When things aren’t going good, and for things not going well, I think those guys have handled it well.

So there was no confrontation then other night?
It did not happen. There was no confrontation. That’s all I can say.

Do you feel you have a pretty good give and take relationship with the guys?
Yeah. We’ve talked about that in training camp. I think last year, throughout the offseason and into this year, there’s been a natural evolution of guys developing that trust and confidence to do it. I feel good interaction across the board. The problem is we aren’t getting results. That’s what needs to be fixed.

Re: Frustration level with lack of results:
We are frustrated. We are 0-2 in the first quarter of the season. That’s all it is. We have a chance this week to get to 1-2. We’ve had a good couple of days, a good day of preparation on Tuesday. That’s the bottom line, figure out how to get to 1-2. From there, you try to move forward. It’s the NFL. It’s hard to win when you have turnovers in plus territory, and run the ball inefficiently for too much of the game. Those kinds of things are going to happen to you. We have to make sure we don’t let it continue to happen, so we have a chance to get to 1-2.

What can you say has gone wrong?
It’s on all of us. But the bottom line is that it’s pretty simple. Football is pretty simple. If you protect the football and don’t turn it over – if you go back and look at the situations where the ball was turned over, we cost ourselves points. Do we want to score more points? Absolutely, yes. We need to be better. Our last game, our first eight third downs were all seven or longer. That’s going to be a rough day, whatever is happening. We need to be better on first and second-down, whether we are running it or throwing it. Those have to be better downs for us, to number-one, stay out of third-down completely, because you can convert for first downs on second down or first down, and number-two, to keep yourself in some manageable third downs where over time, you know your percentages are going to be better to convert.

Re: Nice to see Heath Miller out there:
Yeah. It’s great. It’s always great to see Heath. I’m just happy he is continuing to make progress. We are seeing him more and more, which is a good thing.

Has Derek Moye earned a chance to see more playing time, at least around the goal line?
He had a couple opportunities that he could get in the game. That was one of them. He got in there. He obviously executed and did a great job. I think it comes back to that we have to do better and be much better on first and second downs, so we can be running 70-80 plays a game, so for the Derek Moyes and Markus Wheatons, it will be a lot easier to involve them in the plan.

Ben Roethlisberger saying some of the smaller receivers were getting arm-barred a lot. Are you seeing that, and can Moye and Jerricho Cotchery be incorporated a little more?
Jerricho is obviously out there a bunch. That’s the reason he was in there. Our receivers are a certain build. Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders are a certain build and have a certain skill set. Being dominating in size isn’t one of them. That’s why it’s nice to have a Derek Moye on the roster and a Justin Brown on the practice squad. Those guys are working all the time. Derek continued to make some plays that made us say, ‘Hey, when we get down in there tight, we have a big guy that has a definite size advantage against a bunch of cornerbacks in this league.’ Ben and him did a great job of executing and made it go. It’s definitely a strong suit of his.

By losing Maurkice Pouncey, is it taking a little time for the offensive line to gel or a little longer than you thought?
I thought Fernando Velasco came in and did a good job, just like I thought Kelvin Beachum did a good job. When you lose Pouncey you aren’t just going to replace him. That’s the nature of the business and the game. You have to have guys step up. As Coach Tomlin has said, evaluate your new strengths and weaknesses under the circumstances you are in. Fernando on a week’s worth of work did a really solid job.

Re: Confrontation with Brown:
There was no confrontation.

With all that swirling around, how do you remain calm that the ship will sail in the right direction?
It’s our job as coaches. We have to work harder to continue to push and understand what the things are that are costing us games. That process started as soon as the players came back in the building. We continue to evaluate ourselves, what we are doing and what we can do to play more to our strengths. That’s what our job is as coaches. I take great pride in being unwavering in that approach. We weren’t good enough but we can be good enough. We have to get it done. We are 0-2. That’s part of the reason why I break the season into quarters to just stay in the present tense. It’s a four-game season right now. We are still aware of our ability to get to 1-2, which would then give us the chance to get to 2-2. Then it’s a new four-game season.

Re: Heath changing the offense when he does return:
I think he is one of the best if not the best tight end in the league, from a full-position outlook, blocking, pass catching, just overall football awareness, toughness, the tenacity that he brings to the team is hard to replace. That’s a guy that we will rerun tapes in games that he is in of him turning a cornerback or a linebacker, somebody on their back on the sideline on one of these receiver screens. We keep running it back and forth just to say, ‘Look at that. That’s a true pro finishing with the nastiness and toughness that you need.’ You can’t have enough of those guys. When one is missing, you obviously want them back.

You show those plays to guys on offense?
Yeah. Heath’s a great one to have on tape, because you can coach a lot of people off of some good, visual evidence.

Re: Beachum pushing for more playing time at different positions:
We like him wherever he helps us the most. Whatever that is, whether it’s pushing the tackles to be the best they can be or helping us at tight end, backing up Fernando at center, we use it all the time. If you look up in the dictionary who is a guy where the more you can do applies, he would be it. That being said, he wants to be out there every snap. He is going to push these tackles to the best of his ability to make sure they are playing better than he is.

Re: Happy with the balance between run and pass:
I’m not happy with anything right now. We handed the ball off 14 times in the first half, which is all nice, but we averaged three yards per carry. It was a big part of us being in some of those third-and-longs I was talking about. We were in the no-huddle for a large percentage of the game. We were still in too many third-and-eight, nine, 10, 11, 12, 13 and 20s. Like I’ve said from the start, balance is not something that is high on the priority list. [The goal] is be efficient when you are doing either or, so that you stay out of these poor and potentially negative situations that we are in.

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