RELATED: Bills Week Practice Photos
Coach Mike Tomlin takes a look at today’s opponent – the Buffalo Bills:
Q. Do you believe the Bills offense will change its look now that rookie quarterback E.J. Manuel will be back as the starter on Sunday?
A. They’ve been very consistent in their approach. The schematics of the offense hasn’t changed over the course of the time he was injured, but really I think that was the reason they acquired some of the people they acquired. A guy like Thad Lewis is a guy who can function within an offense very similar to the manner in which E.J. Manuel does.
Q. The Bills running attack is second-best in the AFC to Kansas City’s. How are the Bills getting it done on the ground?
A. It’s those two primary runners. Fred Jackson is awesome. He’s got great contact balance, vision, and patience. He’s not an easy tackle. His yards after contact are really impressive. C.J. Spiller is a guy you have to worry about containing and keeping within the chute of the defense, because any time he gets it he’s capable of going the distance.
Q. Both of the Bills starting guards are former Steelers. What have you seen from Kraig Urbik and Doug Legursky from studying the Bills on videotape?
A. Aside from the video, they’re both quality people and it starts there. It allows them to play good assignment football, good team football. They’re both sharp and versatile guys, and that continually shows up on tape.
Q. Defensive end Mario Williams will come into this game with 11 sacks. Does that mean he must be double-teamed on every snap?
A. You would like to come with that plan, but they do a nice job of moving him around. You don’t know who’s going to be blocking him primarily. The left tackle has to be prepared to face him, the right tackle has to be prepared to face him, and they even get Williams inside over some guards from time to time. That makes him a very difficult guy schematically to identify in terms of double-teams prior to getting to the line of scrimmage.
Q. Buffalo’s middle linebacker is Kiko Alonso, a rookie who has four interceptions. That’s not playing like a rookie.
A. No, it’s not. He’s a good instinct football player, but aside from that they do some good things schematically to put him in position to make plays. They play a lot of bear-defense where he’s the only guy on the second level of the defense. That allows him to scrape sideline to sideline and make tackles and make plays on footballs.
Q. Buffalo’s opponents have had success throwing the football. Is that how you beat them?
A. That’s how you start because of the quality of the men they have up front defensively, whether it’s Mario Williams or Marcel Dareus or Kyle Williams. It starts up front in terms of identifying people who can affect the game for them.
Q. As you sifted through the aftermath of the loss to the Patriots, what core reason jumped out at you?
A. That when you’re not on point, when you’re not on the details of your assignments, when you’re not sharp, you’re capable of getting embarrassed by quality football teams. That’s just the reality of it. We had a lot to do with that, but they had a lot to do with it also. You put that combination together, and that was the result.
Q. The defense had to have its pride battered a bit. Is there any concern about a carryover during the second half of this season?
A. No, I’m really excited about watching this group respond. You don’t play the type of defense we have played around here for the length of time that we did without having very prideful men. I’m looking forward to watching them respond to last week’s performance.
Q. The defense is allowing 131.3 yards rushing per game. The Steelers are ranked 31st in the NFL in run defense. Is that where all of the problems start?
A. To me, it’s where the problem started in the stadium last Sunday. They were able to run the ball effectively. They were able to create splash plays and big chunks of yards off the play-action passes associated with it. But yards gained don’t necessarily tell the whole story of how you’re playing against the run down in and down out. The reality is we have given up some explosive plays over the first eight games of the season. You give up a 93-yard run, you give up a 60-yard run like we did in London, then your stats are going to be what they are.
A. He has been rock-solid for us and really does a nice job when called upon, but a lot of his opportunities depend upon the scheme of the opponent. He had an opportunity to work in man-to-man situations with two-high safeties in the middle of the field, and he was able to do it and do it very successfully.
Q. What are the keys to this game for the Steelers?
A. It’s simple for us. Focus on the things that are within our control and our quality of play, and to stay together and be prepared to do it for 60 minutes.