Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley**
Was the offense we saw in the first half going to be the typical Steelers' offense?I would take that every half. In the first half, we really never changed modes as far as our approach to that game. A lot of it was that once we had a possession we got a first down and got into our no-huddle. In the second half, because of penalties and field position, and then ultimately execution, we never got those first downs. When we did, we got up on the ball and then ultimately those drives stalled also. It just was a dropped ball on a third-down, lack of execution on a couple of the run plays, we missed a big shot down the sideline to Markus Wheaton which would have been a half changer for us, but really we just never found that same rhythm. That's something we have to be better at as an offense if we want to reach the levels we want to reach. Because if you put two of the first halves together it would be a day that you'd talk about for a long time. That's really where we are at. We have to make progress this week.Other than a few new faces, is the Ravens' defense what you are used to seeing?There are still the faces you don't necessarily want to see in Terrell Suggs, Haloti Ngata, Elvis Dumervil and some of the other guys. But there has been a little infusion of some of the younger guys, Brandon Williams up front and Pernell McPhee. There are some guys that are definitely showing up on tape that look like they have some experience now and are making a push for more playing time. You still have those big-time guys that can change the game quickly and not in your favor. It's a good defense with some great players. We got to be at our best. Do you look at what a team did the week before and how much do you put that in your memory bank when you game plan? Or is it a different team on a different day?We're a game plan offense but at the same time we've found our identity. We know who we are. That's a good thing for us. There has been no secret to anybody in this building that's wearing an offensive uniform of how we are going to play football. You see that. You might tweak a couple of things here and there but we are going to go out and be aggressive and get up on the ball a bunch throughout most games when we can with the crew we have right now. We feel comfortable doing that. We are going to worry about us and how we need to play and execute to be the best we can be. And I think we showed some real good signs. We are not all the way there yet but we got a win and can learn from it and move forward against another good defense. **
The Pittsburgh Steelers prepare for the game against the Baltimore Ravens.
Is that your identity, your strengths and not worry about what other teams do?We will always game plan because you are going to see different fronts and defenses are going to bring different elements to the table that you have to, in this league, be aware of and plan for. The coaches are too good and the players are too good and that will get you. At the same time from an identity standpoint, we just have to understand who we have, what we have and how we need to play. I think that is real clear as we move forward and it has been. It is part of the reason we were able to come out and play at a high level. Again, we didn't sustain it. We need to sustain it or do a better job of sustaining it. Cleveland was a top-nine defense last year. They added a high draft pick on that side of the ball. I think they will probably play it out and be a pretty good defense this year. We did a lot of good things and we need to get better at some things.How much will the noise impact going no-huddle in Baltimore?I will leave some of that to guess work. It's an unbelievable rivalry. I told some of the young guys in the room today, the guys that have been here obviously know. This is my 20th year in the league and I've been a part of some great rivalries, Chicago-Green Bay, Dallas-N.Y. Giants, Dallas-Washington. This one, the others aren't close. The intensity level of the game in all of the four I've been in to this point, it's a totally different level. It doesn't matter where it's being played, whether it's here or there. The crowd obviously brings a lot to it. That's an element we have to handle every week that we are on the road. Those can't be factors in how we play.Is that the kind of run-catch split you'd like to see from Le'Veon Bell?I'd take that every week, 180 [scrimmage yards] from the running back. I will always say 100 yards equals seven points. Coach Bill Parcells taught me a long time ago. So he had almost 14 points. He's not there yet. He's a lot further ahead from where he was. Now he has to show that he can go out and do it on a week-in and week-out basis. There's a target on his back because he has the skill set to do a lot of things for us and be a terrific weapon, both running, protecting and as a pass receiver. I think there is still more out there for him and more to get out of him just from a developmental stage. But I would take that every week.Is Will Johnson your number-three running back if Dri Archer can't play?Yeah, and that's why you saw him get a carry in the preseason. We would have liked to have gotten him a couple more. He's had some carries over the last couple of years. He has proved to be a competent runner that is a big back. He has good vision. He has to find the same holes when he's playing the fullback position. He is obviously a pretty nifty and athletic guy. It's not a bad emergency plan.Re: 50-50 no huddle snaps split between first and second halves:That's a big part of what we are going to be. It's a weapon for us. It's something that we do well. But you have to get first downs. In the first half we got first downs. In the second half, we never changed how we were approaching each series philosophically, we just didn't execute to get into the position where we got more done, whether it was no-huddle or huddle. Like I said, sometimes we didn't earn first downs. We earned a couple first downs and then stalled in no-huddle. Those things weren't happening in the first half. We just have to be better and more consistent from the first half to the second half, and I think good things will happen.Did field position affect you at all?Yeah, absolutely in the second half. We need to be better (when) backed up. Our goal as an offense when we are in that backed up situation is to get at least one earned first down. We obviously have to take some care with what we are doing because a mistake down there turns into a huge mistake as opposed to some other places on the field. We were backed up to our 10-yard line or tighter four times. We had one drive in the first half that went 89 yards, so that was a successful backed up situation. The other three we were three-and-out, and we would like to at minimum get a first down every time we are backed up there. Otherwise, field position changes and that's where we kind of got stuck defensively and offensively. We were backed up because of penalties and until we flipped the field it was going to be running uphill.Re: Justin Brown:I was excited about both the young guys, Justin and Markus Wheaton. Justin had really no game experience. Markus had just a couple of games with limited action. Justin did a lot of real good things for his first time out there in a home opener with a different level of intensity that you see from preseason games that he played in to real games. He handled it well. He fought through his mistakes and bounced back. He didn't let it get him too down or too up when he made some plays. I am sure the one he would take back overall is the third-down catch in the second half that would have allowed us to continue to flip field position or score points. But he did a lot of good stuff. He was inside where he has to block in the big part of the run game and that's not for everybody. And he didn't shy away from competition. I think it's a great start to grow from.Did he grade out well as a run blocker?**He did a good job. The other part of being in the slot is that you are really responsible for two guys. He missed a couple where he got locked in on one guy and didn't see the other. The only way you are really going to get that locked down is experience, seeing it and being there and doing it, and watching it on tape and learning from it. I would expect him to make progress from last week.
**Defensive Coordinator Dick LeBeau
What kind of challenge is it for a quick turnaround like this week?
Well, we've done it before. We've done it every year but it condenses the week. That's a good thing in a way but you have to accelerate everything and before you know we'll be walking on that field in Baltimore. The guys had a good day. They have to really focus in on what they're studying because the day is really two days, Wednesday and Thursday. Tomorrow will be Friday and then we'll tackle. So they'll hold this level of concentration. They'll get all that they can get done. It's the same amount of time for Baltimore as it is for us.
Do you expect to see no-huddle?
I do. I certainly do. Our two worst games no doubt have been with, well a half you might say, against the hurry-up so we're going to see it until we handle it.
Are you referencing the Philadelphia game as the other game that the opponent ran the no-huddle?
I think that would be my reference, yes.
Re: Counting the preseason:
Well that's all we're talking about is 2014.
Re: Balance of guys with outside speed and guys who work inside the numbers and what you do to defend that:
They have good skill people and a great quarterback. So that's a good combination and they also have gifted tight ends to go with multi-talented wide receivers. That's why they have a good offense. That's why they have a good football team. Really from the defensive standpoint you have to do the same thing every week in the NFL. You have to keep some pressure on the quarterback and you have to keep good, solid coverage on the good big-play wide receivers and tight ends.
Re: Joe Flacco being a big play-action guy now:
He always has been. He throws a great deep ball whether it comes off the play-action or not. But they always have had good runners over there and they've built a lot of their deep game around the run, play-action and just quite a bit of both.
Re: Struggling against the no-huddle and if that is attributed to a lot of new faces on the defense:
The problems defending no-huddle I just think they're never going to change. They're certainly not unsolvable. We have to do a better job of keeping our poise more than anything and that's what we're working on. We'll definitely be better on that.
Do you see the trend on defense in teams becoming more big nickel to make up for versatile tight ends and spread offenses?
No, I don't think you're going to see that except on early downs or something like that. The game is getting more spread out, more wide open (and) more wide receivers that you have to have speed on the field. You need some big people always (in) football, but if anything, defenses (are) trending towards a lot of little guys that can play the run too.
Do versatile tight ends present a problem?
There's a reason why certain people have good, positive offenses and one thing may be good tight ends, one thing may be great wide receivers (and) one may be a great running back. They all have to have really great quarterbacks but each team is different. The bottom line is in the NFL you're going to get a talented bunch of offensive players and you have to match up with a different select group and a different combination of athletes every week. Statistically I'll tell you what they feature and what they don't.
Is your nickel guy, Will Gay, pretty good?
Yeah. I would say he had a pretty good game Sunday. We'll see how we do [this week].
To what degree was communication in the second half versus Cleveland?
It was a big issue. We became a little bit rattled and we can't allow that to happen. So we're working on that. To me, that was the biggest issue. We didn't give ourselves a chance and it showed.
How did it show?
More than anything it was the element of uncertainty. I think they heard the call but it was happening pretty fast and for many of them it was the first time that it was at that tempo really at that skill of an athlete. We kind of lost our way there for a while, but fortunately settled down there at the end and collectively we got the win.
Can you get in the amount of work in that you want to on a short week or is it impossible?
I think it's possible. You definitely do [what you can]. You caught back on what little sleep we're used to getting anyhow but there's a certain amount of work that has to be done and you just stay there until it gets done. Again, it's the same amount of hours it is for Baltimore as it is for Pittsburgh. It's an even feel.
Re: Cam Heyward and the play he made on Sunday and if that's something that was set up:
I think John (Mitchell) did prepare him for that but actually it was a combination. We had excellent coverage on that play and actually Ryan Shazier picked up the guy that they wanted to throw too with some intermediate depth across there. Then when the quarterback had to hold the ball because Ryan was in good position, Cam was able to beat his blocker and get in there and make the key sack. But that's defensive football. That's generally how those types of plays work (with) each one complementing the other. So that's what happened on that play. We had great coverage and a great effort from Cam.
Does that play speak to the resiliency of the team about a play needing to be made at that time?
I would say that they snapped out of it just in time because they were getting right down in field goal range there the first time that we did something good. And then we actually were off the field a couple times in that stint. But when things were going bad we had penalties on both of those situations and then that just exacerbates (the situation). You're only going to be out there so many times. If we get the ball turned over and get off the field there maybe it's a different score. But I'll give them credit, (they) were up against us right there and they didn't need too many more yards to be in field goal range. Our guys came up and then there at the end of the game did a great job. And then of course the fake punt really helped us get that field position back there.**