Coordinators Corner: Butler & Haley on NE


Defensive Coordinator Keith ButlerIs there anything new you could throw at Rob Gronkowski?**No. They've seen everything. We just have to try to execute and play the best we can. They are a good football team.

When you have such fast linebackers, does that help you defend someone like Gronkowski?It always helps you. Speed always helps you. Reaction time is cut down quite a bit. It helps. It helps a lot.

What makes Gronkowski so tough to defend?He's knowledgeable. He has really good instincts. He is big. He is strong. He has a wingspan, a huge wingspan. So he really muscles everybody a lot of times. If he gets the matchups that they want, then he is going to be quite a bit bigger than the person guarding him. He will body-up, and Tom Brady knows where to throw it.


Do you need a linebacker to cover Gronkowski because of how big he is?**You need somebody good enough to cover him, whether it's a linebacker, safety, whatever. Sometimes it's good to have size. Sometimes it's good to have ability.

Does it require more than one person to cover Gronkowski?Sometimes. Every now and then, they all require more than one.

Who is harder to cover, Gronkowski or Julian Edelman?They seem to think both of them are hard to cover. In the passing game, they get the ball most of the time. They have a pretty high opinion of them both.

Can you concede one of them?No. Tom Brady can. He will find them, he always does. He's a smart football player and could probably be coach right now if he wanted to. If you let one go, he will find him.

You know they will make plays. Is it just a question of how many they make?We have to try to make a few plays of our own, too. They will make plays. We just have to be patient. They are a patient football team and they will take what you give them. We just need to do our jobs.

How is your secondary meshing?We will see. Sometimes it's been good and sometimes it hasn't. We are all seeing what we can do. In preseason you spend a lot of time evaluating your guys. When you get to this point, you should have a pretty good idea of what they can do.

Re: On Will Allen:He's smart and knows the game. He's challenged by the game and loves the competition.

Has the pass rush ever been good enough to match the deficiencies of the secondary, or will a good quarterback always expose the secondary?You don't have to cover people if you get to the quarterback. Can we get to Brady before he throws the ball? We'll see. We can't let him throw where he wants to.


The Pittsburgh Steelers prepare for the first regular season game against the New England Patriots.

Re: On playing New England:**In order to be the best, you have to beat the best. Fortunately, we have tough schedule this year. It's fortunate because it gives us the chance to be well prepared. I'm looking forward to the challenge. That's the way the NFL is. I loved it as a player, and I love it as a coach.

What's the identity of this defense?The only thing I want from this team is to make sure we have more points on the board at the end of the game than the other team. That's all that counts.

How much have we seen of your defense?We are doing some different things. Schematically, we will be different.

So we haven't seen your whole game plan yetYou have seen some of it, yes. Some of the defenses we will use, yes.

Half of it? Some of it? Most of it?Some of it [Laughs].

Re: Your linebackers say you are still the toughest on them:Yeah. I am. Most of them we drafted when I was the linebackers coach, with the exception of Bud Dupree. I expect more of them. I always have expected more of them. And I am not going to stop doing that just because I am the coordinator. I am still going to coach them. Sometimes they don't want to hear me though. That's alright. I enjoy coaching, calling the plays and all that stuff. We have good coaches on this staff, too. We are all pitching in.

How long have you personally been planning for this week?We do it week by week, but we look ahead, obviously. But it's hard for me to look ahead and separate teams. So I just try to go one week at a time. Of course we are looking at what they do on down the line, because we didn't know who was going to be there. We felt like Tom was going to be there but we didn't know. So we kind of had to get ready for two people. But now we know who is playing.

Re: Adding players and all the moving parts this camp, especially at cornerback:They are getting better. The thing they are doing is that they are getting better. Being well matters a lot, so they can practice and get into what kind of scheme we are trying to teach. We will see what they can do.

Is there one particular key for your defense to be successful?I don't know if there is a particular key. Like I said, we have to keep them at one less than we score. That's going to be success for us. We are not splitting this up on offense and defense. This is a team game. And if we can score more points than they do, then I will be satisfied with that.

Re: More than one linebacker has said they need to be the core of the defense:There is a lot that they have [to do]. They make the calls and set defenses. They have a lot. They carry the burden in some instances of making sure we get enough pressure on the quarterback as well as our defensive line. They have to be a big part, our front seven has to be a big part of our defense this year.

Have they carried that burden in the past as well?Everybody knows what has happened in the past. The media tells me about it all the time. They have to make their own history. And I think everybody does. I do as a coordinator. That's part of the league. You have to make your own history.

Is there any slack for Jarvis Jones this year? What about Ryan Shazier?No. I think this is the year he has to have a good year. And he knows that. Ryan Shazier is coming along. He has a lot of talent. He has a lot to learn. The quicker he learns the faster he is going to play and the better he is going to be.

Why do you think the New England defense is able to change their personnel so often and still be good?They are a good team with a good coaching staff. They understand what's expected of them, and they've done a great job. Our job is to go and out execute and come away with a win. Besides the guys you will be missing on offense, is the biggest challenge you're facing New England's play-making ability, or the matchups they create?It is what it is when it comes to the guys we are missing. It's part of what we deal with. We've got guys who are working hard and looking for opportunities. I think it's really about everybody doing their jobs really well. If we do that, we should have a chance to win.**

Re: On facing New England's defense:For us, offensive football is about attacking with the run and the pass. We have to all do what we are supposed to do. When the opportunities are there in the pass or run game, we have to take them.Re: On Darrius Heyward-Bey:You have to love him. He does everything we ask of him. He's a hard worker and knows multiple positions. Not only that, he helps young guys anytime he can. He's fast and makes plays. I'm looking forward to him getting an opportunity to get out there.Are you comfortable with Tyler Murphy as the No. 4 receiver?We'll see how it all plays out. As a coaching staff, we haven't had those discussions yet. Everybody here is getting ready to have a hat on. We have confidence in everyone, or they wouldn't be here.Have you thought about limiting Tom Brady with possession time on offense?We are going to play the best we can. As the game unfolds, if we need to adjust, we will. We are going there to execute our game plan.What can DeAngelo Williams do that fits well with this offense?He's a good back and a very good runner. He's been a productive player everywhere he's been, even dating back to college. In the NFL, he was in a platoon situation and was still affective. He understands protections well and knows how to run routes and catch the football. DeAngelo has come in here and listened to the coaches. He's given 100% in the weight room. He has a lot of energy and we hear him all day long. We like those kinds of guys. From what I've seen, I'm excited to have him and I know he feels the same.Will Jordan Todman be the backup on Thursday, or will we see Dri Archer and Will Johnson?**They all have helmets. Will and Dri are prepared to go. Will is impressive because he spent most of the year with the tight ends. However, we did that for a reason. We knew he already had a background in the backfield. He's done a good job in practice. Todman got some repetitions today and looked like he understood things. That's always a positive.

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