Defensive Coordinator Keith ButlerDid you see improvement in your defense this past week?Well, yes. There's a lot we did improve on. The biggest thing, I think, is that they seemed confident in what they were doing. And they executed well in a lot of instances. We still have work to do though. I was glad they played the way they played.
Was the communication better last week?Yes. It's going to be better, because the more and more they play together, the better they will communicate. It's like being married. They got a lot better this week and they will continue to get better, I think.
Is Ryan Shazier thinking less and just know what he's doing? Or, do you still see him thinking?**Well, he made a lot of good plays out there. It's best to not let him think and just let him play, I think. He's getting more comfortable with the system and more comfortable with the speed of the game, in terms of the NFL. He's getting better.
What can a game like that do for a young guy?It gives him a lot of confidence. But, the thing you have to guard against, I think, is overconfidence. Because, it's true that the NFL is a humbling experience for everybody and there's no exception to that. He'll experience that too at some point in his career, like everybody does. I was glad with the way he played last week.
James Harrison likes to say your defense is dumbed down, because you're letting your guys not have to think so much. Is that fair?That is fair. He's right in that. We want to play fast and we want to know what we are doing. We want to be confident in what we are doing. As we go along and as we play this year, we will get better and better. Our goal is to get better every week, and I think we are capable of doing that, if we are smart enough as coaches to keep the menu in, you might say.
Re: On how the outside linebackers are rotated:I think it's like five plays, or something. I don't know. When they get tired, or Joey Porter thinks they're tired, then he'll switch them up. They seem to be doing pretty well at what we are asking them to do, so we will try to keep that rotation as much as we can.
How much of a feel do you have for the way the Rams want to use Tavon Austin?He's all over the place. He's a little like Dri Archer for us. He's fast, a tremendous athlete with a lot of speed. They stick him out in different places, receiver and running back, also, in a position where they calls sweeps with him. He's somebody you have to deal with, and that speed is pretty rare.
Is it somebody's job to point him out when they break the huddle?Well, he can be anywhere, so sometimes when they are trying to play man, you have to match up with him. When they are trying to play zone, you don't match up with him. Sometimes we will be concerned with where he is and sometimes we won't. It depends on what defense we call. He's a problem because he's fast. Anytime you have that type of speed on the field, you have to have respect for it.
Offensive Coordinator Todd HaleyRe: Containing the Rams' defensive line:It's going to be a great test, starting with Aaron Donald. What a great football player. Especially them being at home, indoors, on the turf. They are a fast, quick group. It will be the best group we've seen to date. So, we are going to have to communicate well. Everybody is going to have to be on their Ps and Qs as far as what they need to get done. They need to win individual battles. It will be a great test. They are a fast, flying group.
Re: Two-point plays seem like a fun play:Any time we have a chance to score points [is fun], as long as I am not the head coach and have to make that decision. Coach Tomlin is aggressive, which I love about him. We will gladly take the field any time we have the chance to put points on the board.
Could this be part of a trend where in 10 years it's the norm?**I don't know. We are just playing the way that we feel gives us the best chance to win, whether that will be every week or week-to-week, we'll see.
Did you have to expand the number of two-point plays this year?No. Because we've been practicing them for so long, we have quite a bank of plays. Coach Fichtner kind of spearheaded that. So he has a notebook full of plays that we've run, ones that have been successful against our guys and ones that haven't been successful. We will still go in the lab from day-to-day.
Re: Le'Veon Bell's pass protection and him contributing in the passing game:It's just great to have him back. He is one of our best players. To have him out here again gives everybody a little pep in their step. No disrespect to anybody. DeAngelo Williams did a phenomenal job, but Le'Veon has been here and has done a lot of great things for us. He's worked hard. He is excited about helping out.
Re: Keeping Williams in the mix:I don't have a plan per se, but he is going to be a part of this offense. He's a very good player. Where we go from there, we will see. But the great thing is, we have two really competent backs that can do a lot of things for us. That's always a good thing.
Have you ever been on a team where you went for two points, not chasing points?In Kansas City, occasionally. I was ultra-aggressive there, for different reasons. But there were times we tried to steal possessions or points in certain games or situations. But I would say this is new and it's exciting for myself, personally.
Re: Difference between a two-yard play and a one-yard play and if you have those plays:We really do, in the game plan for a tight red zone area, but some of those plays, obviously will cross over. We may use two-point plays to try to score a touchdown. The great thing is we've been practicing a bunch of plays down there. Like I said, we have a nice glossary of plays for multiple personnel groups, utilizing different guys versus different defenses. We have those. We can use them. It doesn't have to be a two-point play. Some of them might show up on fourth-and-ones or third-and-ones out on the field. It is situational football, and we kind of group those accordingly.
Re: Knowing when to go no-huddle:There are a lot of variables for us. Ben Roethlisberger was phenomenal in the game. It was an easy decision to make every time we came off the field. As long as we had the Head Coach's blessing. When your quarterback is playing at such a high level, physically and mentally, that's an edge that's hard to duplicate, because the quarterback can get you in what the best possible play is. He was doing it. He was making great decisions and then the necessary throws, and guys were making plays around him. But there are a lot of different variables. Each week is a different week.
Re: Communicating with Ben at the time of no-huddle or letting him go:Occasionally. We were playing at a high tempo and getting the ball snapped fast. You don't want to have him dealing with a distraction. Like I said, when he's playing mentally and physically like he was, let him go.
As a coordinator you are alright with giving up that much control to your quarterback?**It makes no difference to me whatsoever. That's the way I feel. I said it day one, around here and the way I believe is whatever gives you the best possible chance to win, whether that's on game day or in the planning stages, which is a big part of the no-huddle. We put a lot of time and effort, and communication goes on to make sure everybody is on the same page, not just coaches to players, but players to players and coaches to coaches. I think for it to be orchestrated that well, everybody needs to be on the same page. I don't care in the planning stages if it's a receiver's idea or a linemen's idea or other coaches, the name of this game and the way you stay in it and have success is winning games.
Re: Offensive success in the red zone and in two-point plays:|It's too bad [two-point plays] aren't included in it, because we've been scoring from two-yards out. Points don't get talked about a lot, but a guy scores a touchdown and at the end of the year you see he had one touchdown. But now, what if he has six two-point plays? That's two more touchdowns. But anyway [Smiles].
Re: Antonio Brown scoring on a two-pointer:The thing, did you notice, he handed the ball to the official. When he scored a touchdown he did a little dance [Smiles]. I'd like to believe so [it reflects on all the hard work]. That's why we do what we do out here and in the offseason and training camp. There had been a lot of work put into it. It's great to see us have success in that area.
Re: Bell developing as a pass receiver:You could tell he was naturally gifted as a receiver from day one. We saw it on the college tape. Some guys are just more natural than others. He is able to incorporate some of the things he does when he is carrying the football when he doesn't have the football. That makes for an explosive guy. Through time he has become much more detailed in what he is trying to get done and to make sure he is on the same page as Ben. The talent is there, and he keeps refining the skill.
Re: Next man up and the standard being the standard on this team than other places:I think a lot of people say it, but I think here in Pittsburgh, Coach Tomlin has done a tremendous job of cultivating that. I don't know if there is an exact way to do it. He just has a great way of presenting each week of what needs to get done. It leads to guys just understanding they have to step in and pick up the slack. I would say that goes to the head coach and how he creates just a tremendous environment for these guys to be successful, whoever they are.