HEAD COACH MIKE TOMLINWednesday, January 2
How do you feel about being an underdog?
You know I'm not necessarily concerned about predictions and being in that position. I'm excited about being in the playoffs and having the opportunity to pursue our ultimate goal. That of course starts with our play this week. We are excited about that again. Back in the summer everybody has the dream about being in this position. You start with 32 different teams in 32 different cities and now we are at 12. We are one of the twelve. We don't take that lightly. At the same time we know that we have some work to do if we want to continue to move forward. Those are our intentions.
Are any of your injured players going to be able to play?
We'll know more tomorrow. Today was a big rehab day for some of those guys we held out of practice like Bryant McFadden, Troy (Polamalu), Willie Reid, Allen Rossum, Deshea Townsend and Hines Ward. Those guys aggressively attacked rehab and we will see where they are tomorrow and more forward from there.
How were the Jaguars able to stop Santonio Holmes last time?
They played a little bit of match up football. (Rashean) Mathis is a very good corner. He has a great reputation and has the tapes to back it up. He traveled and followed. Santonio (Holmes) ran quite a bit. They had some success with it. I imagine they will try it again. We have to be prepared for it. The emphasis for us is that we do as a team what we desire to do, whether it is Santonio or someone else. But we recognize what Mathis is capable of being a shutdown corner.
Is there a difference between this game and the last time you faced each other.
I'm sure there is. We've played them recently. Playoffs, single-elimination tournament, the urgency of January football is a factor. So yes there is.
Has the performance of your run defense been out of character lately?
Ideally it is out of character and it is something that can disappear and disappear quickly. It has to if we want to be successful as we move forward in the playoff hunt. You've got to stop the run. It starts there. We make no bones about that. That's our mentality that we have all year. We've stumbled a little of late. We make no excuses for that. We have to get it corrected.
How do you go about fixing some of the issues?
A lot of times when you have a deficiency in an area, people want to add to, but we will probably lend ourselves more to subtraction if there is leakage or a problem in an area. We believe in what it is we do. We understand that technique and execution is going to get it done. If we are having a problem with technique and execution, we'll subtract as oppose to add. It is all part of fundamental football.
Will you evaluate as the game plays itself out?
Are you confident about the way you ended the game against Jacksonville?
I am more concerned with why we started slow, as oppose to what we were able to do late. That is the issue for us and we have underperformed this year, so that is kind of our focus.
Will Jeremy Bloom return kicks if Allen Rossum can't play?
(Jeremy) Bloom is not on the 53 (man roster). He is a practice squad player.
Is he a potential return guy?
He is a practice squad player at this point.
What do you think about the change in how teams stereotypically based on their geographic location?
I some of those geographic trends are starting to fall by the way side. When you see teams like New England capable of throwing the ball all over the field and teams like Green Bay; outdoor, northern teams that throw the ball all over the field. You have southern teams that pound the ball at you, like Jacksonville. People cater their personality and will to what they do well, their personality and their personnel. The personnel in those cities dictate how they play football. It probably was done thoughtfully by the people that put those teams together.
Why have those styles changed?
The two northern teams we mentioned have outstanding quarterbacks, to say the least. I think they play to the strength of the guys that play quarterback for them. All that other stuff might be over my head.
Do you look for guys that fit your system?
You always do. You also build it in light of the strengths of your team. Those teams we talked about have great quarterbacks. I'm sure they don't mind putting the game in the hands of guys like Brett Favre and Tom Brady.
Was Jason Capizzi the best guy available or did you bring him in because he knows the system?
I think some of his experience here makes him the best guy available. It is a combination of talent, what we think he is capable of being and his exposure to our football, how we go about our business and his familiarity with a lot of the things we do here.
Are you comfortable with putting the game in Ben Roethlisberger's hand?
He is a competitor. He has made plays when plays have broken down. He has been big for us all year. He has taken pretty good care of the football. He hasn't thrown a bunch of picks. He is a Pro Bowler.
Did you get a lot out of Trai Essex's performance last week?
I have, but again, you don't take that performance for granted. Live action is a little different than practice. He has a limited number of meaningful snaps, in terms of preparation. The fact that he played pretty good from an execution standpoint and an assignment standpoint was impressive.