Q. Acknowledging that this is professional football, and players and coaches are getting paid to do a job, but is there any room for pride, maybe for what someone or some unit accomplished or maybe what someone or some unit had to overcome?**
A. Anytime you're in a competitive business like this, emotions and personal feelings are part of it. You have to give all of yourself in order to be successful, so in that vein, yes, pride and respect and things of that nature are a part of performance and are an element of the game.
Q. Has this team or anyone on it done anything to make you proud?
A. Oh, gosh, I'm proud on a daily basis. Not a lot of things that I'm willing to acknowledge (laughs), but there are things that make you proud on a day-to-day basis. I just think that's the craft of coaching. You try to eliminate problems before they happen, and when you do there's a feeling of satisfaction when you can help a player grow in understanding or competency along the lines of performing for the team. I just think that's the true reward of the profession.
Q. What kinds of things would make you proud?
A. To me, the things that create an environment where you're more likely to be proud of an individual or a group is usually not what happens, but how they deal with what happens. How we deal with adversity. How we deal with disappointment. How we deal with and handle success in the proper way. It's not about what happens that makes coaches proud, it's about how individuals or a team respond to things that happen during the course of a football game or a football season.
Q. After the win over the Cardinals, you were asked about whether you talked to Antonio Brown about the number of balls thrown his way since Ben got hurt, and you said you had, and then you talked a little bit about what you said. There have been times when you've answered a similar question with – that's between the player and me. Why the difference this time?
A. Because quite frankly I knew I would be asked repeatedly about it until Ben came back, and sometimes I just get tired of answering questions. So hopefully I gave them enough so that they wouldn't broach that subject again. But I doubt it. I'm sure I'll get asked that question again this Sunday. It's just part of the j-o-b.
Q. What has this stretch without Ben – even going back to the quarter-and-a-half in St. Louis when he was injured – revealed to you about this team?
A. I try not to look for clarity or anything in that regard. I just want to do what's required for us to meet the challenge that each week provides, and to use the components at our disposal to do so. In-game injury is one thing, and we did what was necessary to get out of the game in St. Louis. Preparing for and having to execute, like we did in San Diego, is a different element. And then last week with Landry is another element. I just think more than anything, I try to stay focused on what it is we need to do to meet the week's challenge and not try to draw any conclusions about what this team is or what we're capable of. We're very much in the thick of this thing and writing that aspect of it, and I would just as soon continue to write it as opposed to evaluating it at this point.
Q. During your weekly news conference you will get questions about clock management, going for a two-point conversion, those kinds of head coach's decisions. What factors are you considering when you're making those decisions other than the strict mathematics?
A. There are so many layers to those decisions. Often times I cannot properly articulate the process, or the thought process, because it's so in the moment at times. It's just an element of the game. There is doing things according to script, if you will, the prudent things, and then there is the calculated risk-taking associated with winning. I've never feared calculated risk-taking associated with winning, and I've never feared calculated risk-taking associated with seeking victory. The longer I'm on the job, the more clearly I see that, the more willing I am to do what's required in order for us to win. I get my vibe from our guys. I get my vibe from game circumstance. I know one thing: I make a conscious effort not to live in fear but to aggressively take the calculated risk associated with seeking victory.
Q. During your years as a coach when those decisions weren't up to you, did you watch how your head coach made those decisions, and did that shape the way you handle those things now?**
A. I wish I had that type of restraint. I was the annoying assistant with suggestions. I was politely aggressive. Thankfully I worked for guys who took a stake in my growth and development, and really nurtured that growth and development and weren't resistant to me being nosy and putting my nose where it didn't belong from time to time.
Q. You have called Landry Jones the presumed starting quarterback for today's game. What challenges will he face today as the presumed starter that he didn't last week as the guy who would come off the bench if needed?
A. The old adage in sports is: it's easier to come off the bench than it is to start. That's very true. Often times in life and sports, a lot of the battle is man vs. himself. I'm sure Landry has had some interesting moments with himself over the course of this week in preparation for this game, scenarios he has taken himself through to make sure he is overall ready to perform. That's a roller coaster ride you don't take yourself on if you're an in-game replacement. There is not a lot of time to second-guess. There's not a lot of time to over-think. You just do what comes natural. It's going to be interesting to see how Landry manages that and performs for us today.
Q. How did the team handle the week of preparation as far as the quarterback position this week?
A. Thankfully, and for what reason I don't know, but I think our group is somewhat oblivious to it all. They go about their business of doing what it is they need to do to prepare, and that's the appropriate mind-set. Unless they can take a snap from center or throw a football, they just need to focus on their contributions to our efforts.
Q. You were a defensive assistant and then a defensive coordinator in this league, what do you try to do to an inexperienced quarterback?
A. To do things that are not according to script. To make him think and adjust on the fly. To change the pace of the game. That doesn't always mean blitz. If he's looking at your tape and you're blitz-heavy situationally, maybe it means dropping into coverage. The things you have to do to attack a young guy are to change the script on him, to make him adjust on the fly, to see how he handles in-game adjustments. I'm sure there will be an element of that going on today for Landry.
Q. Is there a difference between rookie inexperience and third-year inexperience?
A. The inexperience is what it is. There's not much difference between a guy who's inexperienced in his third year or a guy who's inexperienced as a rookie. The difference lies in their background, in their overall general readiness about what it is we do, as opposed to what could happen to them in a stadium. A third-year guy has had the benefit of being in our system and understanding how we're built and our approach to business, and that gives him a higher floor for performance, as opposed to a guy with very little background in that area.
The Steelers prepare for the week 7 match up against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Q. Can you explain the value to the team on the road when there are a lot of Steelers fans in the stadium for the game?**
A. Some of the things that happen when the environment is truly hostile changes the pace of your offense. It makes natural things you do more difficult. Like communicating, line of scrimmage communicating, the use of cadence as a weapon, the ability to dummy-count to uncover defenses and gain information prior to the snap, the ability to use the cadence as a weapon for us so we can beat people to the punch. Particularly in short yardage, often times the line that beats the other line to the punch is going to win the down. When you're working off a silent count and you're working in a hostile environment, you lose a lot of those opportunities and the advantage goes to the defense. When Steelers Nation comes out and supports us on the road, at the very least it makes the environment a neutral one, one where we can utilize cadence and all the things that are associated with it from an advantage standpoint. So the support of our fans is real, we appreciate it, and it helps us in our efforts.
Q. What are the characteristics of an Andy Reid coached team?
A. They're going to be very multiple offensively. They're going to use a variety of personnel groups. The quarterback is going to have a complete understanding of the system. He is going to be an extension of Coach Reid in terms of how they approach ways to attack you. They are not going to be highly penalized. They're going to play good football. They're going to display a good understanding of situational football. They have a definite situational personality, and that's the big thing about Coach Reid and all West Coast coaches who come from that Mike Holmgren family. They have a definitive personality in situational football – whether it's goal-line, red zone, or third down – there are certain things you have to be prepared to stop, but it's also those same things that they're very good at executing. It's going to be an execution oriented game for us, especially in situational ball, and I look forward to watching our guys compete.