Tomlin on 'soft' coverage, adding haters


Q. Position flexibility is big in the National Football League, but you don't see a lot of cornerbacks moving to safety and safeties moving to cornerback. Why is that?**

A. Quite frankly, often times cornerbacks aren't physical enough consistently to play the safety position for an extended period of time, and safeties are generally safeties because of stiffness in hips and ankles that doesn't allow them to change direction with receivers and play the type of coverage that cornerbacks play in man-to-man.

Q. On a particular play, what is it that determines whether a defensive back lines up on the line of scrimmage opposite the wide receiver or whether he lines up some yards off the line of scrimmage?

A. Usually a myriad of things, and it's not haphazard. Sometimes it's situational, meaning down and distance. Sometimes it's based on information the offense presents to us, with formations or personnel or distribution of guys. And sometimes it's dictated by call, meaning sometimes a call will prescribe whether a defensive back is on the line of scrimmage or not. So it's done by a myriad of variables, and usually a combination of some of the ones I just mentioned.

Q. Is it ever OK for a defensive back to be lined up behind the first-down marker on a third down?

A. Sure.


Q. It would seem that would allow for an obviously easy pitch-and-catch for the offense to convert, right?**

A. Just because he's lined up behind the sticks doesn't mean he's going to play behind the sticks. We line up often times in off coverage and go to cover-2 in some form or fashion, some form of cover-2, and the defensive back jumps down at the snap. So alignment is simply that. Often times, particularly at this level of football, variables change after the snap. You often can't believe what you see prior to the snap.

Q. Were all three of Ben Roethlisberger's interceptions last week his fault?

A. It's an 11-man job, protection of the football. I know it's easy to want to simplify or place blame or look at plays in a very simplistic way, but the bottom line is that possession of the football is an 11-man job. Protection, quarterback, route-running, receiving.

Q. On Thursday, the Steelers claimed Jacoby Jones off waivers and waived Dri Archer. Was it a situation of being unable to wait for Archer anymore, and what do you expect from Jones today?

A. It really wasn't about Dri Archer. It was about the opportunity to acquire a guy with the pedigree of Jacoby Jones. He has been in the league since 2008, and he has nine kick returns for touchdowns – four on punts and five on kickoffs. He has done it on big stages. He went 108 (yards for a touchdown) in the Super Bowl. Anytime you have an opportunity to add a guy like that to your group, a guy you have knowledge of and believe would be a good fit, you do it.

Q. How quickly can Jacoby Jones become familiar with how you want to run your kickoff returns in order to be able to contribute?

A. A guy like him who has been doing it since 2008 – 24 hours.


Q. Have you talked to him about that near-miss down the sideline on that kickoff return in Baltimore a couple of years ago?**

A. Man, we've chatted about it a lot over the last two-to-three years. It's pretty good entertainment for us. I imagine we're going to have some fun days ahead when he and I are asked about it.

Q. Jacoby Jones played for the Ravens, and the Ravens hate the Steelers, so for a time in his NFL career he has hated the Steelers. He even looked like he had a little bit of it going on during that Monday night game in San Diego as a player for the Chargers. Are there any concerns about adding a player who has hated you to your locker room?

A. I'm not concerned about it from the perspective of Jacoby Jones. This guy has been on three teams, and we are his fourth team. The Ravens were just one team he was on. He was drafted by the Houston Texans and played the majority of his career down there. He really just played two or three years in Baltimore. I doubt that when his career is over he would identify himself as a Raven other than the fact he won a Super Bowl there. He's a competitor. This is a small fraternity that is the National Football League. You have knowledge of guys who are competitors, and guys who may take it personal. He's a guy who always struck me as someone who's a competitor. I competed against him when he played for the Houston Texans, I competed against him when he played for the Baltimore Ravens, I competed against him when he played for the Chargers. He's always had the same mentality about competing – he embraces it. I'm not concerned about that in the case of Jacoby Jones by any stretch.

Q. What if it's a different person?

A. You tell me the individual, and I can tell you. The hypotheticals, to have a cookie-cutter approach to it I think is naïve. I think it depends on the individual.

Q. Would you add Terrell Suggs?

A. No. You see what I mean? You give me a name, and I can answer. There's a difference. And you can feel it in your gut.

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