Coach Mike Tomlin takes a look at this week's opponent – the Cleveland Browns.
Q. As you studied the Browns, what did second-year quarterback Colt McCoy show you?A. He's still continuing to be inclusive in terms of spreading the ball around to a number of people. There have been some moving parts within the group and he has had some special challenges. I like the relationship he has with Ben Watson, and he's establishing a new relationship with Greg Little. He just does a nice job of administering the offense. I think he's more definitive in some of his pre-snap communications and you see some growth and development in that area. He's a competitor, and has top-flight character based on everything that you hear. They're on the upswing.
Q. Greg Little is their No. 2 pick from North Carolina State and leads the Browns in catches. Does he remind you of anybody?
A. He's a big-bodied strong guy, similar to Dwayne Bowe. As we were preparing and talking about Little this week, Bowe is the guy who consistently jumps out at you. This kid is 6-foot-2, 220 pounds, and he plays to that size. He's got a running back background from college, he's a tough guy to get on the ground after the catch, he's a big, strong guy. If I had to pick someone we have recently played in terms of relating it to our players it would be Dwayne Bowe.
Q. Has Joshua Cribbs, with four receiving touchdowns, become McCoy's go-to guy in the red zone?
A. Yes, and a lot of those things come off play-action stuff. Cribbs also distinguishes himself as a run blocker, being 225 pounds and very physical. He comes off some crack-like stems and finds throwing lanes. They do a nice job of complementing their run with the play-pass down in that part of the field.
Q. Cribbs also is a dangerous return man, both on punts and kickoffs. What do the Steelers have to do to contain him in that phase?
A. We have to be aggressive. We have some capable hands ourselves. We're not going to tote the luggage of the past, but we're going to respect his body of work. We understand that we have to be smart and aggressive when we play this guy.
Q. Their defense seems to be keyed this season by rookie defensive end Jabaal Sheard?
A. He's doing a nice job of providing consistent pressure off the left side. He leads them in sacks, and he also has caused five fumbles. When you talk about a defender coming off the left side, or the offense's right, five caused fumbles is a very impressive number. Usually those type of numbers come from defenders who approach the quarterback from the blind side. He's a consistent guy from a motor standpoint. He's got a bright future.
Q. They have another rookie starting on their defensive line. What does tackle Phil Taylor add to the Browns defense?
A. He's a big man, an anchor point. And really it's quite shocking that he is registering the kind of sack numbers he has already this year, with four. I kid Casey Hampton all the time, asking him if he's going to get a sack. He's a big guy, an anchor point who requires multiple people to block. It's really surprising and impressive that he has four sacks already.
Q. Is a short week an issue of mind over matter?
A. It's a little bit of both. From a preparation standpoint, it has to be above the neck, but you have to do all of the things you possibly can in terms of getting your body physically prepared and ready to play, whether it's massage therapy or Pilates or whatever. Our guys have done a nice job of taking advantage of all the amenities we provide in terms of making sure they're physically ready to go as well.
Q. Can the hurry-up preparation turn into a positive?A. I think it can be a positive for a veteran team, but I also think that a young team can bounce back better physically. It all sorts out in the wash. The reality is that the playing field is going to be level tonight, and the team that plays the best is going to win.
Q. Even though their story is still being written, do you have a good feeling about this group of Steelers defensive players?
A. The thing I like about the group in particular is that it plays well together and they respond well to situational football. We turn the ball over, they take the field with the right mentality. We give up a big kick return, they take the field with the right mentality. They themselves give up a long ball like they did to A.J. Green, they maintain their poise and have a right-minded mentality. I think that's what allows them to excel.
Q. What is so special about coaching a player like James Harrison, who had three sacks in a game twice in a span of a month?
A. That when you need him the most he always delivers. I have a canned speech that I give the team from time to time that's geared toward A-players playing A-ball, particularly in significant moments. He seems to be always one of those guys who responds to those moments.
Q. Since the bye, the Steelers have cut their deficit in turnover ratio in half. Is that a good sign for the stretch run?
A. There are two ways to look at it. We were pretty bad prior to the bye. Now we're just reasonable. I like where we're going in that area. We have to do a nice job of taking care of the ball, and maybe most importantly we have to continue to remain opportunistic on defense.