Q. Now that Larry Johnson has been cut by the Chiefs, what does running back Jamaal Charles bring to the table?
A. He's a home run hitter. We look at this man closely when he came out for the 2007 draft. We took a running back (Rashard Mendenhall) in the first round that year. Charles has blazing speed, he's a tough guy for a smaller runner. He went over 100 yards last week against Oakland, and we have a lot of respect for him. It starts there in terms of us playing a good game vs. the Chiefs.
Q. Can you compare him to anybody?
A. He has similar characteristics to the man in Tennessee – Chris Johnson – in that he has good vision, he's pretty good stop-and-go, and he has great top-end speed.
Q. Why have the Chiefs struggled to score points?
A. They're a team in continual transition. They have a new coaching staff, a new front office and new personnel, and they're all in the midst of getting to know one another. They're continuing to add key components to that mix over the course of the season. When you're adding guys like Bobby Wade, when you're adding guys like Chris Chambers, when you're eliminating guys like Larry Johnson, there's going to be some bumps along the way. You don't get a chance to develop any continuity. I really think over the last month, you're starting to see them develop some continuity, and that's why they're 2-2 over their last four games.
Q. Does it take a long time to implement the 3-4 defense?
A. It does, particularly when you have 4-3 personnel, and I think that's what they had drafted in recent years in Kansas City. That's why you see a No. 1 pick like linebacker Derrick Johnson not starting. You've got guys like defensive end Tyson Jackson, who was drafted for the scheme, but defensive end Glenn Dorsey was not. Glenn Dorsey is learning to play the 3-4 techniques. It is a process, no doubt.
Q. How has Tamba Hali converted to this situation?
A. He looks like the man who has benefited the most from the transition. He's unique. He's like LaMarr Woodley from an outside linebacker standpoint. This is a 275-pound man, and he's going to win most physical matchups vs. tight ends. He brings that kind of power and explosion to the position. He's playing really well.
Q. Do you see quarterback Matt Cassel playing up to the expectations they had when they made the trade for him?
A. It's tough to evaluate his play and put it singularly on him, when I talk about some of the transition that has gone on around him over the course of the year. No man in this game is an island, and he has experienced some ups and downs because of some of those things around him.
Q. What are the keys to the game for the Steelers against the Kansas City Chiefs?
A. Anytime you're playing on the road, you have to do a nice job of managing the crowd noise. Arrowhead Stadium has an awesome reputation. We have to be able to communicate and be on the details from that standpoint offensively. Defensively, we cannot give up chunks. We can't allow these guys to get explosion plays. If we make these guys operate, I think we should have a nice day in terms of getting after them. Big plays, chunks, ball over the top of our heads are killers.
Tomlin on the Chiefs
Sunday, Nov. 22, 2009
Coach Mike Tomlin offers some insight on the Steelers' opponent this week – the Kansas City Chiefs.