Coach Mike Tomlin takes a look at this week's opponent – the Philadelphia Eagles:
Q. What is unique about Eagles QB Michael Vick's abilities?
A. He has a skill set that is unique. I think it starts there. He's extremely quick and fast. He can get out of tough spots. He's got a quick release. He's also got a strong arm. The full field remains an option to him. He can work downfield later in the down. He's just got an awesome skill set that lends itself to a well-rounded game – one that you need to account for from a defensive perspective. All 11 men on the field have to be cognizant of what he is capable of. He has that level of skill.
Q. Would you consider using a defender to "spy" Vick?
A. I've been facing Mike since he came into the league with the Falcons, and that's always one of the many ways that you address. But the reality is that when you're talking about a guy as talented as he is, it's a four-man rush, it's a five-man rush, it's a six-man rush and combinations of those with people who are "search lights," if you will, for when he breaks contain, even in the midst of what I described. He is that caliber of a talent and we're going to have to use all the tools at our disposal to minimize what he does to us.
Q. Have the Eagles been winning without having "style points?"
A. They're 3-1. I think that speaks for itself. They're making the necessary plays in all three phases to be successful. Offense is making plays. Defense is making plays. They're stepping up at critical moments. They made a defensive stop late against Baltimore. They did what they had to do to get out of the stadium last week (against the New York Giants). That's a sign of a good football team, as they are.
Q. Does the Philadelphia defense – particularly the linemen – play the run on the way to the pass?
A. They do that, but I've always been one to believe that when people say that statement it's almost like they minimize their willingness to defend or play the run. It's really not. They disrupt the run in a vertical-like manner. They cut the field with their vertical disruption. It's how they play up front. They're attacking and penetrating with their front. That cuts the field off and reduces running lanes and those linebackers and secondary may fill those running lanes. In concept, yes they do play the run on the way to the pass, because they are vertical and they are attacking and penetrating. But they don't do it with any disrespect to the run game or gap integrity. They've done a nice job of defending both the run and the pass.
Q. Do the Eagles use WR DeSean Jackson more in the short or the long passing game?
A. I think they utilize him in both ways, and I really think it depends on how they intend to pass the football. They incorporate him as a deep threat in their play passing game when they come off hardcore play-action passes. Some of the drop-back and quick-game, obviously, he's involved in underneath routes more than anything. I think it's dictated by the nature of the passing play, whether it's quick-game, misdirection, or play-pass, how they employ their receivers, specifically Jackson and TE Brent Celek.
Q. Is Vick more of a threat to a defense as a runner or a passer?
A. He's a competitor and I think he does what is required for his team to win. I think that's always been him, whether it's in Philly or Atlanta, whether it's the younger days of his career or now, he is a capable runner that is a weapon. He is capable of staying in the pocket. He is capable of misdirection passes. I think that's what makes him such a unique weapon in the National Football League – that he is capable and is willing to do all of those things.
Q. Have you noticed, is Vick trying to stay in the pocket more?
A. I don't know what more is compared to. I think that's just a function of being 30 or 30-plus years old as opposed to a dude in his early 20s. I think Ben (Roethlisberger) stays in the pocket more. I think you could say that about every quarterback who has played the game who has some mobility. The longer they are in the league, the more they're stationary, if you will.
Q. Does a guy like Vick restrict your pass rush?
A. I think it makes you consider the ramifications of what you do and be more thoughtful about what it is you do. It only minimizes what you do if you allow it to. Obviously, it makes you more thoughtful about what it is you do, and specifically thoughtful of the consequences if you provide an escape lane.