Tomlin on the Texans

Coach Mike Tomlin looks at this week's opponent – the Houston TexansQ. Even with nicked up running backs, the Texans are still No. 3 in the NFL in rushing. How have they been able to accomplish that?A. They've got great continuity. I know that a lot of times people don't think about continuity when you're talking about a team that joined the NFL in 2002, but Coach Gary Kubiak has been there for six years and their system of offense has been in place for that long. They have been through a number of coordinators but it has remained the same. They know what they're doing. Not only do they know what they're doing, but they also know the kinds of players they're looking for. So when a guy like Arian Foster gets hurt, they can bring in guys like Ben Tate or Derrick Ward. They know what they're looking for, not only up front on the offensive line but the guys toting the ball as well.Q. Would you describe those running backs as clones?A. They're different, but they're similar in the most important ways – in how they read zone-scheme running and how they hit holes. They're all decisive zone-scheme natural runners.Q. Is James Casey a running back, a fullback, or a tight end?A. We're looking at him as a back. He's an eligible, and they utilize him in a lot of ways, whether they're throwing him crack-tosses, or they're throwing him the ball, or whether he's leading on linebackers. The reality is he's a big, skilled athlete, who is multi-faceted, and we better be conscious of what he's capable of and where he is today.Q. What does Matt Schaub like to do when it's time to throw the football?A. First and foremost, he looks for No. 80, which is not a bad place to start. You're talking about arguably a player in Andre Johnson who is the best in the world at what he does, and his reputation and his resume speak for themselves. Schaub does a nice job of managing the offense, of handling the mis-direction passing extremely well that works in concert with the zone-scheme running. More than anything, he's a great caretaker of their system, he makes great decisions with the football, and he's very heady.Q. You mentioned No. 80, Andre Johnson. What makes him special?A. The thing that really makes him unique is that he's a big guy with little guy skills. He's very quick to speed, he's very smooth in and out of his breaks. But when you challenge him physically in a way that you challenge little people, his size shows up. He's a very difficult guy to deal with in a lot of ways.Q. Will Johnson see a lot of Ike Taylor?A. He will, and Ike will see a lot of him.Q. Who do you consider the leader of the Texans' offensive line?A. It would be Duane Brown, their fourth-year starting left tackle from Virginia Tech. A highly-regarded guy when he came out for the draft, and he really has done a nice job of developing as a professional. He really is a good football player.Q. The Steelers have faced a number of speed rushers already this season. Terrell Suggs, Robert Mathis, Dwight Freeney, and now you're getting Mario Williams. Is that the way of the NFL?A. That's where teams spend money, and rightfully so. This is a quarterback league, not only in terms of the talented people we have who play the position, but also in the way the game is regulated with the rules and so forth. So you better have high quality men who are capable of combating that. Our opponents do, we do. It's the nature of the evolution of today's NFL.Q. How do you counteract the speed rushers?A. Great running game, a variety of schemes to help the men who are required to block those guys, and more than anything it's staying on schedule. Those guys who are dangerous anyway get doubly-dangerous when you get behind the chains.Q. Wade Phillips has been added to the Texans staff as the defensive coordinator. What has been his imprint on that defense?A. More than anything, they are extremely sound. His schemes, regardless of the city, always have been that. They play extremely hard, and they get after the quarterback. To this point, the Texans have shown to this point that they fit the bill in all of those areas.Q. You made it clear earlier in the week that the team's difficulties along the offensive line will be handled from within. Why do you choose to handle it that way?A. Because we're a team, and I believe what I tell our team: that we retain the men who we believe are capable of being reasons why we win, not win in spite of them. So when opportunities present themselves – some call them adversities and others call them opportunities – we're going to allow those men to be the professionals they are and deliver for us.Q. How has Trai Essex looked at left tackle this week?A. He looked really good in practice, and that has been his background. He was a left tackle at Northwestern, and he spent a lot of time on the left side of the line here. We ask our guys who are starters-in-waiting to be multi-faceted. He fits that bill. He's excited about the opportunity to show that he's left-tackle capable vs. a quality opponent.Q. The Steelers running game currently ranks 23rd in the NFL. That has to be something you want to improve upon?A. Absolutely. It's very early in the season, but at the same time we're not going to wish it away either. The way you deal with it is to stack solid performance on top of solid performance. Today is what we have. We have an opportunity to stack a solid performance. That's not going to fix our problems from that standpoint. It's going to be done over the course of several weeks.

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