Opening statement: "Good to see everybody. Injury report, really nothing came up out of the game that was of a serious nature. We've got different bumps and bruises and things that we will attempt to heal up this week. But actually, from that standpoint, we probably are in a positive mode going forward here into the bye week and then going forward. [We were] just disappointed with the loss – tough loss. [We've had] a lot of three-point games in Heinz Field over the years. We came up on the short end. We didn't do the things we needed to do to win the game, unfortunately, and we have to get better. We've got a lot to improve on. We're going to spend the next two days working on those things with the guys here. And then we will let them out of here Wednesday afternoon, as per the rules, and try to get some rest and do all the evaluations that we always do on the bye week and see what we can improve and be the best team we can be moving forward."
*You say you always look forward to a challenge. Some of the players expressed their feelings that a big challenge lies ahead with the team being 3-4 now. Do you feel that way? *(Joe Platania) *"I don't really think of it that way. I think it's always a challenge in this league. I don't care what your record is. We were 5-2 last year at this time, and I felt pretty challenged at that point in time. Every year brings its own challenges. It's a tough league, a streaky league. You win close games, you lose close games. The biggest difference between last year and this year right now is that we've lost the close games, [and] last year we won the close games. So, we've got to get hot a little bit and win some close games. It's going to be a long season, and we have an opportunity going forward. We've just got to become a good football team."
Can you comment on your feelings about the trade of Bryant McKinnie to Miami? (Aaron Wilson) *"Is that done? It's done, it's finalized? I'm not aware that it is finished yet. I know that we are in the process of making a trade with Miami for Bryant McKinnie. I was just told by Ozzie [Newsome] coming down here, because I anticipated your question. I didn't quite anticipate that you would ask it that way, like you had the paperwork in hand. I think they're working on that trade as we speak, and I anticipate that it will go through." *
**Do you feel it's a logical move to trade Bryant McKinnie with the addition of Eugene Monroe? *(Aaron Wilson) *"It's a good move for us. It's a good move for Bryant [McKinnie]. I'm happy for Bryant. It's a good opportunity for him, more than anything, that's the most important thing. It's a conditional late pick. It's just an opportunity to go down there and play and do well."
Are you confident that Rick Wagner will be able to handle the backup responsibilities at tackle? (Luke Jones)"Yes."* *
**After watching the tape, how did you feel Jameel McClain performed? *(Ryan Mink) *"I thought he played a good game. Given the circumstances, [he] probably played really well. [He] hadn't played for a long time, hadn't practiced much, was throw into a situation because of Josh's [Bynes] situation where he had to play quite a few snaps. He did a solid job, and he's only going to get better from here on out. He came out of it healthy, so that's important. He'll really benefit from the next couple days of work."
**In reference to the onside kick attempt, was there anything you saw specifically on film going into the game that you thought there might be an opportunity, or was it more that the game situation dictated that it was going to happen? *(Mark Zinno) *"It was more that we saw something going into the game that we thought we could get it. The game situation is a part of it, certainly. You try to call it at the right time. We felt like that was a good time to call it. We thought based on what we had seen on tape that we would get it. We didn't execute it at all – that's the disappointing thing."
**As coaches, do you have any time where you try to pull back from the game, or is it difficult to do at this point? *(Garrett Downing) *"I don't know. We'll see how it goes. We've got a lot of work to do, so we'll just go to work and see what happens."
**A lot of the guys say that they thought the run game took some steps forward. Do you feel like the run game is starting to get going, and do you see progress being made with it? *(Aaron Wilson) *"I felt like we did a better job in the run game. We got a few more yards – a few more yards per carry maybe. It's improving, but we have a long way to go with it."
**The run defense has been very up and down. At one point, you were sixth in the league. The past couple weeks, you have given up more yards than you would probably have liked. Have you seen anything over the past couple weeks that have been different than before? Is there something that has jumped off the film to you? *(Jamison Hensley) *"We haven't played as good run defense. We haven't gotten off blocks like we need to. We haven't tackled all the time as well as we can. We didn't play very good run defense yesterday."
Do you sense the confidence of the team being the same as it has been? This is new territory for a lot of these guys. Do you sense the team is confident even though you're not getting the results? (Clifton Brown) *"Oh yes, absolutely." *
I don't know if you saw Terrell Suggs' quote about the "state of emergency." Obviously, there were a lot of emotional guys after losing to a rival. Do you think this was more a case of that? (Jeff Zrebiec)"I haven't seen the quote, so I don't know what you're talking about."
Terrell Suggs said you guys were in a "state of emergency." Do you think that's overstating it or do you think the team … (Jeff Zrebiec)"I'm not ever going to comment on … All the guys have a right to say whatever they think. If that is how Terrell [Suggs] sees it, then that's good. A sense of urgency is a good thing."
Is this a good time for the bye? You can step away just for a little bit, work on some things that you have to, and then you have two weeks before you have to go and play another one? (Dave Ginsburg) "Yes, it's going to be an opportunity to improve. Certainly, we've tried to do it every year that way. We can use a chance to heal. That will be important for us to get our legs back a little bit – that'll be a plus. [We'll] look at ourselves schematically. We've been doing that; we'll continue to do that. We've got to find the things that we do best. It's not a lot different than it was last year at this time. We won some close games last year; we lost some close games this year. We'll have to win more games in the second half this year than we did last year – that'll be the key. If you look at the teams that we're competing against, I think they've won some close games. The team that is No. 1 in our division has won some really tough games, some close games, late-game field goals and things like that. That's really been the difference; it always is the difference in this league. We've just got to find a way to win those games. But, not just find a way to win them, find a way to be good enough to win them. [We need to] find a way to do all the little things to put us in position to win them. We'll work hard on that."
There was a limited amount of possessions yesterday. You had some missed opportunities in the red zone, but some of the guys were saying after the game that they felt that it was as good of a game as you guys have had offensively, from start to finish, all year. Do you see it the same way or do you feel any different? (Matt Zenitz)"I'm not really ranking them right now. We have to get better in everything we do."
Did you see any progress?* (Matt Zenitz)"Yes, I saw a lot progress, a lot of progress. We improved in a lot of ways."* **
Last year you had the slump late. Now – and you perhaps look at it as – I don't want to call it a slump, but a bad stretch early. Is it almost reversed? Is it the same thing that you have to do?* (Dave Ginsburg)"Well, if we flip it, you'll be able to look at it that way. That would be good. I'm hopeful that will be the storyline at the end of the year, [that we] had the losses early. We'll see what happens. We've got to make that happen right now. We're capable of winning all these games. I feel like we should have won them all, but I always feel that way. We just need to work on all the things we need to work on. We need to run the ball; we need to stop the run. We need to get turnovers; we need to not turn the ball over. We need to protect the quarterbacks; we need to get sacks. We need to score in the red zone; we need to continue to stop people from scoring in the red zone. We need to get big plays; we need to stop people from having big plays. Those are all the things that you're asking about that we have to do better. Now how do you go do that? That's the challenge. We feel like, for the most part, we've got the guys to do the job. We've got to play better on special teams; we're going to go find some guys that want to play special teams. We're not going to have guys out there letting the ball run outside of them; that's unheard of. We're not going to run a surprise onside kick and not know what we're doing; we'll go to work on that. If it means changing people out, then that's what we'll do. We're going to do whatever it takes. We'll trade guys, we'll cut guys, we'll sign guys, we'll coach guys, we'll change schemes – it's doesn't matter. We're going to find a way to get better. That's the business we're in. We've got the men for the job; I like our guys. That's what we'll go to work on and continue to work on. This week is a chance to really focus on that."* **
For coaches, do they get any sort of a bye week? (Jamison Hensley)"I'm not really commenting on the schedule for the coaches, because I really don't know yet. We're just going to have to see. We've got a lot of work to do. There are some guys that have some issues, some personal things they have to deal with, so they'll get a chance to do that. But, we've got work to do."
After the game got tied, what was the plan for … Justin Tucker didn't kick the ball deep. What was the plan for that kickoff? (Mark Zinno)"That was the plan, to kick it deep. It just didn't happen."
John, is there a difference in discipline from last year until now because of all the moves in the locker room? Or is discipline carrying over onto the field from practices into Sunday? (Bill West)"You're going to have to describe that term for me, what your definition of that is, for me to understand what you're asking." (Reporter: "How they're being disciplined on the field. You were talking about special teams – guys being disciplined as a whole as a team.") "No, I wouldn't look at it that way."
John, there was a report from Sports Illustrated *after the game about Kelechi Osemele mentioning a bad disk in his back and eventual needing surgery after the season. How much of that is impacting his play from your perspective? *(Luke Jones)"I'm not going to comment on that. He's a tough guy; he fights through a lot of different things. A lot of guys have a lot of things. Probably most players in the league have something along those lines that way. So, he fights through it. He had the same issue last year and he fought through it last year. So, all the guys have things like that. All those things get addressed in the offseason. They get addressed if they're needed to be addressed. We looked at it last year, and it wasn't addressed that way, so maybe this year it will be. But, I really don't know, I don't really have the answer for you. But I do respect … 'K.O.' is tough, man. All those guys are. Anybody that plays in this league, with the physical demands that this game puts on you, you have to respect – especially those guys in the trenches. So, he's no different than most of the guys that way."
You said yesterday after the game that you had a message to the team about being 3-4. Generally speaking, what was the message? (Mark Zinno)"That's between me and the team."