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Press Conference Transcript - Nov. 27

On what he's seen from the Steelers' kickoff coverage:"Anytime that you get touchdowns run back on you, you always look back and try to figure out what the result was. What I've seen from the opponent standpoint is there are guys that just made some plays. Some of those kicks were really good kicks, and the guys squirrel around and got out of there. They're well coached, and they have good players. I know they're working hard on it. Our job is to just do our job. We go into it every week with the idea that we're going to try to score as well. It's going to be no different this week than it is any other week."

On the amount of fair catches by CB Chris Carr:"Some of those balls… You look back on the whole season, and some of those balls you'd like to see him perhaps catch and run with it. There are other balls that he's taken that he made a decision to catch the ball and run that you might have asked to fair catch. But, that's a returner's prerogative in a lot of places. You put a guy back there, you trust his judgment, and Chris has been doing this for a long time. We have confidence in him, and one of the things that you probably noted, too, when you're analyzing our punt return team, is that we haven't had a lot of real good returnable balls. You look at the opponent gross punt, and it is very low. That stat in and of itself tells you, 'Well, something's going on here.' We've had a lot of pooches. The biggest thing in the punt return game, and I preach this to the guys and always have, is persistence, because when the opportunity comes you have to capitalize on it. More than anything else, that's really what we have not done. It's not like we haven't had returnable balls. We've had some that we haven't really capitalized on for a variety of reasons. That's what we need to do better going forward."

On how big of a factor the wind will be Sunday night:"Well, if we were playing today it would have been a factor. I don't really know what it's going to be like Sunday night yet."

On if he's seen the forecast:"I have, but you've got to show up at the stadium and figure it out. I'm not 100 percent trusting our weather journalists." (laughing)

On if the wind will affect strategy:"Sure. It always does, because it affects which way you return, it affects how you kick, how you punt, and it affects a lot of different things – how you set up your blocks. If it's a very windy day, then we have to adjust, yeah. The good thing is today we got to practice in it. That's something that [makes] a really valuable practice. We talk with the specialists all the time. When you get a deal like this, you should have a smile on your face, because you can't replicate this. You have to go out and practice in this to really be able to play in it. The other thing I tell our specialists all the time is you don't have to set NFL records today, but you have to be the best guys in the stadium, because this is one of those situations you just have to take the elements and use them to your advantage and try to make plays with what you have."

On what changes for him as a coach with a new kicker:"The good thing with Billy [Cundiff] is I had quite a bit of experience with Billy prior to his arrival, because I was with him at another club. If it was a brand-new kicker, yeah, you spend a lot of time together going over his whole operation and what kicks he can do, what kicks he's not as good at, so you kind of game-plan that way. But the good thing for us is Billy and I have past experience, so the process really was much quicker than it normally would be."

On if trust for punt returns has to be negotiated with S Ed Reed:"The play that happened on Sunday was quite unfortunate. I know Ed feels the same way about that. We'd love to have that ball back, and so would Ed. But with Ed Reed, I think you guys have all been here longer than me, and you've experienced some of the fantastic plays that Ed has made for this club over the years. With that in mind, we still want Ed making those plays, and we also want him to exercise better judgment in those situations. I have full faith and confidence that Ed will do that going forward."

On how important it is to get more guys involved in the offense: "It's, as you know, that's what we always want to do. We've got to get back to doing that like we did earlier in the year, as early as a month ago. We'll do everything we can do to do that. It's easier said than done. Defenses can force you to push things a certain way."

On what has happened to limit other guys becoming involved in the offense:"There really isn't anything that has happened. We've had a game, or two, where we were getting a lot of single coverage with Derrick [Mason]. The Colts game was a good example of that. Ray Rice has… There are so many snaps in a game, and you've got to get to your quality players first and foremost, and we've got a lot of good ones, but obviously Derrick and Ray are two of our best. We can get that done."

On how much does not having S Troy Polamalu change Pittsburgh's defense: "Well, we'll find out, but they're still an outstanding defense. He's been in an out of the lineup several times over the last few years. They're outstanding, and obviously, we have a tremendous amount of respect for him. So, we'll just have to wait and see."

On if new FB Charles Ali is up to speed where he can play: "He's been in the system. That's a plus. He was with Rob Chudzinski in Cleveland, and Rob was with us in San Diego. So, he comes in with previous knowledge of what we're doing and the terminology [we use]. So, that could be an option."

On how much he looked at the three games from last year to prepare for this game: "A lot, a tremendous amount. Those game plans were really all three different game plans. The last game, we didn't have Adam Terry. There were some different personnel, and we went against them in some different ways. Obviously, it's an outstanding defense and it challenges you. So, you go back and look at anything that you did well, but at the same time you know they're looking at it. You've got to factor all that in, but for us, you have to find a way to run the football, which is tough. You better do a great job protecting the quarterback, as you saw in the Minnesota game. Minnesota played tremendously in that game, and in two plays, the next thing you know the ball is in the end zone and their defense scores 14 points. So, you've got to take care of the protection, and then the coverage area has its' challenges too. They've got an outstanding package – all those things kind of factor together."

On why he thinks QB Joe Flacco's rating went down each game last season against Pittsburgh: "We're going back quite a ways here. Well, I don't know what purpose that serves, but I think it's a great question. The bottom line is, that was then, now is now, and obviously we've got to correct some things, which Joe has done, and hopefully we have done. There are a lot of new players on offense. We've got several new faces, as you guys all know. We're way past the halfway point into this season, so that seems like a long time ago to me."

On if he expects the Steelers to play the same defense: "Well, they play the same defense. They're one of the unique teams that really… They're not trying to fool you, especially on first and second down. On third down, they do a lot of different things – things that people have been watching them do now for several years. They have great personnel on defense, and they execute the defense that's called extremely well."

On why the "Suggs Package" has gone away and if he sees most teams getting away from it: "I don't know. I think I shared this last year: Our version is with our backup quarterback. That's different. That's a little bit different than having another running back, and we could probably do the two- or three-running back thing. We could do that, too. We're probably not ready to do that yet. We're doing it with our second quarterback versus doing it with our third, and at the same time, you may see it again."

On if December weather will change game circumstances: "Absolutely, especially cold, snow – those things really don't affect you like people would think – but wind does. Wind can really alter an offensive game plan tremendously. You watch Tom Brady throw six touchdowns in a snowstorm, so I think certain quarterbacks, quarterbacks that have played in certain weather in college and in the NFL… He's always gone to Green Bay for years… Joe will be one of those guys, if not already, that can really run this offense whether it's 80 degrees and sunny, or whether it's 20 degrees or 10 degrees. We'll get to that point. Are we there yet? I don't necessarily know because you'd think we would have to adjust things a little bit."

On what he has learned about this Pittsburgh rivalry: "Well, it's everything I thought it was because you watch it over the years. I've always been a big fan of this division. You're always, in the summer, you're always spending time studying Baltimore and Pittsburgh a lot. It's everything I thought it was and then some. These games are extremely physical. For those of us who coached it way back in the day with Michigan and Ohio State – it reminds you of those kinds of the old smash-mouth-type of approach – just physical, hardnosed, good football players. It's a fun game to be a part of, and the game always has meaning. Obviously, this game has a ton of meaning."

On how LB Jameel McClain played last week:"Jameel did, I thought, very well. We felt that was the best for our team. He, as I said earlier, is one of those guys, one of those Ravens that just keeps getting reps and keeps improving as he's out there getting the repetitions. [He] went out there and did a nice job. His job was obviously to play the SAM linebacker position, in which encompasses both pass drops and setting the edge to our defense. He did a good job of that throughout that ball game."

On if McClain has a best position:"I don't know yet. He's one of those guys that he's done such a great job of going in and playing the MIKE and being very functional there. And then he's gone to the WILL linebacker, he's done a good job there. And then the SAM is just like… And he's a pretty good pass-rusher, so he's very valuable that way, that if something happens you can always put him in there and you've got confidence that he's going to execute what you want him to do."

On how OLB Jarret Johnson seems natural at the rush LB with his background:"Jarret Johnson is a tremendous football player. Jarret Johnson, you can put at linebacker, you could put him where you want him because he's a football player. He goes out there, he gives it everything he has. He plays with great intensity, very physical. He could be a three-technique. Jarret can play wherever you want him to play. We felt, again, that that was important for us to get our best football players on the field, and that's what we'll always try to do. He did a very good job of that."

On if he expects OLB Terrell Suggs to play Sunday:"I don't know. I don't know. I know the organization, or the football program part of it, will never play anybody until he's ready, and that's our belief. We also have great trust and confidence that Terrell Suggs is doing everything he can do to get ready as fast as he can. That's really out of our hands."

On if he found something with the defense's rotation last Sunday:"No. Again, I really think it was us trying to put the best football players on the field. I don't know if it had anything to do with the rotation. As you look when you find out who's healthy and who's not, you look and you say, 'OK, who are the best football players?' The good news is these guys have done a really, really good job of staying focused on all the positions. If you're a tackle like Trevor Pryce, he could go to the end position and pick that up right away because he's stayed focused. He hasn't been one of those guys that you see is sometimes guys only learn their position and don't care about anything else. Then you don't play as good of defense because you don't know who else is around you and what they're supposed to be doing."

On how a bunch of guys were playing out of their normal position in the Colts game:"Definitely, definitely. Again, it goes back to that. Our defensive line has done that all year, where they're expected to know the nose, the three-technique, go to the end. Again, [it is] so we can put our best players on the field."

On if it is particularly important to make sure QB Ben Roethlisberger's arms are wrapped up if he's tackled:"He's so strong, and when you watch him and just keep watching him and watching him, guys will have complete escape. They'll come full speed to hit him, and if you go high on him, his leg strength and his torso, all that, is so strong that he just shrugs you off. I think our approach to him is like it would be against anybody, but more importantly, when you get a chance to hit him, claw him. Do anything you can to get him down. Don't go running in there and say you're going to get the greatest hit in the world. I think he's such a competitor and he's so strong. And Joe [Flacco] is the same way. I've seen Joe since he's been here, the same thing: You come and try to knock him down, he's got great leg strength and he's going to shrug you off. I think anytime you're tackling a strong quarterback, it's about all parts of your body breaking down and clawing him to the ground. Make sure you can get him down."

On why Roethlisberger is more dangerous outside of the pocket than in it:"I think because he's so good at making something happen when he's out of the pocket. You watch him over the years, and he gets out of the pocket, now it's almost like street ball, even though it isn't, where he finds a guy. And his receivers do a great job also of doing the same thing. When he does get out of the pocket, they're going to find a place to get open. Any good quarterback, we want to keep him in that pocket."

On how important it is to stress to your defense to stay with their man when Roethlisberger does get out of the pocket:"Very, very important. That's been a big emphasis, and that has been for a couple of years now, and it will continue to this week. We have to make sure we stay with our guys whenever he breaks that pocket. You've got to find a guy and be with him. If you're free, find somebody. Don't just sit in there, because he'll find a guy."

On if the Ravens put a spy on Roethlisberger last year:"We did at times. You did at times. I think that's another option, but then you're a three-man rush, and you don't want to be giving him all day either. That's the other part of that."

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