Special Teams Coordinator/Associate Head Coach Jerry Rosburg
Does it look like Pittsburgh finally has a kicker that can maybe replicate what K Justin Tucker can do? (Joe Platania)"[Chris Boswell] had a great game last week. He's playing really well for him."
Does [Boswell] have any special qualities that made him stand out from the other guys they have had in the past (Joe Platania) "Since I'm not on that team, I don't know it as well as they would, but results speak for themselves. He's really helped them. Last week in particular, he really helped them."
In reference to Pittsburgh's kick coverage, what have you noticed from them? (Joe Platania) "They have an outstanding group of core linebackers, and they always have had. It's a very strong, hard-playing team, and we have our work cut out for us this week."
Can you talk about what WR/RS Michael Campanaro has done as a punt returner and also WR/RS Chris Moore? (Cliff Brown) "Michael had one opportunity that you saw, and he had to chase the ball across the field and make it a very good catch right over there on the sideline on a fair catch ball. That was not an easy play, because the ball was kicked all the way across the field, and it could have gone either way. He did exactly what we wanted him to do in that situation. As you know, the other ball went out of bounds. There wasn't much he could do with either one of them. He followed the game plan – catch the ball; he did that. Chris is learning, he's learning on the job. He's had experience in preseason games, but not enough necessarily to carry him through some situations that happened in this last game. We know he's going to grow. You can see how fast he plays in all the other phases. He's very aggressive, and we love that about him. [There are] just some decision-making situations that he's going to deal with better as we go down the road."
Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg
Opening statement: "A little review on the last game: Man, what a win that was, especially since I was in Philadelphia for 10 years. It was sort of rewarding after the fact, anyways. I didn't think about it too much going in. I thought the fellas played really well with the exception of a handful of plays. Our running game is coming just a little bit, and our skill guys played really well again with the exception of just a few plays. Now, what a big opportunity we have this week in Pittsburgh. Holy smokes, our players are going to be jacked up and out of their minds for this one. [We are] right in the middle of putting a nice little game plan together. Second games against an opponent are always quite challenging that way. Our players will be well prepared, and they are putting the hard work in. They are sort of right in the middle of putting the hard work in."
You said the players are going to be jacked up for it. We have had a couple days of practice now. Are they jacked up? (Joe Platania) "Oh yes, they are already jacked up. We just have to … We don't want to peak too soon; we want to peak right at the right time. "
Going back to last week, how often does head coach John Harbaugh veto you in the midst of play-calling, whether it be third-and-short or third-and-long? How often does he get into the play-calling system in the course of the game? (Jerry Coleman)"Well, I think he kind of went through that, from my understanding. I am not going to get into too many details, but not often. But we talk daily. I always want to keep the head coach apprised and try not to surprise him on what we are going to be doing in the ballgame."
How often do you go away from what you come into the game plan with and make adjustments? (Jerry Coleman)"We make adjustments after nearly every series, unless we are getting exactly what we expected and things are going well. Then, we will tend to keep on. But we make adjustments really after every … You know the halftime adjustments typically are a little bit overrated, because you are making adjustments usually after every series."
Coach Harbaugh's comment, "all-time worst play call," got a lot of attention. What was your reaction? (Jeff Zrebiec)"That is not the worst call I have ever made. (laughter) I have made some really bad calls. Sometimes you get away with them, really, and the players tend to cover that thing up. That is not the first time … When you are trying to stay aggressive and score some points, it pays off, typically tenfold throughout the course of the game or a season or certainly a program. Every now and then, it backfires. When it backfires, we have to recover. We have to recover quick. The last four plays were not very good, so that is where the thought process is there. [The thought process is], '[Shoot], let's recover and try to keep the backfires to a minimum.' Everything is my responsibility, so I will try to do that."
Is that an example of there being a fine line between aggressiveness and being too aggressive? (Luke Jones)"There always is. Everything we do has some risk. Now, some things have a little more than others and all of those things. It sounds kind of crazy, but I was thinking about our defense a little bit on that play. I am going, 'OK, we could get it probably down to about four minutes and go up by 13 or nail them right there, go up by three scores, and then, let's see what our defense does.' We have such a great defense. It sounds kind of crazy thinking about it that way, but we have to stay aggressive. I think if you take no risks, you do not get very far. We need to stay aggressive, and in that exact situation, there is a host of other things that I certainly could have called to minimize the risk a little bit more."
Is that something you have to clean up with John Harbaugh? Is that something you talk about? (Jeff Zrebiec)"We talk about that. We talked about it before, and then we certainly talked about it after."
Can you describe the progress you have seen from rookie T Ronnie Stanley the last seven weeks? (Childs Walker) "Ronnie is one of those select few, I would say, as a rookie [who has been] able to do what he has done. Typically to do that, you have to be really, really good, first. You sort of have to have natural instincts, second. You have to stay healthy, typically. Then, you have to play at a real high level. All of the rookies that I have had that have played at that high level have had all of those. The one fortunate thing is staying healthy. He certainly has played better and better every week with very few step backs. Sometimes a rookie plays really well and then steps back to be able to go forward. He has not done that. He has played at a high level on a consistent basis."
How have you seen the Steelers' defense improve from the first time you played them? (Luke Jones)"Yes, they have done some things – personnel-wise and scheme-wise. It was all within their package. They are playing very well. They are giving up very few points, giving up way less yards, they are sacking the quarterback. They are making turnovers. They are doing all of those things much better than they were a little bit earlier in the year. They certainly have turned things around in a positive way, yes. What a great challenge it is going to be and opportunity."
How important is it to have running backs who can come out of the backfield and catch the ball? (Ed Lee)"I do not think you can overestimate that, simply because of matchups, and the second thing would be outlets for your quarterback. It is very, very important. That just sort of directs your style of offensive play when you have a back … All of them are quite different, as we know, but the backs that can go out wide or in the slot or come out from the backfield or run down the field and match up some linebackers and or safeties – that is a good thing offensively, typically."
Sometimes people will say that if you are throwing it to your running back, it is almost a checkdown and not a big play. Is that right? (Ed Lee) "They certainly can turn into big plays. Many of them are ball control-type of choices or routes with big-play capability built in. But there are some [running backs] – and again, it is just a handful – where they are so good, that they have the receiver skills where they can go outside and run down-the-field routes or in the slot and run down-the-field routes. Those are the unique types of guys."
Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees
Can we go back to last week and the run defense? I'm sure you weren't happy with what you saw on film. (Jerry Coleman) "It's a combination of a lot of things. We did some things, schematically, to help the pass game, which probably didn't help the run game. They did some things schematically. I'll give Eagles some credit. They did a couple of things, maybe knowing that we were going to do that in the pass game, that really hurt us. The bottom line is we didn't play fundamentally as well as we've been playing all year up front. We just didn't – whatever be the reason. It wasn't any one guy; it was just the whole group of us. We have to do a better job of coaching it. They have to do a better job of playing it. We weren't particularly happy, but some of it was on us and some of it was on them."
**Dean, what changes have you made in preparation for RB Le'Veon Bell in Sunday's game? *(Ed Lee) *"Like I'd tell you if we did anything. *(laughter) *We have to stop him from running the ball like we did the first game. We just have to do a great job of being patient. We just have to play good, fundamental football. There is no big secret as to doing certain … I don't know when they're going to run it or when they're going to pass it. I'd like to say I'm going to run a run defense when they run it, and I'm going to run a pass defense when they pass it. It's a matter of us just playing fundamentally sound, doing the things we're supposed to do up front in the passing game, have our eyes on the quarterback when we're in zone and our eyes on our man when we're in man. It is what is it."
As a defense, you guys have had success against RB Le'Veon Bell. What has been the key to that success?* (Ed Lee)*"Doing those things right there, just what I said. We've done a good job of not jumping out of our gaps and doing things that we're not supposed to do, relying on the guy next to you to do his job. The teams that really get in trouble … He's such a patient runner. You guys watch him. He does those stutter steps. He's a unique, unique running back. There's really nobody that has his style that I've ever seen. When he does that, he's just so patient, and then all of a sudden the guy just jumps off the block. And he's got great vision, and he hits it. You have to rely on everybody to be where they're supposed to be. Don't lie to the guy next to you. If the linebacker is supposed to be here and I'm supposed to be here, don't all of a sudden duck inside and now both of you are inside, and he's going outside. Everybody has to do their job on this one."
CB Shareece Wright was back in the starting lineup with CB Jimmy Smith out. What have you seen from his play recently?* (Luke Jones)* "I think Shareece has picked up his game. I thought he really … I think people were down on him and hard on him. We were hard on him, and he was hard on himself. I think the sign of a pro is when you fight back and you play well and you come back and you play well. I think he's done that. I think he's risen to the occasion. I thought he played well last week. I don't know how many actual broken up passes he had, but I know he had a couple of real tight coverages where he knocked the ball down in key situations. That's what you want to see. You want to see a guy that can react and come back. You guys asked me that [about] Tavon Young a couple of weeks ago, remember? I said I thought in one series, he had a penalty and he had a bad play, and then he came back and made a great play at the end in the red zone. That's a sign of a competitor, and that's a great sign."
I'm just curious, the play call in the two-point conversion with the Eagles, was that the same call as the one at the end of Super Bowl XLVII? (Ryan Mink)"Yup, it was."
You also used that call in the Super Bowl with the Patriots [during the 2007 season]? (Ryan Mink) "Similar. It was similar, but it was a full-out blitz."
We talked a couple weeks ago about you wanting to beat New England and preparing for that game harder than a lot of games. Now, it's almost playoff time with a game against the team you know very well. You know it's going to get physical. Do you live for stuff like this? (Joe Platania) "Absolutely. This is what you get in the business for. You have a rival game. It's even more special because it's on Christmas Day. It's a 4:30 p.m. game. They've made it about as upfront as you can get. This is why I would think players play and coaches coach, to be in games like this. There's no fun being in the 15th week of the season and knowing the season is basically over next weekend. It's a lot more fun knowing that we have our own destiny in our hands and we're playing for something real. The fact that it's against your rival just makes it that much sweeter."
OLB Elvis Dumervil
On the emotions heading into Sunday's game:"I can't describe it, but it is something that we all feel in the locker room and in practice. It has been growing since after the Sunday [Eagles] game."
On if he has any extra motivation since he missed the first matchup against the Steelers: "It is tough missing any game, but that game in particular at home in front of our crowd was difficult to watch. I am excited to be a part of it."
On how everything that has happened on and off the field this season has led to this opportunity:"Yes, we just have to go out and do what we have been doing in practice. We have been practicing hard all year and watching the guys – me since coming back –and we just have to focus on what we need to do. We need to tune out everything else and focus on football and beating the guy in front of you. There are going to be one-on-one matchups all across the field, and whatever team has guys that win the most matchups, that team will win."
On what specifically jumps out about the Steelers' offense:"They are a well-coached team, and they have talent everywhere; it is obvious. They have a great quarterback, good guys to block up front [and are playing] at their house. It is very difficult to play there. We have our hands full. We understand the task that is in front of us, but we are built for it. We are excited for it. We can continue to prep. We have kind of got through the physical part of the week, and now it is just mentally preparing and getting right."
On the importance of pressuring QB Ben Roethlisberger: "Yes, we have to be disruptive. Pass rush and coverage goes hand in hand. Our guys in the back end are depending on us to rush. I take it personal to make sure we give our guys the best chance of covering. It can be good coverage on a play, where they can't get off the ball. We try to be very disruptive. It may not always be sacks, but it is making sure Ben feels us, and that is what the goal is."
On if his family will celebrate Christmas on Monday: "Oh man, it is all about Pittsburgh in our house."