Were you discouraged with the way E.J. Manuel came back and played today?
I thought he was good enough to play, but I wanted him to play better. I don’t know because I think it’s a tough question to ask if I go, “No I wasn’t discouraged.” Well then I put someone in there that wasn’t good enough to win. If I say, “Oh he played great,” then I’m lying. Does that make sense? I know this. I will say this. He will play to a point one day where I’m going to be able to stand here and say you know what, I’m proud of him. It’s awesome. He’s that type of quarterback that we all want. I said it all during the week to put it in perspective. The kid missed two and half weeks early in the year. The kid missed four weeks and just came back. He’s trying his best. During the week, he had a good week at practice. And really at the end of the day, if you want to know exactly what happened out there, he’s going through his footwork too quick and not as slowed down to see things develop as quick. That happens to young quarterbacks.
Were you surprised that you weren’t able to run the ball better against them today?
I mean it’s always been difficult to run the ball against them. I thought we had some opportunities and we missed some holes early on. I thought we tried to bounce too many things outside which is always difficult to do against this defense. You have to pretty much run downhill and make a lot of yards after contact to be successful.
Did you consider going to
I really didn’t. No.Was it like
I think what happens is you go into the game and things start to speed up a whole lot faster than you can simulate. I think that’s what happened. You try to keep things slow and when things are slowed down from the standpoint of his footwork, he’ll play better. Like I said before, his footwork was very fast today. That’s why you saw him going to check downs quickly and not let some things develop. But again, you can’t put it all on this guy right here. He’s just coming back. We can run the ball, we can block, we can protect. We can do a lot of those things better. We can make plays and help him around and support him. Overall, everyone has to do a better job including us.
Re: First three failed possessions determining the course of the game:
I think that’s a big part. You have a young quarterback. You have a young team. You have a lot of young guys out there and you go down there and you move the ball down there to the yard and a half and then all of a sudden you have to kick a field goal. And then the next possession you get it on the plus 40-yard line and you go three and out and have to punt. Those things are frustrating during the course of the game, but in order to be the team that we want to be, that’s a challenge of how do we react to that? We have to come back and get hungry and get after those challenges. When you miss those opportunities, you can’t go we missed this opportunity. To say that probably is going on, I don’t know. I try not to put it in their minds. I try to get them on the next series and move forward.
Re: The Steelers defense dropping back and playing a lot of coverage:
Yes. On certain downs and distances, it was a lot. They tried to take
Early in the fourth quarter you were down 14 and had the ball at the 36-yard line. I think it was fourth-and-four and you decided to punt. Why did you punt there?
Down 14, I still think we’re going to get enough possessions trying to play the field position. We weren’t able to make big plays, so I was trying to play the field position where we could get good field position and pin them back. I thought the defense was doing well for the most part, except for we gave up a couple plays. Man coverage, we lost a guy. They beat us in man-to-man a couple times. The reverse was a play, we missed that. That’s what I was thinking at that time.
Re: Lack of confidence with offense:
I wanted to make big plays. I thought that we could get something going and try to get it going, but to try to get the chunk play – we tried to get it a couple times. We ran a razor, there was two guys back there. It seemed like they were only giving us those opportunities on certain down and distances because of the coverage. They weren’t going to give us those big plays.
Re: Injury update:
Stevie [Johnson] with a groin. [Da’Norris] Searcy with a hamstring, tightened up. [Chris] Hogan came off with concussion-like symptoms.
Dareus was called for offsides on fourth down. You didn’t look too happy about that.
No, I didn’t. I just think – I don’t know. I couldn’t see it. They didn’t show it afterwards. The officials were there, they know everything that goes on and you just have to go with what they say. That’s a four-point swing there, from a three-point where they have to kick the field goal and they wound up getting the touchdown.
I know you mentioned some of the plays the defense gave up. What about the pressure you were able to generate, though?
Yeah. They played a lot of extra linemen in the game, the tight end helping with protection and things like that. At times we were able to generate that pressure. It just seems like right now, even when we do get the ball on the ground, we can’t even recover it, which we got the ball on the ground the one time.
What about the last possession? What did you want to do there?
I wanted to keep the quarterback going, and keep the people around him. The more he can be out there in game-like situations, the better he’ll become. Just trying to get him as much experience – they went to Cover Zero a couple times, which is a good situation. At the end of the day, even though you’re at that point where it’s impossible to score, you’re still at a point where you want to get people better. That’s what we need to do. We’re a young team that needs to continue to get better. We have to find ways to win. We have to start off early. We have to score when we get in the red zone. We have to do better, and you guys have heard this from me before, on third down. We have to become more excited as a team for each other. We have to not get discouraged when the first three possessions we have some decent field position, and that’s way in the back of people’s minds. You can’t compete like that and really win. These are the things that we’re going through that I really will do. I promise you I will do a good job with this team to get them over that stuff.
3-4 has become 3-7 pretty quick. What do you have to do to keep them moving forward?
I don’t want to give you the old “They play to win the game” speech, but there is a lot truth to that. There are a lot of players on this team that have the potential to come back. There are a lot of coaches that I plan on coming back. There are a lot of things that we need to do. There are a lot of things that we need to establish. These things we’ve all been working on, but all of the sudden when they get in there and the bullets start flying, it’s a little bit different story. So, now we’re going through this season together, seeing how we’re reacting to what we’re doing. We’re going to continue to build a winning mindset and that’s difficult to do when you don’t win. These are the things that we’ll be working on. How do we do that? How do we create plays? How do we pull for each other? How we don’t let things get us down? These are all things that you have to get over the top on before you become a consistent winner. I’m just going to keep fighting my way, I’m going to keep fighting my way through these guys and get that point across.
The one play, the one over the middle was a double move. One of the times, when the quarterback has that time to throw, and can fake him going up and then coming across, it’s a tough play. You can say that’s where you would like the rush to get to him and not give a guy that much time back there. The other point was a comeback we lost him, Leodis [McKelvin] lost him. We were trying to stay on top of those guys most of the game. They do have very good receivers that are very quick. He tried to stay on top of him, his eyes got off of him and the guy came back and made that long catch on the sideline. I think sometimes you have to give credit where credit is due. Sometimes they are going to make a play. I think it was [Jerricho] Cotchery. Was it Jerricho that made the play in the end zone? He’s a good veteran receiver. He made a nice move back there. Ben Roethlisberger threw that ball exactly where it was supposed to be and made a play. Heads up to them. Good job on that play.
You said Wednesday that you wanted to kind of wanted to correct third-down on offense. Was that kind of discouraging today?Oh yeah, absolutely.