Defensive Coordinator Dick Lebeau and Offensive Coordinator Bruce Arians spoke to the media on Thursday of Pittsburgh Steelers v. New England Patriots week. Here are their conversations:
How do you stop Tom Brady?
"I see they're averaging 475 yards per game, so ain't anybody figured that out too well. You've got to keep him in the ballpark. Can't let him hit the big ones, got to make him go the hard way. We've played him when they've got in the low 20's and we've played him when they've got up in those 30's. We've done a whole lot better when they're in the low 20's, so that's what we've got to do."
What makes him so effective?
"He's very accurate. He's seen everything. And he does a great job of gathering pre-snap information. He holds the snap, gets you to show and with his accuracy he knows where to go and he's very good at what he does. Without a doubt [he's in an elite class]. We respect everyone that we play, but you go to the track record and guys like Peyton and Brady, they've done it. They're going to get your attention."
Is Brady most effective against zones and blitzes, and therefore the zone-blitz?
"You know, with his accuracy I don't know that it matters to him that much. I've seen him make throws where you tell your QB don't throw that ball and yet the ball goes zipping in their for 35-yards. I don't see him having a problem with any throw versus any coverage, that's why his numbers are what they are."
How do you counteract his quick release?
"Well, you have to have good vision to break on the ball that he's getting rid of quickly, and then you've got to tackle. These guys lead the league in yards after the catch. And again, it's mostly reflective of his accuracy. He hits guys in stride and he's got some tremendously quick and gifted athletes that take the ball and run with it. If he's getting rid of it quick, your pressure is not going to get there. But, we should be able to see the ball and get to our areas of responsibility, and then it's going to be very important that we tackle the man who has the football."
How does Ike Taylor matchup with Wes Welker?
"Well, if you look at Welker's yards per catch he's catching more than option routes underneath, he's gotten vertical a lot of times. And I notice when he gets behind anybody I don't see them catching him so I don't know what he runs but he runs as fast as he has to. He catches all passes, and again he's got a quarterback that he's going to get it in there against tight coverage. It makes them a formidable opponent both of them are great."
How does their usage of TEs post a threat?
"They're tough matchups. You're going to end up with DBs on them a lot of the time, and they're bigger. And they catch everything. And [Brady] usually puts the ball where it's catchable and you just don't see these tight ends miss. And that's why their offense is where it is, it's number one in the league. I have a lot of respect for their tight ends, particularly their ability to catch the football."
Does their running game go overlooked?
"Yeah, I think that's a very accurate statement that they can run and pass it, they're running it for 120-yards per game or something like that. So they're throwing for 350, well whenever you throw like that everyone's going to talk about how well you throw it but averaging that kind of yards running it's pretty daggone good too. Particularly when you're throwing it that well. They can do both."
On James Farrior's health
"Well, we just have to wait and see. He was pretty good today I thought, and we'll just see that'll be up to the doctors anyhow. That's always a concern for me, I want 'em all. Obviously you don't have 'em all every week. We'll coach the ones we have. [But] he was out here [practicing]."
Is it a coincidence LaMarr Woodley has racked up sacks without James Harrison playing?
"Sacks happen a little bit like interceptions, you work, you work, you work, and then you're ready to meet the opportunity. LaMarr comes hard every down and he's just had some nice opportunities in recent weeks and has been very productive. He and [James], they're going to come every down and they're going to get their fair share of sacks because they're coming. I think [LaMarr] will light a fire under James' person to get back out there he doesn't want him to get too far ahead of him in that sack race."
Is it beneficial to have Lawrence Timmons on the outside in a matchup like this?
"I would say this, it's beneficial to have an athlete like Lawrence on your team anytime, and losing a player like James Harrison is very difficult to replace in your defense. We're just fortunate to have an athlete like Lawrence who can step in there and help us continue to be competitive on defense. But in this type of game, I think you're accurate, the ball's going to be in space, they throw the ball a lot, they have very quick people out there, and Lawrence's athleticism will stand him and us in good stead."
How's the dime defense progressed?
"We went there because Lawrence had to become a rusher, and we've continued to be competitive. I'd like to see us be better, but we won those games so we're competitive."
Is it possible to disrupt a passing game after the catch?
"Well, in football it's a game of 60 minutes and you want to impose your will on the other person and you're going to be out there 65-snaps. I think every snap is important. Games are usually decided in the NFL in the fourth quarter so, anything you can do to slow that guy down legally it's a good thing for us."
Why have you run so much to the right?
"The right side has been double-teaming very well. We kind of broke that tendency at the end of the game the other night and went behind Max [Starks] and "Juicy" (Chris Kemoeatu) who have been lobbying to run our number one play 22-double to the left. And they produced pretty well. So maybe we'll run over there a little bit more."
Have you seen people anticipating your runs to the right?
"No. No, they've got gaps. You can run to the right every play if you want. I've played games where we've got in the left formation the entire game. Chris Doleman and Kevin Millard, we made Chris Doleman play a 'five-technique.' So they're going to play their defense, they're not going to bring an extra guy over there. They can bring their safety there or something but we've got blockers for him so it's no big deal."
Is Hines Ward going to play?
"We never count him out. That's one position we're very deep at, and I feel very comfortable with Jerricho [Cotchery] in his spot or Emmanuel [Sanders] splitting it. We've got our fingers crossed that he'll be ready to go because he's the heartbeat, you know, and we don't want to miss anybody but if he's not there we've got enough guys that are more than capable."
Is Jerricho possible to start there?
"In certain personnel groups."
Do you expect a shootout?
"Every time we play them, you think it's going to happen that way. I've been in 9-3's [when in Cleveland] where the last ball was up in the air, and went off our fingertips and I've been in the shootouts with them. Every game is so different. Whenever you think it's a shootout the defenses both rise up and it's 10-9, you know? I think you just go play it and see how it goes. Like last year, we can't have balls bounce off us and them take it to the house. And we dropped two or three balls in the endzone and kicked field goals. We can't do that in this ballgame."
How fun is it to watch these two QBs?
"It should be a great game. You've got premiere players at a lot of positions, but you do have two quality, quality QBs, I think the best two in the AFC right now. There's a lot of other guys that are going to be playing football out there, but those two guys can control a game."
Can you offense match them point for point?
"I hope so, we've been getting better and better. Their defense has got a lot of yards thrown on them because they're behind. They're a much better pass defense than their statistics. And their run defense is solid. I feel very confident in our group that they're able to score as many points as necessary. I think there's a lot of confidence building. We didn't play very well early in the season, but we can't have one of those games where we turn it over three times. It's got to be clean."
How important is it to set the tempo offensively?
"We want to come out and be one of those teams that comes out and scores the first possession, we've gotten good production out of that. Where we've been lacking is the first drive of the second half. Coming out of the locker-room if we defer, we had a chance last week to put up what we call a double-score. You score the last possession of the half and when you get the ball, 90% of those teams win. That's something that we're shooting for. So we want to set the tempo at the beginning, and definitely have it at the end."
Is there more pressure this week?
"No, I think that's every week. They're a good team, they're solid and they're scoring a lot of points but you can't change who you are and what you do or you're going to start doing things out of the box and that'll screw you up."
Is the strength of your offense the pass?
"I think we're very balanced. There are games where we've been able to just take it and run it. And when we want to speed it up we can throw it. But, no, I wouldn't consider us a passing team. We've had some pretty good numbers, but we're still a pretty solid running team."
Why do you like all the WR screens lately?
"The players are very good at it. They're run after the catch guys and that's why they're here. They are just extended running plays to me. They're long handoffs. At the end of the ballgame last week we had runs called and we threw two passes for 22-yards to ice the game, but those are running plays you're just handing the ball to a WR out there wide and letting him run in space. They go down as passing statistics, but to us they're running plays."