Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Atlanta Falcons: Coordinator’s Comments


The Pittsburgh Steelers are once again in a must win situation this week playing in Atlanta.  At 8-5, and in control of their own destiny, the Steelers cannot afford another loss to a team with a losing record.  Against the miserable NFC South the Steelers have a 1-2 record this year.  A loss to the 5-8 Falcons could prove to be the fatal blow to the 2014 season.  On Tuesday Mike Tomlin gave his weekly press conference, in which he commented on the matchup against the Falcons, injuries, and he said obviously 18 times.  NPC’s Kim Myers gave an overview of the presser in Tomlin Tuesday.  On Thursday both Dick LeBeau and Todd Haley gave quick interviews about how their unit is looking and what they expect come Sunday.

After scoring 42 against the Cincinnati Bengals, offensive coordinator Todd Haley faced numerous questions about the running game in preparation for the Falcons game.  The first topic for Haley was about Matt Spaeth and his blocking ability.  Haley said that Spaeth is one of the best blockers in the league at the tight end position.  He also added that Spaeth and Heath Miller are a pretty good combination.

The next question for Haley was about Heath Miller’s blocking on their counter run plays.  Haley gave credit to the entire offense.

"“It’s a power counter where you are pulling a guard and one additional guy.  One guy is kicking out.  We’ve had it.  I just think it’s something the running back has a real good feel for.  And I think the guys blocking it are the key.  You have to make some decisions on the move that are happening real fast that affect your angle of blocking.  The running back has to read it.  It’s not something you can do with just anybody.  I think we have some unique guys in Heath and David DeCastro, even the guys on the front side, Kelvin Beachum, Will Johnson and Matt Spaeth.  It’s something that we have gotten pretty good at.” -Haley on the counter run plays"

Haley then said that DeCastro earned his first praise for his performance against the Bengals.  He said that the Bengals guys were pretty tired of seeing him coming around by the end of the game.

Haley was then asked if Le’Veon Bell reminds him of a young Franco Harris.

"“Having grown up and (Franco) being one of my idols, it’s hard.  I wouldn’t draw comparisons between Franco and anybody because obviously a bunch of those trophies sitting in there are because of him.  But at the same time I think Le’Veon is a unique talent at the position, just starting with his build.  He is a more linear and tall receiver looking kind of guy at this lighter weight.  That’s the best way I would describe him.  He is a unique talent at the position.” -Haley"

The final question for Haley was about Martavis Bryant and the deep-threat ability he brings to the offense.  Haley said that having Bryant doesn’t affect his play calling but he helps Ben Roethlisberger.  If Ben sees that Bryant has a step he can make the quick decision to take a shot deep.

Dick LeBeau faced questions about the Steelers pass defense that has given up a ton of big plays recently and also the challenge of facing Julio Jones, if he’s available.  Jones is listed as questionable with a hip injury.  LeBeau said he expects Jones to play on Sunday and that they are preparing as if he will be on the field.  LeBeau then complimented Jones and his ability in comparison to Calvin Johnson and A.J. Green.

"“He’s right there with those guys and tremendous.  Their quarterback has looked for him like he’s his right arm and he’s got some pretty good choices in the huddle along with him.  But he still looks over there at 11 an awful lot.  He’s a great player.  Hopefully we can keep him from getting quite as many yards as he got last week.  He had a great game against Green Bay.” -LeBeau on Jones"

LeBeau was then asked about the defense and their inability to limit the big passing plays over the past few weeks.  Some of the secondary players said that they need to regroup.  LeBeau commented on how the players have looked during the week.

"“They’ve been practicing hard all along.  We actually played some pretty good football over there but we had a couple of the big plays.  We have to cut those out to get where we want to go.  I think we had them punt the ball eight times which is pretty good.  Cincinnati has got a good offense.  We do have to eliminate those plays with Atlanta.” -LeBeau"

The Steelers have allowed 25.3 points in six of their eight wins.  LeBeau was asked if that is too many points to allow.  LeBeau said that seven points is too many points to his liking.  He also added that the good thing about the team is that they have done enough to have a better record than they’ve had in the last couple of years.  LeBeau said that they are going finish this season strongly.

You can listen to LeBeau’s and Haley’s interview here.