Bengals at Steelers: Coordinators Comments


Hello everyone! Welcome to another edition of Coordinators Comments. The 6-0 Bengals are coming to Heinz Field to try and add another number in the win column.

Let’s see what the coordinators had to say on the Steelers second divisional matchup.

Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley:

How does Ben Roethlisberger look this week?
He is doing a good job. It’s great to have him back. He’s obviously been chomping at the bit to get back. As Coach said, he is full-go, and that’s what we are expecting.”

Re: Ben possibly being rusty and his record coming back after being hurt:
No concerns from what I’ve seen. Obviously it’s a potential issue when a guy hasn’t played a bunch, but as we said at the start of the week, we have to get on track fast. That takes everybody. That means everybody needs to make plays when they get an opportunity.”

What’s it like knowing you will have 7, 10, 26 and 84 on the field for the first time this year?
I am just happy to have guys healthy. Obviously we’ve had guys in and out but that’s life in the NFL. It’s never going to be perfect. But the more guys you have out there practicing together and working together the better it is for us as a coaching staff.”

Re: Playing the Bengals the first time and second time last year regarding specific runs:
“The first game, I don’t know, I would say we ran it 10 or 12 times, in some form of it. It’s one of those things, when something is working, you keep doing it until they fix it. But the second game, they worked a bunch at it and they did a much better job of stopping it.”

Do you think that would carry over into this game?
I am not going to tell them either way. We are just planning to play our best game. This is a big game for us. They are the division leaders. It’s become a really good rivalry. It’s a big game for us.”

Did you have to take any steps last week to help Alejandro Villanueva with his first start, and will that continue?
“Regardless, on the road in a loud stadium against premier pass rushers, you would be doing something to protect the tackles, not just one, both. And it depends on which way you are sliding. You are chipping and doing a lot of different things. But I think we would have done it regardless. But I thought he did a very good job. I thought our protection was very good for the game. It’s too bad we had two bad plays, and they came late. But overall, to go on the road against those guys, I thought the guys up front, including Alejandro, did a good job.”

Is that a factor into why Heath Miller isn’t getting the ball?
I think in games like that, you are going to ask the tight ends and running backs to do a little more. And Heath is that type of player. He is willing to help whenever called upon, even when not called upon. At times we will have to tell him to get out of the game. That’s the type of player he is. He is going to look out for others first.”

Re: Ben running the no-huddle coming off of his knee injury:
If we run it, yeah, I think that is something he really enjoys. I don’t see how his leg would be a factor in that.”

Re: Martavis Bryant:
I think he’s really big and faster than mostly everybody else on the field. He gets to speed fast. Like I said last week, it’s not a combination you see. A big guy like that is generally a speed guy. There are fast guys that are big but it takes them a little while to get going. He is able to get to speed in a couple of steps. And he has legit speed. He is faster than mostly everyone on the field most of the time. So if you combine that with being big, and he has good ball skills, and that gives him the chance to make big plays.”

Defensive Coordinator Keith Butler:

Re: On the Bengals’ offense this year:
“They have more people who are healthy than they’ve had when we’ve played in the past. They’re a solid group. They don’t have any weaknesses, from the film I saw. Obviously, they’re 6-0, so they’ve done a lot of good things and continue to do good things. Coming off a bye week, they should be healthy. They’ve been playing with the same guys all year long, so their continuity is very good.”

How does Tyler Eifert compare to the rest of the tight ends you’ve seen?
“They’re all good. He’s a young guy coming into his own and knows what he’s doing. They’re all well coached and he does a good job catching the ball and getting open.”

Is there a reason why you guys have struggled as much as you have against tight ends?
“Everybody struggles against some of these tight ends. I don’t think we’re the only ones in the league who do that. We have to do a better job of coverage on those guys and some of the things we’re doing. Some of it’s technique, some of it’s bad positioning, some of it comes from not banging the guy around enough. We have to be able to do that, change it up.”

Re: On what problems are presented when you have to defend A.J. Green and Eifert:
“A lot. You have a lot of different weapons that Andy Dalton has to choose from and they’re all good players. That’s the reason they are one of the top offenses in the league. Those guys do a great job. A.J. Green, you can’t put too much attention on him, because they have other people they can throw to. Their backs are solid, their offensive line is solid, and their wide receivers are. They have a good football team. It’s going to be a challenge for us to try to hold them down, if we can.”

Re: On defending Green:
We have to do the best we can. We’ll see. I can’t tell you what we’re going to do. They have a good group, you can’t just take out one of their receivers. You take him away and then you shut them down? That’s not the case. They have several good receivers and two good backs. You can’t focus on one position, one player. You have to defend them all.”

Re: On why Andy Dalton’s been so good:
“He’s been in the league a while and he’s been in the same system for a while. I think continuity is a big thing. I’ve always found that whether it’s an offense or a defense, if you can keep the same verbiage and the coaches for four, five years, they’re going to get better and better. The more they play with each other, the better they will get. You see the results in what they are doing now, in terms of being together for four or five years. Dalton knowing his teammates as well as he knows them, knowing the offense as well as he knows it, they are getting the fruits of their labor.”

Re: On Antwon Blake:
“He’s a tough, little guy. He’s a mentally-tough guy and you have to be mentally tough to play corner in this league. You also have to have a short memory to play corner in this league. You can’t freak out about every little thing that happens to you at corner. He doesn’t. He comes back to play every time. That’s admirable to me. I’m glad we have him on our team. He does the best he can, he tries as hard as he can and I know he’s going to compete when he’s out there. I’m glad we have him.”

How are William Gay and Stephon Tuitt coming along this week?
“I think coach Tomlin addressed all the injury situations. I don’t think I can add anything to what he said.”

How have you been able to deal with the lack of continuity in the secondary?
“You just do what you can to try to get them ready each week, or try to prepare them for what we think they’re going to give us. Carnell Lake has done a good job of doing that with our secondary. They anticipate what we’re going to get and a lot of times he’s right. If we can, we’re going to try to keep the ball in front of us. If we can do that and not let them throw the ball over our heads, we have a chance to hold the points down. That’s the whole thing to us, we have to hold the points down. 23 points doesn’t win ball games for you. We didn’t do it well enough last week. Whoever we play, we have to hold them to less points than we can score on them.”

Is there a “best player” on that team?
“They have several good players, I think. You can’t take away one of them, you have to make sure you take away all of them. They’re reaping the benefits of their labor, because of the people they have. They drafted well, they have people who know the system now and they do a good job. It’s going to be a challenge for us. This is one of the best offenses in the league. We’ve played a lot of good offenses this year. If you look at the top-five in the league, I think we’ve played just about all of them. If we can survive this, keep playing against teams like this and do well, then if we get to the playoffs, we will be prepared for it.”

Is it hard to teach the technique “jam the tight end off the line” to the linebackers and safeties who tend to cover tight ends more, as opposed to the corners?
“Corners have a lot more athletic ability, they’re quicker. If you can get them at the line of scrimmage, it helps your corners quite a bit. If they get behind you and throw the ball in there, a lot of quarterbacks can, then it doesn’t matter what you do sometimes. The other day, they got behind us and threw the ball in there. They were good throws. All we can do is try to tackle them and line up and play again. When it happens, we’ll be there. You have to go to the next play with a lot of guys. You can’t bow down, but at the same time, you have to try to take away stuff you have weaknesses in.”

Re: On if Brandon Boykin is ready:
“I think he will be, yes. He’s been practicing well all week and he’ll be ready when the time comes.”

Is it somewhat circumstantial what has happened with you guys and tight ends this year?
“I think it is a little bit. Some of it’s that and some if it is that they’re good. We’ve faced some good tight ends. When you look at who we’ve played, they’ve had some pretty good tight ends. If we concentrate too much on tight ends, then we will miss a wide receiver. They have a good wide receiver this week, so we’re going to try to do the best we can at covering those guys. We have to limit them as much as we can, enough to win anyway. We have to make sure we keep the points under what our offense can score.”

You mentioned technique. Does that transfer over into some of the problems you’ve had tackling?
“It does. Some of it is tackling. You talk about the tight end, I’m a little bit more concerned about our tackling than covering tight ends. Covering tight ends, some if it is circumstantial. The other is technique, in terms of tackling. We have to make sure we have that down. We practice it every week. It’s not like it’s something we can go away from and be okay that week. It’s something we have to do every week. People say, “It’s the NFL, you shouldn’t have to do that,” but that’s a bunch of malarkey in my opinion. You have to work on fundamentals all the time, no matter what level you’re at.”  

Oct 12, 2015; San Diego, CA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers injured quarterback Ben Roethlisberger celebrates against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

My two-cents:
-First off, BIG BEN IS BACK! Go ahead and bring in the cake, throw confetti, and make sure the drinks are cold. It’s time to celebrate!

-Since William Gay is the starting slot corner, I’m not sure how many snaps Brandon Boykin will get. Yes, that means I think Gay will start this game, despite his injury last Sunday. Boykin had 10 snaps last week against the Chiefs, I’m curious to see if that number climbs as the season wears on.

-I’m glad Keith Butler was asked about covering tight ends. Butler did put some importance on covering tight ends, but later kind of downplayed it. I think the Steelers defensive coaches and players need to put more emphasis on covering tight ends. Obviously there will be times when you get beat on a play, it happens. I just don’t think it should happen every time the opposing offense has the ball. We saw the damage it can do when an elite quarterback throws to an elite tight end (i.e. Brady, Gronkowski. Rivers, Gates.)

-Tackling. Tackling must be better in this game. We’re facing a Bengals team that is stacked on offense. It’s hard enough to try and contain A.J. Green, Giovani Bernard, Jeremy Hill, and Tyler Eifert when you are tackling well. I can’t imagine what it would be like if we weren’t tackling well.

I think the Steelers win this game, but not by much. It’s going to be an all out battle until the final whistle. The Bengals want to remain undefeated and Ben wants to make a statement that he’s back and still dangerous.

My official prediction:
Steelers 27
Bengals 24

Next: Steelers invested well in Heyward

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