Raiders at Steelers: Coordinators Comments


Hello everyone! Welcome to another edition of Coordinators Comments.

This Sunday the upstart Oakland Raiders go head to head with our Steelers at Heinz Field. Let’s hear what the Steelers coordinators had to say on the likes of Derek Carr, Amari Cooper, and Khalil Mack.

Defensive Coordinator Keith Butler

The pass rush has been pretty consistent this year. Why do you think you’ve been more productive with the sacks?
“We have some good players. Hopefully, we’ll get Stephon Tuitt back this week. Cameron Heyward has been playing well and Steve McLendon has played well for us. The outside linebackers have been productive too, all of them have been productive. We blitz some too, it’s not just a four-man rush. We blitz a little bit. We have to keep the sacks up, keep the pressure up and keep the turnovers up.”

Re: On Bud Dupree:
We knew he was a sharp young man when we interviewed him at Kentucky. Sometimes, outside linebackers haven’t played in the type of system he has. They do a lot of things like we do at Kentucky. So, it was a little bit of an easier transition for him than it was for most people. That’s the reason he was attractive to us.”

Re: On the young linebackers:
“The background of each guy is different. As a consequence of that, they sometimes learn different and sometimes they’re a little bit slower than others. But, usually to play linebacker in a system, I think it takes three years before you have a pretty good feeling about what you’re supposed to be doing, when you can play fast and not be hesitant in what you’re doing.”

Re: On if Derek Carr still looks like a young quarterback and if he does things that can be taken advantage of:
“I wish he did, but I think he plays pretty well. He looks a lot like his brother, I think. He’s got a good arm and good mobility. They have a good offense, they’re ninth in the league in offense. They’re scoring some points, and they’re 4-3 for a good reason. They play in a very good division. I had the opportunity to play in that division, that’s a tough division. They have a good football team, and I hope people don’t underestimate them. We don’t.”

Re: On what makes Latavius Murray a challenging running back:
“He’s a good sized kid who is strong. He looks like he’s long and lean, but he’s strong. He gets in and out of breaks pretty fast and turns and runs the football. He’s good at picking up the holes, and he’s got good vision.”

Is there a “tell” with what they do with their tight ends?
“I’ll leave that one alone. We’ll see. I’ll talk to you about it after the game.”

What did the Raiders’ offense do to exploit the Jets’ defense?
“They got one-on-one with the corners a couple times. The have shutdown-corners, supposedly the Jets do and they took advantage of them a couple times, and got some big plays, got a couple big plays in the running game. I don’t know what they were doing on the offensive side of the ball. They had some injuries, or something like that. I don’t know if they turned the ball over or what. They moved pretty decently against them, a good football team. They are one of the best defenses in the league and they struggled with them. They were ready to play them.”

Re: On if the team is aware of how evenly matched these two teams are?
“Yes. This is going to be a good football game. All of them are. People don’t understand from the East Coast, you don’t hear much about these guys. They have a lot of good players. If you look at that rusher they have, you count all the good players they have, it’s not a surprise they’re doing well. It’s going to be a challenge for us. Like it is every week. That’s the great thing about playing in the NFL, the challenge you meet every week.”

Did you always know you could use McLendon at end?
“We thought he could, because of his work ethic and his knowledge of the game. John Mitchell has always had the confidence in him to do that. He ended up doing what we thought he would do.”

Re: On if he took reps in practice enough:
“He got the reps in practice in order for him to play that position and he did a good job for us.”

Is there anything in your defense that has come along better or quicker than you expected?
“The biggest thing for us, and we try to do each week, is try to keep them to as minimal amount of points as possible. That’s more important to us than anything else. It doesn’t matter if we played well or not, if we give up more points than the offense gets, it’s still a loss for us. Everybody says, “You played good against this team and that team,” but really, it’s not good enough unless we hold them under the number of points we score. It’s a hand-in-hand type of thing. Sometimes, you’re offense is going to be playing well for you, sometimes your defense has to win games. Sometimes, your special teams has to win games for you. It really doesn’t matter how you progress when you think about it. You look at stuff and we want to progress at cutting down the missed tackle, cutting down the mental errors, cutting down the number of times they throw the ball over our head. If we can continue to do that, then we will lower the points. If we keep lowering the points, then we obviously have a chance to win.”

Re: On the possibility of Doran Grant playing safety:
“Yes. There is nothing closed on him. This is the guy’s first year and we need to take time, let him play in this system and see how he does before we make a decision on him.”

Re: On Mike Tomlin calling Michael Crabtree a combat receiver:
“He means he can go up in the air and take it away from you. He can push you out of the way and make catches, or use his body to make catches on you. He’s a physical wide receiver, he can get in there and mix it up and still make the catch, not let the hitting bother him.”

Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley

Re: This being a big game:
“They are all big. They are a good team. Defensively, they are still doing what the Raiders have done for a lot of years, which is a lot of man-to-man and one-on-ones. They are playing tight, physical football. They have some big-time guys up front that can bring it and disrupt you. This is a good group.”

Re: Le’Veon Bell being out and if that changes your mentality on offense:
“Nobody is going to be Le’Veon, because he is unique. It was awful to see him get hurt, but in this business we have to move forward. We have DeAngelo, who got to play a couple of games early. He played a bunch of snaps for us. He showed us some of his strengths, the qualities he has a pro and why he is here in the first place. That part of it is the only good that I see since we lost somebody. He’s been here. He is here for a reason. He gets the chance to go out and help us win.”

Re: Their numbers against the run correlating to teams throwing a lot on them:
“No, because throwing all over them, I can’t see it. They are playing tight coverage. It looks like you are working for every throw. I think they are a legit defense. Up front they have some big space eaters inside that cause a lot of problems for you as far as getting moved. They have two outside linebackers in Khalil Mack and Aldon Smith who are bringing it, very similar to Kansas City. They have some guys that can really cover. They have Charles Woodson on the back end that is as good as they come, as far as playing the middle of the field and being a wild-card, so to speak. You have to know where he is at all times. He has good football awareness, and his football knowledge is so great. I think he is getting opportunities to do his own thing at times. He ends up being in the right place at the right time too much of the time.”

Re: Heath Miller being more involved last Sunday:
“Cincinnati was playing a little more zone, middle-open, than we had seen the 3-4 weeks prior to seeing them. When you have teams playing defense like that, the tight ends have to be a big part of what is going on. Heath stepped up and played a big-time game for us. But Heath is a great player. He does everything we ask. Obviously for a few weeks, he had to really be in the mix as far as up front. I think having Ben Roethlisberger back helps open things up.”

Re: DeAngelo saying he doesn’t want you to have to change anything because of him:
“Yeah [I’ve noticed that]. He’s a pro. He came to me and we had a little talk at the front end of the week. Those are things, not that you would expect, that impress you about him as a professional. He came here for a reason, to help complement a very good running back. Things changed. Now he gets the opportunity. He is excited about it. All of those great players want to play. And he wants to go out there and help us win.”

Re: Replacing Le’Veon:
“You aren’t going to replace Le’Veon. You aren’t just going to plug someone in that is him, so it’s going to be everybody doing a little bit to replace a guy like that. Much like losing Maurkice Pouncey up front, it’s not just Cody Wallace coming in and being Pouncey, it’s going to take all of them to step it up a notch and compensate for a loss like that.”

Re: Better equipped now to handle losing Bell than last year:
“Yeah, absolutely. We brought DeAngelo in knowing Le’Veon was going to be suspended to start the season. Now, it’s a different reason because of the injury. Having that two-week working knowledge with DeAngelo, and then seeing him go out and perform, having him around for training camp – last year when Le’Veon got hurt it was probably the worst possible timing.”

Re: Ben’s performance last week being related to rust:
“I don’t know. I can’t speak on that. I thought we opened up the game and played the way we want to play. We went right down the field throwing it and running it. That loss in no way, even though I know he took the loss on his shoulders, it didn’t fall on him. We had plenty of opportunities in that game to make plays that would have potentially been the difference. It’s easy to point fingers at the quarterback, but I think the entire offense has to be better, and we have to take advantage of those opportunities within games when you can change the outcome or strongly affect it.”

Did you think losing Le’Veon last week when you did took some steam out of your team?
“No, I don’t. Williams has been in there and performed at such a high level that it gave everybody confidence that he would step in and do that. He did his job. He did a very good job. It just came down to the entire group, us as coaches also. We just didn’t do a good enough job in that game to win it. The defense, obviously, played very well and gave us a number of opportunities that we didn’t seize.”

Re: Games being one score and winning and losing those:
“That’s what the NFL is. It’s each week. As a head coach I used to tabulate how many games were decided by seven points, three points. It’s a tough league. Every week you have to be at your best. If you turn the football over or drop touchdown passes, miss those opportunities, get ill-timed penalties in the wrong areas of the field, which are all things that we did in some of those games. You are going to make yourself easier to beat. We can’t make ourselves easy to beat. We have to do the things, play fundamental football, stay out of penalty situations and not get behind the chains, stay out of the turnover game, which we had done a good job of. Then we will be much more difficult to beat.”

Next: Steelers vs. Raiders: Fantasy outlook

My two-cents:

I think the Steelers are getting the Raiders at just the right time, but I also think that the Steelers can’t underestimate the Silver & Black either. This Raiders team is on the rise. They’re finally starting to look like contenders again.

It really, really, REALLY sucks that Bell went down, but having DeAngelo Williams gives me some relief. It looks like releasing Blount last season was a blessing in disguise.

I’m sure all of us in Steeler Nation are looking for Big Ben to get back to his old self in this game. The Oakland Raiders pass defense is giving up an average of 302.1 yards per game. I don’t see any reason why Ben can’t take full advantage of that.

I think the Steelers will win this game, but it won’t be easy. Keith Butler needs to mix up coverages and throw the second year Carr off his game. Our defense needs to have another solid tackling performance. Amari Cooper is slick and fast, if they miss one tackle he could be in the end zone for six.

I’m also interested to see how often (newly acquired) WR/KR/PR Jacoby Jones is used. I think he excels more as a returner than a receiver. We’ve seen that a few different times when he was with the Ravens. I tend to be an optimist so I was okay with getting him. I think he’ll help us a lot.

Official prediction:

Steelers 30
Raiders 20