Steelers vs Colts: Coordinators Comments
By Josh Fitzer
Offensive coordinator Todd Haley and defensive coordinator Keith Butler spoke today on the Steelers loss last week and a look ahead at the Colts
Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley
Re: Jesse James:
“He’s doing a very good job. Like most young guys, there is an acclimation period. He was too heavy when he got here. He got himself in really good shape now. He is running faster. He has much better stamina. He is hanging around two of the couple best teachers from a player standpoint in Heath Miller and Matt Spaeth so if you just pay attention to what they are doing, you have a chance. Coach Daniel does a great job. He waited until his turn. He was patient, but he kept working. When he got his opportunity, he stepped in and done a good job.”
Was blocking something that had to be above the line for him to get his chance?
“He’s made a steady progress. It’s just the complete package of being ready to go and there having to be an opportunity. With Spaeth going down for a couple of weeks gave him a chance. We say all the time, once you get a helmet, don’t give it up. Don’t let us take it away.”
Re: Ben Roethlisberger update:
“You’ll have to get that info from Coach Tomlin. He practiced full yesterday and today, as far as I could see.”
Re: DeAngelo Williams and how he is utilized:
“He’s just a great guy to have here. He is a great person. He is a great teammate. He is unselfish, as I have said a number of times. But he’s a very detailed guy in the running game and passing game. He is a good runner, obviously, but he generally runs it where it’s supposed to go. In the pass game, he is one of the great chip guys in the league that I’ve seen. He strikes some fear in guys coming off of that edge. But at the same time he is very precise in everything he does, which is a very quarterback-friendly thing to be.”
Re: Showing perseverance this season:
“I think it starts with the mentality that Coach Tomlin has engrained. There are no excuses. It’s the next man up. I think we have a unique and special group, unselfish. We have a number of guys that multiple times throughout the year, whether it was last week when we were throwing it a bunch and we went to Ramon Foster and asked, “What do you think?” He said, “Let’s keep doing what we are doing.” You don’t hear offensive linemen say that very often. I asked D. Williams if he wanted to get back to the run game. He said, “No coach, let’s keep doing what we are doing. They can’t stop us.” I’ve talked about Darrius Heyward-Bey a number of times. Roethlisberger too. We have an unselfish group that is a special group. We have to take care of business this week.”
Was that a conversation you had with D. Williams in Seattle?
“Yeah, it was just during the game. We have those conversations at halftime, during the game. I always try to communicate with those guys. I understood that we were throwing the football a lot, but it really became our run game. We held the ball for 32 minutes and lost two possessions with the interception on the first play and one on the second play. You lose two possessions and still hold the ball for 32 minutes, that was our run game for the most part.”
Re: The stats aren’t good when Ben throws for a lot of yards and how that affects the run game:
“We have to protect the football. You can’t go on the road and turn it over. We know that. Both plays were kind of fluke plays that we would obviously like to have back. But it wasn’t bad decisions. It was just bad timing. Both plays. Obviously the fake field goal was one. The last one was in a comeback situation. It bounced off of Martavis Bryant’s pads. You can’t turn it over. We conceivably could have turned it over three times and still won the game, which is unheard of. We didn’t look at that game after and say, we only had the ball for 22 minutes and threw it 55 times. Or how we were way down against the Saints last year, three scores, and we threw it. The score looked close at the end. That was a different game. This one was back and forth. We went up and down the field and scored 30 points against a team that was only giving up 18 points per game and was, I don’t know, number-two against the pass or overall. They were a legit defense. If you don’t turn it over one of those times, you probably win.”
Re: Markus Wheaton last game:
“You guys asked me about him last week, and I said being in the number two or three spot across from a big-time guy (A. Brown) getting 18-20 targets a game isn’t for everybody. Everybody doesn’t have the mindset or mental toughness to do it. I said all signs have shown that Markus was a real pro. He was continuing to do things the way he was supposed to do them. He got opportunities and it paid off. You love to see it. Obviously he would probably like to see it more spread out but he did his job. When the opportunities came, he made big plays for us and gave us a chance to win.”
Re: Looking at the tape from last year’s game:
“Yeah, but they are looking at it too. We always look when we play a team that hasn’t changed a whole bunch defensively from a staff standpoint or personnel standpoint. They lost 21 early in the game, which I am sure hurt them. Any time we play, we look at any similar offense to us that does similar things to us, but this is this year. We have to have a good plan. Then we have to go out and execute and protect the football.”
Re: Red zone efficiency this season:
“We had good red zone efficiency early, but we weren’t getting in there enough, during that kind of middle stretch. Now we are getting back in a bunch and not executing. Again, there are little things here and there that really come down to execution, guys doing what they are supposed to do. It’s not dropped balls or things like that, it’s just doing things the way we are supposed to do them. We just have to stay on our screws with that. We work it every day. It’s well publicized. We are very good in two-point situations for the most part. We have to just buckle down and make sure we execute and do things the way we are working on them.”
Defensive Coordinator Keith Butler
Oct 26, 2014; Glendale, AZ, USA; Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Brandon Boykin (22) against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Eagles 24-20. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Re: On the cornerback situation:
“We’re going to move a couple of people around and let them play some, a little bit more than we’ve done in the past probably. But, we’ll see when we get to the game. We’re still letting it kind of figure itself out, tomorrow too. We felt like we needed to get some guys some reps and we’ll see what happens when we get to game time. I’m not going to tell you who we are going to start, because I don’t want to tell them who we are starting.”
Re: On what problems he sees with the secondary:
“It’s always a combination. A combination of rush and coverage. It’s rarely one or the other. We have to do a better job of covering, we have to tackle and be where we are supposed to be when we have to be there. We have to coach better and those combinations of things surely end up giving up as many as 39 points. I don’t want to say what I think about 39 points, because it would be illegal for you all to print or put on TV. We shouldn’t be giving up 39 points. We have to do a better job, we have to stop people when they get turnovers, we have to stop them and make them get threes. We didn’t do that and normally a lot of times we have done that this year. We have to get back to doing that and we can’t be inconsistent with the way we play.”
Re: On if Brandon Boykin is just a slot guy, or if he can play outside as well:
“I think he’s better in slot, I think he’s better in playing the nickel. Him playing outside, we’ll see. We’ll see what happens with it. We have two good guys inside, him and William Gay And William has played for a long time. He’s played outside too. He’s played well when he’s played outside. A lot of the plays he made last year were made playing outside. We’ll determine that at game time and we’ll see what goes on at game time.”
A small guy like Boykin, will teams immediately identify him and come wide running the ball?
“They may. They may or may not, but we’re not going to put him in there when we think they’re running. Who knows.”
Is that part of the allure of Antwon Blake in terms of why you chose him to be the starting corner, even though he’s a very raw player?
“What Blake had shown us in training camp was really a mental toughness type of thing. He’s in a position right now where he’s never played as many plays as he has this year and he’s playing a lot on special teams, so that will wear you out. Playing corner, you’re running down the field every time. Every time they try to go deep, you’re running with them. It’s like you’re running 70-yard sprints all the time and then go to special teams and run another 70-yard sprint to cover the kick. So, we have to be smart about that and where we’re playing him, giving him rest. We’ll try to manage that a little bit better than we have.”
Was he a good tackler before he hurt his thumb?
“He would get up in there and tackle, yes. I don’t think he wants to use his thumb as an excuse for not tackling. He needs to tackle better. We all need to tackle better. Ross Cockrell needs to tackle better, we need to tackle better in the secondary and up front too. It’s not just those guys. It’s a combination of all of us.”
If some of those things existed, why hadn’t you decide to use Boykin more until perhaps this week?
“Because, we really played decent football. You say, “Well, you’ve given up all these yards and all this stuff,” but that’s a combination of a lot of things. It’s not that we’re going to make any changes or anything like that this week, we’re going to see how this thing pans out for these guys as we go through the week, and we’re going to make decisions based on what we’ve seen during the week, like Coach Tomlin said.”
What have you been looking for from Blake, in terms of redeeming himself?
“I think he’s got to play better than he did last week, so does Ross, so do a lot of guys in the secondary, so do a lot of guys up front. We all have to play better, we have to get to the quarterback a little bit better. If you look at that last touchdown pass they had, we were a split second from getting there on the blitz we ran. We kind of ran the blitz wrong from a couple of guys, and if we ran the blitz right, we would’ve gotten there on time and that wouldn’t have been an issue. We missed two tackles on that. I’ve been saying this all year long that we have to tackle. You’ve got to tackle the players in the National Football League. If you don’t tackle, then you’ll give up five, six, seven touchdowns. You don’t want to give up that many.”
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Re: On if T.Y. Hilton is a guy you need to tackle:
“Oh, yes. He always is. Everybody in the league has somebody you have to tackle. This week is no different than anything else. We have to make sure we tackle the guys. We always call it, “Tackle the catch.” When we tackle the catch, we’ve created turnovers and we get people out on third down. We have to get people out on third downs. They don’t get the opportunity to make those plays if we get them out on third down. We’ve had instances where we should have gotten them out on third down. It wasn’t third-and-three. I’m not talking about third-and-three. I’m talking about third-and-nine, 10. We have to close out those third downs. If we do that, then a lot of this stuff goes away.”
Is tackling the catch being stressed this week?
“Yes. All the time.”
More so this week?
“You always give attention to the stuff that hurts you, so we’re giving it attention for sure. We have to do that. If you look at a lot of the teams we’ve played, when we do tackle the catch, then the ball comes loose a couple of times. Maybe receivers don’t want to catch it across the middle. Not that we are taking illegal hits on anybody or anything like that, but when you tackle as soon as they catch the ball there’s going to be a price to pay for it. If they can see that on film, then it makes a little bit of a difference whether they catch it or not.”
Re: On if he thinks Ryan Shazier is frustrated with getting injured and if it’s just as frustrating as a coach:
“You hope for him to play. I’ve said this before about it, he doesn’t not want to play. This kid wants to play, you feel bad for him because of the things that have happened to him. Sometimes things happen, sometimes you get more injuries than you want. But, he’s got to play through them and that’s part of growing up and being a veteran in the National Football League. If you’re waiting to feel good before you play, you’re never going to play. So, he’s dealing with that right now and hopefully we can get him on the field and keep him on the field.”
Did you see anything consistent on those third-and-longs?
“No. It’s always the same thing, in terms of where people are supposed to be and rush. It’s always a little bit here or a little bit there. What I mean by a little bit here or a little bit there, somebody being in a position he’s supposed to be in, somebody being in position in terms of rushing the passer, somebody in position to beat somebody rushing the passer. All of those things go into being where you’re supposed to be and making the plays on third-and-ten.”
So, what you’re saying is you’re always close?
“Yes. We’re close, but close doesn’t get us anywhere.”
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MY TWO CENTS:
-It’s obvious that the Steelers only trust William Gay as their slot corner. Which seems to be the only reason that Boykin has been on the bench, since the Steelers only see him in the slot. It sounds like they’ll be resting Blake this week, putting Boykin in the slot and having Gay and Cockrell guard the outsides.
-I’m looking for Martavis Bryant to bounce back this week. He had a few crucial drops against Seattle that seemed to be “drive killers”.
-If last week was any indication, I think we should expect Ben to trust Wheaton a lot more. I’m sure the Colts are going to double-up on AB and try to do the same thing to Bryant. This should give Wheaton plenty of chances to make big plays.
I think the Steelers can win this game easily, but that doesn’t mean they will. Three out of their next five games are on the road, so this is one that they need to win. I don’t want see our defense get comfortable just because Andrew Luck isn’t playing. I want to see our boys put their cleats on the white & blue and not let up till the final whistle.
Here we go, Steelers! Here we go!