RE: Making sure that the team does not get distracted with the upcoming bye week.
A: Focus on this game. Focus on this one game. That’s what you’re doing. You’re a pro, you’re expected to know what the circumstances are, concentrate and focus on the game at hand. I think we will.
Q: Do you have any concern on mental fatigue? Emotionally, there have been difficult games and circumstances. Do you have any concerns about mental fatigue?
A: I hope not. We dealt with a lot of emotions last week. Hopefully, we’re back to some degree of normalcy this week. Focused on the importance of this game. This is a very, very important game for our football team. To be in position where we are in, to go out to Cincinnati. A lot of teams would like to be 6-3, we’d like to be 7-3. That’s pretty obvious. I’ve called upon them to be pros, to focus. I’ll take care of everything next week for them. They don’t have to worry about that. What they have to worry about is the Cincinnati Bengals game and practicing our best and then playing and performing to the best of our ability.
Q: You mentioned the similarity to the Steelers. Is that an advantage?
A: The similarities are such, but not from a personnel standpoint. You do have a lot of different pieces to the puzzle that have to be defended in certain ways or attacked in certain ways. I just pointed that out because it’s the AFC North.
Q: Hakeem is back on the injury report?
A: Yes, he is.
Q: Did his knee swell up?
A: He did. So, we’re going to rest him today.
Q: What about Snee being added to it?
A: Yeah. He’s got the ankle. He picked it up really early in the game. He played the whole game with it. He’s injured.
Q: Will he practice today?
A: He will not practice today.
Q: You also have two running backs on the list and you only have three on your roster. Is
A: David will get work. You bet.
Q: Bradshaw will practice once this week?
A: Once this week, I hope. Yes.
Q: You’ve answered so many questions about Eli, which is so unusual around here. Usually, we’re asking you about why is he so calm, so good, so everything. Are you watching him any more closely? Is he at a point in this relationship with you where you just know that he’ll find a way to fix himself.
A: No, we talked. We talked yesterday. We had an opportunity to have a nice conversation. Most of the time, it’s about fundamentals and about us getting going. What can I do to help and little things that I can tweak, in terms of practice that may help us. He’s been very responsive with regards to that. We’ve been down this road before. He’s going to get this thing right, and get our offensive team going again and get us on track. I fully believe that, I have great confidence in his ability to do that.
Q: Do you normally speak with him on Tuesdays?
A: I usually pop in and see him when he’s studying in the quarterback room. So, there’s nothing unusual about that.
Q: How do you get back to that pitch-and-catch rhythm that he had earlier in the year?
A: Let’s get on the same page, let’s practice well, and let’s do a great job of recognition in terms of our adjustments. Let’s be decisive, let’s get the ball thrown on target to the receiver according to what the coverage tells us to do. It’s just a rhythm. The one thing that nobody has really picked up on, which is kind of interesting, is you don’t get any continuity offensively if you don’t make any first downs. We haven’t had any first downs in two weeks. Make some first downs. You make a first down, you’ll have a chance to get some rhythm, get some continuity, get into your play calling. When you don’t have first downs, it’s like throwing darts at a board. You need the continuity.
Q: Play calling always seems so easy to criticize…
A: It’s easy.
Q: Is there a way to call a game early that helps to just get first downs?
A: Well, everything we have listed is all to make a first down, and every one is a touchdown, too, by the way.
Q: Are there things you can do?
A: Yeah, there are things you can do.
Q: Things that maybe we haven’t seen yet?
A: There’s been a lot of shorter, medium type passes. We took some shots at the post the other day. We took a shot at the end of the game on a go ball. If you asked me that 10 years ago, I would have told you one out of five ought to be down the field. Let’s go.
Q: Is Victor still in the right place because he hasn’t had the production?
A: A couple of weeks ago he one right at the end of the game.
Q: Are there any concerns with him?
A: For example, if the crossing pattern the other day we might have hit early, it might have come out the other end. There wasn’t anybody around him except the guy that knocked the ball down. You look back on things and you can always say that if this would’ve happened, if that would have happened… Certainly, they’re aware of where he is. Why wouldn’t you be? You’d be foolish. You’d be doing a poor job if you didn’t. That’s where some of the other people have to come through for us as well.
Q: Is there an emphasis to get the backs the ball out of the backfield in a passing situation to make something happen?
A: There’s a progression for everything. If it comes down to that, fine.|
Q: How do you shake up the special teams, especially the coverage?
A: We hadn’t seen anything like that. Let’s give them a little bit of a chance to come back and be evaluated and looked at. There’s no way to change the numbers. It’s going to be the same guys, at least right now. They’ve got a lot of pride. It’s just a shame that that particular aspect of it came out because now you look at your numbers and they’re distorted in every way shape and form. So we’ve got to go back and have another solid game, but not just a solid game on teams; all three phases. Solid, solid game. You’ve got to stop the run. Got to have productivity on offense. Got to get back to where we’re making first downs, making third downs. We haven’t done that in two weeks either. So there’s a lot that has to be accomplished.
Q: You said the middle of your defense was soft against the Steelers.
A: Early on it was.
Q: Is there anything other than telling them to play better that you can do about that?
A: Well, you can, but don’t forget if you want to try to advertise taking one area away, the ball can go elsewhere, too. So you’ve got to be balanced. You’ve got to be balanced. You’ve got to fight pressure. You’ve got to get off the blocks. You’ve got to fit properly. Sometimes the linebackers, if you extend the formations, have a couple of different things they’re responsible for. So yeah, there are things you can do. Sure there is, but you’re rolling the dice when you do it.
Q: Is some of that due to injury? Canty is coming back from injury and Rocky has been banged up.
A: I’m sure some of it was. It’s Rocky’s first opportunity to get back after a while and Chris has had a chance to have a couple of games under his belt, but I don’t think that’s necessarily the reason.
Q: Did you and Eli brainstorm anything that you would change this week with the schedule and practice?
A: No. I didn’t say schedule, either. I just said, ‘How can I help you with whatever you need within the way we practice?’
Q: He’s been practicing, so…
A: Well, he has been doing some practice things.
Q: Has there been a setback?
A: It’s not a setback. I think what’s going to happen is that we’re going to try and rest him this week and then through the bye and hopefully we can get him back.
Q: How did you find Eli’s mood yesterday and how would you describe it?
A: Good. Solid. A guy that’s very much interested in getting everything right the way it should be. Professional.
Q: He seemed a little harder on himself this week is why I ask
A: That’s because he cares so much. Why wouldn’t you? We lose a game, I lose a game. I haven’t slept since the time I was in high school with that kind of stuff. You lose a game, it’s your fault. That’s the way you’re raised.
Q: Head coaches and quarterbacks, moreso?
A: I wish it was everybody, thank you for asking.
Q: Five months ago, you joked with President Obama about getting back…
A: Oh, here we go. I’m not a politician. Yeah, he’s there. We need to get there.