Every Thursday the Pittsburgh Steelers make their three coordinators available to the media. Here are some highlights from playcallers Bruce Arians (offense), Dick Lebeau (defense), and Al Everest (special teams) here during Jacksonville week:
Steelers Defensive Coordinator Dick Lebeau
On Cam Heyward:
“I think he’s making good progress. He’s always had real good pass rush ability, and he showed up in the game last Sunday with some good pass rushes. He’s learning the package pretty well. We’re very hopeful that he will develop along the lines of Ziggy and contribute significantly as the season goes on. We want him to be a part of the defense and get in the game. He’s got a great work ethic, I think the future is going to be onward and upward for him”
On James Harrison being voted the meanest guy in the NFL:
“I think they’re on the right track. He’s a good aggressive football player, but he’s not dirty. He’s just a hard playing, tough guy.”
On whether rookie QBs are more ready to play in the NFL than they used to be:
“Oh, I don’t think there’s any question about that. If you go to a high school game you might see them throw 40 times. Only a few years ago, they might throw it 4. Almost every college I see they don’t even huddle now, they’ve got four or five wide receivers spread all over and they’re throwing the ball. So these quarterbacks they’re coming up in a pro offense and a throwing-style offense and orientated to reading hot reads and coverages. It just makes the transition, I’m not going to say it’s easier but it makes it quicker for them.”
On how he approaches facing an opposing rookie QB like Blaine Gabbert:
“We try to at least give some false reads to all quarterbacks, and sometimes with the younger quarterbacks you have a little more success. But by and large in the long run, the players have to make plays because that quarterback he’s schooled in their system and it’s going to be hard to fool him. But nonetheless, we’ll try to fool him some.”
On being the #1 pass defense in football:
“I think we’re number two in total defense, that’s the only number that really matters. Total points is all that really matters. It’s early, I don’t even look at the statistics until we get into an established mode of what the season’s going to be. We’re still just working to improve and get better every week.”
On running more dime defense last week:
“Well, Lawrence [Timmons] is the outside rush guy now, so if he were not that we would still be in our regular nickel. It necessitated us changing what we do on third down a little bit because of what we do personnel wise. And I thought Ryan Mundy played very well in the game [last] Sunday.”
Steelers Offensive Coordinator Bruce Arians
On the Jaguars defense:
“Really solid. Simple, play extremely hard, very similar to Tennessee. Doing a good job against the run, their corners especially. And they’re getting off the field on third down, so I mean this is a really good test for us.”
On Rashean Mathis playing well against the Steelers:
“He’s got a bunch of picks against us, and he’s been a quality guy for a long time. Feel like he’ll probably cover Mike [Wallace] all over the field. It’ll be a good challenge for him and a really good challenge for Mike.”
Why did the OLine play so well last week:
“The biggest thing, they could hear. Three out of the first four games were on really loud road games, and it’s really tough. But it was a better game, it wasn’t our best game I don’t think, that we’re capable of. I think the numbers were good but they can be better. But I think the continuity, Max [Starks] is starting to add a lot to the room, and Jonathan jumped right in as soon as Marcus [Gilbert] went down. We dress seven guys, and you can book on all seven playing every week, someone’s going down. It’s a quality group, I think they get beat up a little bit. Baltimore, Houston, Indianapolis are not easy place to play as an offensive line. They’re always the punching bag, it’s a good thing, they like it.”
On Marcus Gilbert’s status:
“We’re hoping that he can at least dress as a backup, but Jonathan [Scott] will start at RT.”
Who is your running back?
“Oh, Rashard, Rashard’s the man. He’s ready to go and everything will be back to normal except for Mewelde, he’ll probably still not be able to make it. But we’ll wait and see game time. He made great progress last week on that ankle the last two days. He’s a vet, wouldn’t need a lot of practice time. We’ll wait and see on that third one, but it’ll be Rashard and ‘Red.
On if Redman will get more carries:
“We’ll just see how the game goes, but his average was the same as Rashard’s last week. He made some really nice runs, but the numbers were the same. Jonathan [Dwyer] hit the big one. We feel really confident in ‘Red when he’s in there, and it all depends on Rashard. We don’t want to get him re-injured so it won’t be an overload situation.”
On Jonathan Dwyer’s playing time this week
“It’ll depend if he gets a “hat.” It’ll depend on Mewelde, and it’ll be more of an emergency situation as three [RBs dressed] rather than two. As long as he’s got the ball in his hands it’s fine, I’m fine with that. And he did a nice job in the rest of his role last week, so he’s probably earned a lot of respect from a lot of people doing the job that he did when he got his opportunity.
On Ben Roethlisberger’s injury:
“He’s getting better. He’s still not 100%, but he’s a lot better. [We held him out] of a lot today, no sense tweaking it.”
On the center having to wear the microphone in the NFL now:
“I don’t like it, but networks are networks, they run the business. You gotta watch what you say at halftime. It really kills your no-huddle offense when everybody gets your code words when they broadcast across NFL Network and everywhere else. It puts a strain on you having to come up with new stuff all the time. You’ve got to look through that glossary for synonyms, I think that’s the right word.
On all the passing TDs in the red zone last week:
“Seven points is seven points, I don’t care how we get ‘em. It depends how you’re going to play us and style points I don’t really care about. It’s easier when you just pound it in but those weren’t real hard passes when they’re all selling out on the run and being aggressive. I’d love to get back down there and back into a goal line situation and see how we handle it and see how we’ve grown but I don’t really care how we get ‘em in there.”
Steelers Special Teams Coordinator Al Everest
On when the idea for the fake punt last week was hatched:
"Coach Tomlin and I and [assistant] Amos [Jones] meet every Tuesday night and every Wednesday night. On Tuesday we look at our FG to our punt return, and we look at our opponents. Wednesday we talk about our kickoff return and our cover and our defensive field goal. [And we look at] what are [the opponent’s] strengths, what are their weaknesses, what are their tendencies. If you ever always do something, you’re going to get in trouble. If you mix it up a little bit then it’s hard to make those kind of [trick] calls. But we felt going in against [Tennessee] that if they gave us the 8-box look and the rush look, that we would run the ‘purple’. It was really a two man play, it’s between Danny [Sepulveda] and between Ryan [Clark]."
"[This week] Coach Tomlin asked us on Tuesday night, what are we doing on punt? We had 29 punt returns in the first five games, we’ve been in 6-box one time. So we have him a ‘look’ yesterday of somebody trying to capitalize on us. So you can’t pull your pants up and say ‘great job’ because other people are looking at you the same way. And that’s the great challenge of being in the NFL. It just comes down to trying to figure out what can we do with a high percentage, it’s never 100%, of success to help our football team win.”