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What We Learned From Thursday's Media Availability

Co-Offensive Coordinator Matt Nagy, Defensive Coordinator Bob Sutton and Special Teams Coordinator Dave Toub spoke with the media on Thursday



Q: Can you give us a quick snapshot of the Steelers defense?

NAGY: "They're going to come at us. We've had them the past two years and they're a physical defense. They're going to hit you, they're going to tackle you, fundamentally they're going to do things that they're coached and they're very well coached. They're going to be coming off of a loss last week versus Philadelphia, so they'll make adjustments and they'll be ready to play."

Q: What kind of team are the Steelers defensively?

NAGY: "They're showing more zone, but that doesn't mean they can't come out and play more man. We'll be ready for either."

Q: On some of the later turnovers in the game, the goal of the offense was to finish the game. Do you feel like you could have scored more than 10 points with the turnovers you had early on?

NAGY: "Yeah I think so. When you look back and reflect on the game, you're wishing you could have some of those back. At the same time, that's football. There may be a game this year where we score a lot of points, and for whatever reason, the defense is struggling. That's why it's a team game: special teams, offense and defense. We're going to keep battling and when we do get that opportunity the next time, hopefully we do a little bit better."

Q: You've had some height advantages with the tight ends, but you don't call fade routes very often. Why is that?

NAGY: "That's a good question, but at the same time, we have other stuff we like. It doesn't mean we can't do it. There's a lot of times where you see a mismatch with a particular defensive back that you like running the fades with. It's probably more of a week-to-week thing than it is a concept."

Q:Have you liked what you've seen after switching guards around?NAGY:"I give a lot of credit to Jordan [Devey] coming in and playing in a tough situation. We've faced some pretty tough fronts in these first few games with the Texans and Jets. He came in and did such a great job for us. Just holding that spot down like he did, we're really happy we were able to have him in there. There has been some shuffling around, but the biggest thing we've seen is the communication and trust that goes on within that offensive line. As long as we get through that, which Coach [Andy] Heck does a great job with, we'll keep grinding throughout the week and we'll be fine."

Q:With just one sack, has the Steelers pass rush slipped a bit since last year? NAGY:"I don't think it's slipped, it's just more of a numbers thing. But at the same time, that doesn't mean they can't come out and get more sacks -- that's just the parody of the game. We're preparing for that. Our guys need to be prepared for some good pass-rushers without the blitz. And when they do blitz, they know how to get home. Right now, it's just a matter of them not getting the numbers but they certainly have the potential to do so."

Q:Does Marcus Peters have good enough hands to play offense?NAGY:"I don't know. He doesn't just do it on game day. There's times in practice where he makes some tremendous plays. He's an athlete, he has ball skills, he's natural and you see him do it on Sundays."


Q:  First time since 1986-87 that there were six interceptions with no sacks – did it prove that you can force the issue without taking the quarterback down?

SUTTON: "Yeah, we've said here in the past, the objective is always to affect the quarterback. You do that in a million ways; the obvious one is, 'Hey, sack him, hit him.' Sometimes you affect him with really tight coverage, sometimes you affect him with the pocket pushing. The first interception there was a great push on that. Marcus [Peters] first interception – he really had no room to follow through in that way. Sometimes you affect them with disguise. There are a lot of different ways that you play on defense, but at the end the guy that you have to affect is the quarterback. When you don't, it is a hard day. It can be a really hard day on defense if that guy is in a great rhythm. The guys are so skilled and so accurate that if you don't affect them and don't challenge his throws, it's just really difficult at times."

Q:  What kind of challenge does Antonio Brown present to your defense?* *

SUTTON: "How long do you have? I would say – I don't know how they rank him – he's one of the elite, elite receivers in our league, has been. He's a tremendous route runner, has great catch after the run ability, outstanding hands. I mean he snatches balls out of the air. He's just a really, really good football player. He's got great acceleration in-and-out of cuts. I think that's one of the things that's really impressive about him. There may be guys that are faster and all that, but running cuts and snapping in-and-out of them, they're not too many better than him right now in our league."* *

Q:  What are the issues with bracketing a guy throughout the whole game?

SUTTON: "All those guys on the other side. You know, anytime you're in any form of double coverage or anything where you split safeties, you got other issues. It's like most things in football – you can't do it every play or they're going to try and take advantage of you. That's the problem. You have to pay your due diligence on all these outstanding receivers. The reason they're good is usually you can't get them done with one guy all the time. You have to play a lot of the game with one player covered, other people can cover and assist, but you can't dedicate, the whole game, two people to them because that leaves you vulnerable in other areas."

Q: What do you see out of Ben Roethlisberger and Le'Veon Bell?

SUTTON: "That's why you can't have two guys out there all the time. These are like outstanding players. Le'Veon Bell, I can't remember – it was a year or two ago – he was targeted 115, 118 times as a running back. So, that tells you something. He's a great runner – outstanding runner. Of course, 34 [DeAngelo Williams] has been playing for them and has had a great start to the season as well. They've done a good job. Bell is a special player – very unique style of running. He's very patient before he makes that final cut and does a great job. Like Ben [Roethlisberger] – I think – is one of the quarterbacks, you can't say, gets over looked, but never gets appreciated, to me, like most defensive coaches think of him. He's a great competitor on the field. He has the unique ability to extend the play for it seems like months when you're on defense. He stays back there and finds guys. He has great vision when he's scrambling, when he has people hanging on him. He's a great player. He's running the offense. He's in no-huddle mode right now and doing a great job with that. I think he's playing really outstanding football the last couple of years. He got nicked up last year a little bit. He's a real issue to all defenses in our league."

Q: Ben Roethlisberger can pump fake with one hand where other quarterbacks have to use two, given that Antonio Brown is so good at getting open – doesn't that create unique problems that other teams don't have?

SUTTON: "Well, I think the real problem with Ben [Roethlisberger] is that you can't get him down all the time. You can be on him, but he's so big and strong. Like I said, he has this ability to be warding off defenders, but his eyes and his vision are down the field and he sees things all the time. All the times I've played against him, that's probably the thing that impresses me the most about the guy. People are on his legs, and his arms' so strong, he can throw – you have him on this shoulder and he can reach out and do this. He can see everything. A lot of quarterbacks, once that happens, their eyes are down and he's trying to get out of the mess. He never puts his eyes down, or very seldom. The guys covering, you've got to be ready. We call it the play within the play. There's a play that came out, they're running this play, and then, all of a sudden, Ben's running the other play – whatever happens, happens. These guys were all running these routes, they're now scattering all over the field, and you've got to be able to cover them for as long as it takes. I'd hate to know how many yards he's made doing that over his career, but there're a lot of them."

Q: Ben Roethlisberger has thrown four picks in three games this year and 16 interceptions in 12 games last year, is he a guy that's going to give you a few chances?

SUTTON: "I don't really know. I'd probably get caught looking the other way seeing all the other plays that he's made. Like the third or fourth play of the game there, he had a touchdown – scrambled out to his right, threw it all the way out to the left corner and they dropped it. That would have been the opening drive – seven points. That field goal got blocked. We see him as the things that could happen to us, which is kind of our nature on defense all the time – that's going to be a challenge. There's no question at times, he's going to be competitive. He thinks he can get a ball in about anywhere and he does, quite a bit now. He's a fiery guy, energetic guy on the field. I just think there're times where he does that. I see a lot of the other things, myself."

Q:What's been the key to the Chiefs defense finding so much success in the red zone?SUTTON:"You've just got to keep playing, bear down and execute. That sounds trivial and simple, but a lot of times when you get in the red zone, you need to have a thought process. We need to know what we're doing -- we don't want them in the end zone. We need to hold them to a field goal or take the ball away. That's the starting point. You've got to keep battling through and you've got to have grit. You've got to say, 'We can fight this thing off.' We're not going to concede anything to them wherever they're at. They may knock it in, but we're not going to 'let' them go in without a fight. A lot of it has been attitude and execution. The players have done a great job understanding what we're doing and what we're anticipating from our opponents. There's a good measure of fortune that happens down there. If you want to be good in this league, you've got to be good in the red zone."

Q:What's the key to making sure the back line of the end zone is your ally and not your enemy?SUTTON:"Understanding where you're at on the field is big. As you move closer from the 20-yard line down to the 10 and so on, the field shrinks for them and you no longer have to defend certain routes. It's packed in a little tighter and they're doing different things as well. You have to understand, those two and three yards whether they're on the 10-yard line or the six, is big to know. That's how you cover a player and a route in those situations. Understanding the situation is a big key. Coach Reid does a great job here and gives us a lot of red zone time in training camp and at practice. We work very hard on it and you hope over the course of time it pays off."

Q:What does Ron Parker mean to the defense? SUTTON:"Ron has played great football for us. He's one of the guys that I have complete confidence and trust in. He's a guy that's there every single day. He's consistent and you know what you're going to get from him. He made three or four really big plays in the game that maybe went unnoticed. He also had some big tackles on crossing routes. Those plays don't always have a stat for them, but when you're really watching the course of the game and studying it afterwards, you realize some of those are really big plays. He's done a great job since he's been here. He's played corner, safety, nickel and he does whatever you ask him to do without blinking. He goes in, studies and works hard at it. To me, he's the ultimate team player and a highly competitive guy."

Q:At what point does a guy have to earn your trust to be able to travel with a receiver?SUTTON:"That's as much style as it is anything -- the decision of how you're going to play defense. Obviously, there's corners that are 'match corners'. I've been on teams, like when I coached Darrelle Revis, where he was a 'match corner' for a while. Now I think he's back to right and left. It's really just style of play and what you're doing. Are you playing a lot of man defense or a lot of zone? That's a philosophical decision as much as it is, 'hey do we trust this guy?' There's a lot of different ways people do things. Sometimes you have a cover corner and he takes the No. 2 receiver by himself and you put double coverage on the team's No. 1 receiver. Those are more philosophical choices as opposed to having trust in a defender."

Q:What did Marcus Peters do to earn that trust and be put in that situation?SUTTON:"Maybe we don't want Marcus in that situation. That might be the other answer. There's not a 'guaranteed' way to play all the time. There's elements that happen when you do that, structurally, that makes it easier for the offense to pick up on. You've got to take both ends into account. As long as he keeps playing like he is over on the left side, we'll be pretty happy with him."


Q: You get a touchdown that's a good day. Take us through what you saw and how it developed.

TOUB: "Guys did a good job covering in that particular play. The guy tried to bounce one back into the middle, and he got sandwiched in between [Anthony] Sherman and [Dezman] Moses. They both got their arms in the air and it's hard to tell exactly who knocked the ball out, but they both hit him at the same time. Ball shot out, Demetrius [Harris] was in the perfect spot. The ball landed in his hands, he scored. Those things are rare, and we were real happy to get it."

Q: Tyreek Hill was still doing some backtracking a little bit on the returns. When you're going over film with him, what do you say to him?

TOUB: "I'm going to take some of the blame on that because I'm calling bounce returns. He's doing what I'm telling him to do. If I told him to hit it straight ahead he would hit it straight ahead. So some of those we're starting in the middle and he's bouncing. We felt like we could get the edge, and they took it away on us. You have to give them credit on that one play, the second one where he bounced it out and those guys were there. They overplayed the bounce, and we just had a bad call on that play. Tyreek is doing everything that we expect him to do at this point."

Q: That's kind of a risky call when you make that kind of play call because you see something on film?

TOUB: "We just know that if we think a team is converging too much or getting too bottled up inside, we'll try to get outside of them. We thought we might get that on that particular play, we tried to bounce it and it just wasn't there."

Q: There's more leeway on that than on punt return, isn't there?

TOUB: "There's more leeway on a punt return. We will have a direction call on punt return. We want him to hit that 85-95% of the time. But if it's totally taken away, he has more leeway to do what he wants. So, for kick return it's more we're going to hit it here, we're going to bounce it, so you're exactly right on that."

Q: What's the communication like for a guy like Steve Nelson who played so many snaps on special teams and was getting all those snaps on defense throughout the week leading up to the game between you guys figuring out how to get him in the swing of things?

TOUB: "We look at the snap count. We look at your stuff, we know exactly week-to-week where guys are. We saw that he had 94 reps in the first game. We tried to cut him back a little bit in the second game, but we didn't get it done. He had 90 in the second game. We're really trying to cut back this week, we took him off field goal block, we took him off kickoff to try and help him there. Maximum reps you want to try and get a guy is about 70. Anything more than that you're pushing. That's the maximum, there are guys that will get 20 or 10."

Q: Back to Tyreek [Hill], he seems to be this close.

TOUB: "He's close."

Q: Just really close to breaking one, have you seen coverages change a little bit even before the end of the third game of the season when they realize how fast this guy is?

TOUB: "I mean you can see the kickoff team talking, 10 is back there so they have a plan for him to probably stay a little bit wider. We have to do a better job at designing and making better calls for him. You see, he's dangerous. Even on the first kick return he was a shoe string tackle away from popping it. There, it just didn't happen. We only got two kickoff returns, but that's a good thing. That means we're winning."* *

Q: Coach, do you mind giving us a quick snapshot of the Steelers special teams?

TOUB: "They're very good, well coached, Danny Smith does a great job. Obviously, we're going to see Antonio Brown as a punt returner. 17 [Eli Rogers] got hurt last week so we know we're going to see some 84 [Antonio Brown]. Being that it's Sunday Night Football, guaranteed we're going to get their best guys', no question. They have a lot of good players [Vince] Williams 98, real good cover guy. Their kickoff return, they use two players back there. They have two returners, 33 [Fitzgerald Toussaint] and 14 [Sammie Coates], and they're both excellent. We have our hands full just like every week. We know we're going to get their best effort on special teams because every little thing in this game is going to matter."

Q: Is this one of those teams that tries to pin you inside of the 25 with the specialty kickoff or do they just touchback?

TOUB: "They do a little bit of both. He has the ability to kick it deep for touchbacks if they want. They have kicked it high and short, so we have to be prepared for both."

Q: How good is Dustin Colquitt?

TOUB: "It seems like year in and year out we talk about the same thing. He's a leader for us, he's our elder statesmen, and he just does it week in and week out. We can count on him. That's one thing that's a certainty. We're very fortunate to have him."

Q: You mention the kicking short, the Patriots have been doing that quite a bit. Do you guys look at that as an advantage? Do you look at kicking it short more often?

TOUB: "We tried in the last game, it hurt us. We had a couple of big returns on us. Week-to-week, you have to adjust and see what you're getting. If you're covering well, you want to keep doing that, if you're not, you want to abort it and try to kick touchbacks. I think it's a situational thing. If you're leading in the game, you probably don't want to try and kick it short. You just want to bang it out. You know, I love it because it's another facet for special teams. It's another thing that we can use."

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