BB: Feels like we're back in the division again. The Steelers - [we] had a lot of chance to look at them here over the last few days - [we] got a jump on them last week. They look good as usual. [They're] well coached, good in all three phases of the game, real explosive team, can score from literally anywhere on the field: on defense with their strip sacks and turnovers and offensively and offensively and the kicking game with their explosive skill players. Their backs have had long runs, their receivers have had long passes, obviously particularly [Mike] Wallace. They've had big plays in the return game. They're a real solid team, well coached, good players. It's always a tough team to play. We have a lot of work to do here. We got a good start on yesterday and we'll try to build on that here through the next three days.
Q: Over the course of the past three years, what are some of the commonalities to Mike Tomlin's team?
BB: They don't make many mistakes. You have to go in there and play a good football game and beat them. They don't beat themselves very often. They make a lot of good plays and not too many bad ones. You really have to take advantage of if they make a mistake, you have to create - with good execution on your side - you have to create your own opportunities. They have a very experienced group of players that they've pretty much seen everything they're going to see - big games, situations, schemes. They're well coached. I'd say not just Mike, but the coordinators and the kicking game, offensively [and] defensively they know what they're doing - they don't get fooled very often.
Q: Is it safe to say that year-to-year they don't change much defensively?
BB: Yeah, I'd say that and why should they? They lead the league in defense every year.
BB: We've had our moments against them; they've had their moments against us. They're a good football team, they give everybody problems. We'll go up there and compete against them and hopefully we'll be able to give them some problems. They do a good job, they've been very successful through the years in winning championships, winning games, statistically - however you want to measure it, this is one of the top organizations and top football teams in the National Football League, year in and year out.
Q: Troy Polamalu is obviously a great player. Players like that, do they become more dangerous as they gain more experience because of the mental acumen?
BB: I think that's fair. He's very dangerous. He's an impact player, very disruptive player. Defensively he fouls up a lot of things - blitzing, pass coverage, tackling, he's a hard hitter, knocks balls loose but he's around the ball a lot. He's fast. At times it looks like he might be a little out of position or maybe it's not even his play to make but he just has the speed and the anticipation to get to a point on the field where the play is. Again, whether that's actually his responsibility or not, he just can feel it coming and anticipate it and his awareness is outstanding. He has tremendous speed and burst and hitting ability. He can get there in a hurry and when he gets there he can do a lot of damage. You have to be aware of him on every snap.
Q: How does their defense look different with Lawrence Timmons on the outside as opposed to the inside?
BB: They've had a lot of players out there, going back to [Jason] Gildon and Kevin Greene and [Greg] Lloyd, going right down the line, [LaMarr] Woodley, [James] Harrison - it always looks good, I don't care who they put out there. They look productive. Timmons can really run, fast guy, much taller than Harrison, longer. Harrison is a tremendous player I'm not saying that. Timmons has a lot of strengths too - his speed, his pass rushing ability, his coverage ability. He made a lot of plays for them inside with [James] Farrior. He really played there in college at the end of the line so I don't think that's totally unfamiliar to him. They all look good.
Q: What did you think about
BB: It's great to have him out there. Personally, sure you love to see every player get back out there and do what they want to do and what they've worked hard to do. First practice, he's got a long way to go. It was good to have him back out there. We'll just take it day-by-day.
Q: Mike Wallace goes deep a lot, but everyone knows that he's going to go deep. Even the 95-yard catch, it seemed that they were protecting against that -
BB: Well they didn't protect against it very well.
Q: That's what I'm saying. How does that keep happening?
BB: If you make a mistake, they have players to take advantage of it. Whether it's him, or [Emmanuel] Sanders or [Antonio] Brown, Hines Ward, [Heath] Miller, [Rashard] Mendenhall, [Jonathan] Dwyer, [Isaac] Redman, I mean go right down the line. They have guys making big plays at every position, quarterback. If you don't do a good job - you can say that about [Ben] Roethlisberger. We know he can scramble. Well he made a big play scrambling. How did that happen? He still makes them. Wallace makes big plays. Mendenhall makes long runs. Miller catches, Hines Ward catches over routes, breaks tackles. They do all the things they do. They have a lot of good players. Wallace runs a lot of stuff besides deep routes now too. He runs a lot of stuff in front of the defenders because they're playing him deep. They run a lot of crossing patterns where if he catches the ball he just runs away from the defense. It's not all go-routes. He runs his share of those but he does a lot of other things too. He's really developed as a receiver. He's improved a lot from where he was in college in terms of his route technique and it looks like his ability to read coverages and make decisions on different coverage-looks people are trying to give him. He's done a good job. It looks like he's improving every week.
Q: I'm not overly familiar with Antonio Brown but he's their leading returner and was very involved in their offense last week. What kind of receiver is he?
BB: I think they get the ball to any of those guys and it's a problem. As you said, he's a returner so he's fast and elusive and explosive in the offensive passing game and reverses, just like he is in the kicking game. He runs hard, he breaks tackles, he's very fast, he's got good quickness, can make people miss, can run away from them, runs through some guys. He's a hard guy to handle too. So is [Emmanuel] Sanders, Sanders is a guy with good quickness, good speed, real good hands. They've got a good group of skill players.
Q: Has the rule this year that the center or two guards have to be mic'd up changed things game plan wise for you guys at all? Do you switch up verbiage from week-to-week because it's out there and anyone can get a replay from what is on television and hear those signals?
BB: I think that's pretty much the way it's been. They had it on the umpire so now the guy is six feet away instead of three feet away or whatever. I think if you look at the games where they broadcast the audio - I can definitely show you games that we've played in the past where you can hear just as much then as you can hear now. I mean we all know that. We all know how the games are being broadcast. It's no different than when you're signaling plays, you have ways - it's no different than the third base coach - everybody knows he's signaling to the batter. You have ways of making the signals hard to pick up or changing them or whatever - there's different ways of doing it. I think that's just part of the game.
Q: For a team that plays you as often as the Steelers, how much does Dick LeBeau change things up from year-to-year?
BB: I wouldn't say they've changed things a whole lot from year-to-year. They've had their system, it's been very successful for them and they continue to do the things that are in their system and they do them well.
Q: He doesn't add any players or gimmicks here and there?
BB: I'm not saying they wouldn't add anything but I think they stick with what they do. I don't know that there's really been any reason to change it. They were in a Super Bowl again last year. I'd say they had a pretty good year, they had a good year on defense, looks like they're having a pretty good year again on defense this year, just like they have for the last 20 years. I'm sure they feel pretty confident in what they're doing. I doubt they're coming in there very often saying ‘Well there's a lot of things going wrong, we need to fix them.' Looks like most of the time to me they're playing pretty good defense. They've had a couple of plays break down like everybody has but I'd say a lot fewer than most teams do.
Q: Do you have a measure for how many yards a running back gains based on how many yards are available on the play? If you do, how does
BB: We look at yards after first contact, I guess would be the best way to put it, or potential first contact - where the first guy could make the tackle and then how much yardage the player actually gains, whether it's a receiver or running back or tight end or whoever it is. We look at that, we definitely look at that in preseason, we look at in our regular season games, we look at it historically just to try to get a gauge on it. That's something that we talk to our players a lot, ‘We want to get you the ball and there's a certain amount of production that will be there when you get it and how much extra can you gain on your own,' not completely on your own because there's some downfield blocking and those kind of things involved. But as far as breaking tackles or making guys miss in the open field or putting a shoulder down or running through a guy for a few extra yards - those yards definitely count. We emphasize them and we keep the players aware of how important those yards are. We talk about it every week.
Q: Is it safe to say BenJarvus Green-Ellis does pretty well in that area?
BB: Yeah, he does a good job of that. I think all our backs have - I think [Danny] Woodhead has and [Stevan] Ridley, Kevin [Faulk] when he's had an opportunity to play. I think all those guys have been productive with the ball.
Q: How is
BB: He's doing all right. He's been out on the field a couple of days. It's good to see him back out there. As much as you can train and do things in the weight room and running around a track and all that, that's great but it's not playing football. There's really no substitute for playing football - getting the other 21 players out there and working in that environment. It's good that he's had an opportunity to do that. I think each day is just better and better for him or Brandon [Deaderick] or Ron [Brace] or Marcus [Cannon] whoever it is. Just to have that experience of the full team participating with him. We'll take it day-by-day here and see how it goes.