TB: We had a fun night. It was good.
Q: Was it the Cowardly Lion or the lion after he got his courage?
TB: It was pre-courage. I actually was the Cowardly Lion in our elementary school play so I was drawing back on some past experiences.
Q: Do you remember any lines?
TB: I could sing the whole song…[sings a note] – no. Yeah, I remember all of that.
Q: What was Halloween like in your neighborhood growing up?
TB: It was great. We had the perfect block for it. Now, my parents, they probably open the door at four o’clock and they don’t get a chance to close it until 10 o’clock at night so it was a great neighborhood to grow up [in].
Q: Did you have a favorite candy?
TB: You know the people who give the full-size bars, those are the best. The worst is like the raisins and [stuff] like that. You want the candy.
Q: Did you ever egg a house?
TB: Yes. We egged, we TP’ed houses. We never ghosted, that’s a new thing I guess.
Q: Names have changed, but is there a certain consistency when you’re talking about the Steelers defensively in terms of the challenge?
TB: Yeah. The scheme has been so good for so many years. The players have been really good. It’s a very veteran defense too, so solid coaching, a solid scheme, solid players. Troy [Polamalu] is still one of the best players in the league and Ryan Clark is a phenomenal safety. Ike Taylor is a great corner; Lawrence Timmons is a great player. They have really veteran guys in the front. They have a good defense and the way we’ve been playing offensively, we can’t be up and down like we’ve been. We have to be more consistent. Hopefully this is our best week to be able to do that. We got off to a good start in practice so we’ll see how it goes.
Q: When is Troy Polamalu going to slow down?
TB: He’s got a love for the game, he’s got such intensity out there. He’s great instincts and when you have those type of instincts and he really has the ability to use those instincts. He’s not really in a system where there are clearly defined roles. He’s just a playmaker for them. You have to account for him on every play. You can’t just go, ‘Well, he’s going to be here.’ He may have half the field and he’s two yards from a line of scrimmage and making a play in the backfield. You just can’t take for granted, you have to keep your eyes out and keep your eyes open for him and hope that we can get a guy to block him. He’s a great player.
Q: Does that make him unique from other safeties because you have to look so many different places to find where he is?
TB: Well safety is typically the last line of defense on the defense. If you get by the safeties, there’s no one there to catch you. He’s a guy that, even though he’s a safety, he still makes plays in the backfield. He can do both. You go, ‘We can maybe get him on this splay.’ You try and then he’s deep where he should be. He’s just got those instincts where he’s going to take the chance when he knows and it’s calculated, a lot like Ed Reed does, like some of the best safeties I’ve ever played against. They know when the moment is, they feel it and that’s when they hit it. It’s not going to be every play, it’s not going to be every third down, it’s just when he feels that we’re going to run and wherever we’re going to run it, that’s where he’s going to go. Ryan Clark is very similar to that so they have two guys that really control the deep part of the field and also do a great job at the line of scrimmage. It’s almost tough to practice against because whatever you’re practicing they’re probably not going to do.
Q: When a quarterback’s hand hurts, what would be some of the telltale signs you could look for that tells you his hand is messed up?
TB: I don’t know. I’ve never had that experience so I’m not sure.
Q: Can you talk about
TB: It’s challenging for any young player, it’s challenging for anybody to come in and play a significant role on a team in the NFL coming fresh out of college. What all these young players have done for our team, on offense and defense, has really helped us out. Aaron has grown since the time he got here and his caliber of play and his level of execution, his understanding of our offense has gone up significantly. He has a big role in our offense and we count on him to make the plays when his number is called. He made a bunch of them last week. He has to go do it again. At this point in the year, they’re not rookies anymore. They know what to expect, they’ve been through it and they have to go out and execute it.
Q: Was that touchdown play a designed play?
TB: We talked about it and Aaron runs that route really well. We tried it a little in the game too on the pass to [
Q: What is your connection with Ben Roethlisberger? He’s always very complimentary of you.
TB: I feel the same way about him. He’s one of the best quarterbacks to play in this game and he’s done it for a long time too. We’ve never really spent any time together or anything like that. He’s been leading a good team for a long time and they’ve been at the top of their division for a long time. They’re always tough to beat. He’s been in some big games and won them. We played him in some really important games and some championship games and some very meaningful regular season games and they’ve been one of the best teams in the league since I’ve been playing in the NFL. It’s a great team, really great coach and like I said, it’s a proven coaching system, proven scheme and the player like Ben and Troy [Polamalu] and when they had Hines Ward, they’ve got great players at all positions. That’s why they’re tough to beat, that’s why they’re always in it.
Q: Is there an added emphasis for the game before the bye to go in in a positive way?
TB: They all count the same. Look, we realize after the game there’s a little break but you have to just do everything you can. This is the mid-part of the season. We’ve been at it for awhile – 12 weeks – and this is when the teams start to separate themselves. You have mental toughness, discipline, doing the right thing, making right decisions, that’s when this becomes part of football season. I think that’s been a good strength of ours over the years is getting better an improving as the season’s gone along, making sure you get your rest, you get the right treatments, you understand what it takes during November and December to win. Here’s where teams, you go one direction or the other. The good ones have something to show for it in January and the bad ones are watching in January. We have to, at this point, we’ll see what we’ve got. The weather is turning, the game changes a little bit. We have to be able to adjust and play the style that we need to to win.
Q: Outside of execution, why you have guys struggled on third down?
TB: It hasn’t been a strength for us, especially in the games we’ve lost. We’re like 1-of-11 or 1-of-12 or something like that and that’s a big reason why we’ve lost. I wish it was just pointing to one thing and saying, ‘This is the problem.’ But it’s been spread throughout every position and bad throws and bad reads and just missed assignments in general. There are plays there to be made. We go out there, we practiced third down today, we made a lot of great plays, it’s just, look, we have to make it happen on Sunday. It’s not one thing, it’s a combination of things. I think we have to, to be a good offense you have to be on the field and we’re losing time of possession which exposes your defense, it limits your ability to run the ball on offense because you feel like, ‘Oh, we have to throw it because we’re not going to get it on third down so if it’s second-and-long you have to throw it so you can get it on second down.’ It’s almost like we’re a good Canadian football team. But at the NFL, we’re just not doing anything on third down to stay on the field. That has to be something that over the next eight games, we have to do a lot better job of. We’re working at it, I’ll say that. It’s definitely a point of emphasis.
Q: It looks like Pittsburgh is struggling to get a consistent pass rush. What have you seen?
TB: There are times when they’re all over the quarterback and there are definitely times when the quarterback has time to throw. They have good pass rushers, they have good guys on the inside, they have good guys on the outside. It’s usually a combination of things. I think good pass rush is always about coverage and pass rush. If you don’t have great coverage, the ball comes out quick, it doesn’t really matter how good the pass rush is. If they’re covered quick and then the rushers have time to get there, there’s going to be a good pass rush. I think these guys do a little of both. They definitely have guys, like [LaMarr] Woodley can definitely get after the quarterback, [Jason] Worilds can, [Jarvis] Jones can. Then when they run their different blitz schemes they get after you. If they have five guys rushing or six guys rushing sometimes, they definitely get home quick and you have to pick your spots. If they only bring four, you may have a little more time to throw but the coverage will be a little bit better too. It’s just a little bit of a chess match there.
Q: How much of a challenge is it for an offense when the cast of characters is changing?
TB: I think every team has its challenges and every season has its challenges and ours on offense has been that. a little bit just guys finding different roles for themselves. I think at this point, through 12 games, we’re starting to establish, guys are establishing roles and what they’re capable of doing and it could change over the course of the next eight games with guys begin in or out but it’s really a matter of our consistency. We’ve done a few decent things the last three games with getting points on the board but it certainly hasn’t been good enough. Finding the different combinations of people on the field and dependable, consistent players, that’s what good offenses are all about.
TB: Yeah. Devin is a great player. He’s different in some ways in that he has background as a corner. He has very corner-like movements at safety. Sometimes you have safeties that are guys that play in the box and guys that are going to run-force, support at the line of scrimmage and you have other safeties that really roam the deep part of the field. Like the play that was made the other day with he and Marquice [Cole], that was an amazing play. Devin was basically on the other side of the field and took off running. To be able to cover that much ground and have that kind of range as a post safety is remarkable. I see that every day in practice. You really have to look Devin off. He’s really smart, he sees combinations and sometimes you try to look him off and he knows you’re trying to look him off so he doesn’t take it. There are other times he gets great jumps on the ball. The longer he’s been at safety, the better he’s done. He’s really been a consistent player for our team. he knocks balls away, covers guys in man coverage and then has that range in the deep part of the field where he truly plays like a safety.
Q: With a guy like Rob Gronkowski, who you worked with before but you couldn’t work with in camp and the start of the season, do you pick up where you left off or is there a re-learning process?
TB: We’ve had pretty good chemistry since he got here. It usually doesn’t take too long with a guy like him. I think any quarterback could throw him the ball and look good. He’s that kind of athlete and the kind of catches he makes in traffic and he’s tough, he’s physical, he’s everything you look for. It’s just more of getting him involved, getting back into shape and understanding what it takes to play a football season. That’s part of the challenge of any player coming back when they’ve been off. The more he’s in there, the better it seems like it’s going for him.
Q: Is there a comparable safety to Troy Polamalu that you’ve played against?
TB: Oh man, hard to say. That’s a tough question.
Q: Have you had a chance to watch any of the World Series?
TB: I’ve seen a lot of it. It’s great. They’ve got a great chance tonight. I’m hoping they pull it out. I’m sure everyone here is excited. I know our team is excited to watch the game; for our kids and stuff, I was thinking about that today, make sure my son is up watching the game because you never know [when] it happens again, especially your home team and your hometown. It’s an exciting thing for our city.