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Mike Tomlin Conference Call Transcript - 10/26/2011

Read what Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin had to say as he addressed the New England media during his conference call on Wednesday, October 26, 2011.

Q: When you look at this Patriots defense, is there something that you see has changed from the first two games compared to the last three or four?  

MT: Nothing substantial. I think that they have a personality and they play to it. They don't beat themselves, they're very rarely out of place, they're very good at situational football.  

Q: You've had the chance, much like Bill Belichick here in New England, to work with the same quarterback for an extended period of time. What kind of help does that give you when it comes to consistency and continuity and knowing Ben Roethlisberger's habits and knowing what he can bring to the field?  

MT: I think continuity particularly at that position is a big positive of course. I think it expands the things that you're capable of doing. I also think that you have to guard against getting too comfortable sometimes. It also sometimes potentially breeds a lack of communication or assumptions and that can be dangerous. There are some positives and there are some negatives and you have to weigh on a daily basis.  

Q: How do you do that? Do you bring in new voices or new things that you do to keep it fresh?  

MT: No, I think the challenges that the National Football League presents on a week in and week out basis is enough to keep it fresh. More than anything I just guard against assumptions or assumed communication.  

Q: What did you learn from last year's game against New England? Did you learn anything about the way you guys defended Tom Brady and this offense based on last year?  

MT: They beat us pretty convincingly. You come away with that thought process but not anything ground breaking. I think we have to play better. We have to prepare better, we have to put together a better plan than we did a year ago and ultimately we have to perform better.  

Q: Why has Wes Welker enjoyed the success that he's had?  

MT: Because he's really talented. He's got a great rapport with his QB.  

Q: Ben Roethlisberger was saying when he's hurt he almost feels more of an obligation to play. Can you talk about a quarterback who toughs things out and maybe plays better when he's not 100 percent?  

MT: I think first and foremost, he's a football player and a competitor. I think that during times of adversity I think that he distinguishes himself in that way. Injury is just simply one of those things. He's uniquely competitive, I'm sure like Tom Brady is uniquely competitive. Those guys rise up in the face of adversity, whatever form it presents itself in.  

Q: We were talking to Ben Roethlisberger about the evolution of this offense. It used to be known as a running team and now what it has turned into with the passing game. Can you talk about the evolution? Is it something more of what's going in the NFL or is it something you're seeing with your particular team?  

MT: I think really for us, more than anything we're just trying to play to our strengths and do what's required for us to win football games. Ben is an asset of course. We have some quality receivers that we view as assets. It's just as simple as that for us.  

Q: You're young but you're a pretty old-school guy it seems. Is this not weird for you - to see everyone throwing it around like this?  

MT: Nothing surprises me really. I think the way that the games are being officiated and some of the emphasis from a rules standpoint created a climate where that's attractive to some people. I also think like we do, most people play to their strengths. Obviously we get some good quarterback play around the league.  

Q: There was a lot of chatter about you guys after the first couple of games about how old your defense was. There doesn't seem to be as much anymore. Did you guys get younger over the past three games?  

MT: No, you know, we don't play attention to the elevator music, we really don't. That's stuff that they say. We just simply stay focused on what it is that we're doing and that's how we prepare and ultimately how we play. We understand that we're going to be judged in forms or fashions based on our performance. But it's just that - it's based on our performance so we stay focused on our performance.   

Q: You touched on the Patriots defense earlier. They give you multiple looks up front. Can you talk about the challenge that presents?  

MT: You have to be prepared to block not only multiple looks but a variety of people and different body types. They have an impressive cast of men up front in their defensive line group and it poses big challenges for us, individually and collectively.  

Q: How different does the challenge become against this Patriots defense as opposed to Patriots defenses you've seen in the past because of that dynamic we were just talking about?  

MT: I don't know if I've thought about it to that point yet in terms of comparing it to defenses in the past. Really at this point, I'm just focused on what we're looking at here on tape in 2011.  

Q: Do they any different in 2011 than you've seen in the past?  

MT: In some ways but in some ways they're very similar. I think that's typical when you're talking about units or even teams for that matter where a lot of the major pieces and so forth are still in place.  

Q: What is it about Rob Gronkowski that is so tough for teams to defend?  

MT: I think it starts first with his stature and then I think he's got great flexibility and athleticism for a big man. That allows him to get downfield and also allows him to have the body control necessary to make some impressive challenged catches.

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