HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK
September 16, 2022
BB: Morning. How are we looking this morning? Good, good. Ready to go to Pitt.
Q: When Mac isn't at a practice like yesterday, do you change things around much today that you would've done yesterday?
BB: Yeah, there's things that he would need, sure. But, we've got to get everyone else ready, too.
Q: Think he'll be out there today?
BB: We'll see.
Q: How does it flow when Brian [Hoyer] is there? How valuable is it to have him?
BB: He and [Bailey] Zappe, both, take their reps and it's a good opportunity for them.
Q: Watching Cam Heyward on that first play of their game last week, pretty disruptive?
BB: He's got a bunch of them.
Q: Thinking about it, when he came out in 2011, obviously you scout everyone, but did you have any story about him or connection with him scouting him coming up?
BB: No. He's been a hard guy to play against. He's a good player. Especially with him and [Stephon] Tuitt in there. Good front.
Q: Bill, Joe [Judge] mentioned something earlier in the week when we had a chance to talk to him about how Mac kind of goes above and beyond in some different ways playing the position, and one of the things he mentioned was, in the Week One game, he ended up throwing a couple of blocks on blitzers kind of coming down on the backside. Is that something that's coached or is that something that he kind of takes into his own hands in those situations?
BB: Some things like that are just instinctive plays. We talk about all those things, sometimes after the fact, depending on how unusual it is that they would come up. But, yeah, we talk about them.
Q: Is that something that you want him doing? It seems like he might be putting himself in harms way in a situation like that.
BB: I mean it's the same conversation we had last year in the Jets game, right?
Q: I don't remember, my memory's not great.
BB: He ran like 30 yards and pushed Damien [Harris] into the endzone. Should he have done it? Shouldn't he have done it? It's the same. Again, there's a competitive play out there that every player has, sometimes it's not really part of the normal play or assignment. I mean, we're not looking for him to be an elite blocker on plays. That's not really his primary role. But I think everybody respects his competitiveness and his toughness, like a lot of the other players that do things that are sometimes beyond maybe their normal assignment would appear to be.
Q: What have you learned about Mac in terms of his mental toughness?
BB: He did it as a rookie. I think that's it right there.
Q: Bill, it seems recently when you have gone down out to Pittsburgh, the games have been later in the year, I'm just curious, and maybe the field is a little bit more beat up because they play all the college and high school games and so forth on that field. The conditions of Heinz Field [Acrisure Stadium], kicking in that environment and playing on that surface, what things make it unique from other settings?
BB: I mean, there's a few things. Every stadium has it's own wind patterns and unique aspects. They have theirs. Fortunately, we have a very experienced kicker who's dealt with just about every different situation you could come up with. I'm sure Nick's [Folk] as well prepared to handle it as anybody.
Q: Obviously a lot of memorable matchups against Pittsburgh over the years, any particular one stand out to you when you think about this rivalry over the last 20 or so years?
BB: Sure, but I think at this point, really it's all just, my focus is on this week's game. Trying to get ready. We've got a little over 48 hours and let's really try to crank it up for this one and not worry too much about those other ones. There was some good ones, there was the Halloween game, but all in the past.
Q: Bill, do you consider Pittsburgh an elite defense and if you do, how does it change without T.J. Watt out there this weekend?
BB: They're obviously a good defensive team. They played very well against a very explosive offense in Cincinnati last week, on the road. But, they have their unique structure and their players that have their set of skills and those are the ones we'll match up with. So those are the ones we're dealing with. Last week it was different players in a different scheme and next week it'll be different players in a different scheme. We just take each one as it comes and prepare for that one.
Q: What are the challenges that Chase Claypool presents?
BB: Big, fast, really good hands, big catch radius. He's kind of always open, reminds me a guy like [Rob] Gronkowski, no matter where you are on him, there's a place where he can reach and get the ball that you can't reach and get the ball. I know they use him in a variety of ways, down the field, catch-and-run plays, hand him the ball, plays and things like that. So he's a big physical player. Can block, block the point of attack, run hard at a tackle, down field receiver as well as a short and intermediate receiver. so he can get you in a lot of different ways. Tough matchup.
Q: A number of players mentioned this week they see a common theme throughout the years with the Steelers. Their playing style, hard-nosed, physical, et.c, etc. Do you see those similar through lines going back all the way to Chuck Noll and the 70's? What other through lines do you see that are still...
BB: That's as far back as I go. It's as far back as I go. To Chuck [Noll], to Bill [Cowher], to Mike [Tomlin]. So Chuck [Noll] was the last -- I think I was his last game. It was his last year when I was at Cleveland. Then Bill [Cowher] came in, then Mike [Tomllin] came in. The Steelers have a brand of football, and they've been very consistent in it through the years. I think they deserve a lot of credit as an organization for that type of consistency that they've put out there. Through their head coaches and just their general playing style, regardless of exactly what the scheme was, or who the quarterback was, or so forth. They've had pretty consistent style there. It probably does go back to Coach [Noll]. I don't when did he start, late 60's? 70's? Whatever it was. Definitely there in the 70's. So I forget exactly what year it was, '67? '68? I don't know something like that. So three coaches over how many years is that -- 50. That's a lot. Pretty good. Mike's [Tomlin] done a great job. Fifteen straight winning seasons, that's pretty impressive.
Q: Are they unique in that sense? Obviously different franchises have different brands of their own football and some more continuity or history, but because of the ownership, you mentioned the three coaches, to have that consistency with that particular brand. Are they alone in that sense?
BB: They're one of the best at it. Their style of play has, especially defensively, since Bill Cowher took over it's been pretty consistent. So it's almost like you can look at a college player and say, 'oh he would play there for the Steelers.' Whether that's this year, five years ago, 10 years ago, 20 years ago – he player's skills and how they would use them and this would be a perfect Steeler. He would play at this position for them. So they've had a lot of guys like that. Whether it's the speed at inside linebacker, or from [James] Farrior, to [Lawrence] Timmons, to [Ryan] Shazier to [Devin] Bush, to Jack [Lambert]. Or the edge rushers from Kevin Greene, to [Joe] Gilliam, to [James] Harrison, and all the guys that go down there, to [T.J.] Watt. It's kind of -- they have a lot of good zone safeties, [Troy] Polamalu, [Minkah] Fitzpatrick and guys that kind of play the same position. Not saying they're the same, but similar guys, similar positions, similar styles of play. They've gotten those guys, and they've put them into their system. They know what they're looking for, and they find them. So there's not too many teams that have been at that kind of consistency over that period of time I can think of.
Q: Does that make it a stark contrast with the Pittsburgh defense versus what you saw last week? It feels like Miami's been man-to-man heavy over the years. I don't know if that's true last week but is it a pretty significant change Week One to Week Two here?
BB: Well yeah, they've had a lot of different turn over. Coach [Nick] Saban was there. Multiple offensive coaches, Coach [Joseph] Philibin, Coach [Adam] Gase more recently and all that. So there's been a lot of different offensive coaches, defensive coaches, different coordinators that came in with those coaches that they adjusted their play style to. So I think when you look at a coach like Jimmy Johnson, whether he was at Dallas or Miami, was consistent had he stayed at either one of those places for 20 years or whatever like Coach Chuck Noll did, it probably would've been the same for that same period of time. Then when you saw coaches like Dave [Wannstedt] and Norv [Turner] become head coaches, or take their systems to wherever they took them, San Diego, Washington, Dave [Wannstedt] was in (Chicago), so forth. There was a lot of carry over there, just branched out. Unfortunately, Jimmy [Johnson] just wasn't. So if one person stays there for a long period of time and then they turn it over to somebody else or it turns over to somebody else that follows that same pattern, then yeah, I think you're going to get that. It's just not that usual to see.
Q: What difference in conception do you see from Matt Canada's offense compared to the later part of Ben's [Roethlisberger] career?
BB: Well it's a little bit of a tough one. We've only seen one game. So we'll see how it evolves. I don't know if you can put too much on that one game. Certainly, there were things that stood out in it. There's a lot of matchups. Obviously have a good back, good tight ends, good receivers, a big strong athletic quarterback. But we'll see how they play us. Maybe they'll play us like they played Cincinnati. Maybe they'll play us differently. We'll see. So I think we're going to need a bigger volume to really answer that question. I'd hate to be wrong on it. I don't know. We'll see how it develops. But we'll prepare for the things we prepare for and if we have to adjust during the game, we'll adjust
Q: Earlier this week Jerod Mayo said that he feels like you've evolved to coach the modern NFL player. He said back in the day it was totally different, which may be overstating, may not be. Do you agree with that and if so why do you think it's important?
BB: Yeah, I'll let Jerod [Mayo] comment on that. So I'm not going to evaluate my own performance, or style, or whatever it is. Jerod's been here a long time. He's a pretty smart guy. Whatever his perspective is, it's probably pretty good. I'll leave it at that.