Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger talked to the media before practice on Wednesday about the offense, Todd Haley and the game against the Chiefs on Monday night.
How easy it to avoid the proverbial ‘trap game’?
I just got asked that same question from the Kansas City media. They asked kind of the same things about the records and all of that. I’m excited to come home and play in front of our home fans and I want to put on a show for them. I don’t see that happening. We can’t let down. But just to come home and play in front of our home fans, it feels like forever since we’ve been here.
Why was last year’s game against the Chiefs so close?
It’s a hard place to play. They’re a good team. I don’t remember a lot of the game but I just know going there is never easy.
If Antonio Brown cannot play Monday, what does the wide receivers rotation look like?
We obviously have to wait and see what’s going on but I think we’d leave Emmanuel [Sanders] at his spot and move Jerricho [Cotchery] to Antonio’s spot. It’s a great thing to have those receivers. We’ve always said it’s the next man up and there’s no doubt in my mind we’ll have someone step up and be ready to go.
How do you explain the success of this team on Monday night’s at home?
I don’t know. The crowd is always great no matter when you play but when it’s a primetime game it seems to have a little bit more energy which gets us going a little bit more.
Re: Avoiding a letdown game:
I hate that, the whole letdown game-type thing because everyone knows that any week in this league, any team is good and any team can be bad and anybody can win. We just have to go out and approach it like we need to play Steelers football. It doesn’t matter who we play, we need to go play Steelers football. That’s the kind of approach we’re going to have this week as well.
How much can the diversity of the offense from the Oakland game to last week’s game can be attributed to offensive coordinator Todd Haley?
He’s our coordinator. He’s calling the plays. We just do whatever we feel we have to do to win the game, run the ball, pass the ball, throw deep or throw short. We take in pride in being able to be diverse.
Did you start the season with a lot of plays and the playbook has since been scaled back now that Haley has a better feel for who can do what?
Possibly. We did get to a point this year where we felt like we were getting a little bit out of control with not being simplified with whatever we thought our best personnel packages were. We felt like we’ve got to the point where we felt like we know what our best personnel group is and we just design plays out of those groups.
How many running plays have you gotten rid of in the past few weeks?
I don’t think it’s getting rid of stuff as much as it is adding things every week. Instead of having, this is just a number, 50 runs, we said let’s just do 25 that we know well and do them well. We did the same thing in the pass game with formations and motions and everything else.
Being able to successfully run fewer plays means the defense has more of an idea of what’s coming. So, you have to execute the plays better in order to be successful, right?
Correct. That’s the approach that you have to have. That’s why I think we were okay doing it because we felt like we could still mix it up enough, still have combination routes and run plays at the same time so if the run doesn’t look good we can get into a pass or visa-versa.
What do you attribute to the fact that your sack totals are much lower this year?
A little bit of a couple things. I think the line has been playing great. They’re doing a great job. I think the offense just calling short pass plays and you could in turn say that I’m getting the ball out of my hands. But guys are getting open in shorter routes because that’s what we’re doing and we’re not taking quite as many shots deep down the field. It’s a combination of all those things.
How much of an adjustment has it been not taking as many shots deep down the field?
We’ve always felt we’ve got deep play guys but as we saw the other night, we can also get it to them quick and let them go the distance. We just try to have a happy medium. When do we take our shots? We still have to have those plays because we’ve got guys that can stretch the field. But we also have guys that we feel we can get them catches short and let them run long. That’s the approach that we have to be able to take as well. Whatever works, as long as we get in the endzone, it doesn’t matter how we get there.
Do you get the sense that this is an important game for Haley?
[Laughs] A little bit. He hasn’t come out and said anything like “Let’s go get ‘em” or anything. But you always have that feeling. It’s the same thing when we play the Jets for Jerricho Cotchery or anybody that comes to this team from another team. You as a team want to get that win for those guys, like when we went to the Super Bowl and had Flozell [Adams]. Just things like that, you want to do it for those guys.
Why have you been able to run the ball when teams know you’re going to run, and pass the ball when teams know you’re going to pass?
I don’t know. Obviously, early on in the year we weren’t super successful running the ball but we felt that we still got the runs when we needed to but “the numbers weren’t pretty.” It’s just the will of the guys. Late in games, when we need to run the ball, the line loves it because they love just burying those defensive linemen and it’s demoralizing for defenses. It’s just wanting to get it done I guess.