Re: Relationship with offensive coordinator Todd Haley and where you guys are as you head into the final two games:
I came in and I apologized to Todd, I apologized to Mike [Tomlin] and I apologized to Mr. Rooney because I let my frustrations jump out after a game. I don’t usually do that. Usually, I keep it under control. I was just frustrated with myself and I’ll be better at that.
Can those frustrations come from knowing how good this offense could potentially be?
It can come from just wanting to win, truthfully. It comes from just wanting to do anything to win football games, knowing the potential we have and the players we have. It was just a lot of frustration and I shouldn’t have [said that]. That’s my fault.
Re: Apologizing because you said things that could or should be handled in private:
Yeah, just apologizing for the storm that it created and caused. We do have a lot of talks behind closed doors about things, about plays, play calling, if I’m doing something that’s not right on the field, we have talks about everything. Coach Tomlin and I meet every Monday to talk about the game and what goes on. Just the frustration after a loss and especially feeling like it was my fault, just things blew up.
Re: Not apologizing for wanting to run the no-huddle more:
[Laughs] Like I said, I just want to win the game. However we can win football games and win championships, that’s what I want to do, and that’s number one on my priority list.
Re: Performance of the offense:
I feel like we’re doing pretty well with a lot of injuries. We have a lot of moving parts. The line has done a great job of filling in. Obviously, we want to be more successful, we want to score more points and we want to win games. In that sense, I feel like we need to be better as a unit.
Is this team just a few crucial mistakes away from being a really good football team when you look at the record?
I hope so. We’ve had injuries but we don’t make excuses. I haven’t made plays. We haven’t made plays when we’ve needed to and we’ve been close but it’s been close but no cigar at times.
Re: You and Haley seeing eye-to-eye:
There are obviously times that we don’t but we get that ironed out. I’m sure it’s that way with every position player and their coach. There are going to be times when you just don’t see eye-to-eye. There are times when I don’t see eye-to-eye with Coach Tomlin. But that doesn’t mean anything, I don’t think. I’m sure a lot of you don’t see eye-to-eye with your bosses at times. But it’s nothing that is a big deal. You work it out, you talk about it and you get it figured out.
Is this team where it needs to be mentally going into a critical game?
Mentally, I believe we are. I believe we’re ready to go. We understand the importance of what’s ahead of us and understand the importance of this week in particular.
Re: Needing to get the running game going like it was a few weeks ago:
[Cincinnati] is a very good run defense, maybe tops in the league. It’s going to be a big challenge for us but we’re going to come out, try to establish the run and be balanced because that’s what we’ve always said we need to be.
You and the Bengals are similar teams in similar situations but the Steelers have more experience with these types of situations. Can you use that to your advantage?
I hope so. I think that a lot of the guys in this locker room have “been there before.” They understand that this is a playoff game for us. It’s a playoff game for them. Does that mean the outcome is going to be in our favor just because of that? No. But I think that it does help us, especially being at home. I’m sure the fans are going to come out and be rowdy and excited and treat it as a playoff game. That’s what we hope and expect from them because we’re going to give our all as if it is a playoff game.
Re: Wanting to get back on the field and fix what happened against the Cowboys:
Yeah, but unfortunately you can’t take it back so you just have to move on and get ready for this week. You have to do the best you can to not make the same mistake and not let your team down.
Does that put you more on edge for this week?
No, I’ve been doing this long enough. I know how to put things behind me, move on, let it motivate you and try to bring out the best.
Have defenses been more effective at disrupting the timing on short passes?
They’re definitely keeping an eye on a lot of our short passes, the quick game, as we call it, because we’ve done a lot of it. That’s how we started the year and we’ve been pretty successful at doing that stuff. They have sat on a lot of short routes, which means we need to take advantage of that, double-move and push the depth a little more.
Is there anything you can do to help the wide receivers win at the line of scrimmage?
No, not really. That’s pretty much what you’ve got to win.
Were there plays you could have gone to TE Heath Miller in the second half, and did the play calling change in the second half?
There’s always options. Any time you have a pass play you have multiple options. We usually don’t just send one guy out. There’s probably opportunities that anybody can get the ball, whether they’re open, whether they’re covered, whether I don’t see them, there are always things that are like that. There were probably times that I didn’t see Heath in the second half that he was open, as with Mike [Wallace], Antonio [Brown], Emmanuel [Sanders] and anybody else that was out there.
Is Miller a guy that comes back to the huddle and lets you know about it when he’s open and does not get the ball?
No. I’ve always said that Heath is one of the most selfless teammates I’ve ever played with. I’ll ask Heath if he was open and he’ll tell me no. I’ll look at film and he was wide open. That just speaks volumes for him that he’d tell me the truth if he was open or wasn’t. That way I know if I need to come back to him.
Can RB Rashard Mendenhall still make an impact for this team?
He’s a pretty darn good football player. If he can help this team win football games, we’ll take it.
Re: The touchdown to Miller when you said the play that was called wasn’t the right one:
What I said was they called a prevent defense and the play we had called was not a good play call. The play was called before we saw the defense. They just came out in a defense that had us thumped. There was nothing we could do. We just improvised and made a play. It had nothing to do with seeing a defense and calling a bad play. It was just that the play that was called, they ran the perfect defense for it. We improvised and Heath made a play.
Could you have changed the play?
No, they ended up dropping eight guys. A couple guys ran out and we were just kind of stuck.
What has gotten results for you in games like the one coming up on Sunday?
Obviously, you try not to turn the ball over, number one. But just understand the importance, getting the young guys to understand the importance and limiting your mistakes.
How do you get the young guys to understand?
You hope that they just see it in you. You hope they see the intensity in your eyes and the importance of the game from you and ride off that wave. If they don’t and we’re pregame and I’m seeing that someone is not quite focused, I’ll go say something to them just to let them know the importance of every play in this game.
How much say do you have in the game plan? Do they tailor it around what you like?
Ever since I’ve got here, the coordinators do that. They go through game plans and you can mark off plays you don’t like. For the most part, those plays are out. If a coordinator really loves the play, it’s probably going to stay in, which has been that way with [Ken Whisenhunt], [Bruce Arians], and I’m sure it’s that way with any coordinator. They’re coordinators for a reason. They know offenses and they call the play. If they like it and it’s good we’re going to make it work.
Do you think you have a future as a coordinator some day?
I don’t want to do it. [Laughs]
Has much changed with the Cincinnati defense since you last played?
A little bit. Not a lot but it seems like they have little more continuity. Their guys are getting used to each other and they’re playing very well.