Steelers Postgame Quotes (Week Four)

Head Coach Mike Tomlin

Opening Statement: We’re disappointed, but what transpired is not anything mystical. That’s what we talked about as a collective in there. No disrespect to the Jets. They made plays and won the football game. But it’s not about who we play.

It’s not about rabbits foots and so forth. We’ve got to play better. We’ve got to put them in better position. We’ve got to perform better. And I’m talking about the collection of players and coaches in there.

It’s very tangible and fundamental things. I thought we were highly penalized particularly in the first half. I thought it killed some drives.

Obviously we’ve got to possess the ball better. We’ve got to get necessary stops when we need them. We’ve just got to do a better job than we did today.

It’s not broad, sweeping things, but it’s never broad, sweeping things in the NFL, man. It’s a fine line in this business between winning and losing.

And so acknowledging that, we have to absorb the negativity with our current position men and roll our sleeves up and remain resolute and keep working. We intend to do that.

From an injury standpoint, Edmonds in concussion protocol. Cam Heyward had an ankle and elbow. Cam Sutton has a hamstring. Minkah’s knee is being evaluated. Don’t have a lot of information there. I’m sure I’ll be able to update you guys the next time we come together.

What went into the decision to put Kenny in?

We just thought we needed a spark. We didn’t do much in the first half, not enough offensively. And thought he could provide a spark for us.

Do you expect that decision to stick into next week?

You know, I’m not going to talk extended as we sit here. We did what we needed to do to put ourselves in position to win this game. We’ll do it again. But I like to just keep it where we are in terms of what transpired here today. We’ll deal with next week, next week.

How would you evaluate Kenny’s performance?

I thought he did some good things. I thought there was some energy there. We scored some touchdowns. But obviously we also turned the ball over.

Defense had them pretty bottled up until the last couple of drives. What changed?

You know, some attrition things, fatigue, et cetera. But also execution by the Jets. And that’s what I mean in my opening when I said I’d be remiss if I didn’t compliment those guys. They made the necessary plays.

We had some penalties on possession-down-like plays. They did enough to keep drives extended and move the football and we didn’t.

The throw that went off Freiermuth’s fingers, was he trying to throw it away on that, trying to squeeze it in?

I didn’t get a chance to have conversations with the parties involved there. Talking about the late? I didn’t have conversations. I was managing the defensive unit which was facing a sudden change.

Kenny Pickett

(Indiscernible) got a lot of stuff to unpack there with a short period of time. What are the emotions?

Just disappointed. Wanted to come in and get the win. So that’s really just the emotions. Just disappointed we didn’t come out with the outcome we worked so hard for. Definitely something we need to learn from and move on.

Jaylen Warren, (indiscernible) for the pitch. Thought he might have been a little deep on it. Was that the case or —

No, no, Jaylen’s fine. I’ve got to get him the ball. I think I got stepped on a little bit. I’ve got to look at my footwork and see what happened. But the pitch has to be out front and definitely a lot more catchable. That’s on me.

Kenny, were you trying to throw the last one away on the sideline?

Yeah, I wanted it higher than that, definitely. Either Pat was going to get it or it was going to be out of bounds. I didn’t put it high enough. I cannot throw an interception there in that point of the game. Obviously we were moving the ball well.

Want to be aggressive but at the same time the clock was our friend there and I wanted to possess the ball and not do that and give them good field position. So I can’t do that mistake.

The result is what mattered but being out there, getting those couple of touchdowns, take us through the emotions when you scored those.

I know, guys, a lot of emotions, but the only thing I’m thinking about is winning out there. I was kind of staying in tune with the game and what we needed to do to come out with the win and that didn’t happen. So it’s something I definitely need to learn from quickly and get a fix for whenever my next opportunity may come.

Any inclination that you possibly could go into this game or things —

No, I was never told that. Just Coach came in at halftime and said I was going. So just kind of put all the preparation and prepare like the starter. I spent a lot of time at the facility to get ready. I felt pretty good while I was in there.

What’s your preparation been like these last couple of weeks?

Like I’m a starter minus the reps. You don’t get a lot of reps, but that’s why I have to be tuned in really mentally, go through every single read that Mitch was getting in practice, in game, watch the film as if I’m the one playing so I could be prepared if my opportunity did come, which it did today. Definitely a great learning process that I was being able to be a part of to help prepare me for today.

You know the fans have been behind you since draft day, but still to hear their reaction, what did you think of that?

It was great. The fans are passionate. They want to win and no one wants to win more than us. We put a lot of work in. We have to come out with a win there. Something that we need to learn from, like I said, quickly, and get back on track.

The reaction for you personally, the reaction to you personally when you went in?

Like I said, it’s great. I really appreciate all the support. But, like I said, I’ve got to go play a game. Definitely I didn’t spend too much time on it. I thought that we picked it up in the second half there and had the ball moving but the turnovers killed us. And that’s on me. I’ve got to get that right quickly.

What have you been told and what do you expect for next week?

Haven’t been told anything. We just lost. Didn’t have a chance to talk to anyone.

Mike Tomlin said he made the switch to you because he wanted to give the team a spark. Did you feel you gave them a spark and could you sense that?

I just play with an edge. That’s something that I wanted to bring to the table. I do not like to lose. This is not a good feeling. I don’t want it to be a familiar feeling so I definitely want to get back out there and get a victory, get us back on track.

So I think a little bit of an edge to me. I want that to rub off on everybody. I want us to be have an attitude when it’s out there on the field. I’m excited to get back to work get us back on track.

You didn’t get a lot of reps with Pickens in the preseason. What do you feel about the chemistry on the field?

Any rep I can steal with George, I try to get one on the side, or Diontae. Any of the guys. The ones I really never got a chance to do a lot with, anything I could I would try to steal on the side. Or the couple of reps I got today, I really want to take advantage of those and treat those like game reps so when the time came I would be ready. I think all that definitely paid off with some of the timing stuff we were doing.

Obviously Mitch was disappointed for the switch to happen, but what was the dynamic like with him on the sideline in the second half?

It was great. Communication was great. Just trying to help me out, just the way I was helping him out. He’s a great guy. And definitely glad that he’s on our team and I have him as a teammate.

Do you feel like the whole offense was on the table, the whole game plan when you came in, available?

I told Coach I was prepared. I knew every call in the plan. I told him, don’t change up just because I’m in there. Let’s let it rip and see what happens. I was prepared.

Definitely didn’t want to handcuff us in any situation. I wanted Coach to call the game. He called a great game. Like I said, the plays were there. We made plays, but the turnovers killed us. It’s definitely on me and I have to improve.

The first ball (indiscernible), how did you feel about the first ball to Claypool?

Listen, I told those guys, if they’re one-on-one, I’m going to give them a chance. We all feel really good about that receiver room and how talented every guy in there is. Chase on the safety, I’m going to take that and give him a chance.

The ball — sometimes the ball doesn’t bounce your way. That time it didn’t. I get that. But he said he’s going to go get it. I told him I’m going to throw him more passes. I’m not gun shy to throw down the field to him at all. Definitely want to work the continuity as soon as possible.

There was a play where I think you approached the line but you were talking to the guys and you hit Pickens on the left sideline in the third quarter. Was that a hot route or full audible? What was that?

No, I just wanted to get the protection right so I had time to get it off. I knew where I wanted it to go. I knew I had George one-on-one. I wanted to slot the line left. I would drift a little bit. Jaylen would come across and pick up on the (indiscernible) scrimmage. I knew I had enough time to get it off. It’s a fade, three step, I’ll get it up and down. Definitely a good play that got us in the position we wanted to be, but didn’t — the outcome wasn’t what we wanted.

The pass down the middle to Freiermuth, when the big guy was in your face, talk about that play.

Listen, third down. 88 does a great job. It was a little similar to the Jacksonville play, I felt like, in preseason. Trusted him he was going to be where he was, and he ran a great route. I wanted to give him a chance. And our line did a great job, I thought, all day. That group has improved tremendously.

I think they’re definitely the strength of our offense right now and we’re kind of taking their lead.

How tough is it to stand in there when that guy’s bearing down on you?

It’s not tough. It’s in the job description. It is what it is. I’m a quarterback. That’s in my job. So I told those guys, I’ll stand in there, I don’t really care. I know they’ll get it right. My job is to stand in there and make those.

Zero coverage on the sideline ball to Pickens, the last possession, I think it was third down, one-on-one down the left side line?

The one we talked about earlier where I changed the protection?

I didn’t think you changed it there, but —

I knew I was getting pressure. I thought it was one high. I have to look at it again. I felt it was one high. They were bringing a lot of pressure. Had press in the slot. I left George in that one-on-one situation. So I just wanted to give him an opportunity.

Two rushing touchdowns, picked up the big first down on the scramble. How do you feel you’re confident in your ability to affect the game running the ball at this level?

Yeah, I am. Obviously I’m not going to rip off 60-yard runs, but that’s something I think that if they’ll drop underneath a lot of things, give me some running lanes I can use my legs and get first downs. In the red zone it adds another element.

That was a play we had dialed up, I think more towards the middle of the field. But we asked about, when we get down there again, what kind of plays I like. I put that one up first because I could either throw it to Pat or take off running. Three-way. Or give it to Naj. Plenty of options. I like to have options down there and definitely use my athleticism as one of them.

What do you think you’re able to prove to your teammates, and how important is it to get that first opportunity kind of behind you here?

Like I said, I wanted to win more than anything. So I don’t know what I proved to anybody. But we didn’t win. That’s one thing we didn’t do. That’s my only focus.

Cameron Heyward

(Indiscernible) said you’re a little banged up there.

Mentally or physically?

Start with physically?

Physically, you know, you get some bumps and bruises that come with the job. Just the way it is. Won’t make an excuse for it. I was able to come back from it. But, yeah, took some hits.

Kenny’s debut, the crowd was rocking. Just can you put into words letting that one slip away, how disappointing that is?

14 points in the fourth, offense did enough. As a defense, we didn’t get off the field enough especially in the second half. And that’s going to haunt me.

Just being — we have to work together on defense. If we hit home up front we’ve got to make sure we’re good on the back end. When the back end holds up and buys us extra time, we’ve got to finish those plays.

Not enough coordination through the entire defense. And not enough attention to detail. Like, I know that’s easy to say, but it comes down to that. The little things. And fitting in your gaps. Understanding if we push it up field and we string it out, we all have to get to the ball.

Understanding angles. I don’t think we did — I think we did an okay job in the run game, but too much of that. And I think first down was critical for us in the first half because when we were able to win on first down, it kind of set us up for second and third. It didn’t allow them to just get to second-and-5 because when you got to second-and-5, your whole playbook opens up.

I think that really put us in a tough spot, and when we did dominate that first down play, it really set them back. And then it came down to third downs in the fourth quarter and we just didn’t get off the field.

You like to think third down, you’re money down, your attention picks up to detail. Understanding what type of rushes you’re doing. Sometimes they would go to different fronts to buy extra time in the max pro look, and we didn’t clean that up as a front. We didn’t hit home enough. And then when we did hit home, we didn’t clean up on the back end.

It’s a cycle where we all have to work together. If one guy wants to eat, he better depend on the other 10 to eat. And the other 10 have to do their job. We all have to be accountable to make these plays and be a good defense.

What needs to change so that those fourth quarter letdowns, though details are still there later in the game?

We have to be accountable for it. I think you’ve got to look at the film. I’m not going to sit up here and say it’s one guy or this guy. But I think all of us have to be better.

And whether it’s using your hands and getting off blocks, it’s easy to say the defense is (indiscernible) front but we’re all accountable, whether it’s run our pass, making sure we do our jobs.

Do you have any clarity with Kenny in the game now in terms of this team moving forward, not that anything was mentioned today, in terms of you guys don’t have to worry about answering the questions or worrying about the quarterback?

I don’t know, man. I was not even feeling about it. I was getting an MRI at half — I was getting an X-ray at half. I don’t know what transpired. But I feel comfortable with either of those guys.

We are trying to win a game, and we haven’t won a game in, what, four weeks, or three weeks. We have to do a better job on defense. But offense gives you seven points, so be it.

As a defense you have to be held accountable. Even on the trick play, like, we didn’t contain well enough, and then we were wondering why the quarterback scored on that play.

Everybody’s not being accountable for our positions. That’s just one play, but we all have to own up to that. The defense has to be a lot better. And I take that personally.

What you were saying with your previous answer, they were going to some different fronts to max protect it. Is that change that happened at halftime?

No, no, that’s something that we get every game. And they’re buying extra time for their receivers. We have to hit home. Zach Wilson is a pretty good quarterback who is going to buy some extra time. And we didn’t finish enough of our rushes. That’s something that you have to continue to improve.

You keep your tight end and your running back and they’re hitting on the outsides, Alex and Malik and all of our outside players, they get bumped down, but we have things to accomplish to work through that and we have to be better because of that.

In a general sense, (indiscernible) your team is now 1-3 going into a really tough situation in Buffalo, tough schedule, needless to say. What’s the mental state of the team, what’s the countenance?

I’m absorbing this loss now. I don’t worry what happened in the past, what’s in the future, I’m just focused on the game that we just played.

You tip your cap to them. They got the job done. They went on the road and won a game. But we will address it tomorrow. Like there’s a lot of football to be played. You can’t run from it. You’ve got to grow from it. You’ve got to continue to just keep looking in the mirror.

How can we better? How can I be better? How can I get off blocks faster? How can I be more of a force in the run game? What is it going to take for to us get over the hump?

I think all of us have to be concerned with winning the game. Doesn’t matter what the stats look like. Doesn’t matter who’s our quarterback, who’s not. We want to win a game as Pittsburgh Steelers.

The details you’re talking about, are these similar things that cropped up in the last two weeks?

Yeah, you know, they’re showing their ugly head every single game. Even when we win, there are plays to be made and little things we can do to make those plays. We have to clean it up and grow from that. If you make mistakes, I’m not saying like anybody’s perfect. But we have to grow from those mistakes. We can’t keep making those mistakes over and over again. When we do that, we set ourselves back.

You played with a lot of different pass rushers over your time with the Steelers. How much of what you guys are struggling with to get home is about timing and chemistry that you can see bumping up if you guys just keep working at it?

I think we’re doing some things right. But it all has to be cohesive. You know, whether it’s understanding if you have contain or letting a guy know you want to run a gain. Those are things that we have to pick up front.

I’m fine saying that my group has to be better. I put a lot of pressure and a lot of pride in what we do up front. But that comes with communication. That comes with being comfortable with what you’re doing — and working together in tandem.

It can’t just be one guy being a cowboy. It can’t just be two guys getting a call and the other guy’s not. It all works hand in hand. And we all have to be responsible for that.

I look at myself. How can I communicate better with the guy next to me or the guy on the side of me? Because we have to be responsible, whether he’s getting out of the pocket. Sometimes when it’s quick passing you want to get your hands up you can’t get pressure every single time.

It’s a multitude of things. It’s about working together up front and we have to continue to pick that up.

I realize you might be more focused on defense, but when you look at Kenny Pickett, there’s a lot more that goes into being a quarterback than just throwing a football. There’s leadership and the intangible aspects. What stood out to you today in terms of the way that Kenny carried himself after he got the call?

I think I was way too in tune with the defense. You know, the quarterback position takes a lot of — everybody looks at the quarterback position. And good or bad or indifferent, there’s always going to be a spotlight at the quarterback position.

And I think both quarterbacks can handle themselves. In some instances the run game was good. We were able to run the ball a little bit better. But we all have to be better. I think everybody can look at it and say 1 through 53, we all have to be better.

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