What is it like to be on a team in the driver's seat in their division, and play behind some of the…
Bill Cowher Press Conference
To reflect back a bit on the game in Baltimore, it was a tough loss. Certainly we had our opportunities and did not play well offensively. I thought we did a lot of good things on defense and I thought our special teams were absolutely subpar. You lose two of the three phases and it put us in the situation we were in. STill, saying that, we had our opportunities on the last possession with the ball at midfield and first-and-10, and also on the first possession of overtime with the ball at midfield on first-and-10. On both of those occasions we were forced to punt. At the end of the game we just weren't able to finish those drives and consequently we weren't able to finish the game. We sit here right now at 7-3 with a six-game season, basically. We're tied with Cincinnati. Obviously we face a big challenge Monday night facing the best team in football. I can just say that by looking at them the last couple of days, I can see why they're 10-0. They don't have a whole lot of holes in them. They're a complete team, a balanced team and they haven't been in a lot of close games. Their scores have been low on some occasions, but these guys are playing at a very high level and it will be a big challenge for us.
Did Cincinnati try to outscore them (Duh)?
BC: We try to outscore all of our opponents every Sunday.
They got into a shootout.
BC: That's how the game unfolded. What do you try to do, slow down the scoring? You can try to possess the ball, but when you have opportunities to score you score. It's hard to say. They hit some big plays, but Indianapolis scored every time they got the ball. They're good. You watch them and the one thing that you see. They're the No. 1 team in third downs. We're improved up to 29th. We're making strides. You look on paper and say it's not a good matchup, but with their offense, they do a great job of keeping drives alive. You watch that game last week, there were a number of third and nines, third and 10s that they converted in the first couple of drives. It can get demoralizing for a defense. And you keep giving them snaps and with the playmakers they have a defense will eventually break down and they make a big play.
BC: He has seen a lot. It's a case of trying to not give him too much time to gather the information. He's going to gather it once the ball is snapped. They're an offense that's going to give you a lot of different formations. They don't have a lot of movement. He's waiting for you to show your hand and so it will be a case of showing the hand after the snap. If you show it too early, he's processing if you give him too much time. He's still processing it once the ball is snapped as well. He does that as well as anyone in the league. But you have to try to create some indecision in a shorter period of time. I think that will be a key for us. Disguise will be a part of it and not getting caught up with falling into a pattern and being non-predictable. And we have to be patient. They're going to move the football. You have to try to limit the big plays that they get and be a little patient and recognize that they move the ball on everybody. We have to recognize when we have that chance on third down, you have to get off the field.
His pre-snap adjustments?
BC: That's him doing his thing and that's not going to concern us. We have to make sure we're all on the same page. A lot of what they do is based on the no-huddle. We have to make sure we're communicating things on the defensive side as well. I'm not so much worried about what he's doing as I am making sure we understand what we do and execute our defense.
Is their scheme significantly different from any other in the league or is it the players?
BC: A little bit of both. Certainly a lot of people run no-huddle offenses. I go back to Buffalo when they had Jim Kelly. A little bit of that concept is there with what they do. But you go play Kansas City and you'll never see the same formation twice in a game. They have 128 plays on a wristband. This football will repeat plays. When you look at the formations, there's not a lot. But they do execute what they do very well. When you look at what they have, there's no weakness in what they have. They put (Brandon) Stokely out there and (Reggie) Wayne and (Marvin) Harrison out there, they can all make plays. Add Dallas Clark, who's a playmaker at tight end, and add Edgerrin James in the backfield. What do you want to do? Take away the run. Take away the outside. Take away the middle because Clark can beat you. They're a very balanced football team with a quarterback who understands when the ball is snapped where the weakness in a defense is. Every defense you have, there is a void in there somewhere. He finds it. The thing we've got to do is make that ability for him to process that a shorter period of time. And try to confuse him a little bit. You're not going to confuse him for a long period a time, but maybe just long enough to disrupt their passing game and still be aware of what they can do in the running game.
Do they run different routes or different combinations?
BC: Oh yeah. Every offense is unique. They have routes that compliment other routes. And there are repeated plays. Everything they have is a compliment to what they're doing. You can just take away one element of it. They execute very well. They've got a line that does a good job. The center is excellent probably communicating that with Peyton. Their backs can block. They'll keep people in if they sense you're going to blitz them. They'll max-protect and now you're caught having to cover Harrison, Stokely and Reggie Wayne one-on-one. He's an accurate thrower. It's kind of a guessing game you get caught up in and you have to minimize the big plays.
How is Ben's range of motion and how confident are you he'll be able to go Monday night?
BC: I'm 75 percent condfident he'll be ready to go. He's probable and seems ready to go.
Will he practice?
BC: We'll see tomorrow in practice.
You had success a couple of years ago making him move in the pocket.
BC: Yeah a little bit. That's three years removed. They're a little different football team than they were then. We'll have to see how they play it. They may play with two tight ends and two receivers or they may go one tight end and three receivers. We have to try to match personnel groupings throughout the series. They have that little fast huddle they do and they can catch you with 12 guys on the field. They've done that to teams as well. They're a little different than they were three years ago and that much more evolved.
Ravens stopping the run and bringing pressure?
BC: We had our opporuntities and we were on edge a lot with our protection. At times we picked it up and we weren't able to hit the big plays. Even when a team puts pressure on you you've got to be able to hit some big plays to deter that and we weren't able to do that. We were on edge in our protection and other times when we picked it up we weren't able to hit the big plays. A guy here a guy there, a play here a play there. We had opportunities, we just weren't able to do it.
With Ben back do you expect defenses to back off a little bit?
BC: That's hard to say. I think this defenses, taking a look at Indianapolis, will do what they do. They're pretty good. Their defensive line is very active. The ends, (Robert) Mathis and (Dwight) Freeney are very fast, particularly when they play in the dome with the noise. We've got to be aware of that. Getting Corey Simon and Montae Reagor and (Larry) Tripplett inside, those three guys rotate. The linebackers can run (Gary) Brackett, (David) Thornton and (Cato) June, they're all good athletes. The two safeties show up. They are very active in the running game. (Bob) Sanders and (Mike) Doss they have a little bit of presence on the field. They're going to do what they do. I don't see them deviating from that. They haven't deviated for anybody else. When you're 10-0, you're not going to deviate from what you do.
Did Trai Essex settle down as the game went on?
BC: He did some good things. But like any young guy when you throw him into that kind of situation with the noise, I thought he was fine. Certainly he left room for improvement and as I told him, I think he can play better. But I think he will. It was a tough place to start, but not a bad indoctrination because that's the National Football League.
Coach, is this a role this team will relish this week?
BC: If you can't get excited about a game like this, why are you in this business? I look at our football team after 10 games and we've lost three football games all on the last play of the game. We've lost three games on the last play. We hopefully are now starting to get some people back. We have an opportunity to go into a place and play a team that is undefeated and playing at home, which compounds that. But if you're a competitor and you want to have an opportunity to play the best, you're looking forward to it. And we're looking forward to it. It is a big-time challenge. They are a good football team, sound in every element of the game. But it's what you play this game to do, get an opportunity to measure yourself against the best.
You threw a lot more last week than you normally do. Was that based on what Baltimore was giving you?
BC: Yeah a little bit. We tried to make some plays and thought we had an opportunity to make some plays. A lot of it is predicated on what a defense is trying to do and what we think we can exploit.
Do you go into a game with a score in mind that you'll need to win and is it more this week?
BC: Just one more than them. Who knows? These guys, to their credit, early in the season they won some low-scoring games. Obviously the last couple of weeks they've gotten into shootouts and won those games. They've shown the ability to win any type. I don't know how this game is going to be. I hope it turns into one of those ugly football games that we seem to play. If it becomes ugly, that's a good thing for us. We need to go in there and play our game and try to sieze the opportunity. We're going to go in there and give it our best shot. If it's good enough, so be it. If not, we'll come back and rally the troops and live to fight another day. I think it's one of those atmospheres and one of those forums where you get to go in and measure yourself against the best.
Do have the kind of offense to get into a shootout with these guys?
BC: I don't know. We'll find out. Hopefully we'll be able to keep the game close and get it down to where it's a play here or a play there, that's the most important thing in my mind, to keep this game within striking distance. If we can do that and not beat ourselves and not give up some of the big plays, make them do things methodically and slowly, the longer we can keep this thing going into the fourth quarter, then it becomes a play here or a play there. That's what you're asking for, to be within a play that can impact the game. It's kind of been our MO all year. It's going to be a challenge because these guys are pretty good.
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