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Coach Whisenhunt's Tuesday Press Conference



I don't have much more to tell you injury-wise other than what we said last night with Blidi (Wreh-Wilson) and with (Marqueston) Huff. We'll see how they progress as the week goes. I think we've got a couple other nicks that I don't anticipate guys not being able to practice. I think we'll know more tomorrow. Obviously, today was a day off for them. There were a few guys in here, but I haven't talked to Todd (Toriscelli) yet.

(on if Delanie Walker will return to practice this week)

I think so. I think he feels that way, too. I don't know. I haven't spoken with him since after the game. Once again, that'll be at the discretion of the doctor.

(on Blidi Wreh-Wilson's back injury and if it could continue to be an issue)

I don't know the technical term for it, but it is something that could potentially do it. It's tight, and it's in the back. It locked up on him last night, but I respect the way that he played. That's one of those things that happens, and he'll continue to work through it.

(on Delanie Walker's concussion tests)

The determination was made Monday that he wasn't ready to go.

(on concussion protocols)

Ultimately, the response to the practice and then meeting with the doctors, that's all part of the protocol. Once they feel like he's cleared all those things, then they'll say he's good to go.

(on signs of team improvement and what he hopes to see this week)

Obviously, this game's about winning games. We had a chance against a good football team last night to do that, and we fell short. It's disappointing, especially with the way our guys are working. We've just got to look at things that we need to do better to give us a chance to win those games. We have a couple of plays in the fourth quarter where if we make them, it can make a difference in the game. What I'm looking for is our guys to continue to work the way that they're working and for us to continue to improve. A win would be something that would be really good for us right now.

(on knowing how to win)

That's something that's talked about with a lot of teams. I think you learn to win when you win. We've had a couple of games this year that have been close, and had we made a play in those games and won them, I think it certainly gives you confidence in those situations. Like last night, we were down 10 to nothing, especially after we throw an interception for a touchdown, and we responded. That's one of the things that you have to go through. Now I believe that our guys feel like they can do that. We get into one of these games where we have a chance to win them, and we win them, that's what you have to do.

(on defending the Steelers' run game)

I think we did a decent job at times in the game. We certainly didn't in the latter part of the game. A lot of that was gap fits. We didn't do a very good job with that in the second half. Some of it was tackling, too. It was not dissimilar to Dallas a little earlier this year. You've got to give those guys credit. They played well and did some good things. We just made some mistakes with our gap fits.

(on how many missed tackles they had in the game)

I couldn't tell you. We didn't have a normal day. We've moved on to Philadelphia, so I don't have those statistics for you.

(on consistent issues with gap fits and stopping the run)

At times we've been pretty good against the run. At times we haven't. That's the way it goes. That's part of learning this defense. We just went against a football team that's pretty good at doing that because they've had a lot of experience with it. We're striving to get better at doing those things. When we do it right, we showed last night for two quarters we could do pretty good against them. We didn't finish it the right way.

(on the impact on the defense's mindset when they aren't able to stop the run)

Our guys have pride. They want to win. They want to be good. That's part of it. I think you look to correct those. There's a number of things. We were close in a lot of areas, close to making plays on balls. It's just one thing here and there that we're not making the plays at the right time. Those are things that we're trying to fight through right now and we're going to continue to work on.

(on the inability to sustain drives in the game)

I don't know how much that is failure to adjust. We're constantly adjusting during the course of the game. Sometimes it really comes down to not making a punt when we have to make a punt, when we've got the wind at our back. Not making a catch on a ball that may not be perfect but you have to make that. Slipping off of a tackle when we have a chance to make it third-and-seven instead of third-and-two, of which your odds of being successful greatly increase. All those things kind of play into that. We haven't had somebody make a play for us in those situations that can get you over the hump.

(on Zach Mettenberger not being sacked and improvements on the offensive line)

I think Zach (Mettenberger) improved in that area. The line got a little better. We didn't have as many pass attempts. That probably contributed into it, as well. I think there was marked improvement from Zach's perspective, getting the ball out quicker. There were a couple of throws in the fourth quarter where he had pressure and he put the ball out there. It wasn't quite as accurate as it could have been, and those are things that he'll continue to get better at. He got better in the pocket last night. It's a little bit of everything.

(on other areas of improvement for Zach Mettenberger)

There's no question he's more comfortable in the offense. He did a nice job with the checks and working the offense, managing that. Obviously, he made some good throws, especially on some of those down-the-field throws. That was nice to see.

(on Zach Mettenberger and Justin Hunter taking ownership for the pick-six)

A little bit of both. That's something, that's one of the things that we have to continue to work with Zach (Mettenberger). He gets a little bit closed when he goes to his left sometimes. That may be a function of just where he is with his legs, but we're working on those. We do those drills in practice, and we'll continue to harp on them. I think Justin (Hunter) slipping at the top of the route a little bit affected that. It's disappointing from the standpoint we gave them seven points, and we certainly could have used that later in the game. It happened, and you've got to respond to it.

(on Zach Mettenberger's response to adversity)

I don't see anything that affects him that much, which is what you want to see in a quarterback. Being confident is one thing, but being able to be confident and go out and make plays after the fact, that's another thing. He did that last night. Let's face it, we all know the importance of the stage that game was played on. Your first pass on your first Monday night football game, you throw a pick-six, that's pretty tough for any quarterback. I give him a lot of credit for how he responded to that. I think it shows a measure of his toughness.

(on Bishop Sankey as a returner)

I thought Bishop (Sankey) did a nice job in both aspects, on the return game and running the football. He's a young player that's growing and getting better. Last night was a function of both of our other returners were a little bit stiff. We'd prepared just in case. We felt Bishop was the best option at that point. He did a nice job.

(on if it's important to get a 100-yard rusher)

If we have a bunch of guys, it's not so much important for the individual guys as it is rushing the ball effectively. If you have a bunch of different guys that have good rushing yardage, that's important. It's not so much important to me as one guy as it is rushing the ball better.

(on if rushing has not been as good as he wants it to be)

I think there are a lot of areas we haven't been as good as we want to be. That's what we're working to get better at.

(on what he likes out of Bishop Sankey's performance against Pittsburgh)

I thought he was physical. I thought he was decisive. He was better with his reads. Those are things where you've seen improvement.

(on if Bishop Sankey's statistics should have been better)

The only thing I'll say to that is if you take away a 60-yard run from a 100-yard rusher, is that diminishing what he did? I don't care what his average rush is. We have to run the ball more effectively. I thought he made decisions well. He hit his holes better, and I thought he did a nice job with that.

(on why Bishop Sankey hasn't had a more successful run game)

The Steelers are a pretty good rush defense. We've played some pretty good rush defenses, I think, this year. We're trying to grow as a group running the ball better, and we haven't gotten to that point yet.

(on if Justin Hunter had a breakdown in technique at the pick-six)

I think the technique part led to the slip, so I would say that was accurate.

(on what Justin Hunter could have done differently in the pick-six situation)

I don't want to get into the specifics of the route and what he's trying to accomplish. He needs to work on how he's running his route a little bit better and have confidence in doing it the right way.

(on Nate Washington's catch and the value of making aggressive plays)

I think it was valuable for all of us. That's a play at that situation in the game where we executed the play right. Zach (Mettenberger) made a good throw, and it was a huge play for us. We hit a number of big plays last night in the game. We're going to continue to work on them, and hopefully we'll continue to have success in some of those.

(on if Zach Mettenberger's pass to Nate Washington was situation-based)

I think everything's situation-based. I think that we took a shot, because we felt good about the play itself and where we were. I didn't know for sure that they would play that coverage. I thought there was a chance they might be off, but it was also something we felt like we had a pretty good beat on what they were going to do, especially after the way they jumped the route early in the game with Justin (Hunter). We felt like at that point it was the right call, and it happened to work out.

(on if Zach Mettenberger was a victim of his own success with the pick-six)

You'd have to ask him that. I think you try to do things to set other things up. We felt like, based on some of the things that he'd done in previous weeks, that this was a counter to that. We were just looking for the right situation to run it. That one came up early, and we did.

(on if he has a primary advisor in the booth for challenges on plays)

It depends on which side is up. I talked to both sides last night, because there was a stoppage of play while it was still going on. Even the officials on the sideline, I talked to them, so that was unusual. Usually it's Jason (Michael) or Arthur (Smith) or it's Ray (Horton) up there in the booth.

(on if he had a case in challenging the play)

Sure. I sat right there and talked to the officials about it, and the two points of emphasis on that was clear recovery by us and two feet down control of the ball. I think all of those criteria were satisfied. It really comes down to a judgment of if he possessed it long enough. At that particular point in time, it could have gone either way. I felt like it was an opportunity that we needed to take that shot. It could make a difference in the game. If we'd gotten the ball at their 30, then we have a chance to win it or at least tie it, which is worthy of that challenge, I thought.

(on if he should have not challenged the play)

It really doesn't matter. If you didn't challenge it, you're going to be asked why you didn't challenge it. If you did and it doesn't work out, then you're going to say should you have not challenged it from the perspective. I felt like at that particular time it was merit in challenging it.

(on his challenge record being 0-4 this season)

I've never paid a lot attention to that. I think a lot of it is situational and what you're looking at. I don't necessarily agree with the ones that we haven't been successful on this year, but that really doesn't matter. I don't know even what my record is. I think I've been pretty decent with it before with the same system in place we're using now. We don't just make challenges just to make challenges. We do put thought and preparation into it.

(on if he is encouraged by improvements for the next six games)

I think we've been improving over the last few weeks. We still want to see more improvement. Ultimately, if we win the game last night, we'd feel really good about how we played. We didn't win the game last night, so it hurts. We're working hard, but we want to get a win. Obviously, we're not quite there, and we've got to continue to work on it.

(on finding ways to win as a measure of the team's ability and success)

I think that's what the NFL is now. You can't say every team does it every week. The Steelers did it last night. They didn't do it the week before against the Jets. We've had an opportunity a couple of times this year, and we haven't been able to do it. We want to work to make sure that we're a good enough football team that when we get those opportunities we can do that. That's what we're working to do.

(on how the Eagles have developed under Chip Kelly and if they still have a fast-tempo offense)

It's hard to tell from the tape. They're still fast. They're still running their tempo of offense. They're not a lot different from what they're doing offensively. They create matchups in space. They have some good athletes that try to get the ball into their hands. They're another year into their system defensively. They're doing a few things differently. It's not a team that we've faced, these guys. On a short week, it's pretty tough.

(on if late throws in the game to Kendall Wright were catchable)

It depends on what your standard is. Could the throws have been better? Yes. Do we feel like Kendall (Wright's) good enough to make those catches? Yes, I do. I can only speak to the expectation that I would hold for myself. At some point, we've got to make those catches.

(on Zach Mettenberger taking ownership for missed plays)

I think Zach (Mettenberger's) a fairly level-headed, honest guy about his assessment of that. I think he's striving to be a good quarterback in this league, and his expectations of those throws are what they are. I don't think there's anything wrong with that. He's working to get better. He's shown some improvement. It's a two-way street. The expectations to catch that ball, obviously, as a receiver, have to be at a high level, as well. I'm not saying that's not the case with Kendall (Wright). You see guys make catches in the NFL all the time, but you also see guys make good throws all the time. That's where we are as a team and where we've got to get better.

(on wide receivers going backwards on plays)

I don't think you want to try to change their running style, especially not with Kendall (Wright). He's certainly got a good feel for that, as indicated by some of the runs that he's had this year. With Justin (Hunter), I think every situation is potentially different. I don't know that Justin was necessarily aware that he had stepped out of bounds.

(on wide receivers losing ground on plays)

Like I said, I don't think you can put a criteria on it. I don't want them losing ground on plays. If you lose a yard and you finish up scoring for a touchdown, then you have to accept that at times. I think it's dependent upon the player and what his history has been running with the football. We don't have as much evidence of that with Justin (Hunter) as we do with Kendall (Wright).

(on the tight ends' performance)

I'm not going to grade our players in here. We played with what we had, and we tried to get done what we needed to do.

(on Avery Williamson's big game performance)

It's exciting to see some of our young players making plays and playing well for us. You're really happy with the growth of Avery (Williamson). He's doing a lot for us, and I think that's going to help us going forward as a team when your young players are making those plays. Of course you're happy for Avery. Those were good plays that he made.

(on Chase Coffman being portrayed as a dirty player for his hit on the Ravens coach)

I'm disappointed that came out, but that's where it is. Somebody decided to push that from that standpoint without ever having really talked to Chase (Coffman) about it. That's unfortunate. All I can judge it off of is what Chase came to me and said and then what I know of Chase. I'm certainly disappointed that that was put out there, but that's where it is.

(on if he is suspicious about who labeled Chase Coffman as a dirty player)

It really doesn't matter.

(on Chase Coffman's hit on the Ravens coach and what exactly happened)

I think the one key thing here that everybody's forgetting about is that this was an interception. The play was still going on. As Chase (Coffman) turned and tried to gain his balance, he was trying to get back in bounds in order to chase the ball that was intercepted. In my opinion, if you look at the tape, he doesn't necessarily hit. He's putting his arms up to try to stop and obviously makes contact with the coach. Once again, and having been around Chase and knowing Chase, obviously he was going full speed, and he turned and lost his balance, and the momentum carried him into the sideline. It's not a lot different than you see in a lot games on the sideline. In fact, I can show you clips of guys running into people on the sideline. I just think the way this looked is what caused the issue, but once again, I don't believe that the intent was to do that.

(on if Chase Coffman's hit would have had the same reaction if it came against the Titans)

I think if the opposing coach had called me and told me that, I would certainly feel better about it. If I looked at the tape and saw that, I said I can understand where you would be upset from what you've seen. That's not knowing the player or knowing the situation. Like I said, I've seen people get run into on the sidelines all the time. Guys get knocked out. It's not necessarily intent, I think, so I think that this was just an unfortunate situation.

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