Head coach Dom Capers
(opening statement) "Let me begin by informing you of a couple adjustments we've made to our offensive coaching staff. Number one, we've made a change in our offensive coordinator position. Joe Pendry will now become our offensive coordinator. He will be on the sideline, he'll call the plays on the sideline and talk directly with David Carr. Steve Marshall will take over as coach of the offensive line. He's coached the offensive tackles, while Joe has had the centers and guards. Now Steve's going to take over the entire offensive line as Joe moves to the coordinator position. We haven't performed up to our expectations to this point in time, so we're making these adjustments to hopefully help us move forward. These types of decisions are never easy. They're tough decisions. Chris Palmer is one of the finest people that I know. He's done an excellent job over the first three years and made a big contribution to this organization and I certainly wish him nothing but the best.
"As far as our game yesterday, it was a tough day. When you play a team like the Steelers, they're a good football team. They know how to win football games. There's a reason they were 15-1 last year, they're 2-0 this year. When you're playing a team like that, all three phases of your team have to perform at a very high level. We knew that going in and unfortunately we didn't execute to the level that we had hoped. We got behind early in the game and were never really able to close the gap. I thought we came out and started the second half, our guys fought hard and put together a 14-play, 78-yard drive, went down and scored with the only possession we had down in the red zone. They answered on the next series on scored their own touchdown. There were some similarities to the week before. The kicking game was pretty much a wash. We didn't have any big plays; they didn't have any big plays. Chad Stanley punted the ball well for the second week in a row. Probably the poorest thing we did was return kickoffs. We gave our offense the ball on the 20-yard line on our five kickoff returns and our one chance we had to make a big play, the blocked punt, we had a guy free and we just missed it and roughed the kicker. Offensively, for the second week in a row we only had one shot in the red zone. We did get convert that into a touchdown and we did do a better job of converting third downs, we were 8-16 on third downs. And we didn't throw an interception but we turned the ball over on the third play of the game down on the 22-yard line and they converted that into their first touchdown. We obviously have to do a better job of protecting our quarterback and try to eliminate the negative yardage plays in the passing game. Consequently, we only scored seven points for the second week in a row.
"Defensively, they big-played us. They hit three big plays for about 149 yards. We didn't get the kind of pressure we needed on their quarterback, we only had the one sack and didn't get any takeaways. As I go back and I look at a year ago, I think we have many of the same circumstances. A year ago we were minus six after the first two games in takeaway/giveaway, and we're minus six now. A year ago, over the next four weeks, we won three out of the next four games. We had to go play Kansas City in Arrowhead Stadium and we all know that's a tough place to play. Our defense over the next four weeks came up with 10 takeaways and we were plus-six. So we were able to flip it around from a minus-six to a plus-six to break even after six games. When the schedule first came out I was disappointed our bye week was so early in the season, but I can tell you right now, I'm glad it is where it is. It gives us a real good chance to go back and work on the fundamental things that we need to work and improve with the three practices this week and the extra practice next week. We're disappointed with where we are right now, but it's a long season. We've been here before. A year ago we climbed out of it – won four out of the next five with the only loss being in overtime. Any time you lose the way we have the first couple weeks, it leaves an empty feeling with everybody but there's only one thing you can do: you roll up your sleeves, pick yourself up and go back to work. Every team in the league is going to experience frustrations and failures at some point in the season, it's always how you respond to it. I think I know our players and I think I know how they'll respond. With that, the only thing I will say injury-wise, Gary Walker was the only significant injury coming out of the game yesterday. He would not play this week but beyond that I can't say how long. He did sprain his AC joint in his shoulder. Other than that, we have normal bumps and bruises."
(on the difference expected under Pendry as opposed to Palmer) "I just hope we can play with more consistency. It starts with eliminating the downside, the negative plays. We just need more consistent execution. In making these decisions, you evaluate the big picture for a period of time. Over the latter part of the preseason and the first two games and going back to the last game of last year, we just haven't made the kind of progress I feel we needed to make."
(on changes in the offensive philosophy) "I don't want to put it out there that Chris and I were not in synch because we worked together for three years. I just think we've reached the point where in order to move forward, we needed to do whatever we needed to do to try and help this team move forward. The last two weeks, we played two good defenses and that's one of the variables you have to factor in there. We certainly haven't gotten as much as we've wanted to get done on the offensive side of the ball."
(on his decision making process) "When you're making these kinds of decisions, they're tough decisions. There's no clear cut right or wrong, so you have to make the decision based on what you think is in the best interest of the football team. I basically made it looking at the big picture over the last four, five games, where we are right now and what I think we need to do in order to get things headed in the right direction. I certainly thought about it a lot. After thinking about it, I felt this was the best decision. So we're going to pick up and go to work. Heading into our bye week, we have an extra four practices before we start our normal preparation on Cincinnati. It seemed to me that if there was going to be any decision made that this was the logical time to do it."
(on why this decision was made now as opposed to at the end of last season) "I'm always the guy who's going to try to err on the side of trying to make things work. It just became apparent to me that it wasn't working. It's my responsibility to try to do everything that I can to make it work. There are never any guarantees. I don't think when you talk to Joe, that he's going to guarantee anything, 'we're going to do this, that or whatever.' As a staff, we're going to go back to work and try to get to playing more consistently, with greater efficiency and doing the things we think will help us win football games. That's what we're here for."
(on coaching Carr) "Joe will be in the quarterback meetings, he'll be in direct contact with David Carr. Greg Roman will continue to coach the quarterbacks but he'll be working under Joe's supervision. Joe will talk directly with David Carr on game day."
Offensive coordinator Joe Pendry
(on if he can turn this thing around) "My job is to be a soldier. Dom asked me to do this. I hate to do it under this situation with Chris Palmer. But we'll do everything in our power to make sure Dom Capers wins. We're going to put our players in the best position to be successful; to do what David Carr can do, to do what our offensive linemen can do, to do what our backs to well, get the ball to Andre (Johnson) and give them every opportunity in the world to be successful."
(on why he prefers to be on the sidelines as opposed to up in the press box) "I feel more comfortable. I've called plays for a long time in this league as a coordinator through the years and the only time I didn't was when Dom and I were together in Carolina. I'll be real honest with you, my personality, if I'm up in a press box I get too excited, I scream and I yell. When I'm on the sideline I can see it, I have a better feel and we have an outstanding press box guy in Kippy Brown. He'll take those eyes for me upstairs. It's just my personality. I feel much better down there where I can see it and have a better feel for it. That's the way I've always felt."
(on the conversation with Chris Palmer) "Obviously it's a tough day. I think everybody in this room knows how high regard Chris Palmer. These are never easy decisions. Chris is a class guy and he's been in the business long enough that I think he understands."
(on the frustration of the team) "No not really, I think David Carr has handled the situation he's been in over the last two weeks very well. Sure, he's a competitor, you saw him compete. There was a lot of frustration out there yesterday because we weren't performing to the level we wanted to perform. In our one drive we took down, he pulled the ball down, he ran with it. He didn't make all the right decisions but I have no question about his competitiveness and him wanted to win and being a team guy and doing whatever we ask him to do. That's one of the great things about David, he's not an I, me, my guy, he's a we, us, our guy and he'll do whatever you ask him to do. He wants to win just like all of us."
(on the difficulty of taking this job in midseason versus in the offseason) "First of all, it's something you don't want to happen. I've been there, I've been a coordinator, I've been fired. I understand the production part of the business. It's not fun to go into this situation, but it's my job. I was asked to do it and I will do everything in my power to give us the opportunity to win. Is it enjoyable? No, but that doesn't matter. We're going to play in two weeks. It doesn't matter how I feel, we're going to play. You think Cincinnati cares? They don't care. We gotta go play. We gotta go play and give ourselves a chance to win. Whether I have a smile on or not, it makes no difference."
"One thing I do want to say, I saw today somebody put an article on my desk that I fired Joe in Carolina and I want to put that to rest. I'll tell you exactly what happened in that situation. We were in Carolina for three years and Wade Phillips called me and was very interested in hiring Joe as his offensive coordinator in Buffalo. Joe and I sat down and talked at great length about it. It was a good opportunity for Joe in more ways than one, including financially. And after all discussions, I granted him permission and he took the job up there. So it wasn't as though I released him for anything other that that."
(on the difference between Buffalo and here) "We did have some pretty good talent. We had Eric Moulds, Thurman Thomas, had guys who had been around, established. Probably this biggest thing, even though they hadn't won the year before, they were used to winning. They guys knew how to win. Bruce Smith, those guys on defense, they knew how to win. They had been there, so that's probably the biggest difference. The only year they hadn't won was the year before Wade took over, Marv's (Levy) last year. The rest of the time, those guys were in the playoffs all the time. They knew how to win. They knew that feeling. That's something you have to acquire over a period of time."
(on possible changes to the starting lineup) "This is a week where we'll look at some different combinations. Until we find the right combinations, we're going to be looking at different combinations of personnel. During the course of the game, if we see something that's not up to the standards we expect, we won't hesitate to make moves. There's nothing guaranteed in this business. Our job is to go out and perform at a certain standard and if it's not that standard then we're going to try and look for the combination that gives us that standard."
(on the shortcomings of the defense against Pittsburgh) "I can just tell them we're going to go back to work and try to get it better. I've seen us have bad offensive and defensive games and come back and play darn well the next week. That's going to be our approach. We know we're going to have a big challenge here to go to Cincinnati, they're off to a great start. They're an explosive offensive football team. We just have to take care of the things we didn't take care of yesterday. The Steelers are a good offensive football team, we knew going in. The week before against Tennessee, they played them to death with the passing game and they got us with three big plays. We have to get those things taken care of."
(on new offensive line coach Steve Marshall) "I've known Steve since 1980 when I was on the staff at Tennessee. Steve and Joe have worked very closely together. I've been in most of their offensive line meetings. They speak the same language, they're on the same page and I think it'll be a smooth transition."
(on David Carr) "We have to get that position as well as all our other positions in a comfort zone. We have to not try to put it on his shoulders. It doesn't matter whether it's here or anywhere. We have to put him in a position to do his job and not ask him to go win the game for us every time. We have 10 other guys out there and they have to go play. He only has to do his job."
(on the players' reactions) "You never know. It'll probably be a mixed bag. I think one thing they do know is we aren't satisfied with where we are and that we'll do whatever it takes to get to where we want to go. As the head coach, I stand up and talk in terms of every guy has to be accountable not only to himself but to everyone else in this meeting room. I feel that as the head coach, whether it's the coaching staff or the team, that we're trying to address any issues we have and try to move forward."
(on the running game) "It's got to get better. That's first and foremost. In the long run it's been proven in this league that you have to be able to run the ball. Whether you zone-block, man-block, counter-block it really doesn't matter, you have to be able to run the ball when you want to, not just when you have to. And that ties in with our play-action and counter game. But we have to be able to run the ball. Whether it's first and foremost, the end result over 16 games, you better be able to run the football. We get better at it the same way we get better at throwing the football. Do the little things better."