Offensive Coordinator Mike Sullivan
December 8, 2016
Q: If Shane Vereen is able to return, how will that affect the running back position?
A: Thatís a great question. Iím hoping heís able to return and weíre going to see how that plays itself out. Obviously the things he did before he got injured helped our offense a great deal from a pass game perspective. He also was running the ball quite well. Obviously we have to wait and see where heís going to be at physically. Hopefully heís going to be there for us and certainly he could be a weapon that can help us get back to where we need to be.
Q: You always preach next man up with the guard position. I was wondering what kind of affect that had had on Ereck Flowers, playing with a rotation beside him?
A: Well you know, continuity is very important, you hit the nail on the head. The communication, the calls, the anticipation and thereís no substitute for having the consistency, having the same guys on your left and on your right. Itís been a challenge for those guys and I think itís a credit to those who have been given the opportunity that theyíve been able to step up and do some good things. It also helps the development of Ereck Flowers and Weston Richburg to try and get themselves to be able to compensate from a communication standpoint and help whoever is in there to be successful.
Q: Was Sunday the most frustrated youíve seen Victor Cruz?
A: Itís hard to say, I really didnít have a lot to say to him after the game other than you go around the locker room and check to see how everyone is from a health standpoint. Obviously no one is happy, everyone is disappointed and frustrated. So I really couldnít speculate if he was more disappointed than anybody else was in that locker room after a disappointing and tough loss.
Q: Iím sure you heard his comments after the game and he spoke to Coach McAdoo, what did you make of all of that?
A: Well, I spoke with Victor as well, had a very productive and positive conversation. I have a history with the young man and have a great deal of respect for him. Heís made plays for us this year and we anticipate him making plays for us in the future. The week before, it was Sterling Shepard as far as the targets not being there and this game happened to be Victor. Those things arenít by design and sometimes they turn out that way because of the quarterback read. He might have been the primary receiver but maybe the protection breaks down and some other things come about. Itís unfortunate in terms of how that plays out because obviously we need all of our receivers and all of our offensive players on the perimeter to be able to win for us and be successful and be able to contribute.
Q: Why hasnít he played in the slot more?
A: We try to cross train guys as much as we can and youíve got a guy like Sterling Shepard whoís done a good job on the inside and has been very productive on the inside. One of the things is that weíve had these kinds of conversation in terms of how we can kick start things and how we can get more productivity offensively. Itís about trying to move people around, so heís had some more opportunities recently and weíre constantly looking at that from a matchup standpoint, from a cover standpoint, to try to be able to put those guys in the best position.
Q: As much as you guys commit to the three receivers, wouldnít you have to also commit to involving all three of them?
A: To a degree, absolutely. Thereís definitely merit to your comment or your point as far as trying to get all three involved. Sometimes the defense can, I donít want to say dictate and give them too much credit, but they can do things from a look standpoint, particularly when theyíre going to commit extra players to Odell, for example, one or the other is going to get singled up and there can be a more advantageous opportunity for one over the other based upon alignment or based upon matchup. Those are things we do look at and, again, from the surface there is definite merit to what you pointed out but sometimes based upon what weíre seeing from a coverage, one or the other is going to be in a better position and based upon the concept. Thatís going to direct the quarterback in where heís going to start.
Q: How do you get the disparity you have where Odell gets one target in the first half but 15 in the second half. Did Pittsburgh change something because it seemed like you were forcing the ball.
A: Talked about it throughout the year and mentioned it last week, thereís obviously good things that will happen when he gets the ball. Obviously if weíre turning the football over, if weíre having penalties that negate 36 yards of gain, if we have some of those tackles for loss, that is going to set everything back. We try to find ways and get the ball in the hands of playmakers but that isnít going to be exclusively for him. Weíd like to have other guys have their opportunities and step up and have attempts at the plate, so to speak. I think it depends on how weíre being played and where the openings are and how it plays itself out.
Q: How far is this offense from what you envisioned in week 7?
A: Itís been disappointing. Everyone wants to know why, why is the offense struggling and why is there no consistency and rather than go through the litany of various reasons and mitigating circumstances, if we had to look at one thing that jumps out, itís ball security. Right now weíre 28th in the league, weíve got 21 turnovers and itís hard to get consistency and get those snaps and score points. Itís hard to Ö the ball, get the run game going, you name it. If youíre on the sideline without the ball, you canít do those things. Itís things weíve addressed. Itís been a combination, whether itís the fumbles, or the interceptions. The most important thing that we have to do, and certainly this week against this team, weíve got to take care of the football. In terms of not being able to have that consistency, being unable to have the offense that we all want to have and expect to have, thatís really something and when you go back through, as much as coaches, weíre so locked into this week, but if we take a step back and Iím sure in the off season looking at cut ups, itís really going to jump out how we have a turnover in the first play of the game, or hereís a turnover when weíre in a position to score points. Thatís probably the biggest thing when you talk about why weíre not where we want to be, that probably jumps out.
Q: After the game Ben said, we are what we are right now. What makes you think that 13 games into the season anything can change?
A: The thing that I think it goes back to, first off, itís clichť but itís true, the past doesnít equal the future. Just because weíve had inconsistencies, the penalties, the turnovers, that doesnít mean that thereís no magic wand or force field power force thatís going to make that happen on Sunday night. That future is in front of us and thatís where our focus is. I think if we can do the things as far as taking care of the football, if we can do the things where we have an explosive play and get a first down then suddenly a penalty negates it, some of those self-inflicted wounds. I know everyone says that and we certainly give the defense credit for things theyíre doing. I think we have shown those flashes, we have had those runs, if you will, those drives; the first drive in Chicago, the first drive in Cincinnati, when things are in a good groove. I think itís just been those turnovers, negative plays and penalties that have shot ourselves in the foot, so to speak. I think from a confidence standpoint, we really believe that weíve had a great preparation, we had a heck of a practice out there today and being in the elements was a lot of fun. Weíre going to build upon the success we had this week and bring that preparation to Sunday night and we know that the future and everything we want is ahead of us and thereís no reason we canít eliminate those things and be the type of offense we want to be.
Q: On one of the receivers tipping plays by rubbing hands together before pass plays
A: I donít read too much into those things. I think itís always easy after the game to second guess or comment. They did a heck of a job...Oh he made his comment before the game or after the gameÖ?
A: I wasnít aware of that. To share with you guys, weíre constantly in the mode of having people somebody take a look at TV copies, and all the little tells and the unusual words that have been reported that you hear at the line of scrimmage. Thereís a method to the madness.