Hue Jackson press conference - 9/11

Head Coach Hue Jackson:

Opening statement:

"Obviously, a tough loss yesterday here in front of our fans for our football team. I thought our guys fought hard. Like I told the team today in our meeting, we are the only ones that can change the outcomes when we play. The attention to detail, make the plays that we get opportunities to make and make sure that we are holding each other accountable at all times, that is what is going to give us a chance to get this turned. At the same time, I know we all talk about how young our team is and all of those things, but we are not going to get caught up in any of that. I think our team is talented enough. We have to play smarter. We have to play harder. I think our guys will do that. The staff is trying to do everything they can to coach our guys and put them in the best position. Our guys are going to work at it. It was one game yesterday. It was a tough game. It was against a division opponent. It was a good football team, but I thought our guys hung in there and fought and I thought we had a chance. We just weren't able to make enough plays. Like I said yesterday, I give the credit to Pittsburgh. They made the plays when they had to make them. We will learn from this, we will grow from it and we will get ready to pack a good team and go down to Baltimore and play a big game this week."

On how to speed up QB DeShone Kizer's internal clock to cut down on sacks:

"You just have to show him, have to push him through it and spend that time in practice and really emphasize the things that we have to get better at. We have to emphasize. Repetition is the mother of learning. Just keep doing it and do it better and keep getting better at it and he will, there is no question. I think he saw how that clock could speed up in real time because that was real time yesterday. I think he will grow from that."

On if Kizer had outlets available when he took some of the sacks yesterday:

"Oh yeah, they are there. There was one time that he did not, and to me, that was a unit breakdown. Those things happen, but there were some opportunities there where he had a chance to get the ball out of his hands and he could have."

On saying young QBs can get hurt by holding onto the ball for too long and where Kizer is in his development of getting rid of the ball on time:

"He is not hurt. He is going through it. There is a process that these guys go through, and he is in it. I am not surprised by what happened yesterday. Now, it is how fast can we get him on the other side of it. That is the challenge, and I think we will work through that. This guy, like I said to you guys yesterday, he has the right feel. He understands things. He sees it. We speak the same kind of language that way. I think he will get to it and make those changes quicker. I do believe that."

On positives from Kizer's performance yesterday:

"The ball that he threw to (WR) Ricardo (Louis) up the seam was outstanding. There were a couple underneath throws where everybody – he had worked through progression… Like, he got one down to (RB) Duke (Johnson Jr.) in the game I thought was huge. It is those kind of things that he is doing so it shows me he is not just playing pick a guy and throw the ball to him. He is working within our system, within our progressions and getting the ball to the right people."

On if there were throws that Kizer missed or if he needs more production from the WRs:

"We are all still a work in progress. Just working together and playing together as a unit, that is just kind of where we are. It goes both ways. There were some throws he could have made better. There were some spaces that we could have been in better and again. That is what goes down in Week 1 so Week 2, hopefully, we can improve that."

On if RB Duke Johnson Jr. is 'more or less a WR,' given his alignments yesterday:

"No, that was yesterday. That was that plan for that game, and it will change as we go. Duke is a very valuable member of our offensive football team in both phases – in the pass game and the run game."

On if he is even more encouraged about Kizer after watching the film:

"Oh, absolutely. At the end of the day, this young man gives us hope. He gives you an opportunity to make plays. When I looked up, the game was 21-10, and here we are in the fourth quarter with a chance to win the game late in the game and that is because of some plays he made. That is what you expect out of your quarterback. We are talking about a young rookie quarterback who is one of the youngest players in the league at that position. That is exciting for me. I think it is exciting for our organization. Now, that was one game. He has to continue to grow and get better and continue to show improvement and progress week in and week out, but we played against a good football team yesterday. That wasn't somebody that just walked in and played against us. That was the Pittsburgh Steelers, I thought he represented himself well. Now, he just has to continue to get better."

On positives from his communication with Kizer on the sideline:

"When he comes off the field and he is able to go back and regurgitate to me what he saw from a coverage standpoint and where guys should be and where his eyes and how his rhythm should have been, I think that is outstanding. Sometimes it comes straight from him to me instead of me having to ask about it and then just watching him encourage the defensive players. The quarterback has got to do a great job in all three phases, not just offense. He runs the offense, but the defense plays for him. The special teams units play for him. That is what you have to have. They have to believe that if we can get this guy back the ball, he is going to make plays for us and give us a chance to win and that is how you start to really build a quarterback in the National Football League, but he has to be able to take on all of those different roles. That is the pressure of playing this position. I think he is working through that and understanding how to make that happen."

On using a timeout after WR Antonio Brown's catch late in the game and then losing his final timeout due to challenging the ruling on the field of a completed pass:

"I had made a decision because of where the clock was so I made a decision we are going to call timeout right after the play. I already told the official and so I walked away, and then all of the sudden the play happened and then all of the sudden the timeout has already happened and he called it so I am like, 'Oh gosh' because I know if I throw the challenge flag – there was a decision to be made – if I throw the flag, then all of the sudden I am going to be out of timeouts entirely because if you lose the challenge, you are done. I felt we had a really good chance to win the challenge. I thought the ball came out. I still think the tip of the ball came out and hit the ground and I did not think he had control all the way to the ground. Obviously, the officials did [think Brown had control], and I lost that one. That happens. Unfortunate, but that is what happened."

On if he considered kicking a field goal on 4th-and-, instead of going for a touchdown prior to Kizer's TD pass to WR Corey Coleman:

"No, we needed points. It wasn't about getting within eight. I felt very comfortable if we made it. We were going to do something good with the ball."

On considering an onside kick following the two-point conversion:

"Right, we tried to bloop the ball. We blooped it, and we just didn't kick it far enough. That is what that was."

On if changes need to be made to the punt protection unit after the Steelers blocked punt:

"Obviously, it was disappointing what happened. I don't think we need to make any changes. I think the communication and doing things right, the details of crossing the t's and dotting the i's is what it is. We can't make those kind of mistakes. The guy who did it, I am sure he will get that corrected. That is not what he has done thus far in his career."

On Kizer making his NFL debut against Pittsburg, followed by a game at Baltimore:

"Here it is (laughter). It is tough. This is tough, but this is the National Football League and he signed up for this so you have to go. We are going to play another good team in a good stadium. Obviously, they come off a big win yesterday, and it will be loud and it will be rocking there in their stadium. He has to go handle that environment and handle it the right way."

On if he has any issue with the hit on Kizer when he slid:

"They called it a personal foul. I don't have any issue that way. Obviously, we are not supposed to lead with our head as a defender, and he hit our guy in the head and so they fouled him for it. I don't know where it goes from there, but they are going to protect our quarterback. I think the officials did the best that they could at that time."

On the decision to rush three players on 2nd-and-12 late in the game:

"I think our defense did some really good things. Every now and then, I think these offenses, especially as good as that team is on offense, they are going to make some plays. I think our defense held their own throughout this game. Pittsburgh is going to make one or two plays, and they did. Obviously, Antonio Brown made a sensational play to put them in position to win the game, but I think our defense did an outstanding job all day. We were tipped balls away from… There was a tipped ball where the guy catches it and runs for 50 yards. There was a tipped ball almost in the end zone even on a touchdown. We are right there. We just have to finish those plays, and that is what I am talking about as a football team – offensively, defensively and on special teams, we have to finish those plays. We had a chance in this game to make something special happen. That is what I told the team. We are the only guys who can do anything about it. We have to make those plays when those opportunities come up."

On if the gameplan was to flood the secondary against the Steelers:

"It was on and off. We have to do things to put our players in position to have success. That is what our charge is as coaches. Do the best job we can. Our guys then have to go make those plays when they are there."

On DB Derrick Kindred's performance:

"I think he has done some good things. Obviously, the interception was huge. He did a good job making sure the ball didn't go over our head, him and (DB) Jabrill (Peppers) both. Those guys all back there did a good job that way, but we couldn't limit Antonio. Antonio made a lot of plays. It is something that as we go, we are going to play other receivers maybe not to the caliber of him but some good players at that position. There are more in this division. We have to make sure that we are able to slow those guys down, but I think he is a key part of that because we play on the top of guys to make sure the ball doesn't go over our head. Kindred and Peppers, both of those guys did some good things back there."

On the Browns running game and if the lack of production was due to offensive struggles or defensive successes:

"It is a combination of both. I think a little bit was what they were doing. I think sometimes it was what we were doing and I think we just have to be a little bit more determined to do it. I think as the game went on, we had to make some other plays. In this league – I think we all get it – to score, you have to be able throw the ball. We can say what we want. I want to run the ball as bad as anybody, I think you guys saw that in the first half, but also, I have to put our players in position to win and I think what we have to do is we have to go back. We took a unit yesterday that played together for the first time. All five guys playing together. That was (OL) Joel Bitonio's coming out party – he finally played a whole game – next to (OL) Joe Thomas, who finally played a whole game and then a center (JC Tretter) who is new and a right guard (Kevin Zeitler) who is new and a right tackle (Shon Coleman) who is new. I know everybody wants to jump on the running game right quickly, but that is kind of the nuts and bolts of who we are and that might take a little time, but I suspect that it is going to turn the corner here real quickly. We just have to stay after it."

On if Coleman and WR Kenny Britt performed as needed yesterday:

"Yeah, I think Corey made some plays and there was one huge one we had him open down the field that we went the other way. Those things will happen from time to time. Obviously, Kenny dropped the ball in the middle of the field and I know that is what we all are talking about. I have seen players do that before, and we all have. I have had some of the great ones in this league drop balls, but we can't do that to a young quarterback because he needs guys to make as many plays for him as they can in this situation. I think Kenny gets that. He knows that is inexcusable. He has to make that play for the quarterback."

On if WR Kasen Williams played and WR Sammie Coates did not on offense because of the practice week:

"Yeah, I think it was the practice week and the position where we needed the help at and what the emphasis is and what we were trying to accomplish. That is all it was."

On Brown's catch and if he understands the rules on is a catch in the NFL:

"It is tough (laughter). We have to make sure we find out for sure (laughter). I thought it was total possession to and through the ground, and I was sure I saw the tip of the ball hit and kind of come out. That is what I saw and I have to go with my gut so that is why I threw the flag. Like I said, one of the officials said, 'Now, that is a good challenge,' and then when it didn't go that way he looked at me and went, 'Oh my gosh.' He felt the same way I did, but I don't get any support from that. That is the way it is. Sometimes it is tough to know exactly what the rule is, but that was one play in the game, a huge play in the game, but it didn't go our way."

On if Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger should have been penalized for diving at DL Emmanuel Ogbah's ankle after throwing an interception:

"No (laughter). He is a tough guy. He wanted to go make the tackle. That is just Ben. No, I don't think so."

On Britt's lack of production yesterday and throughout the preseason:

"I am talking about yesterday. All we can talk about is yesterday. Obviously, he dropped the ball. He has to play better. It is just that simple. That is where we are."

On what he has seen from Britt that leads him to believe he should remain a starter:

"Let's see where we go this week. Let's see what we are doing this week. Let's find out. You are saying that he is starting this week. We don't know that. Let's see where we are this week and go from there."

On how DB Briean Boddy-Calhoun responded to lining up in a number of different positions yesterday:

"He did a good job. I watched our defense tackle. I watched them do something yesterday that I haven't seen here since I have been here, just the violence of tackling in the hole. One time, he made a sensational tackle and I was like, 'Oh my gosh.' He filled the hole the way a safety is supposed to fill a hole, and that is exciting because I think our guys over there are playing lights out. I think they are getting better, I think they are working at it and it is a tough game and those guys are raising the level over there. We have to keep doing that. We have to do that throughout our team, and I think that is where we are headed." 

On an injury update:

"(OL) Kevin Zeitler has a thumb. We will work through that. I think everything is going to be OK. I do feel comfortable saying that, but we will see where it goes the rest of the week. No one else – pretty healthy."

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