Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Bill Cowher, Ike Taylor and other stuff

Here are some random quotes from last weeks game and also part of Bill Cowher's press conference for this week's game with the Ravens (these are all from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette).

Asked what he thought of Gallery, who is 6-foot-7, 325 pounds, Clark Haggans said, "He's big ... long hair ... rich."
"I tried to tell you guys," Joey Porter said. "No pressures, no sacks ... that's all you wanted to talk about (in the preseason). I don't want to blow my own horn, but -- toot, toot -- I told you."
"You have to win games like that," Tommy Maddox said. "I'll take an ugly win over a pretty loss any day."
Apparently Bill Cowher is running for office, because he couldn't have been any more diplomatic when asked about Kordell Kyle Boller's progress:

Q: How different does Kyle Boller look?

COWHER:He is obviously much more comfortable. I think he has run the offense very well. They did not put up a lot of points last week, but you can just tell in his second year that he understands it. He knows where to go with the ball. I think he is a very good athlete that can move around. He has a strong arm. He will do nothing but get better.
Maybe Cowher means Boller is "more comfortable" at practice because he certainly didn't seem to be at ease during the Browns game -- and I'm not sure exactly what Boller "understands" (unless he's coming to the realization that he's not a very good quarterback, and based on his college stats and the fact that his coach at Cal was also the mentor for Akili Smith and Joey Harrington, he may never be a good NLF QB).

I can only guess that this is one reporter's attempt at being humorous, although Ed Bouchette makes the point that if the Ravens really wanted to mix things up they should start Stewart.
Q: Because Kordell Stewart is behind him, do you have to put any preparation time into the possibility of him getting in?

COWHER: No, I don't think so. I don't think they are going to do anything much differently. I think it is an awareness you have with his mobility. But Kyle Boller is a pretty good athlete, too. He can move around pretty well. It is more of an awareness that you have of who the quarterback is. But I don't think you have to do anything special.
You know when you see athletes get frustrated with answering the same inane question over and over? Or when reporters ask what seems like to everyone in the room (including the reporter) a really dopey question? Well, here's the first one of the season for Cowher:
Q: Are the mistakes made on the two long passes vs. Oakland correctable?

COWHER: They better be correctable. Yes, they are correctable. We were out of position.
I guess there are a couple of ways to answer this question. You could be civil, as Cowher chose to do and everyone's happy -- this week. Because next week, he'll get even sillier questions about a sillier incident. Alternatively, he could take the Bill Parcells/Bob Knight approach and just berate people for asking really inane questions.

Either way, if I were Cowher, I would have answered the question thusly: "Unfortunately this problem is not correctable. As a result we will be forced to release Polamalu and replace him with a cardboard cut-out of a shirtless Mark Madden in the defensive backfield and hope he does for our secondary what the scarecrow does for the average farmer."

This next Q & A will either make Cowher look like a genius or it will come back to bite him on the ass. Personally, I hope he's right.
Q: Is the strong safety generally responsible for Todd Heap?

COWHER: No. That is why Troy is here. That is his strength. He is a good coverage guy. Like I told him, he is here for Heap and (Kellen) Winslow, those are two guys right now in our division that are pretty good tight ends.
It's still unclear why Ike Taylor didn't dress Sunday and Cowher really didn't answer any questions in his press conference. Still, I hope whatever the problem is, it's resolved and Taylor's back out on the field, because like I've said ad naseum, you can't have enough defensive backs and special-teamers.

Q: Where is Ike Taylor?

COWHER:Ike is a guy that is going to keep working on things in practice. If something comes down he may have to play a significant amount. Right now he is not. That doesn't mean that it's not going to change week to week. You just have to keep working on your skills. He is a big kid. He has great feet. He has all the things you are looking for but right now we feel comfortable with where we are going. But he has to stay ready because his role may expand at any week due to injury or other factors.
I have to disagree with Cowher on this next one, because the right answer to this question is, "Absolutely not. Do you want to know why? Because if you allow coaches to continually throw the red flag the game will take a day and a half to complete. Not only that, but shouldn't the officials be competent enough to get a few calls right -- without a coach having to throw a flag every other play?
Q: If you are right both times, would you like to have a couple more challenges instead of them taking them away?

COWHER:I think as long as you are right, you should have the right to challenge. Why should you be penalized for being right?
These next few questions are pretty funny because Cowher describes how he graduated from the buzzer to the red flag, and all the other stuff that goes into challenging a play (it's a lot more than you might expect).

Q: Why the flag instead of the buzzer?

COWHER: I tried the buzzer one time in the preseason game against the Washington Redskins when Steve Spurrier was there. It did not work, and I have never used it since.

Q: It has to be more fun for you to throw a flag at them?

COWHER: Yes. But they can penalize you for that, too. They gave a penalty against the New England Patriots for throwing it at them.

Q: Do you have a back up flag?

COWHER: We have two flags.

Q: If you taunt the official with a flag, do you get a penalty?

COWHER: I got a penalty against New England on a Monday Night game two years ago. They said I threw the flag at them. I threw it because they had their back to me. I was not sure if they would see it. It was right before the extra point.
Of course as soon as I try to give the officials any credit, the helmet-to-helmet hit on Plaxico was brought up. Apparently (and not surprisingly) everyone in the stadium and on television saw -- except of course the officials.
Q: Did you make the league aware of the hit on Plaxico?

COWHER: We turned it in.

Q: Did you think it was helmet-to-helmet?

COWHER: I thought in the game it was. We will see how they interpret it in the film. The guy did not have his head down. He was going over to hit him and he hit him. My sense in the game was that it was. We will see.