Q: After watching tape from your two games, how do you assess your performance? RF:
I think the second game was better than the first. The biggest thing that needed to be fixed was the turnovers, and obviously there was one in the last game that can certainly be eliminated. But being smart with the football is the No. 1 goal for me right now and I felt like, for the most part, that happened during the game. Now there needs to be a lot more consistency, with the offense in general. Big plays, too. Those are two things that we're missing out on right now that have caused us to struggle.
Q: In both those games, youve been the leading rusher, which is almost unheard of in the NFL. I imagine that's one of the things you want to change:RF:
Yeah, obviously you never want your quarterback to be the leading rusher. There are going to be some plays where I'm scrambling and running that just happen. But we're going to work a lot on that this week, and it's going to be a good challenge for us because Pittsburgh's such a physical team up front. We're real excited with the package that we have in so far and we think we're going to do a good job. Going into this week, we need to build some confidence in the run game and get those backs going, and hopefully this is going to be the week for it.
Q: Pittsburgh is a top defense in the league. Any sense that you're going keep trying to go with the running game?RF:
Like I said before, it's going to be a great test because they are so physical and because theyve been so stout against the run, for their history. That's what they do. They stop the run, and they run the ball down your throats. So those are some areas that we need to improve on. You can't be successful in the NFL unless you can run the ball, and were certainly going to try to get the running game going.
Q: Now that you have been the starting QB for a couple weeks, can the game plan can be tailored more to your strengths?RF:
Yeah, I think that definitely helps. Getting a full week of practice last week, and then getting this week, is going to help out a lot. I think there's becoming more of a comfort level with me and the coaches in terms of what they think my strengths are and what I can do, and what plays they can call specifically for me. I'm starting to learn the same thing - third downs, what they like to call, that sort of stuff. It's going to be a game plan that has some stuff in it for me and as this thing goes, however much longer I play, for, I think youre going to see (offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski) with a bigger comfort level with me in terms of calling different plays.
Q: As the quarterback, you obviously don't want to be put third-and-10, third-and-15, third-and-16 situations:RF:
That's the consistency on first and second down that I was talking about. Whether it be running or passing, we have to be consistent and efficient and get ourselves into some third-and-manageable situations. That's the real problem we ran into last week.
Q: As far as you know, is Carson Palmer still week-to-week?RF:
Yeah, it's a week-to-week deal. I know that I'm starting this weekend and not looking past that. I think Carson will be evaluated, probably Sunday or Monday, to see how everything is for the next week.
Q: Have you looked at Ben Roethlisberger on tape and do you study other QBs? If so, what do you think of his game?RF:
I have. Obviously the thing that everybody knows about him - big, physical guy that makes plays outside the pocket. Plays will break down, and he's the type of player that you have to gang tackle because he's so big. He's always been a big-play guy and an efficient guy. He doesn't have many incompletions. He's definitely fun to watch, and I'm looking forward to playing against him.
Q: You're probably more comparable to him (Ben Roethlisberger) than Carson as far as style:RF:
He's got about three or four inches on me and 50 pounds. But he does move around a little bit, so I guess that's where the comparison would be.
Q: Do you feel more comfortable out of the pocket?RF:
I guess it's just part of my game. It's something I've always done. I definitely feel comfortable in the pocket. It's just a matter of sometimes moving because I have to, or moving to get throwing lanes or whatever it is.
Q: You seem to like to run if nothing is there; how tough is it to not leave the pocket?RF:
We're definitely going to run the ball. You can't win games unless you do.
Q: I mean you personally:RF:
Oh. There are no designed run plays in the offense, probably not in any NFL offense. It's just stuff that happens. I just do whatever pops into my mind in that moment. I can't promise that I'll run or not run. It's just a matter of what opens up at that moment.
Q: Did they design runs for you at Harvard?RF:
We ran that option-type play, where it's me reading the defensive end.
Q: A zone read?RF:
A little zone-read deal, yeah. And then around the goal line, a few QB keepers and stuff. I wasn't a 20-carry-a-game guy. It was my five or six plays, and that's it.
Q: The Steelers are known for getting sacks; what have you seen from them this year? What makes them so good?RF:
They're relentless. I think that's the biggest thing. Even if you've got them blocked for a second or two, they're not going to quit. They're going to keep coming after you. I think that's been a lot of their success in previous years is they keep finding guys who just go; they've got high motors and they want to get to the quarterback, and they're not going to stop until they get him.
Q: How tough is it to read Dick LeBeau's defense?RF:
They run a lot of fire zones and things, stuff that we're familiar with. We've been playing them two times a year for a long time. It's definitely stuff that our guys know how to run, and stuff that we know how to attack. We're looking forward to it. We need to get the running game going, we need to get it blocked up, and then I need to get the ball in the hands of our playmakers.
Q: You said Bob Bratkowski will probably be a little more comfortable with you. What do you mean by that?RF:
I think just certain types of throws. Certain types of throws, different movements. I'm just a different quarterback than Carson is. He certainly doesn't have many weaknesses, but we have different strengths. It's just a different thing working with me than working with him.
Q: Are you more comfortable when you roll out of the pocket?RF:
It's something I like to do. I don't mind throwing on the run at all, so I guess that's one thing we've done the last few games I've played in that they haven't done here in the past.
Q: When you roll out, you put pressure on perimeter people but you also cut off half the field:RF:
Yeah, that's why it's not like we're going to be rolling out every play of the game. There's a specific time and place for that. But you're right, it closes the field off and basically you've got two options, and if they're covered you throw the ball out of bounds. So it's more of a pick-and-choose type deal.
Q: As a team, how do you keep the confidence up?RF:
We've got professionals in the locker room. We can't really dwell on what's happened the last six games. We've played tough in some of the games. I think our defense is playing great. We just need to look at the Steelers, look how to attack them and play hard. It's hard sitting here at 0-6 right now, not having a win, but I'll tell you what: If we're 1-6, it's going to be a great feeling.
Q: Last week you sliced them up on that drive late in the first half, then couldn't move the ball in the third quarter; did they do something different defensively?RF:
No, they didn't. Some of it was field position, being backed up in our end and trying to run it out of there. We dialed some things up and they guessed right, had the right coverages. They stayed pretty similar throughout the game. There was really nothing we didn't expect. They just did a good job, and they outplayed us.
Q: Bratkowski said the coaches took a hard look at things Monday. Have you seen anything different in the game plan, or are you still committed to running the ball?RF: We'll see at practice today. The game plan is just like every week. We are committed to running the ball. That's something we need to be successful at to win, so we're going to come out and mix it up, obviously, and try to run successfully. That's going to lead us to a win.