Q. Can you provide any update on Kirby Wilson?
A. He’s doing great. It’s a long and challenging process, but one he proves daily that he is up to. The rehabilitation is going well. He has surprised the doctors with the rate of recovery. Obviously, we still have a long way to go but it has been just awesome to watch him go through this process and see the improvement in him.
Q. Do you need to do anything there with his position as the running backs coach as you wait for him to come back to the staff and the team?
A. What we’re doing is we’re bridging the gap in-house. We have some guys capable of covering, and I think when we have a group of guys who have been here – we have a nice core group of guys at the running back position – you’re capable of doing that. We have two special teams coaches, and that provides some flexibility for us. Amos Jones is a guy who has coached running backs in the past at the collegiate level. Most special teams coordinators in college also coach a position. Over the years, running back has kind of been that position for Amos at times, and so we’re very comfortable with our ability to bridge the gap at least in the short term in-house and continue to support Kirby in his recovery. But we expect him to be back.
Q. So, you expect Kirby Wilson to be back this year?
Q. What were you looking for during your search for a new offensive coordinator?
A. Somebody who understands the standard that is the Pittsburgh Steelers – that we are good but we need to be great. Somebody who is capable of embracing that. Somebody who is willing to put his hand in the pile and take up that charge. This is a unique place that has unique standards and expectations. I was looking for somebody who is competent, innovative and at the same time has an understanding of that, and I think it was a ridiculous bonus that Todd (Haley) fit all of those things.
Q. Was Haley somebody who emerged as a legitimate candidate after your first interview?
A. Convenience created his initial interview. By convenience I mean he was a familiar guy to me, at least schematically, because we played them in 2009 and 2011. We played them in 2008 in the Super Bowl when he was the offensive coordinator in Arizona. So you’re talking about a guy who is not in your division but I’m still pretty familiar with what he’s about schematically, and also the fact he was unemployed gave me an opportunity to visit with him right away. Sometimes you don’t have an opportunity to visit with candidates because they’re still playing, because of contractual obligations and so forth. Todd was a guy who was clearly qualified, a guy who was familiar and who was available. Then when I started the process by visiting with him in Mobile (at the Senior Bowl), it became evident to me he was a guy who potentially fit.
Q. You said that Todd Haley impressed you in the three times you had to prepare to play against him. What was it that impressed you?
A. I thought he utilized his personnel well, he had a defined personality, and at times that personality has been different based on the strength of his teams. Obviously the brand of ball they played in Arizona with Kurt Warner was different than the brand of ball they played in Kansas City during which they led the league in rushing with a nice committee of backs. Even in 2011 when they were going through some struggles, I was impressed that they were playing without (running back) Jamaal Charles, but they had Thomas Jones and Dexter McCluster and they were still right around 4.6 yards per carry. He does a nice job of finding ways to be productive and play to the strengths of his group, and at times over the course of the four or five years I’ve competed against him, those strengths have been different. That speaks to his flexibility, and that was attractive to me.
Q. Do you have in mind what you want this offense to look like?
A. I think it’s overblown. Obviously, I think we need to have a defined personality, but that’s centered around playing to our strengths. That changes, of course, depending on what our strengths are. Obviously, we have a solid, franchise-type quarterback. We have some emerging outside talent at wide receiver. We have a stable of running backs we’re really comfortable with, and we have some young talent along the offensive line that’s being developed around Maurkice Pouncey and Marcus Gilbert. Our personality, obviously, is going to be one that is built and geared toward our strengths.