Opening Statement: "Let's keep things in perspective for a second, here. We've played two games in the regular season on offense. We've had two different centers and a right tackle that played half a game last week. We need some patience. You can't develop a scheme in two weeks in a regular season. Especially when last week we faced the number three rush defense from 2011, and the week before, they held the number two rush offense in the league to 2.4 yards per carry in the Houston Texans. That was a good team we faced last week. The scheme will be fine, it just takes some time.
On this week's opponent: "Then you play the number one ranked defense in 2011 in points allowed. We're facing some pretty good defenses to start the season, and that's a good challenge for us. We've got to have some patience, and I hope you guys can understand that."
On whom that opening statement is directed to: "I'm talking to my friends who call me and let me know 'Hang in there, bud, you'll be fine. I know they're coming down on the run game,' and stuff like that. It's like we tell the players - we want success right away, but we have to also understand that it takes a little time to develop. When we change the parts on them, like we have with the position of center and the right tackle spot, it's going to take a little more time. I feel very confident that we'll be fine. I say that because we had some success in the preseason running the ball effectively. We had success in the first half of the San Diego game running the ball. We just didn't last week. I even mentioned last week to you guys, going into the game, that this was a good run defense. I didn't say this part, but our best chance to win last week, I thought, was to throw the ball. Each week is going to be a week-to-week comparison. I won't say it to you this week on what we think is best to win, that's part of the strategy."
On how long it has taken this system to develop on previous teams: "A lot of it depends on who the parts are. At four different places, Atlanta, here, Seattle, and then in Houston it was already in play; there was a different running back, five different linemen, and a different coach. All of those places they had success that we did it at. It depends on that group of players. We're a little bit younger right now on the O-line than I have been at other places, so it takes a little bit longer for them to learn the nuances. A lot of the experience goes on Sundays, so much on game days. When you think about it, we've faced one defense for the last six months, our own. Now we're playing different teams. So you're going to have some learning parts that go through game experience to help develop the offense."
On lack of success through first two games: "I think part of that was our strategy. Part of our strategy last week was to throw the ball against that defense. That was our strategy going in, and we had success doing it. Part of it is strategy, and part of it is a learning curve. We have to go through the learning experience of a game through different schemes that our guys will learn. Then it's changing the parts. The position of center is critical to what we do, so he had a good learning experience last week. That was the first time he's played, in defense of Wiz [Stefen Wisniewski], he played six snaps in the first preseason game, and that was it. He jumped in there and did a very admirable job considering how little time he's had to play live."
On how close the run game is to being successful: "It will take a little while. I don't know what the set time is, and a lot of it will change week-to-week depending on who we're playing, but it's making progress. It may not look like that statistically, but in the execution on tough blocks, combination blocks, we're seeing progress being made."
On Darren McFadden's fit in this offense: "I have to speak back to my experiences. The guy that was in Houston was a pretty fast runner as well, and he fit in fine with a zone scheme. He also was a young back that was with an offensive line that had run the scheme for five years, and he reaped the benefits of having a line that knew all the nuances to reap the benefit of it. I've been at different places where the speed was fine. Justin Fargas, when we were here in '08 ran for a 1,000 yards, and he had a lot of speed too. So, I feel very comfortable with the backs we have. Darren McFadden, I don't care what offense you put him in, is going to be fine. He's a good running back in all schemes."
On using Carson Palmer's experience against the Steelers: "We brought him in Tuesday, like we always do. He comes in on his off day and gives up some time to talk to me about game planning. We'll spend an hour or two together. He had a lot of information because he's played these guys, I believe, 18 times. You'll have to do the research on that. He's faced these guys quite a bit. Half a dozen or so were games where the winner goes to the playoffs or is a playoff game. He gave me a lot of insight that's very helpful for my mindset going into the game on how to attack this defense."
On finishing drives: "Part of that's on me. Part of me is making sure that I put these guys in a position to have success. Last week, a good example is that we ran a play where we had a route called that could have been a double move and I guessed wrong. I said, 'Alright, they're going to play off, soft coverage,' and they actually blitzed us. It would have been perfect to have the double move on. It starts with me trying to get them in the right position to make the play. I've been pleased with how we've gotten out of a backed up situation and moved that far, but we do need to make some more explosive gains to try and get it, whether it's run or pass, into the end zone and finish our drives."
On tendency to pass on first down: "That's been more of our game plan going in, like I mentioned last week. This defense we faced last week in Miami was the third ranked defense. They just held a very good rushing offense the week before to less than two and a half per carry. So we knew that in order to move the ball a little bit we had to get some explosive gains on first down, which we did. We had nine explosive pass games, so that was effective for us."
On transition with the O-line: "I think that the changing of the parts slowed it down. Unfortunately for us, [Wisniewski] got hurt, so he missed a lot of reps with our first group. That slowed down the learning curve and set us back a little bit. We are still making strides, and we are making progress. I have complete faith that we're doing the right thing, and my experiences tell me so from the four different places I've been at. We'll be fine, it just takes some time."
On Tony Bergstrom: "He's doing well. In fact, we're moving him not only at guard/center, but we're having him play at tackle and getting some practice reps there, now that Khalif's hurt and we don't know what his status is going to be. He played tackle in college and did well there. So we're getting him exposed to playing both the guard and tackle position now."
On if he's playing center too: "That was in training camp. Not so much now."
On drawing on Carson Palmer's prior experiences: "He'll have some nuances that I would not have known about, as he already brought to my attention. Some of it's their personnel driven. This is a defense, and you guys have seen the roster and I don't know if Troy [Polamalu] and [James] Harrison are going to play, that seven of their 11 starters have eight years of experience in that scheme. Talk about continuity. He's seen a lot of these starters play a lot of games. That's something that has been very helpful for me to know is that he can tell me, 'this DB might play it this way, and with this backer we've had success doing this, the D-Line has struggled against these concepts.' Because Carson is an intellectual type of quarterback, he does draw from good knowledge. It's very helpful."
On possibility that Polamalu and Harrison may not play on Sunday: "The scheme is still the same. What it does help is that it gives us a little cleaner picture. Polamalu doesn't always line up where you think he's supposed to be because he's got such great intangibles and speed that he gives you some looks that tell you one thing, but you actually get another. That doesn't happen as much when he's not in the game. [Harrison]'s presence as a pass rusher is definitely felt, no doubt about it. They still have good edge pass rushers, though. The rest of the group that they've got still gives you a big challenge, but he's very unique, he's very special."
On only having four receivers active: "That's normal. A lot of teams will carry four into the game. The first game, though, the lack of experience; we didn't have experience in the system. We had an undrafted rookie come in, and then we brought in Derek Hagan on a week's practice. Getting Dmo [Denarius Moore]'s back healthy, and getting some reps now with Hagan, and Streater not having to be a starter as much has worked out to our advantage, and it showed up in last week's game. We had a little better performance in the last game."
On getting yards on first down: "It's only been a two-game deal. Statistically speaking, two games to me is too early. We definitely want to help our third down situations by performing better on first and second and getting to manageable third downs. We've been in way too many third and long situations, and that's both run and pass."
On Denarius Moore last week: "He made some big plays. What I liked to see was that scramble drill to the left sideline, where he made some guys miss afterwards. That gave him some confidence too. We were very limited on the number of plays we wanted to play him. He's made progress over the last couple of days here. You can tell he's getting his legs back underneath him."
On if Moore will get more playing time: "He'll play more."
On asking McFadden for his feedback on plays: "Every place I've been to I think it's important to find out what a guy with that kind of talent, what's his comfort zone, and what plays we like to do. I definitely seek his input and that comes into play on some of the things we do."