We take a look at Marvin Lewis' weekly press conference and break through the "coach talk" to decode what we think he really means.
"It's obviously a big football game for us, a divisional game on the road. Our guys are excited to play, and we have to have a good week of preparation, and go play hard and fast. We're excited to get going and do that."
Translation: I'm not telling you anything you don't already know. We're first in the AFC North, they're second. They're our most hated rival. We don't like them, they don't like us.
This used to be the "big brother vs. little brother game." We used to measure the Bengals against Pittsburgh. When did that change?
"I don't know about measuring. Obviously, Pittsburgh won the division last year, and that's what I remind our guys of all the time. They beat us twice and won the division. That's what our number one goal is, to win the division. They're still holding the crown over there, so it's an important football game."
Translation: It didn't change. I hate to break it to you, but we haven't been great against them during my tenure or pretty much at any point in the team's history. Yeah, we're 6-0. So what?
(University of Kentucky product and rookie) Bud Dupree is leading their team in sacks. It's not often you see a rookie flash his ability. What have you seen out of him so far?
"He’s done a good job. I think he fits well to their scheme. He's come in and made the adjustment to NFL football. I thought the key for Bud down there at UK was that he got the opportunity to play at different spots. We talked to (Mark) Stoops about that. He had some versatility in the things they asked him to do, prior to the new staff getting there. Then, making the transition with a new staff. He's made a good transition into the NFL."
Translation: He didn't fit our scheme, so we didn't draft him, if anyone is still wondering about that.
What do you see as the biggest improvement for Carlos Dunlap from his rookie season to now?
"He does what we want to see much more often. He's matured as a man and as a player. He tries to do things the right way, and that’s been key for him."
Translation: Like most people at this point in life, he has grown up. Just think how different you were when you were 21 to how you were when you got into your mid to late 20s. You become less stupid.
Alejandro Villanueva made his first start with the Steelers. You guys had him for a short time. Do you remember anything about him while he was here?
"He was here on a rookie tryout. He was trying to figure out if he could be an NFL player. He had his service commitment that he had to go back and do. He was very conscientious the three days he was here, and he did a good job. He was a big-boned, physical looking guy, and that's why we brought him in for the rookie tryout. He did a good job while he was here."
Translation: He was a big dude that wasn't good enough to play for us. That makes me happy that he is playing for our opponent.
You’ve built a very sound culture here, one that the players believe in and respect. Is it similar to the culture that's been built in Pittsburgh?
"Obviously my roots in the NFL started there. But, it's been a while since I've been there, 20 years, so I'm sure some things have changed. I still think the fundamental things for Mr. Rooney is still the same. It's about hard work, what you are doing today and not yesterday. That was the key element for Pittsburgh. Never worry about yesterday. It's all about today. That's the one thing the Rooneys stand for."
Translation: Well, I experienced the culture there 20 years ago, and I'm sure it's different because it was okay to smoke in the locker room back then. But the same guy is running the show and old people don't change. That's why your grandpa still makes racist jokes at Thanksgiving.
How would you sum up your view of the culture here?
"We work hard. Guys know that when they come into this building, you work hard, you stand out."
Translation: You work hard. I work hard. We work hard. Work works hard. Hard work is hard.
Is that as easy as bringing in the type of guys that will work hard?
"It's part of the process. Some guys are obviously on the fence, and they've got to move over to that side or it's hard to stay. They are going to be urged by their teammates to get in step or at some point we know we have to move on from that player. That's what it takes. There is no shortcut to winning in the NFL. To win week after week, you have to have hard work and tough people. They have to play smart, and you have to be physical."
Translation: No. Obviously, it helps to start with good guys, but sometimes good football players are a pain in the ass and we have to help make them less of a pain in the ass. Luckily, we have a lot of guys in the locker room who are good at making guys less of a pain in the ass.
You seem to have shrunken the number of fence sitters?
"Yeah, I don't know that I shrink them, but they get shrunk."
Translation: "Honey, I Shrunk The Kids" was just a movie. Chill out, man.
It seems like Pittsburgh and others, New England, not only have the character players, but the mix of the veterans mentoring the young guys…
"Every year you have 6-10 players that are drafted or come here from college, and they obviously all come from different backgrounds, different programs and so forth. I think veteran players recognize that when you get to a certain point, there are guys with ability and talent that might be missing chip. If we can get that instilled in them, and taught, and learned and reinforced the right way, then we benefit from all that ability they have. You're always kind of running that line and riding that to push them to the good side."
Translation: Yeah, Ben Roethlisberger is really good at showing the young guys how to wreck motorcycles and get away with sexual assault. Tom Brady is an expert on air pressure manipulation. We don't have anyone like that, but I think we're doing fine.
You grew up in Southwestern Pennsylvania. Is the whole hard work, blue collar, keep shoveling mentality just kind of in the DNA of that region?
"People were coal miners, and they went from coal mines to the steel mills and so forth, and they worked on the ramp at US Air until US Air left. It's a tough life. The people before my father worked in the coal mines. My father's generation went to the mill, and guys that didn't go onto college that I grew up with went to work on the ramps for US Air. You learned as a laborer, so it's inbred: hard work and earning your way, and I think that's important. The great Steelers teams of the 70's were part of the whole environment in Pittsburgh at that time. There I am in junior high and high school, so you're part of it, part of that fiber."
Translation: If you're not going to be smart, you better work hard or you'll be hungry your entire life.
I don't expect you to throw a party on the plane on the way back if you win, but would you take pride in a head coach being the first team in franchise history to go 7-0?
"We haven't thrown any parties yet, and this wouldn't be party time either. That's our goal to be 7-0, and it would be a good thing, and it lasts about five minutes and then we'd be on to whoever we play next, which I believe is the Browns. You take satisfaction in our guys being 7-0. That's where the satisfaction is for their work and what they've accomplished and move on to the next club and get ready."
Translation: I don't like parties. I don't even want to be happy anymore. I watch guys like Bill Belichick and Nick Saban. They are never happy and they are successful. The less happy I am, the more we win. I'm thinking about outlawing birthdays for our players. I don't want anyone to celebrate anything, ever.
The guys say they are celebrating wins less this year. Does that start with you, or is it just kind of the thing they've all bought into?
"Go back to 2005 in Detroit (when the Bengals clinched the AFC North Division title). The celebration is one leg in the deal. The culture has been changed here. They do expect to go out and win every week. There needs to be no celebration, it's on to the next opponent. You did what you're supposed to do. I think everybody expects that, and part of it is, whether you are up or down in the football game, to have the same calmness, and the same emotion about it, and the same attention to detail."
Translation: We don't celebrate doing what we are supposed to do. Do you celebrate asking me a good question?
You've done both things, you've turned the franchise around when you came here, and here lately you've maintained a level of success. Which is tougher to accomplish, the turnaround or sustaining it over a period of time?
"I think the hardest thing in the league is to sustain things over time, because of injuries and attrition and graduation. When a team does that, it’s the organization, it's the players, it's the management, it's everybody that really should get the credit for that. The players have to understand this is professional sports, guys are going to come and go, and every year we're going to put out a different football team. Every week we could put out a different football team. We've got to adjust to that and win at the task at hand."
Translation: Obviously, it's harder to be good for a long time. Just about anybody can have success over a short time, that's just a matter of luck. Hell, the Buccaneers won a Super Bowl once. I know it's hard to believe, but I read about it on the internet, so it must be true.
Patience and extending plays are hallmarks of this Steelers team. How difficult is it to game plan for something like that?
"You've got to do a good job of staying in your responsibility. That's the key element. With Le'Veon (Bell), as a runner, he's got great, great vision. He's a great runner, maybe the best in the league right now with his patience and his ability to cut and run downhill to accelerate. The same thing with the quarterback -- Ben (Roethlisberger) -- his ability to ward off an ongoing rusher and keep his eyes down the field and make a big play. Their receivers do a great job adjusting to that. We have to do a fine job of being disciplined on defense."
Translation: When Ben is back the Steelers will be motorcycling around checking out girls, giving Le'Veon enough time to light one up before making a move; it is very difficult.