Visit NFL from the sidelines on the new Observer-Reporter site:

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Tuesday with Tomlin

Mike Tomlin is apparently not much of a David Bowie fan. You know, Ch-ch-ch-changes.

Tomlin announced there would be no changes at this point after Sunday's debacle in New England and that he did not see any "blatant" lack of effort issues for the Steelers.

As I've stated before, Tomlin's hands are really kind of tied at this point.

Many of the young guys on this team are already playing: Jarvis Jones, David DeCastro, Vince Williams, Mike Adams, Kelvin Beachum, Shamarko Thomas, Le'Veon Bell.

And Markus Wheaton, who has been out the past month with a broken finger, is expected to return Sunday.

The Steelers aren't going to give up on a season. And, at least according to the standings, they're still alive for a playoff berth.

Perhaps if the losing continues, they'll make some moves later in the season to get some younger guys in the game on a full-time basis. But right now, they're still fighting.

Remember, the last time they started 2-6 - in 2006 - they went 6-2 in the second half to finish 8-8.

This is a proud bunch and it's just not the Steelers way to give up on a season.

@ For those wondering, here's the snap counts thus far for some of the younger players:

Jarvis Jones 230 snaps; Shamarko Thomas 189; Vince Williams 289; Le'Veon Bell 264; David DeCastro 426; Kelvin Beachum 392; Mike Adams 339.

The Steelers have had 527 defensive and 530 offensive plays.

Again, it's not like those guys aren't seeing the field and seeing it plenty.

@ Tomlin was asked about Dick LeBeau today and whether he still has faith in his defensive coordinator. He simply answered, "Certainly."

When pressed on that, Tomlin replied, "Because he's Dick LeBeau. Does that answer your question?"

Good for Tomlin. LeBeau isn't the problem. In fact, if he decides to stay around, he'll be part of the solution.

@ Tomlin said he pulled Antonio Brown out of the game Sunday because he made a mistake in his route running that led to Ben Roethlisberger's last interception.

Some ran with that saying that because Tomlin was willing to bench Brown, he should have also taken Roethlisberger out of the rout in order to protect his quarterback.

But they didn't listen to the rest of Tomlin's explanation.

"As opposed to continuing to absorb negativity from that standpoint, potentially, with some things we were doing in the no-huddle offense, I chose to remove him from the game."

Later, Tomlin explained further: "He was frustrated at the end of the football game, and rightfully so. There were a lot of us that were."

Sounds to me like Brown got a little chippy on the sideline following the interception and Tomlin decided to bench him for it.

@ In addition to Wheaton, DeCastro is expected to be a full participant this week in practice.

Marcus Gilbert (ankle), Ike Taylor (concussion) and Williams (concussion) will be limited.

With Taylor limited and possibly out - he has to pass concussion tests - the Steelers re-signed DeMarcus Van Dyke and released Isaiah Green.

Van Dyke gives them some leeway in case Curtis Brown isn't recovered from the death in his family suffered last week.

@ When asked who should be held accountable for the team's draft failures, Tomlin said, "I take responsibility for the players we have drafted since I've been here."


Anonymous said...

The Steelers now find themselves in an unusual position, they are high on the list for picking from the waiver wire. They’re not used to shopping in the second hand shop, but there may be an opportunity coming up for them that they could take advantage of.

With what’s happening in Miami, it’s obvious that both Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin won’t be sharing the same locker room any time soon. Incognito is gone, but there’s a possibility that Jonathan Martin could be waived by the Dolphins as well. Don’t know this for a fact, but the Dolphins may consider it disruptive to the locker room to bring him back and may want to cut him just to put the whole episode behind them.

What makes this so intriguing are the following facts. First, he played on the same line as DeCastro during college, so the Steelers should be able to gather some inside information on what type of person Martin really is. Second, he went to Stanford and both his father and grandfather went to Harvard, so he is intelligent enough to play. Third, he was highly thought of coming out of the draft and was picked with the 42nd pick in 2012, so he has ability/potential. Fourth, if picked up on waivers, the Steelers will get his rookie contract, which should be affordable. Finally, though he went to school in California, he was born in Pittsburgh, so he may still have family here or be a Steeler fan, who knows?

What I do know is: 1. he needs a change of scenery. 2. The Steelers need a left tackle. 3. While there may be a rookie initiation process, this seems to have gone far beyond what would be considered “ethical”, i.e. carrying veterans equipment might be one thing, but threatening a person’s family, extorting him for $15k, etc. are criminal charges in most locales . 4. Picking him up would reflect well upon the Steelers organization as not being tolerant of that treatment.

Because of cap issues the Steelers need to rebuild using low cost methods like the draft, but they need to think outside the box using options like the waiver wire as well. The only problem with the draft is that rookies rarely contribute in their first year, look at the current rookie class this year. If the Steelers were willing to take a flyer on Levi Brown, why not Jonathan Martin?

Anonymous said...

"I take responsibility for the players we have drafted since I've been here."

On one hand, I appreciate Tomlin standing up. On the other hand, he should then be held accountable.

I’ve been thinking about why some teams draft better than others. First off, everyone has their hits and misses, it’s going to happen. But when you have more misses than hits, well you have the Steelers current situation.

I’m going throw out a theory that may be out there, but bear with me. In order to draft a good football player, you need to know what a good football player looks like. Both Noll and Cowher played in the NFL, albeit Cowher was a special teams player for the most part. But they were on football teams, surrounded by players each day. Fast forward to today, two of the more successful teams currently are San Francisco and Seattle. Harbaugh played in the NFL and was at Stanford while Pete Carroll worked at a football factory, USC. They had to recruit and watched how players progressed or didn’t.

Tomlin went to school at William & Mary, which just won’t do (for you Steely Dan fans) and never played in the NFL. This may have hurt his ability to judge what a good football player really is. Recognize, the draft process is a team effort, scouts, Colbert, Tomlin, assistant coaches, so it’s not just Tomlin. Maybe they need to beef up the scouting staff to make up for this deficiency or is Art Jr doing anything? I know, he’s 70, let him work part time when he pleases, but any help is appreciated.

kyle said...

That is an interesting theory, Anonymous but Harbaugh's best players weren't drafted by him. His quarterback is the only name on that team that was drafted after he came in and he's fallen back to earth a bit this year. They've already traded away one of the two first round picks since he became the coach. I don't know that Harbaugh is a personnel guru.

Anonymous said...

You're right Kyle and the more I think about it, Matt Millen played ball and yet he had his problems when drafting

phil said...

first, Tomlin played college ball at W&M.

second, the adage is "Those who can't do, teach" NOT "Those who can't do, can't teach."

The only word for Tomlin "taking responsibility for the players we have drafted since [he's] been here" is "cute"

Dale Lolley said...

Belichick never played a down in the NFL and played Division III football. So by that theory, he shouldn't know squat about it.

And please, stop already with the Art Rooney stuff. I'm not going to acknowledge it again. Answered, answered, answered.

Anonymous said...


Why do you think the Steelers have been drafting poorly as of recently?

Dale Lolley said...

When you draft offensive and defensive linemen in the first few rounds - guys that don't touch the ball - you're passing on skill players and game-changers.

So instead of getting first and second-rounders who are game changers, the Steelers have been taking grunts in an effort to beef up their lines.

If you do that, those guys had better be studs. That can help make up for the lack of playmakers.

Not all the guys the Steelers have drafted are studs - yet.

But if you miss on a lineman in the first round - and passed on playmakers - it magnifies the mistake.

bruinmann77 said...

that very intresting talk ut can't see the dolphins letting him go for the bad publicity for letting go a guy who was bullied. The other point is that this is the season that wins mean nothing as much as getting a high draft pick who can make an impact

Patrick said...

In regards to drafting, there has definitely been a bit of mix and match across the various "interested" parties of this team.

Timmons, imo, was supposed to be Tomlin's Derrick Brooks. And thats too bad because the Steelers run 3-4, not a Tampa 2 4-3. (great player, I still say hes out of position).

Its been talked about plenty of times on here that Hood seems to be more of a a 4-3 player than a 3-4 DE. That is becoming more apparent.

Ben has been clamoring for a tall WR since 2005 and all he got was Limas Sweed and a semi-retired Plexico Burress. He did get Wallace, who I think he sorely misses, rightly or wrongly, but hes gone.

They drafted Bell high, who I believe is a nice fit for Haley's offense. And again thats too bad, because Haley probably won't be here in a year.

The o-line picks all point to faster, leaner, more athletic. But they can't seem to implement that scheme. Injuries play into that too.

There has also also been quite a few picks who aren't here anymore (obviously Wallace and Lewis, but also Urbik all in the same round in the same year = gone)

I think that combo, a few badly missed picks, and aging all have created the current team. We've seen this before though and it will be solved in a year or two. And all those who think Ben won't be the QB for it are kidding themselves.

Dale Lolley said...

Bell will be a good back in anyone's offense, Patrick. He catches the ball well and is starting to hit the holes better.

Anonymous said...

Regarding Martin, a comment on PFT:

“Troy Polamalu this morning talk about how this would not happen in his locker room. With their rookies, the veterans embrace them openly and give them whatever they can to help them get acclimated to the locker room to help the team win. He talked about giving them a place to stay, money, a ride to practice. That’s the type of leadership and council a well-run organization exhibits.”

This reflects well on the Steelers locker room. The situation in Miami only seems to be getting worse, as apparently the coaches encouraged Incognito to “toughen up” Martin. So there’s a possibility some Miami coaches might leave as well. That being the case, it might not be in Martin’s best interest to go back:

Patrick said...

well that might be true, but we don't know that he fits "anyone's offense" yet. Hes had flashes, so did Mendenhall.

But my point is, he was drafted for Haley's offense (over Lacey, who seemed like a more traditional Steelers back, but his "medical" concerns aren't holding him back in GB), and Bell will likely be playing in a different system next year. It underscores my point that there isn't a clear vision with this team and its players. I put that on Colbert and Tomlin, not just Tomlin as most would suspect I say.

Also, If Tomlin had a Bowie song for this team it would be Life on Mars of Oh you pretty things.

Anonymous said...


Or it might be Panic in Pittsburgh:

Or Moon Age Daydream:

adamg said...

I think some of the draft "misses", esp on defense, result from the Steelers need to project players to fit their system. IIRC, Jarvis Jones is the first OLB they've drafted who actually played that position in a 3-4 defense. Prior to that it's been guys like Woodley, Worilds, Carter, etc, who were college DEs. It's the same with the ILBs where they're drafting MLBs who have to adjust their game. Hampton was a DT in college who ended up the perfect 3-4 NT and Aaron Smith as the perfect 3-4 DE, but otherwise they've missed on the replacements like Hood and Ta'amu who haven't been able to make the transition from 4-3 DT.
It's worth noting that Heyward, a college DE, appears to be working out best of the recently drafted DL.

I think that's the best argument for changing up the defensive scheme.

marc said...

even though tomlin takes responsibility for the drafts, I still think Colbert is gone in the offseason.

when the steelers switched to the 3-4 under cowher, most teams were running a 4-3. i believe now most teams are running a 3-4, would it benefit them to switch back to the 4-3? or has lebeau basically been running a hybrid defense the past couple years? i don't know, just some questions going thru my mind.

regardless, i agree with dale that bell can work in any offense, he's very good and still learning.

also, thanks for the snap counts. i did not think adams had anywhere near that many.

finally, dale, any art rooney sightings in the office today?

Anonymous said...

For those opining that Jonathan Martin would be someone to bring in as an eventual LT replacement were he cut by may want to hit NFL Rewind and watch a few Dolphin games.

"Horrid" to describe his play most weeks is probably being kind.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:10

I agree with you whole heartedly, he’s played like crap. He was a left tackle at Stanford, then Miami brought him in to play right tackle his rookie year. He switch over to LT this year when Long left. I saw where he was rated 63 out of 69 tackles last year.

My thoughts are if you had somebody ragging on you every day at work, do you think you would do your best? I’ve had crappy jobs with crappy bosses where Sunday night comes and this dreadful feeling comes over me of having to go to work the next day. Fortunately, I’ve had my own business for the last 24 years and I wake up each morning looking forward going to work.

Like Levi Brown, the Steelers are not getting an all Pro, they’re shopping in the bargain bin. There are two keys to this play: one DeCastro should know enough about this guy to tell the Steelers if he’s the real deal. Two, the Steelers need to coach him up. Oddly, I’m more concerned about the Steelers ability to coach him up. They’ve had 3 line coaches in the last 5 years? This was the year of the zone blocking scheme? I agree with Patrick that the vision of what they’re trying to accomplish is unclear or the ability to execute this vision is in question.

My thoughts are between Adams, Brown, Beechum or Martin, maybe someone will step up and claim ownership of the LT position.

TarheelFlyer said...

I for one am not on the bring in Martin bandwagon. If he is waived, I think you at least scout his tape and them maybe take a look, but I'm not sold he is a LT in the NFL. Of course, I'm not sold that Beachum, Gilbert, or Adams are either.

Personally, I have been saying this for a while, I do think we have better personnel for a 4-3 than we have for a 3-4, but that is what it is. That being said it wouldn't really change much other than the fact that Woodley would now have his hand on the ground. Timmons and Jones I think could make a good OLB tandem, but we really don't have a run stopper currently to be the MLB.

The reality right now is, this team has lots of holes and we need to look at how we are going to fix them.

Anonymous said...

When Pouncy comes back, move Velcro to LT

Ron said...

Dale - In regards to your comment about drafting o- and d-lineman early in the draft to bypass skill position players, if possible, can you provide your thoughts on the o- and d-lineman drafted early?

I think now that Heyward is being given more playing time, he is showing some stuff this year. But, Hood is not the player we all hoped he would be. He is not awful, but he leaves a bit to be desired. Gilbert is inconsistent, Adams is still raw/young and DeCastro's injury last year set him back. Pouncey has had bad luck with injuries. Thoughts?

Patrick said...

Which my clients shall I bill while I am writing my well-researched and thought out posts???

*Oops, did I post that?

Yours truly,

Dale Lolley said...

It's tough to judge linemen with this quarterback - who continues to hold the ball and take sacks, but here goes.

DeCastro has been their best lineman this year. He's been solid - outside of the opener when he clearly was affected by his mistake that took out Pouncey.

Gilbert has actually been solid as well. Has played reasonably well given the circumstances of the team constantly being behind.

Pouncey had a a great rookie season but has been just an average player, in my opinion since. Sometimes he plays well, others, not so much, Injuries have affected him, obviously. But he's still young and can get back to a great level.

Adams is their best run blocking lineman. He struggled with the move to left tackle, in my opinion, because of confidence. He has the skillset to do it. I have not given up on him.

Beachum is a finesse player. He gets little push in the run game. He would be better served playing in a reserve role.

Anonymous said...

I disagree that the team is struggling because we've drafted d and olinemen. The team is struggling because those linemen suck by and large. There are plenty of dlinemen, even in a 34 nowadays who make plays. Muhhamed Wilkerson and that beast the Texans have are crazy good on the dline. Hood and Heyward are just average starters at best.

If the oline could protect Ben and open some running lanes Brown Sanders and Cotchery could dice up secondaries. But with no run game and Ben running around they aren't gonna do it all themselves.

The team staked its future on building the lines and they failed. Not sure if that is Tomlin or Colbert's fault. Probably a little of both. I say it might be time to get a new GM and give them the majority authority on new picks.

Dale Lolley said...

Gee, you bring up Wilkerson, who was taken before the Steelers selected Heyward, and the Texans - 2-6 Texans, I might add - who took J.J. Watt with a top 10 pick the years the Steelers took Hood.

The Steelers loved both of those guys. Weren't in position to draft them.

I might add that the Texans missed on Okoye in the first round a couple of years before taking Watt, so there's that.

TarheelFlyer said...

Dale said...."It's tough to judge linemen with this quarterback - who continues to hold the ball and take sacks, but here goes."

I have said this earlier, but I see a LOT of Jake Delhomme in Ben right now. He feet never truly look under him. He puts up some stats and no one wants to make him part of the problem, but the reality is we have gone through Olineman after Olineman...and yet we still give up a ton of sacks. Ben MUST be PART of the problem.

I don't think you can blame him for all of it, but to say he doesn't contribute is somewhat silly.

To me this team doesn't have the firepower to ever play from behind, and it shows.