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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Tuesday with Tomlin

Mike Tomlin called out a number of players both in name and deed this week at his press conference.

The culprits were receivers Markus Wheaton, Justin Brown and Lance Moore, running back Le'Veon Bell, linebacker Jason Worilds and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

Some of the criticism from Tomlin was due to direct questions, as was the case with Worilds, whom Tomlin said has had "pockets" or games of good play. But Tomlin noted the Steelers are compensating  Worilds well to have consistently disruptive play and that's not happening right now.

As for the receivers and Bell, Tomlin said they could have done a better job of catching some passes that were either dropped or they didn't get their feet down along the sideline.

Tomlin said Roethlisberger played well, at times, but wasn't consistent.

The issue right now seems to be an offense that is just making a mistake here or there that is hurting the team.

For example, on Wheaton's third-down drop that led to the botched field goal attempt early in the second quarter, Wheaton ran his pattern two yards too deep.

That wouldn't seem like such a big deal, but Roethlisberger threw the pass when he expected Wheaton to turn and come back to the ball. Wheaton went deeper than expected, so the ball was on him when he turned, causing the drop.

@ Tomlin said the team will "turn over every stone" to look for answers to their current issues, whether that be lineup changes or changes in what they're doing.

Steve McLendon is out this week due to an injured shoulder, which will mean that rookie Daniel McCullers will be active for the first time this season.

More importantly, it means that the Steelers will have no choice but to play Stephon Tuitt more.

I don't think McCullers is the answer necessarily, especially against teams that run the zone stretch. He just doesn't move well enough - though if he doesn't take out his teammates on those plays, it will be an improvement over Cam Thomas.

Tomlin also said that rookie receiver Martavis Bryant could finally get a chance to see some action this week in an attempt to help the team's struggling red zone offense.

@ Rookie linebacker Ryan Shazier will see more practice time this week, but he's not necessarily ready to return. That will be a wait-and-see proposition.

Cam Heyward is OK, but Tomlin said that Brett Keisel and Mike Mitchell could be slowed by their injuries and would be considered questionable.

@ On his weekly radio show on which I am a co-host, wide receiver Antonio Brown said that Tomlin told the team on Monday that it is not tough, either mentally or physically.

That was apparent in the second half of the game against Cleveland. The Steelers didn't look like a team with any fight in it.

Tomlin was basically challenging this team. We'll see how it responds.


adamg said...

Dale, have to disagree about McCullers. He's got good speed for a big guy. In the preseason game vs Philly, I remember being impressed he didn't seem all that winded given the pace of Kelly's offense.

Dale Lolley said...

Good speed "for a big guy."

I'll admit that he's fast for his size, but there's that misnomer, "for his size."

The only question right now is can he be better than Cam Thomas. That's certainly a possibility. But he's not better than McLendon, as some were suggesting earlier this year.

Anonymous said...

that's not how you use the word misnomer

Anonymous said...

hope mcullers gets some snaps to see how he does.

steelers are struggling defending the run because the d-linemen aren't winning their 1-on-1 matchups and defenders aren't in the right spots.

cam thomas is pitiful. on one play I saw him being blocked 1-on-1 and the RB literally run right next to thomas and he didn't even know the RB was there. it's hard to explain, but you would think he would at least have stuck his arm out to try and get the guy, but he had no clue.

Theosa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Theosa said...

I do not anticipate any major changes in the lineup from Tomlin, first he always plays it safe and second he does not have capable players to do so. And this “turning over all the stones” is just talk; we have heard similar phrases and clich├ęs before.

Years of average drafts will get you where they are now, just an average team coached by an average head coach as his 19-19 record indicates since the mass departure of Cowher era players. Coach T talks about players making mental mistakes but he himself did not develop into the kind of coach fans expected and he has been there for a while now.

As far as McCullers goes, this would be his first start compared to McLendon who has been a starter for a couple of years now and has been with the Steelers for a while. McLendon has played alright thus far but in Steelers scheme NT needs to do more. Let’s see if McCullers can show some flashes while he is out there. This team has so many holes that it will take a few more years before they have any relevance in NFL. Steelers will be wise to part ways with Ben and move in a new direction. He has served Steelers well but has too many sack miles on him and he is not getting any younger or better. His extension is going to cost a lot. They need good free agents and trades; it’s so bad right now that the former coach and team leader had to call out this Steelers team. I like the Hines Ward’s quote, “I never thought I would say these words but Pittsburgh has gotten soft, finesse on offense, soft on defense

Dale Lolley said...

I believe misnomer is correct, because the he's not a big guy. He's a huge guy.

But whatever. Not here to discuss use of the English language.

I'm sure McCullers will get some snaps. Quite frankly, he can't be worse than Thomas at the nose. McLendon has been solid there. McCullers wasn't going to play ahead of him.

But Tuitt, in my opinion, should have been playing all along. They were willing to live with Shazier's mistakes because he's a playmaker. But the same thing didn't apply to Tuitt. Why?

Cowher and Ward are wrong about the Steelers being soft on offense as a whole. Maybe they've gotten soft in the red zone because they don't run a lot of power stuff. I spoke with someone who spoke to Cowher this morning, and that's what he was referring to. They're certainly not soft between the 20s. They're running the ball effectively in those situations. But they need to be able to power the ball into the end zone.

Defensively, we knew they'd be soft. That's no surprise.

Theosa said...

Dale, their struggles in red zone are due to lack of a power running game plus Ben. He had the same red zone issues with other two OCs. He is averaging 22 points/game under all OCs and that includes the years when he had the blanket of stout Steelers defense with take aways and good field positions. I can’t pin point why but that has been the case, maybe Ben should take shots at the end zone before the offense get to the 20 yard line, more area for him to screen. The tackling on defense is awful.

Anonymous said...

Soft in the red zone, I would agree with. Soft on defense is an under statement, along with slow and out of place. Since the departure of big snack, the front guys can't seem to get to the QB frequently and this is what this team has been all about.

I almost can't stand to watch, I know Troy is the face of this organization but I think it's time he stops freelancing and sticking to the zone he should be covering.

I know everyone is feeling the frustration and it's easy to point fingers, I surely hope that they can string a couple wins together in order for them to start playing loose.. Loosing to a back up center, a QB that was about to ride the pine and a handful of no name guys is pathetic.. Why not put Harrison over the center or Timmons, or heck both of them.. Just for a couple snaps, to keep that center guessing...

adamg said...

The times I was able to watch McCullers vs Philly, he showed me good lateral and downfield speed. Of course, he's not going to win any 40 yd dashes, but he's not a player who can go only 1 or 2 steps and be out of gas. If they put him in the C/G gap, he is going to draw a double team.

In fairness to BR, AZ under Arians is last on RZ efficiency. But BR is a big play improviser - sort of feast or famine with him.

I agree about Troy stopping the freelancing at least until Mitchell gets acclimated. To my untrained eye, it sure looks like there are a lot of breakdowns involving the safeties.

Unknown said...

I'm not a 'Tomlin out' kinda guy, or I haven't been, and I believe that the team can turn things around. Glass half full, if you will. With that said, his schtick every single week is getting so so old. Be it unleashing hell, leaving no stone unturned, his soundbites week after week about unearthing something within this team is old. They can't consistently get it done.

The Steelers just do not beat teams they are supposed to beat. Whether the Browns are better now than at any point in 10 years or whatever, is irrelevant. If you are really a playoff team, with a franchise QB and a legitimate Pro Bowl talent at WR, high draft picks on the O-Line, etc, you don't get turned over by a division rival in this fashion after laying the fattest egg against Tampa at home and then barely patching up your arse in time for a still winless Jacksonville.

Too many times in the last few seasons I have sat here wondering when my team will turn up to play. In the 4th quarter on sunday I was still wondering. It's getting to the point where rather than 'not turning up', the Steelers' window is closing and they now 'cannot go'.

That begs the question, is Tomlin unable to harness this 'power' from the team, or is it simply not there to begin with?

Greg Mercer said...

i don't know why everyone can't seem to figure out why the Steelers are struggling in the red zone. It's personnel.

Right now, we have 1 legitimate red zone threat in Heath Miller. Either you need to be smart like Miller or Cotchery or you need size to create mismatches.

Hines Ward was a rare, because he had both skill sets. How many TDs did Ben throw to Ward on slants. Do you really think Ben forgot how to make that throw?

It's because none of our receivers are physical enough to get the position necessary to shield off the defender and give Ben a clear window.

Easley said...

It's time to unleash hell!

That always works, right?

Anonymous said...

I think Pouncey is a liability in the redzone as well. He's very mobile but not great at getting push on the guy in the front of him.

All the tiny wr's struggle in the redzone has been a problem for the Steelers for years. Colbert/Tomlin just don't get it and they both deserve to be fired.

Not only is this team BAD but due to our salary cap situation they will continue to be bad for some time.

Steve-O said...

I was a little surprised to hear that Tomlin called out his players so publicly. I don't have a problem with it but lets be honest here, the coaches haven't exactly been stellar this season. Did he acknowledge that? Did he call out any of his assistants? There's plenty of blame to go around.

adamg said...

A little play action once in awhile off the run or a rollout or a bootleg would probably open up the receivers, but the offense rarely does it. Heck, even a qb draw might work inside the 5 out of an empty set.

It's not the size of the receivers, it's the play design. The Steelers have the run/pass balance now to do whatever they want, but they tend to stick with the same old plays.

Anonymous said...

The team will respond as it always does. It will lay another egg.

Anonymous said...


I know the NFL doesn't really ever make mid-season trades and even when they do happen the Steelers name has to be near the bottom of the list of teams that do it. But wouldn't it be a good idea to consider trading Blount or maybe some picks for a good DB or two? I haven't looked over the list but there has to be a team that needs a good RB that has a wealth of talent or a team that knows it needs to rebuild that might consider letting go of a vet for a pick.

Unless they are fine with another 8-8 season at some point they either need to tank or make some trades because being mediocre for too long essentially guarantees you stay mediocre.

I put some of the blame on the coaches but they really just don't have a lot to work with. Maybe that's on them too. either way the Steeler's are where they are and expecting things to change with this same group is just hoping for the best but not actively doing anything about it.

qwikdoc said...

"Defensively, we knew they'd be soft. That's no surprise"

What the hell does that mean? These are professional football players. They are young and hungry. Why soft this year? Is soft just a different way of saying they don't know what the hell they are doing out there so they are out of position a lot of the time? That's on Lebeau and his position coaches to make sure these players are ready when they get in the game and hold them accountable when they screw up. They have been at it now for four months. If the scheme is still too complicated for these players, get rid of the scheme. If we aren't failing in the draft, replace the front office. I'm really sick of hearing excuses for the past 3 to 4 years absolving Lebeau of responsibility for the defense's shortcomings. He is not confusing any OC's anymore. His scheme now only confuses his own players. The Rooneys should be helping Dick prepare now, for his retirement at the end of this year.

Dale Lolley said...

Who exactly has a pelthora of "good" defensive backs that they would be willing to get rid of? There are also salary cap ramifications with trades. That is one reason why you rarely see them in football.

As for the defense being soft, perhaps soft is the wrong term. We knew the defense wasn't going to be great. Too much transition.

qwikdoc said...

Dale, do you think Dick Lebeau would resist a gentle nudge by the organization to retire at the end of this year?

Dale Lolley said...

He might just call it a career on his own. He is nearing 80, after all.

Theosa said...

I don’t think Dick Lebeau forgot how to coach a defense; he is the same guy that had mostly one of the top 3 defenses for nearly a decade. He has proven it for a long time. He is the same coach that had the 2008 defense, which arguably was the best in Steelers history (considering how rules favor the offense these days compared to 70s). People really have short memories. Hurry up or no-huddle offense is nothing new, it’s just that he has to work with the talent he is given and the talent on defense is not there. Name one player one defense you’d consider for pro-bowl? It’s the years of bad drafts and signings that lead to current Steelers state. Should he call it quit after 2014 season? I say absolutely! Not because he is lesser of a coach now but because I want to see him leave with pride.

qwikdoc said...

Well, he deserves all the accolades he will receive. I just hope he realizes the time has come.

qwikdoc said...

Well, he deserves all the accolades he will receive. I just hope he realizes the time has come.

qwikdoc said...

Theosa - Nobody said he forgot how to coach. Please don't put words in anybody's mouth. His scheme is no longer unique and doesn't create havoc like it used to. I think part of the problem is the players he has been given over the past 5 years or so, but that is only part of the problem.

Anonymous said...

Just like players lose their edge with time sometimes coaches "lose it" too. Their is no guarantee that a good coach will always be so. People change. Sometimes coaches fall behind the times. They don't study like they used to or coach with the same passion.

I don't think the problem with the Steelers is purely x's and o's. Either this team is unable to identify talent or they just can't develop it once it's here.

That said, it's pretty clear the Steelers aren't going to be good anytime soon.

I expect the Steelers will give Tomlin another year. But he won't be able to turn the team around in that span. Not really.

qwikdoc said...

I don't know how much input the coordinators have when putting together the team's draft board, but they should have a lot. It is their schemes and philosophy being executed and I think they would know best what kind of player fits their scheme. Maybe the Steelers do it that way, but it sure seems like they have been drafting too many round pegs for square holes the past several years.