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

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Tuesday with Tomlin

Mike Tomlin said today that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger hasn't been as accurate in recent weeks as he was earlier in the season.

That was particularly evident in the first half of last Sunday's 35-32 loss against the Saints, when Roethlisberger went 8-22 and badly overthrew a number of open receivers.

Tomlin said mechanics were a big reason for that, but said part of the reason for the poor mechanics were because of pressure directly in Roethlisberger's face that did not allow him to step into some throws.

There are easy solutions to that, however. Block better, get rid of the ball more quickly or have the quarterback move around in the pocket a little more.

It's hard to fathom that after having a three-game stretch in which he threw 14 TDs with no interceptions that Roethlisberger has four TDs and five interceptions in the past three games.

@ Tomlin also said he's not concerned about the heavy workload running back Le'Veon Bell has carried the past two games. After touching the ball 35 times in a win over Tennessee, Bell had 29 touches against the Saints.

Tomlin cited the heavy workload Bell handled in his final season at Michigan State, when he had nearly 400 touches, as evidence that the second-year running back can handle that kind of effort.

"That was one of things that attracted us to him," Tomlin said.

Bell is still a young pup and he wants the ball. But the Steelers should be careful not to run him into the ground.

He's proven to be a dynamic player. Maybe he's one of those rare people who can handle this kind of workload. If so, someday he'll be heading to Canton, Ohio.

@ Ryan Shazier and Marcus Gilbert are expected back in the lineup this week.

Brice McCain has a shot to play as well.

But it still doesn't sound so good for Steve McLendon. Tomlin said today that McLendon is dealing with a loss of strength in his shoulder.

That tells me it's a nerve issue, which can be tricky.

If McLendon doesn't play, here's hoping Daniel McCullers gets the start over Cam Thomas.

Then again, Thomas has been better at the nose than he has been at end, where he looks like a fish out of water - literally flopping around on the ground at times.

There is a plus to all of this. If Thomas has to play the nose, that will mean more playing time for rookie Stephon Tuitt at defensive end - finally.

@ Tomlin also sounded optimistic about the possibility of Jarvis Jones being activated this week off the short-term IR.

I watched Jones in practice last week and he actually looked pretty good. He looked like a player with fresh legs.

James Harrison would obviously get the start - though he's dealing with some knee soreness. But Jones might be able to give the Steelers a little something as a pass rusher.


Anonymous said...

Time to unleash hell Mike! Sorry.....had to......

adamg said...

Dale, do qbs ever get tired arms late in the season from throwing so many passes? There is a lot of wear and tear on their bodies over the course of a season afterall.

Anonymous said...

How can anybody handicap this week’s matchup? Is the good or bad Ben going to show up? Is the good or bad Andy Dalton going to show up? Good luck calling this one.

Anonymous Brian said...

Might as well run Bell ‘til the wheels fall off since RBs only last a few seasons anyway, typically? (Better than running Archer up the gut on 2nd-and-1.)

Sounds to me like they’ve been holding out hope that McLendon’s shoulder surgery can wait until after the season.

Did Tomlin give any reasoning for not using timeouts on New Orleans’ last drive before the half, other than just saying he would do the same thing? Just curious. I mean, Mike Smith v. the Browns does put things in perspective, but I still think there’s a head scratcher in this department nearly every week.

Random somewhat related thought – why do the Steelers run the world’s seemingly slowest hurry-up offense? (Other than that time v. the Jets when they beat the third quarter clock for no reason.)

Ben’s recent play may be an extreme example of it, but I think it’s pretty normal for him – and thus his offense – to be all over the place, good, bad, ugly, sometimes on the same drive. Which usually ends in a sack and then FG :) Hopefully the pendulum swings back in the other direction and he leads the Steelers (“us”) on a run the last month. I’m really not buying that, but, like Princess Leia said, “…you’re my only hope.”

If I had to choose between Cam Thomas and Sean Mahan, I’d pick…Jonathan Scott, because even though he wasn’t very good, he did play pretty well in the 2010 AFC championship game.

I’m not a doctor but how effective can Jarvis Jones be? Dale mentioned that wrist being noticeably smaller than the other one a few weeks ago – doesn’t he need the wrist to be pretty close to full strength?

Dale Lolley said...

Ben's arm shouldn't have been tired coming off a bye week.

Tomlin said he didn't use the timeouts, well, because he didn't.
I would have done so, but he did bring up a valid point that Roethlisberger overthrew Miller at the 15 badly. That would have given them a shot to throw at least once or even twice into the end zone.

Anonymous said...

I've seen Roethlisberger be accurate with bad footwork in the past. So maybe that's what gives him confidence he can make any throw from any angle. And it's true he didn't really have many clean pockets until the end when the Saints where sitting back on their lead. Until then he was trying to make throws from a mechanically unsound base. Flat footed, open shoulders, back foot, right foot forward, feet together, you name it and he sprayed it.

I could see this live from my TV. Surely Haley did too. Both he and Ben are golfers and understand the critical nature of mechanics as it relates to hitting a golf ball or throwing a football. Whenever my shots on a golf course or pool table start going off target I immediately revisit my mechanics to see and understand what I'm doing wrong. Should be the same here. And Haley should do his part by calling whatever he can that could restore his mechanics. Be it rolling the pocket or forcing NO out of zone and into man thru matchups /personnel so he can start getting the ball out bang-bang at the end of his drop.

Dale Lolley said...

I would have incorporated Bell into the passing offense earlier. He was targeted once in the first half and that was on a sideline pattern.

I would have run some stuff with him over the middle for some easy completions and see what happens. But they were max protecting a lot because they expected seven and eight-man blitzes from the Saints.

Anonymous said...

Despite using two second and 2 first round picks our oline still can't provide Ben good protection even against mediocre defenses.

Fire Colbert.

marc said...

didn't seem to me the saints blitzed that much. they were dropping back and letting #7 screw it up himself.

also, it's hard to criticize how they used bell in the first half. didn't he have 82 yards rushing at halftime? the score of that game at halftime rests solely on #7's shoulders.

the steelers showed they could take graham out of the offense, but brees just went down the line to the other WR's and picked them apart. if the steelers try to take green out for the bengals, is Dalton good enough to do the same thing?

dale, McCullers didn't get that many snaps last game. is he still just too raw to put in there more often? I watched cam Thomas exclusively at is he bad. many times he just has no idea where the ball is and RB's simply run right past him. terrible.

while I agree that the offense should run thru bell (he's flat out awesome), I also share concerns regarding his workload. he's second in the nfl in touches so far this season (rushes and receptions) and on pace for 374 by year end. if he comes in that high for 2-3 years, he'll most likely start breaking down, imo.

joe said...

"Mike Tomlin said today that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger hasn't been as accurate in recent weeks as he was earlier in the season.""

did he also point out the sun comes up in the east ?

Anonymous said...

I take it Tuitt starting means McLendon is out again and they're bumping Thomas to the nose.

Noel said...

The announcers mentioned Ben practicing handoffs with his left hand prior to the game. Was there already an issue that was just aggravated by colliding with Lofton or is there some other reason to have been practicing that?

Anonymous said...

I don't know what that means. Every QB hands off with either hand. If its a run to the right, the handoff is from the left hand. To the left, then right. I never see QBs back handing the handoff with the opposite hand. And I have no idea why anyone would practice doing it that way if not for an injury adaptation.