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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Thoughts on what Tomlin had to say

Mike Tomlin spoke to reporters today for the first time since doing so minutes after his team's 30-17 playoff loss to Baltimore.

Much has happened in the period since then. Dick LeBeau and the team "parted ways." Brett Keisel was released. Jason Worilds retired. Players have been signed and re-signed, including quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

But Tomlin has remained officially incommunicado.

He does, however, speak every year at the owner's meetings, which this year are taking place in Phoenix.

Here's what he had to say to the team's web site:

Regarding the defense: Our goal is to be the very best, or at least to be in that discussion, depending on how you define it. Obviously, the last couple of years I don't think we've had a legitimate argument in that discussion. We have for a great number of years I've been here and that's our intention, to be back in that's our intention, to be back in that discussion no matter how you shape it or cut it.

On LeBeau leaving: Dick's been here for a long time and had a great deal of success. I'm not going to get into specifics about what his thought process was; just know that we had a great deal of love and respect for not only him the man but what he brought us. He's move on, and I feel like we have a very capable man in Keith Butler, a guy who has been in our program for some time, even prior to me being here.

On possible defensive changes: A lot of things weigh into that, obviously our tools first and foremost. We always want to play to our strengths and work to minimize our weakness, whether it's offense, defense or special teams. ... In some instances (it's) change, in some instances (it's) tweak. I'm not opposed to change. Change is not something I fear. If you're trying to be the very best you can be, you can't have that mentality."

@ Tomlin also said that the team will have an "open competition" at outside linebacker with James Harrison, who was just re-signed Sunday, Jarvis Jones and Arthur Moats. You can probably add a rookie to that mix at some point as well - unless Howard Jones or Shawn Lemons make some kind of impact this season - which is doubtful. They're nothing more than depth guys at this point.

But really, the Steelers are in a bit of a quandary. Harrison hasn't played the left side since early in his career when he was the backup on both sides to Joey Porter and Clark Haggans. Jones is a former first-round draft pick who has lined up only on the right side and isn't big or strong enough to move to the left/strong side over the tight end. That leaves Moats, who the team moved over to the left side late last season when Jones returned from a dislocated wrist, as the best option there now.

They might just have to mix and match, which isn't a great situation.

If Harrison and Jones both wind up on the right side, how does that retard Jones' growth there? Unlike some others, I'm not ready to give up on him there. He doesn't have to look like Tarzan to play the position. And I saw flashes last season of good hand technique that tell me he win battles in that fashion.

Harrison will be 37. He most certainly shouldn't be in any long-term plans. Jones, on the other hand, should.

It will be interesting to watch.


Steve-O said...

In the 3rd to the last paragraph you ask "If Harrison and Jones both wind up on the right side, how does retard Jones' growth there?" I'm guessing you didn't mean to call Jones a retard. I'm also guessing you meant to put the word "that" in front of "retard". Nevertheless, it was quite the funny gaff. Thanks for the chuckle.

Tim said...

I wouldn't give up on Jarvis playing the left side.

For starters, the Steelers don't swap their guys strong-side/weak-side like some teams. They have ROLB and LOLB. If tight ends were the issue, what would happen when there's a tight end lined up next to the LT?? There go all our plans!

So that's a major part of the job, any way you work it. To me the questions are:

1) How much worse would he be against the run, playing against RTs, compared to how he'd play against LTs? And

2) How much better would he be rushing the passer against RTs, compared to LTs?

I'm much less worried about his run D against RTs than I am his pass rush against LTs. I think he could pull a Worilds and become a new man on the left side. I'd give him a LONG hard look at LOLB - a real chance.

On top of it arguably being better for Jarvis to move, it solves your Harrison/Moats issue. Harrison is ROLB, and Moats plays as much time as he earns at both spots, possibly even equal playing time.

Tom said...

That Owa kid from UCLA is starting to grow on me...a little stiff but if he dropped 10 pounds he could be a beast edge rusher for the Steelers. I haven't seen enough tape to decide whether he should be taken #22 or if he would fall to the 40's (and Pitt would trade up to get him).

Anonymous said...

A lot of this is Tomlin's way of motivating Jarvis Jones. His comments are thought out and pointed...make no mistake about it.

Noel said...

He also chuckled at the comment about open competition saying that it's open at all positions including Antonio Brown, unlikely but if someone can do it...The tenor of his response doesn't show up
In most of the quotes we've been seeing.

I like Owa too but not unless he falls to the second round. Not enough bend for outside rushing at the next level and of course there are injury concerns to be evaluated. Love his fiery attitude though. If he's coachable and the hips are reasonably healed I think we're due for another mean LB in there.

joe said...

they didn't have many options, so harrison for another year is a solid signing. i don't get the two year deal though ?

marc said...

I understand that these guys may be better suited for one side over another. but, regardless of where you lineup jones, won't teams run right at him figuring he is the lesser of the OLB's at run defense?

will next season be the turning point when we see more 4 down linemen sets versus 3 down? it just seems to me they are moving in that direction and it may also best suit their personnel.

Dale Lolley said...

The two-year deal for Harrison is like the two-year deal they signed Keisel to. It allowed them to give him a little more signing bonus without taking the entire cap hit this season.

Anonymous said...


I think "open competition" with James is a bad idea.

What steelers found by mistakes last year, is what they should do it in a planned way this year.

Vets should be designed to play only 10 games. Not entire season.

Steelers should rest vets like Harrison and Troy through entire camp. And should start working them out just before week 1. Ramp up the workouts to bring them to NFL game readiness by Week5.. and should play them in the last 10 games.

That does few things:
1. It gives rookies/inexperienced guys chance to perform in a non-pressurized situations (first 6 games are not as stressfull as last 10 when season is on line).
2. Your veterans are now healthy to play the important games... and healthy during playoffs.
3. If veterans are hurt in final leg... your rookies already have some starting experience so they have better situation.

But may be GMs always structure bonuses based on camp performance and no.of plays.. s

datruth4life said...

Dale, what are the players that you do like in this draft that you think would be a fit with the Steelers at no. 22 besides CB Kevin Johnson? What OLBs do you like in this draft who are mid-first round or later that you think would be a great fits with this team?

Dale Lolley said...

I'm pretty convinced they are taking a CB in the first unless there's some kind of run on them.

But Odighizuwa should draw interest - though I would hate if they drafted him because it would take weeks to get that name right.

Beyond that, the offensive tackle group could be of interest. Adams is a UFA next year, as is Foster.

I like Nate Orchard's tape, but his workouts aren't great. He's probably not a first-round guy due to that, but he'd be a second-round guy I'd like if available.

ibygeorge said...

Tomlin is right to get our defense back in the discussion. The discussion is loaded with questions.

Joe Jones said...

My final thoughts on the draft, and then maybe I'll shut up for a while.

Potential options at 22 :
1. OLB Vic Beasley
1b. ROLB Shane Ray (unlikely)
1c. CB Jalen Collins
4. OLB Bud Dupree

2nd Round :
1. CB PJ Williams
1b. S Derron Smith (unlikely)
1b. S Demarious Randall
1c. OLB Bud Dupree (unlikely)
1c. ROLB Kikaha
6. CB Marcus Peters (he's an option if he's here)
6a. CB of some kind

Round 3 :
S Gerod Holliman
Round 4 :
CB Ifo-Ekpre Olamu (could be a steal)
Round 5 :
TE Pharoah Brown (could go 4th or later due to injury that could knock him into late day 3, but he could be a good investment, especially with Spaeth back to hold us over in '15)

6. Who knows at this point, or ever for that matter.
Overall I see a massive effort this draft to improve the Defense, and give Butler the young guys he can move forward with.
I do think there's a 90% chance it will be Vic Beasley in the 1st round if he's there. That's both my bold prediction & endgame on the draft subject.

Dale Lolley said...

No way Beasley lasts until 22 and Collins just had foot surgery.

I doubt they're taking a safety in the second round. Shamarko Thomas and Mitchell will be the staring safeties.

Anonymous said...

"Beyond that, the offensive tackle group could be of interest. Adams is a UFA next year, as is Foster?"

yeah, they need another tackle regardless of whether Adams is signed for 10 years or none. That's one move I believe should come from veteran cuts, unless of course the team wants to actually draft one high

Qwikdoc said...

"Shamarko Thomas and Mitchell will be the starting safeties".

That is a scary statement. Mitchell was less than consistent last year and Shamarko's potential is unknown at this point. coupled with our thinness at CB and in a pass-happy league, it appears Tomlin's plan to have a top defense next year is worth a chuckle at best.

marc said...

I was very critical of Mitchell last season until I found out about the groin injury. because of that, I give him somewhat of a pass - on pain tolerance alone - and hope for better things next season.

what's interesting to me - and dale had not touched upon it - were tomlin's comments regarding Mitchell at strong safety. will we see Thomas and Mitchell become interchangeable as safeties next season? is Thomas suited to play free safety? just curious.

I don't have an issue with Thomas/Mitchell (healthy) as the starting safeties. I think that is an improvement over polamalu/Mitchell (injured).

datruth4life said...

Dale, which Collins had foot surgery? The CB from LSU, Jalen Collins? Also, I've seen reports where the Steelers could be as much as $30M under the cap next year, depending on how much the extensions come in for Heyward and Beachum. To your knowledge, is that correct? And lastly, there is one WR who I betcha dollars to doughnuts who will be a WR for the Steelers after the draft and will follow in the 3rd to 4th range and end up being a stud. That is Trey McBride from William and Mary, Tomlin's alma matta. He has good speed (4.41 40 yard dash), size (6'0'', 210 lbs) and is a KR/PR to boot. I could easily see the Steelers taking this kid in the 4th or 5th round. Thoughts?

Dale Lolley said...

Ryan Clark wasn't very good in his first season in Pittsburgh, either. Couple that with Mitchell's groin injury and they expect him to be better.

Thomas is a strong safety. If they move Mitchell to strong, it's because their top backup, Golden, is strictly a free. They'll have Mitchell, the vet, play both sides. That way if Thomas gets hurt - and he has a track record - they don't have to have Golden do something he's not capable of.

Yes, Jalen Collins had surgery.

And I like McBride, talked with him at the combine.

Anonymous said...

Dale are u talking about Golden long term or this season? Cause I would assume if someone gets hurt at safety Will Allen slots in. I mean I bet we're all expecting him to be signed at some point before september!

Anonymous said...

When Carriker came out, I saw Aaron Smith 2.0. After the veteran combine, that knee checks out. I'd much rather have him at DE than Big Herp Cam Thomas. Does it just make too much sense?

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty convinced they are taking a CB in the first

If they don't sign a FA CB between now and the draft, you can pretty much bank on it.

I'm also convinced there are no CBs in this draft worth a R1 pick. So there's that.

Joe Jones said...

Agreed. Mitchell costs us with dumb penalties and isn't very good in the first place.

Joe Jones said...

And yet you don't see a need for a safety in the earlier rounds?