November 29, 2007

And Now A Word From Coach Tomlin...

"Those division games are always big time games, particularly for us against the Bangles."
- Mike Tomlin
Did Mike Tomlin just call the Bengals, the Bangles? Maybe he meant to say Bungles, or Bingals, but the Bangles, that's a new one. You mean like the group of chicks from the 80's who sang "Walk Like An Egyptian?" I mean I guess if he's calling the Bungles a bunch of chicks with crazy hair and intentionally too much makeup, then I'm all for it. Ok, so this is more than likely just a typo (not mine, from the story - see link for yourself), but it'd be a whole lot funnier if it wasn't.

Ah but on to the real purpose of this post - to provide you all with some of the highlights of Tomlin's Tuesday press conference. I don't often pay much attention to these because the questions often tend to center around one topic that I often may or may not give two shits about (not to say that I never do though), but since I was bored at work and needed some blog fodder, I took a look at the PG's video (Highlight - Ed Bouchette's cell phone ringing 30 seconds into the conference) and read over some of the recaps out there (see below).

What I gained was a complete reaffirmation in my belief that Mike Tomlin is supremely wise and equally bad ass.

His thoughts followed by mine on some of the media's questions are below (in no particular order):

Q - Would you suggest an artificial turf?
Tomlin: We have to look at those options and we will. I’m not concerned about it right now. The field we have is the field that we have.

Cotter: As Coach Tomlin implied, this ain't gardening, it's football. The condition of the field will not affect our preparation and you guys asking about it non-stop isn't going to make the situation better any quicker. Next question.
Q - Do you believe the field is a great equalizer?
Tomlin: I try not to dwell on things we can not control, weather and field conditions being one of them...Your ability to deal with the unforeseen and your ability to deal with adversity defines you. How it’s created is irrelevant...Thankfully we were good enough last night to get a win.

Cotter: I'm sorry, is this a different question? I'm confused...
Q - What is the prognosis for the field?
Tomlin: You guys are really chewing on this field situation. It is football, man. It is an outdoor game....It created some adversity. We overcame it and found a way to win the game and we move on.

Cotter: Field Conditions? Are we talking about Field Conditions? You know what, I'm just going to throw out another topic, and you guys let me know if you're into it - we have a game on Sunday against the Bengals...
Q - Do you change the way you game plan for a game based on field conditions?
Tomlin: No.

Cotter: Banana Hammock.
Annnnnnnnnd, end scene!

Ok, that might have been a little TOO sarcastic and maybe a bit overdone, but I do it all in jest. Field conditions of course are important, as evidenced on Monday night, and the media is right to probe Tomlin for information. Consequently, I'm sure you'll all be interested to know that the players are lobbying to keep the Heinz Field grass, despite pressure to install artificial turf resulting from the other nights insanity...

That aside, some of Tomlin's more interesting/insightful comments were:

Q - You seemed to throw the ball more on the last drive that you scored on.
"We have a lot of belief in what Ben (Roethlisberger) is capable of in our no-huddle attack. Just because we go no-huddle doesn’t mean we are going to be pass happy. We generally have the belief that we are going to take what the defense is giving us...We have to be able to do a lot of things well if we want to move the ball well and be successful..."
Q - What do you think of Najeh as a short-yardage running back?
"He is one of the best in the league. His resume confirms that. I think that is the first time he has been stopped on a third-and-one all year...We look forward to getting him back on track in that area as we move forward this week."
Q - How difficult is it to stay fresh at this time of year?
"A lot of time people see the glass as half empty. I view it as half full. We are who we are. Maybe some of our weaknesses are evident, as is our opponents. The team that minimizes theirs and attacks the weaknesses of others has a chance to win. That is what we intend to do. Make no bones about that."
Q - Do you feel like the team is improving?
"I think we are. A lot of times it doesn’t show up enough on the scoreboard. It needs to show up enough on the scoreboard for you to win...I do believe we are capable of playing great situational football offensively; third-down, red zone and things that will be critical to us winning close games as we continue to move forward...We are starting to develop a personality and sure up some things on special teams...We are going to need every man and guys are getting valuable experience and showing that they are capable of making plays. As we move forward into December, everybody has to be capable of winning a football game for you and feel the gravity of that."

Now, MY thoughts on these topics go kind of like this:

Q - You seemed to throw the ball more on the last drive that you scored on.
I guess you could say that. We tried 3 run plays and 5 pass plays. So I actually think it was as balanced as we had been all night. The only difference being that we were actually executing a [relatively] successful drive and it resulted in 3 points.
Q - What do you think of Najeh as a short-yardage running back?
I'm not sold on him. I know Tomlin has a lot of faith in him but by my estimation he just hasn't been consistent enough running the ball or blocking. I think when we hand him the ball on 3rd and 1 and we need that 1st down, he better get it. The swing passes he gets every now and then are nice. They seem to work out well. But Willie Parker is meant to do the heavy lifting in our running game. All we ask of Najeh is to get the tough yardage on 3rd and/or 4th down. He needs to come through in those situations...more often than not.
Q - How difficult is it to stay fresh at this time of year?
Fortunately the Steelers have a lot of depth, which UNfortunately has played a decent sized role this season. I think Anthony Smith has done a great job filling in for Ryan Clark, and is developing well. I don't like his arrogance at times. I think someone might need to explain a little sportsmanship to him. But as a player, he hits like a ton of bricks and is tackling very well. Also, Tyrone Carter and Max Starks stepped up HUGE against the Dolphins, Lamar Woodley when healthy has contributed, Nate Washington and Cedrick Wilson have filled in nicely a couple of times, and even Willie Reid got into the game Monday, netting a much needed 1st down. So it's obviously tough, as we've seen with the rash of injuries all around the league this season. But fortunately we have the understudies to allow our starters to get healthy without having to rush them back.
Q - Do you feel like the team is improving?
Of course. We've had some set backs (See: Jets). But overall, the team has improved greatly over last season and I think we'll see as the weeks roll on, they will step up in the clutch and get the wins we need to clinch a playoff spot. There are still some points of contention, as there often are, Offensive line isn't what I'd call satisfactory yet and "Special" Teams is a head scratcher, but as a team I think the Steelers have shown that they are capable of going toe to toe with and being counted among, the leagues so-called "elite" teams.

So now that you've heard all Coach Tomlin and I have to offer on these subjects, how would you guys respond?

Tomlin Press Conference [SteelCityInsider]
Tomlin Hands Out Atta-Boys []
Steelers Video: Mike Tomlin's Press Conference [Post-Gazette]
Crews Work To Improve Conditions At Heinz Field [KDKA]
Steelers Players Lobby Against Artificial Turf [Associated Press]

Ballhype: hype it up!


Joey Porter’s Pit Bulls said...

I like this throw-away comment:

"... even Willie Reid got into the game Monday, netting a much needed 1st down."

EVEN Willie Reid ... must make him feel good.

Cotter said...

Haha, next time I see him I'll be sure to apologize. No doubt he's reading this blog and crying right now...

domski43 said...

f the bengals!! i agree with some of the people on this blog about not being able to take ANYTHING positive/negative away from Monday night's game. The field was terrible and we came out with a win.

Hopefully this week the steelers get back into a groove. By this I mean an equally successful and balanced offensive attack as well as total domination on defense. Win the turnover battle and WRAP UP the kick/punt returners. (my heart cannot take another cleveland game)

P.S. as an early christmas gift can you shut down housamazilla and ocho faggo?

tobiathan...f*** the patricunts!

Anonymous said... sentiments EXACTLY, Domski!

I disagree, though, that there was nothing positive to take away from Monday night. First, all the talk about how the Steelers and fans should be "embarrassed" about the field is crap, pure and simple. Football, on every level besides "pro", is about the weather and field conditions as much as athletic talent. "Embarassment" is only a factor if, say, your coach gets caught cheating and ADMITS it (i'm looking at you, Cheatriots :-)

Secondly: the ability to stick it out and adjust to come away with a W is important at this point in the season. That's definitely a positive. Other teams would've cried about the field and given up early. Not keep fighting, playing D and finally winning a tough, close game. In a shutout, no less! Second of the season! (We've won SuperBowls the other coupe times we had two shutouts in a season! ;-)

BTW- My compliments to Miami's defense; they played hard Monday and have all year. Peezy played well too (I, for one, miss him in Black-n-Gold, but he got paid well in Miami). I feel bad for any team who tries so hard and doesn't win at all. Seriously.

IMHO this week's game against Cinnamon-chili Cincy might be the most important of the year to date.
A win here can put us in the right frame of mind, and playoff position, to wrap up the season on a roll. And we'll need a good showing to get our heads right for Dec. 9.

Like i said in another post: i'm worried about this game. And about a lot of things i've seen in the offense the last few weeks. Ben's been holding the ball too long. It looks like he's trying to find the big downfield throw, but he needs to look more to the dink-and-dunk passes and throwing it away in bad coverage. I hope he works that out.

The O-line did look a little better and more like it's old self in the running game on Monday. Remember: this O-line was drafted by Cowher to run-block and destroy opposing defenses in the run game. Pass-blocking is not it's natural strength and it's taking a while for it to get normal to them. They're coming around though- Max Starks did look a lot more effective in pass-blocking than Marvel has(except his high center of gravity and failure to continue chopping his feet!)

Willie looked a lot happier bursting thru those holes straight ahead than he has in the cut-back game recently. Maybe something to think about going forward, especialy with his dominant wide-open speed. Let Fast Willie do his thang. Also, throw him more of thos swing-passes and screen plays. I like his ability to avoid the first tackle and make a big play.

Najeh needs to stp pretending he's Barry Sanders. He was signed as a powerback but insists on trying to make moves on guys instead of lowering his shoulder, building momentum and crushing smaller defenders as he rightfully should do.

Tyrone Carter *might* be under-rated and should possibly see more playing time. I like his speed and reaction time. He should rotate with Smith and Troy. No reason not to give both guys a blow once in a while.

Speaking of rootation: why, oh why, does Pittsburgh's defense seem SO reluctant to rotate Hoke, Kirschke and Nua into the D-line game? All those guys have loked good to me in their limited playing time. And, Big Snack gets obviously tired on longer drives. Hoke, at the least, is a starting-quality DT on most teams and we just don't use him enough, i think.

What happened to our aggressive blitzing schemes? Is Tomlin putting the kaibosh on it? Does Labeau not like to rush the passer anymore? Am i not noticing something? It just doesn't seem like we're putting enough hits on opposing QBs lately. Might be a good week to re-initiate that aggressiveness, considering Palmer still gets gunshy after a few good licks.PS- so does T. Bradsy. Hint-hint.

So, since i KNOW all the Steeler coaches are reading OFTOT every day with their players, let say this:

It's time to take it up a notch. I know Tomlin likes to lay low, but Cowher had it right when he got fired up late in the season and started challenging guys by name and action every week. Start putting pressure on the team. They're tough, they can handle it. In fact, i think they like it.

And most importantly, forget about the Patritw*ats. They're soft, over-rated and most likely cheating on several different levels. You guys can beat them up and beat them on the scoreboard. Remember: even if you happen NOT to outscore them in a couple weeks you can still hurt them, bruise them, and scare them enough to make their playoff run undoable.

Play your game. Get mean. Get mad. It's YOUR damn Lombardi trophy, dammit. F*ck the naysayers.

And that's MY take on things as they stand now. A lot of people are saying a lot of things about the Steelers right now. None of it matters. In fact, the more people get down on our guys the better they'll play. We've seen it a lot in this team.

I look for some high-powered play out of the Steelers here on out. It's getting to that part of the year when our team starts to excel, and partly because they're less beat-up than the turf-teams. Natural grass does A LOT in the way of absorbing the impact of running, cutting and jumping. Ever notice how so many other teams suffer at least a couple of devastating injuries every year, except ours? That grass is the reason why.

OK....i've babbled more than enough. I'm feeling good about our guys this week. As long as they play hard, and play tough no one will beat them. No one.

Go Stillers!! Beat Cincy! And the refs!!

Anonymous said...

One more thing:

Watching GB vs. Dallas. Been noticing that John Kuhn, who the Steelers cut in the preseason, and he's laying kick-ass blocks on Cowboy defenders and catching the ball and running like a freight-train.

I was shocked when Pittsburgh cut him. The guy was a great football player, had good feet and was solid in carrying the ball. He was quick and huge. e was smart. Even though nobody gives white kids the chance to play running back anymore in the NFL he could have at least been a powerful fullback/H-back/TE and short-yardage guy. He even did good thing on STs in preseason, but we kept Najeh. Meh.

Kind of the Owen Schmidt-type guy(for you WVU Mountaineer fans out there), and Schmidt would be a great player to pick up too.

I'm still mystified as to why we cut loose of this 6'2", 265lb. monster of a back, but we did did.