View Full Version : Steelers will learn more about Tomlin in 2nd year

08-25-2008, 04:29 PM

PITTSBURGH (AP) - The Bill Cowher-to-Mike Tomlin handoff couldn't have gone more smoothly for the Pittsburgh Steelers (http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/team/67067) last season. The Steelers (http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/team/67067) are convinced they have a coach for the long term, just as they were when they hired Cowher in 1992.

The Steelers (http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/team/67067) could learn a lot more about Tomlin in year two.

Tomlin mostly aced the NFL rookie coach's test: handling players, dealing with the media, earning respect. Little about Tomlin's first season was subject to debate as the Steelers (http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/team/67067) opened 3-0 and 9-3 before finishing 10-6 with a division title. But a limp-to-the-wire finish with four losses in five games, including two home-field defeats to Jacksonville, gave Tomlin an incomplete in Sideline Coaching 101.

Now, some new challenges await.

With the Steelers (http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/team/67067) dealing with what may be their roughest schedule in years, an Alan Faneca (http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/player/70579)-less offensive line and an aging defense, they need the 36-year-old Tomlin to be as good a coach on the field as he is off it.
During a season in which the Steelers (http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/team/67067) could need every edge they can get to hold off the resurgent Browns (http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/team/67042) in the AFC Central, what could be a bigger boost than Tomlin proving he can stand up to Bill Belichick on the sideline?

The Steelers (http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/team/67067)' offense looks to be even better than when the team won its fifth Super Bowl in the 2005 season, with first-round pick Rashard Mendenhall (http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/player/535203) complementing Pro Bowl running back Willie Parker (http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/player/224889) and rangy rookie Limas Sweed (http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/player/535263) added to Hines Ward (http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/player/70572) and Santonio Holmes (http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/player/401271) at wide receiver.

The defense is little changed, although second-year linebacker LaMarr Woodley (http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/player/469321) is now a starter and 2007 first-round draft pick Lawrence Timmons (http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/player/469535) is pushing for playing time at linebacker.

Here's where the coaching comes in. With the Browns (http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/team/67042) (twice), Patriots (http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/team/67054), Giants (http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/team/67056), Colts (http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/team/67048), Jaguars (http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/team/67064) and Cowboys (http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/team/67043) on a schedule that finds the Steelers (http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/team/67067) playing three of their final five on the road, there could be plenty of close games.

That might be a worry.

Last season, the Steelers (http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/team/67067) lost six of their eight games that were decided by seven or fewer points, a troubling statistic for a division champion. It illustrates an inability by the offense to close out games and by the defense to shut down drives in key situations.

The close losses came in a season in which kicker Jeff Reed (http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/player/110734) missed only two attempts, one of more than 60 yards and the other in a cloudburst. Obviously, he wasn't the problem.

Tight games are where an excellent coach can make a difference. If the schedule is as demanding as it appears, injuries become a factor, the offensive line doesn't hold up and the defense shows its age, it's not difficult envisioning the Steelers (http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/team/67067) missing the playoffs.

Not that they expect that to happen.

"I think some people look at it and are a little nervous, but I like the young attitude that we have and I think we can be very good," said Ben Roethlisberger (http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/player/200315), who was given a $102 million contract after throwing 32 touchdown passes and only 11 interceptions last season.
So does Ward, who said during training camp that "losing to Jacksonville was disappointing, so for me I don't want anything less than a Super Bowl."

That might be a lot to ask given that the Steelers (http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/team/67067) must replace one of the best offensive linemen in team history in Faneca, now with the Jets (http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/team/67057).

Faneca's replacement is former backup Chris Kemoeatu (http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/player/300133), who could be one of three new offensive line starters should former Panthers (http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/team/67063) center Justin Hartwig (http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/player/102804) supplant Sean Mahan (http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/player/140749) (expected) and former starter Max Starks (http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/player/200395) beats out incumbent Willie Colon (http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/player/401603) at right tackle (unlikely).

The schedule may test a defense loaded with 30-or-older starters: linebackers James Farrior (http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/player/70362) (33) and James Harrison (http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/player/114761) (30), defensive ends Aaron Smith (http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/player/70545) (32) and Brett Keisel (http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/player/102582) (who turns 30 in September), nose tackle Casey Hampton (http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/player/70566) (31 in September) and cornerback Deshea Townsend (http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/player/70599) (33 in September).

The defense also took a hit when second-year punter Daniel Sepulveda (http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/player/469453) tore a knee ligament during the first practice of training camp and was lost for the season.

Pro Bowl safety Troy Polamalu (http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/player/140433) is looking for a bounceback season after three separate injuries last year prevented him from being his playmaking self. He spent part of training camp on - where else? - the sideline with a hamstring injury.

What might greatly aid the defense is Parker returning healthy from the broken right leg that possibly cost him the NFL rushing title last season. If he does, the Steelers (http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/team/67067) plan to ease Mendenhall in to the fourth-quarter ball-control role that Jerome Bettis (http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/player/70584) played late in his career, one that keeps the defense off the field when it is effective.

Unlike last year, when the Steelers (http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/team/67067) led the division from September through December, the story line of this season is much more unpredictable.
"I never try to tell a story; I always try to let the story unfold and call it as I see it," Tomlin said. "That's what I intend to do this year as well."

08-25-2008, 04:59 PM
i was a little sketchy last season when he was hired but i'm satisfied. he's a smart guy.

08-25-2008, 06:38 PM
Tomlin is a very calm, cool collective dude! I was skeptical too at first but so far after his first year he's really proven himself. Granted we'll have to wait and see how he fairs in an AFCCG but until then I'm pleased!

08-25-2008, 06:53 PM
I was one of the biggest Cowher supporters and I wasn't convinced that Tomlin was going to be the right guy for the job but when you think about the way the Rooney's do things it makes sense. Tomlin was an assistant coach, a young guy who was focused and had a track record of success...same as Cowher did when they hired him in '92. The time was right to make the move and this year will be a big one for Tomlin to see how well prepared he can get this team week in and week out and keep them focused.

08-25-2008, 08:57 PM
I wasn't sure what to think when I heard they had picked Tomlin for the job. But, I am really happy with him as our head guy now. He seems to be a really calm and collected guy.

08-25-2008, 08:59 PM
I was one of the biggest Cowher supporters and I wasn't convinced that Tomlin was going to be the right guy for the job but when you think about the way the Rooney's do things it makes sense. Tomlin was an assistant coach, a young guy who was focused and had a track record of success...same as Cowher did when they hired him in '92. The time was right to make the move and this year will be a big one for Tomlin to see how well prepared he can get this team week in and week out and keep them focused.

To me the big thing I want to see out of Tomlin this season is how prepared they are to play on the road and not starting out games on the road flat like they did way way too many times last season especially toward the end of the year. Tomlin's team handled their business great at home last year going 7-1 during the regular season at Heinz Field much like you're suppose too. Had they been able to win a game or two in lets say those games in Denver or at the Jets in New York maybe they would have had a chance to get a higher seed possibly even a bye and advance further in the playoffs. And this year the way the schedule is set up you can bet that we're going to find out a lot early on in the season about how well this Steelers team plays on the road and how prepared and focused Tomlin really does have them seeing that they play 5 of their first 8 games on the road in Cleveland,Philly,Jacksonville,Cincy,and Washington.

One thing about Bill Cowher's teams were they thrived and played great on the road and were always prepared to play 9 times out of 10. We still havent seen that with Mike Tomlin just yet. If the Steelers come out flat and sluggish in these games on the road that they have early on in the year and get behind early and it starts leading to more losses then not in the end then I think it's really time to start questioning Tomlin with the way he prepares his team to go on the road and play. Last year he got kind of a free pass with it being a rookie coach and all, this year he wont.

08-26-2008, 01:24 AM
That's what Im anxious to see as well; it's interesting how in the last few years of the Cowher era the team struggled at home and played extremely well on the road. Even during all the playoff appearances it the friendly confines of Heinz Field & TRS were not as kind to BC in post season. Tomlin now has a year of experience knowing how much of a motivator he needs to be and that should help him this year. BC was a big time motivator we all know that, he thrived on firing up the troops. Perhaps Tomlin's laid back style translated a signal to the team and while they may have been prepared from a gameplan standpoint they weren't always mentally prepared. Who's to say if that's true or not and maybe it isn't but that's kind of how I took it last year. The team being used to a fiery, spit flying, jaw jutting, curse fest of a coach now has a more quiet, workmanlike Coach and that can take some getting used too.

08-26-2008, 02:29 PM
Yeah. I want to see us play better on the road this season as well. We just started off the games flat last year and sometimes, like the Denver game, we climbed back in it but it was a bit too late.

08-26-2008, 04:06 PM
I really like Mike Tomlin - and hope he is the real deal. But in my view the jury is clearly still out. Based upon last year - which of our wins would be considered an upset? I don't see any.:dunno:

Of our losses, which should we have won? Cardinals, Broncos, Jets - probably were clear favorites in these.

Cowher's teams would do this too. I remember some really bad losses to the likes of Cinci and the Texans (particularly painful memory) but they always seemed to come up with tough wins too. Like always beating KC or more recently San Diego on the road - 21 and done for New England and then undefeated Philly in back to back weeks.

I would be more convinced if we had beaten one really good team last year - even Jacksonville qualifies. The good news is we will get plenty of opportunities this year.

08-27-2008, 02:42 AM
Like others here I was skeptical when Tomlin was hired but I soon changed my frame of mind after watching the guy work. This year will be a tell all for him when he shows how he can handle this team and carry them through a screwed up schedule. Chin or no chin I have faith he'll do good.

08-27-2008, 01:20 PM
Coach Tomlin was the perfect pick to replace Coach Cowher, as much as I loved Cowher he is definately the best fit! i was worried last year but i only look forward to every year now, he's smart, confident and level headed. I love this! I look forward to this year and hopefully he'll be in Pittsburgh for a very long time!!! :tt02:

Dean Denton
08-27-2008, 01:57 PM
Yes this year will be big. I too was not sure about Tomlin because I was use to seeing Bill on the sideline. But I have faith in the Rooney's to make the right call. I was really upset with the 3rd and 6 bootleg in a spread formation in the playoffs last year, and kept saying Bill would not have made that call. But it was Tomlins first playoff game, and we did fight back hard, and showed a lot of heart in that game. Lets see what happens this year. I think the time for trial and error is over, and looking at the schedule this year Tomlin better be ready to rumble. He needs to have that O-line ready to go or its going to be a long season. I really dont care to see Ben running for his life this season, and Steamin Willie Beamin (Dixon) will not be ready until next year. We need Ben health if we want to see the playoffs. And I dont see us winnig a superbowl with Leftwich.

08-27-2008, 02:11 PM
I too was used to Seeing Cowher on the sidelines but it was painfully obvious his last year that he should not have been here that year and should have retired the year before. His last year was a complete waste with Zero motivation.

I was not sure about tomlin in the very beginging. After watching one interview with him and doing a little reaserach i knew he was teh right guy for the job and would get the job.

We have a future hall of fame coach in Tomlin. I know thats saying alot for a second year coach, but when you listen to the man, look at all that he has acomplished and just his overall demeanor, it seems very clear to me. Although i could be wrong cause so many other things affect the success in the NFL for players or coaches, but this man has excepted nothing less than success in everything he has done. We have a real keeper in Tomlin.