View Full Version : Tomlin still adjusting to life as new Steelers head coach

02-26-2007, 11:34 AM
Sorry if this was posted before, but with all the Tomlin threads I can't remember.


PITTSBURGH - As the newest celebrity in Western Pennsylvania, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin is still adjusting to his star status.

He's spent much of his first few weeks with the Steelers watching as much film as possible of the players he inherited from Bill Cowher. Thus far, Tomlin likes what he sees.

"I see a very talented team, of course. A team that's physically and mentally tough," said the 34-year-old Tomlin. "We have some standout players at various positions. There's a lot to be excited about."

With that talented team, however, comes very real Super Bowl expectations. The Steelers are, after all, a team that is only one season removed from winning the franchise's fifth Super Bowl championship. It's also a team that stumbled to an 8-8 record in 2006 while defending that title.

The pressure for Tomlin to make the playoffs in his first season, with a team that will return all of its starters, will be great.

"If you don't like pressure, you're in the wrong business," Tomlin said. "I thrive on it. That's how you know you're alive. If you don't want to get out of the bed and meet the challenges of the day, I don't know what you do for a living.

"I struggle to understand why someone would think I have an issue with expectation. It's part of the business. You love it. That's what drives you. That's the competitor in all of us. I welcome that."

The NFL's free-agency period begins Friday. Free agency could be the first real hint of Tomlin's plans for the Steelers. A former assistant coach under Tony Dungy, Tomlin has used a cover-2, 4-3 defense throughout his NFL coaching career, first in Tampa Bay and then in Minnesota. But the Steelers used a 3-4 defense in all of Cowher's 15 seasons and are built to run that scheme.

Tomlin, however, says he's not worried about making changes.

"The elite players defy scheme," he said. "Troy Polamalu's going to be an excellent safety, regardless of what defensive scheme he's in. Casey Hampton's going to be a dominant interior defensive lineman, regardless of what scheme he's in.

"We're not going to get enamored with that. We're going to continue to shape our package to do what our players do well. It'll be a constant evolution."

While wtaching film, Tomlin is not evaluating a player's performance as much as he's learning what they do well. Tomlin says he'll enter his first workouts with the team with a clear mind about who the starters are - with obvious exceptions.

"It's never cut and dried in that regard," said Tomlin of his depth chart. "There are certain things that are obvious. You have to use your common sense. Alan Faneca is a starter. ... It does involve a little common sense and understanding that known commodities are known commodities."

Such a statement could be viewed by some veterans on the Steelers' roster as a sign they may need to work harder than ever to keep their jobs. Tomlin said that's not the message he intended.

"Some people motivate through fear," he said. "To me, fear is not a good long-term motivator. I think you motivate true professionals through teaching, so that's my approach. Charismatic leadership or motivation, fear motivation, or teaching; I tend to focus on teaching."

Tomlin hopes the players buy into the teaching because that's the only plan he will utilize. He won't be giving any long-winded speeches or meet-and-greet seminars when minicamp begins.

"I'm not here to entertain them, or try to win them over immediately with glitz and glamour," Tomlin said. "That's short-lived. I'm going to be myself. We're going to get started about the business of putting together a great football team. That's just rolling your sleeves up and going to work on a day-to-day basis. The things they'll see from me, once we get started on our offseason program, are the same things that they're going to see from me next January when we're in the thick of things."

Tomlin also is keeping an open mind about the draft and free agency, though he did say that given what occured in the NFL this season - all four teams that made the conference championship games had two feature running backs - he'd like to have somebody on the roster to pair with Pro Bowler Willie Parker.

"I'm greedy," he said. "I'd like to strengthen all the positions, but at the same time I'm a realist. It's not necessarily what positions need to be strengthened, it's about prioritizing what positions you want to focus on. That's what we're in the process of doing."

Tomlin has already prioritized his personal life.

His wife and three young children remain in Minneapolis, going through the process of selling their home and finding a new one in Pittsburgh. And Tomlin has quickly come to terms with the fact he can no longer walk into a store or restaurant without being recognized. He's been spotted at numerous sporting events around the city, from Penguins games to Pitt basketball games. He's even attended some high school basketball. And at every stop, he's found out how much the area is in tune with what's going on with the Steelers.

"I'm starting to realize that I can't slide in anywhere," he said. "That's cool."


02-26-2007, 08:19 PM
Pretty good read, read bits and pieces of it from other stories printed.