View Full Version : Mike Tomlin makes strong impression quickly with champion Pittsburgh Steelers

09-19-2009, 09:32 AM
Mike Tomlin makes strong impression quickly with champion Pittsburgh Steelers
By Dan Pompei / Chicago Tribune | Saturday, September 19, 2009 | http://www.bostonherald.com | NFL Coverage

Last February, Mike Tomlin became the youngest head coach to win a Super Bowl at 36. And to those who have known Tomlin for a long time, it did not come as a surprise.

My first impression upon meeting him several years ago when he was an assistant coach was not that he would be a head coach in the NFL. It was that he would be a very good head coach in the NFL.

It didnít take long to see Tomlin was an excellent communicator and special leader.

From talking with players he coached with the Buccaneers and Vikings, I learned he was a gifted teacher who could motivate.

Over time, I discovered he is tough but fair, open minded but firm.

He is an ideal steward for a Steelers franchise that had only two head coaches over the 38 years before his arrival. It is likely Tomlin will have a long run in Pittsburgh as well. The word is Steelers management already is working to extend his contract, which reportedly runs through next year and has a team option for 2011.

Tomlin took some time this week to discuss the Steelers and Bears as they prepare to play Sunday at Soldier Field.

You won the Super Bowl last year with a team that few thought could go all the way. How does the 2009 version of the Steelers compare?

Itís too early to tell. One of the signatures of that team was resiliency. We handled adversity and bumps in the road as well as any team Iíve been around. We havenít had enough of those opportunities yet with this team.

Your first opportunity to show resiliency may be how you respond to the loss of safety Troy Polamalu for three to six weeks. How does his absence change things?

Schematically, nothing will change without Troy. We have great continuity on defense. Veterans like Tyrone Carter have been called on in the past, and they know what itís like to play 60, 70 snaps in a game. We canít replace some of the unique things Troy brings. But we expect Tyrone to play winning football.

Carter is generously listed at 5 feet 9 inches. Are you concerned about matchup problems, especially against tall tight ends like 6-5 Greg Olsen?

We have many different packages and coverage approaches that can level the playing field in that regard. He didnít shrink this past weekend. Itís nothing new. Iím not overly concerned with stature.

Your quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had another comeback victory in your opener. He has had 18 come-from-behind, late-game victories in his career. How do you explain it?

Some people run from those moments. Some crave them and are at their best in them. Ben craves them. He is a competitor. He likes when the stakes are high. He had made a habit out of delivering in those circumstances. Weíre all comfortable with him in those situations.

Tell us about how Rashard Mendenhall (Niles West, Illinois) is doing in his second season.

He has worked extremely hard. We need more production from him and from a lot of other people. But there is no question he has better awareness, a better understanding of the game at this level and whatís expected from him. Those are natural things with a second lap around the track. Heís a more mature guy.

Why do you think so many of Tony Dungyís former assistants, like yourself and Lovie Smith, have become head coaches?

First and foremost, coach Dungyís track record creates opportunities. And then he creates an environment that is conducive to growth. He welcomes thoughts and ideas. He challenges you to think critically outside the box.

Does your knowledge of the Tampa-2 scheme give you an edge against the Bears?

No, not unless they give me the (play) call. This coaching fraternity is a small one. There is intimate knowledge every week, but very rarely does it affect the outcome. The guys who play do that.

How has the NFC North changed since you were last in it three years ago?

All of those teams have taken steps to secure their quarterback position. Minnesota getting Brett Favre, Detroit getting the first pick of the draft (Matthew Stafford), Chicago with Jay Cutler. And Green Bay is high on (Aaron) Rodgers. Thatís the significant difference in the division since I was there.

What did you think of Cutlerís first outing with the Bears?

This guy is very talented. He has a strong arm, and heís capable of putting the ball in tight places. Every now and then, games like that happen. Iíve seen him operate firsthand. He diced us up my first year when we played (the Broncos) in Denver. He is a Pro Bowl-caliber talent. I have a lot of respect for him. Iím sure heís going to be very focused on redeeming himself.


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Article URL: http://www.bostonherald.com/sports/football/other_nfl/view.bg?articleid=1198368

09-19-2009, 03:02 PM
Great read on Tomlin and thanks for posting Mesa. There is no doubt in my mind that Tomlin is a legacy in the making!

09-19-2009, 05:15 PM
Great read on Tomlin and thanks for posting Mesa. There is no doubt in my mind that Tomlin is a legacy in the making!

You are welcome.

09-19-2009, 06:52 PM
It is likely Tomlin will have a long run in Pittsburgh as well
Best news of the entire article

09-19-2009, 08:08 PM
I love so many things about Coach T, but one of his attributes that stands out the most is that he truly BELIEVES in his guys and exuberates confidence in them. That has to be a huge motivator for the players. :applaudit: :hatsoff:

Galax Steeler
09-20-2009, 06:56 AM
You have to love Tomlin the guy is so down to earth. I hope he gets that extension and stays in the Burgh for years to come.