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mesaSteeler
12-21-2009, 06:01 AM
Harris: Tomlin walks fine line with his call
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_658774.html#
By John Harris
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Monday, December 21, 2009

What the heck was Mike Tomlin thinking when he ordered an onside kick with the Steelers leading 30-28 late in the fourth quarter of Sunday's game against Green Bay?

Answer: He wasn't thinking. He was coaching from the seat of his pants.

"I was just trying to win a football game," Tomlin said after quarterback Ben Roethlisberger pulled his coach's fat out of the fire with the 19-yard, game-winning touchdown pass to rookie Mike Wallace on the final play of the game.

Without Roethlisberger's and Wallace's heroics being directly responsible for the Steelers' incredible 37-36 victory over the Packers at Heinz Field, Tomlin's approval rating this morning would be lower than Pirates manager John Russell's.

Tomlin would be the object of scorn and ridicule far worse than anything he experienced during the Steelers' five-game losing streak that mercifully ended under the cloak of early-evening darkness.

Some quick-on-the-trigger critics might have initiated a petition for Tomlin to be fired if the Steelers had lost a game they led 24-14 in the third quarter.

Ask Tomlin if he cares what you or I think about his coaching decisions.

"I don't live in my fear," Tomlin said. "I just play to win, and I don't worry about being judged."

If you say so, coach.

Just know this: Tomlin, a defensive coach, didn't trust his defense against Green Bay's potent attack.

He didn't care whose feelings he hurt if it meant siding with his offense over his defense.

Tomlin believed his offense gave the Steelers the best chance to win.

No offense taken, said defensive co-captain James Farrior.

"The way things have been going around here, that wasn't surprising to me," Farrior said of the failed onside kick. "Our defense has been playing bad these last five weeks. We've been giving it up in the fourth quarter, so you've got to try something different."

Tomlin's players said they loved his gambling spirit, the fact that he was willing to risk everything based on a hunch at that particular moment in the game.

"I honestly think it was a great play," wide receiver Santonio Holmes said. "It would have been the greatest call by a coach to sneak an onside kick.''

Outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley said it reminded him of when New England coach Bill Belichick gambled earlier this season against Indianapolis on fourth-and-short deep in Patriots territory rather than punting.

Belichick's gamble failed when running back Kevin Faulk couldn't hold Tom Brady's pass and Indianapolis took over on downs. Peyton Manning led the Colts to the winning touchdown.

"If we had gotten the ball, it would have been a great call," Woodley said.

In leading his team to victory, Tomlin stole a page from the coaching handbook utilized by his counterparts in Indianapolis and New Orelans.

The Steelers beat Green Bay the way the Colts and Saints are winning this season - by letting their respective offenses do it:

In other words, last team with the ball wins.

"I wanted the ball," Tomlin said. "We hadn't stopped them in the second half, and they hadn't stopped us. I figured if they're working on a short field and they happened to score, we'd have appropriate time to drive down the field, which is kind of how the game unfolded."

There's a fine line between brilliance and stupidity, and Tomlin nearly crossed over to the dark side.

Almost, but not quite.

The Steelers are back in the playoff race - barely - and it looks like Tomlin got his mojo back just in time.

Either that, or he's the luckiest coach in the NFL.

John Harris can be reached at jharris@tribweb.com or 412-481-5432.

AndyWitmyer
12-21-2009, 08:01 AM
I personally thought the onsides kick was a stroke of brilliance. At first I was as baffled as anyone until I realized that a big part of the reason that the Steelers haven't been able to win as of late is time management. An onsides kick would realistically produce one of two results:

1. Them recovering and having the ball again and with the lead and with the chance for them to just put it away.

2. Them losing it and should the Packers actually score, there should be enough time for Ben an company to put it away.

Folks, it made sense. It wasn't boneheaded. It was brilliant.

fansince'76
12-21-2009, 08:02 AM
Some quick-on-the-trigger critics might have initiated a petition for Tomlin to be fired if the Steelers had lost a game they led 24-14 in the third quarter.

:toofunny:

Look around, they already are starting to call for his head.

stillers4me
12-21-2009, 08:04 AM
I personally thought the onsides kick was a stroke of brilliance. At first I was as baffled as anyone until I realized that a big part of the reason that the Steelers haven't been able to win as of late is time management. An onsides kick would realistically produce one of two results:

1. Them recovering and having the ball again and with the lead and with the chance for them to just put it away.

2. Them losing it and should the Packers actually score, there should be enough time for Ben an company to put it away.

Folks, it made sense. It wasn't boneheaded. It was brilliant.

It was brilliant only because it worked.

steelcity1974
12-21-2009, 08:09 AM
On the surface, I was like WTF? But when GB moved the ball with ease again, I thought perhaps he did the onside kick so we would still have time left on the clock when they score. If that drive starts on the GB 35, we would not have had 2 minutes left for the game winning drive. So it was an extremely brave move on Tomlin's part...and a message to Gay and the rest of the defense. It's a sad day in Pittsburgh when you would rather have a 6 point deficit and your offense on the field than a 2 point lead with your defense out there to win it. We lost with our defense on the field too many times this year, so Tomlin's like, why not? And it worked.

Crow-Magnon
12-21-2009, 08:11 AM
I have to say, if that isn't a wake-up call to the Steelers defense, I don't know what is.

AndyWitmyer
12-21-2009, 08:18 AM
It was brilliant only because it worked.

That is the story of any and all successful strategies in the history of mankind! :coffee:

On the surface, I was like WTF? But when GB moved the ball with ease again, I thought perhaps he did the onside kick so we would still have time left on the clock when they score. If that drive starts on the GB 35, we would not have had 2 minutes left for the game winning drive.

Exactly.

The Packers were moving the ball so fluidly. Their offense was scary good. But ours was better. :drink:

stillers4me
12-21-2009, 08:24 AM
I have to say, if that isn't a wake-up call to the Steelers defense, I don't know what is.

I'm not sure that the group we have left can get the job done, wake up call or not. All I can say is that next year. if the Steelers defense comes back whole and healthy and we get a couple of new fresh young studs in the draft, they are going to be playing with a chip on their shoulder. LeBeau has already said that he'll be back.........and no doubt with a vengence. We already know what this defense is capable of and now we know what Ben and his boys are capable of.

I'd be real skeered if I were a Bungle, a Brownie or a Ratbird. Paybacks are a bitch and we B the superbitches. :wink02:

Is it September yet? :helmet:

Steelers17
12-21-2009, 08:26 AM
It was brilliant only because it worked.

First I am not a Tomlin apologist and in essence, you are correct. In defense of Mike, unless one is desperate, the call on a statistical, rational basis is ridiculous. With this said, we were beyond desperate with our backs into the wall.

Again, on a statistical basis, what were the probabilities that we would stop GB without a score? Not a pretty picture is it! I hate the call in 99% of the occasions when a coach would even entertain the thought of using it.

In this particular situation, the unreasonable became the acceptable not from brilliance but from utter desperation. IMHO, there was not a reasonable alternative available and blessedly, we live for another day!

madtowndrunkard
12-21-2009, 08:37 AM
If the steelers lose that game Tomlin would have been crucified .... and rightfully so. We lose that game after that call and there's a good chance Tomlin him self gets fired. People bring up the onside kick during the SB.....not even comparable. The situations were totally different.

But we still had a chance to make the playoffs. We were winning the game late in the 4th quarter. Tomlin is not winning any support from his players with play calls like that. The team was already on the verge of revolt by the sounds of it.

That play call had Bruce Arians written all over it. This team has been kidnapped by Bruce Arians. We've totally abandoned the run game....we are a finesse team that is completely once dimensional. On top of that our ST's is a complete joke and our pass defense is non existent. A couple injuries did not make all this happen.

Steel_12
12-21-2009, 09:14 AM
I don't understand how anybody can get upset at that call or not understand why he did it. Even if we had lost the game it would've been a good call considering the defense is suspect this year. Hell the only time Ike catches the ball he messes up lol

Crow-Magnon
12-21-2009, 09:34 AM
I don't understand how anybody can get upset at that call or not understand why he did it. Even if we had lost the game it would've been a good call considering the defense is suspect this year. Hell the only time Ike catches the ball he messes up lol

Tomlin calls an onside kick because he doesn't have the confidence in the Steelers defense to stop Rodgers, not because the Steelers need to score. So what's the chances of succesfully recovering an onside kick? 20%? So if you don't recover the onside kick, you've given that offense you don't want on the field excellent field position, which is exactly what happened.

So, in reality, Tomlin's decision to onside kick didn't work, because Green Bay scored easily. The only reason Pittsburgh won was due to excellent passing and a great catch with 0:00 on the clock. But if they had lost, IMO the reason would have been to this ill-conceived onside kick.

And not to mention that now the Steelers defense knows their HC doesn't have the confidence in them to protect a lead with barely two minutes to go in the game.

Steel_12
12-21-2009, 09:44 AM
Tomlin calls an onside kick because he doesn't have the confidence in the Steelers defense to stop Rodgers, not because the Steelers need to score. So what's the chances of succesfully recovering an onside kick? 20%? So if you don't recover the onside kick, you've given that offense you don't want on the field excellent field position, which is exactly what happened.

So, in reality, Tomlin's decision to onside kick didn't work, because Green Bay scored easily. The only reason Pittsburgh won was due to excellent passing and a great catch with 0:00 on the clock. But if they had lost, IMO the reason would have been to this ill-conceived onside kick.

And not to mention that now the Steelers defense knows their HC doesn't have the confidence in them to protect a lead with barely two minutes to go in the game.

You do realize that if you kick the ball deep that more time comes off the clock and we don't have over 2 minutes to go 86 yards, right? You really think that he didn't take into account the chance that we might not get the onside? He wanted their offense on the field with less field to go because it chews up less clock. EVERYBODY could see that we couldn't stop their offense and they couldnt' stop ours.

What are ya'll not seeing?

fansince'76
12-21-2009, 09:46 AM
Tomlin calls an onside kick because he doesn't have the confidence in the Steelers defense to stop Rodgers, not because the Steelers need to score. So what's the chances of succesfully recovering an onside kick? 20%? So if you don't recover the onside kick, you've given that offense you don't want on the field excellent field position, which is exactly what happened.

So, in reality, Tomlin's decision to onside kick didn't work, because Green Bay scored easily. The only reason Pittsburgh won was due to excellent passing and a great catch with 0:00 on the clock. But if they had lost, IMO the reason would have been to this ill-conceived onside kick.

And not to mention that now the Steelers defense knows their HC doesn't have the confidence in them to protect a lead with barely two minutes to go in the game.

They had a 4-point lead with 2:00 minutes to go against the Raiders and allowed Bruce freaking Gradkowski to engineer a winning 90-yard TD drive with about 10 seconds remaining on the clock. It's not like that lack of confidence is unfounded.

Rick5895
12-21-2009, 09:51 AM
I didn't like the call, still don't, but I understand it. The pooch K/O on the prior kickoff was a more frustrating call IMO.
That all aside, the guts Tomlin showed making that call is why I am glad he is our head coach. This is why, although we are struggling right now, we won't be for very long!!!

Crow-Magnon
12-21-2009, 09:53 AM
They had a 4-point lead with 2:00 minutes to go against the Raiders and allowed Bruce freaking Gradkowski to engineer a winning 90-yard TD drive with about 10 seconds remaining on the clock. It's not like that lack of confidence is unfounded.

I'm not saying that it's totally unfounded, but at this stage of the season, is this the right time for a HC to be telling his defense, "Yinzes can't stop the other team from driving 80 yards and scoring, so I'm going to try an outside kick that we have a 20% chance of recovering."

I guess it was a crapshoot either way, but I think this "slap in the face" to the Steelers defense may come back to haunt them.

Time will tell.

Rick5895
12-21-2009, 10:03 AM
I'm not saying that it's totally unfounded, but at this stage of the season, is this the right time for a HC to be telling his defense, "Yinzes can't stop the other team from driving 80 yards and scoring, so I'm going to try an outside kick that we have a 20% chance of recovering."

I guess it was a crapshoot either way, but I think this "slap in the face" to the Steelers defense may come back to haunt them.

Time will tell.

You hope it will come back to haunt them!!:tt04:

Steel_12
12-21-2009, 10:09 AM
I'm not saying that it's totally unfounded, but at this stage of the season, is this the right time for a HC to be telling his defense, "Yinzes can't stop the other team from driving 80 yards and scoring, so I'm going to try an outside kick that we have a 20% chance of recovering."

I guess it was a crapshoot either way, but I think this "slap in the face" to the Steelers defense may come back to haunt them.

Time will tell.

Who cares about their feelings! They put him in that position to make that call. They are professionals (even though they aren't playing like it right now) and they understand how bad they're playing....why can't other people?

Bobby_Walden
12-21-2009, 10:14 AM
OK. To those who liked the call. Please tell me this...

What happens if GB takes over and drives on our poor D for 3.5 mins. and scores a TD ? Using a combo of runs and short passes. A penalty here or there. We easily could have given up the winning score and had no time left.


Is it still a good call ?

Steel_12
12-21-2009, 10:20 AM
OK. To those who liked the call. Please tell me this...

What happens if GB takes over and drives on our poor D for 3.5 mins. and scores a TD ? Using a combo of runs and short passes. A penalty here or there. We easily could have given up the winning score and had no time left.


Is it still a good call ?

That would have taken some skill considering we had 2 timeouts left plust the 2 minute warning. We're lucky James Jones scored the TD and didn't go out of bounds or stayed in bounds after the catch.

It isn't like they needed a TD, they needed a FG to take the lead.

It is still a good call. Win or lose...IMO...because he put us in the best position to win the game.

Godfather
12-21-2009, 10:23 AM
I like the call. A lot of people on non-Steeler boards were calling Tomlin an idiot but they don't appreciate how bad our defense is in clutch situations.

A surprise onsides kick has a much higher success rate. I haven't been able to find the specific number but it's definitely more than 20%. And it's a lot higher than the success rate of trusting a fourth quarter lead to this defense.

Crow-Magnon
12-21-2009, 10:34 AM
I like the call. A lot of people on non-Steeler boards were calling Tomlin an idiot but they don't appreciate how bad our defense is in clutch situations.

A surprise onsides kick has a much higher success rate. I haven't been able to find the specific number but it's definitely more than 20%. And it's a lot higher than the success rate of trusting a fourth quarter lead to this defense.

I looked it up on nfl.com. As of a couple of years ago, the success rate was 20%. I can't imagine it's really any higher now.

Bluedust
12-21-2009, 10:45 AM
Tomlin calls an onside kick because he doesn't have the confidence in the Steelers defense to stop Rodgers, not because the Steelers need to score. So what's the chances of succesfully recovering an onside kick? 20%? So if you don't recover the onside kick, you've given that offense you don't want on the field excellent field position, which is exactly what happened.

So, in reality, Tomlin's decision to onside kick didn't work, because Green Bay scored easily. The only reason Pittsburgh won was due to excellent passing and a great catch with 0:00 on the clock. But if they had lost, IMO the reason would have been to this ill-conceived onside kick.

And not to mention that now the Steelers defense knows their HC doesn't have the confidence in them to protect a lead with barely two minutes to go in the game.

In Tomlin's press conference, he said one of the reasons was because if we lost the kick, the Packers would score and we'd have time left on the clock.

So it did work.

austinfrench76
12-21-2009, 04:54 PM
To be honest, i'm just glad that Coach T has the balls to admit he didn't trust the defense! And why should he?! The way they have been playing, that was the right call and get ready for this EVEN IF THEY LOSE. That was the call becasue the O gave us a chance to win. How many games have we seen the opposing offense march right down the field, play keep away and then score? TD's and FG's! Great call that will never be agreed with but must be recognized.

TheWarDen86
12-21-2009, 04:58 PM
I'm not saying that it's totally unfounded, but at this stage of the season, is this the right time for a HC to be telling his defense, "Yinzes can't stop the other team from driving 80 yards and scoring, so I'm going to try an outside kick that we have a 20% chance of recovering."

I guess it was a crapshoot either way, but I think this "slap in the face" to the Steelers defense may come back to haunt them.

Time will tell.

60% in those situations when it's a surprise.

Preacher
12-21-2009, 04:59 PM
Isn't there already a thread about this?

revefsreleets
12-22-2009, 03:44 PM
I personally thought the onsides kick was a stroke of brilliance. At first I was as baffled as anyone until I realized that a big part of the reason that the Steelers haven't been able to win as of late is time management. An onsides kick would realistically produce one of two results:

1. Them recovering and having the ball again and with the lead and with the chance for them to just put it away.

2. Them losing it and should the Packers actually score, there should be enough time for Ben an company to put it away.

Folks, it made sense. It wasn't boneheaded. It was brilliant.

This was as far as I needed to read in this, or ANY of the 967 threads currently addressing this.

GREAT post!

We were on a 5 game skid. You know how you always hear things like "The team is desperate to win, their back is against the wall, they might do ANYTHING in order to win"? Well, that was us. It was a good call, and would be widely heralded as sheer brilliance had it worked, but Ike touched the ball a yard short of ten, and the 20/20 arm chair QB brigade's voracious appetite for scapegoats needs fed, so......we get every half-witted football fan with a keyboard and an opinion pontificating as to how stupid the play was.

rich4eagle
12-22-2009, 03:58 PM
Oh well if someone does a detailed technical analysis of the odds factoring both teams and all the stats especially time remaining

I am sure the answer would be this was a bonehead move gone brilliant

And just maybe luck will get us to a wild card...........and then shot happens

mesaSteeler
12-22-2009, 04:30 PM
Unlike Belichick, Tomlin let off hook
Questionable move by Steelers coach escapes scrutiny of 'fourth-and-2'
http://sports.espn.go.com/boston/nfl/columns/story?columnist=reiss_mike&id=4763584
Reiss By Mike Reiss

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Where's the outrage? Where are the critics screaming arrogance on the part of the head coach, or that he'd lost his football mind?

Those questions arose when recapping the unexpected turn of events in Pittsburgh on Sunday, when the Steelers had their version of "fourth-and-2."

"Fourth-and-2," of course, needs no explanation to Patriots followers. It was the decision that coach Bill Belichick was vilified for in many circles -- going for it from the Patriots' own 28-yard line with 2:08 left against the Colts while holding a 34-28 lead.

Belichick didn't say it directly that November day, but he obviously felt his defense was cooked.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin had the same thing on his mind when he called for an onside kick with 3:58 to play in Sunday's game against the Packers. The Steelers had just taken a 30-28 lead.

[+] EnlargeMike Tomlin
AP Photo/Don WrightMike Tomlin's fourth-quarter onside kick didn't work out the way he'd hoped but his team bailed him out with a comeback win.

"We were just trying to win the football game," Tomlin explained after the contest. "There was time left in that game that had we kicked that ball away and the half had gone the way it had gone … they would have moved the ball down the field on us [and] we wouldn't have had necessary time to respond. I'm just being honest, but it starts with feeling pretty good about the element of surprise and having a good chance to get that ball, but that part of it didn't work out."

It didn't work out because Ike Taylor was penalized for illegal touching, and six plays later, the Packers scored the go-ahead touchdown with 2:06 remaining. At that point, Tomlin looked like he was going to find himself in the crosshairs of some intense scrutiny.

Yet he hasn't taken anywhere close to the same heat as Belichick, in part because the Steelers dramatically came back to win the game with no time left on the clock on an improbable play. Was the win because of the onside kick or in spite of it?

That seemed like a fair question to debate, but one thing that isn't debatable is that Tomlin made the same sort of bold, unconventional decision as Belichick did on fourth-and-2. The main difference was the end result, even if it didn't unfold exactly as planned.

So does that make Tomlin arrogant? Is it fair to suggest that Tomlin thinks he's somehow above the game, or that he had a brain freeze?

Of course not, but that's what some were saying about Belichick. "Fourth-and-2" lived on for days, with seemingly every NFL precinct checking in to voice an opinion. A Google search on "Belichick, fourth down" turned up 257,000 hits today. On the other hand, a search for "Tomlin, onside kick" resulted in 15,400 hits.

Part of it, it seems, is that Belichick has few friends in the media and this was an opening for many to take some long-awaited uppercuts. Another part of it is the Tom Brady theory that tall trees often face the highest winds, as few have a loftier perch in the coaching profession than Belichick, not to mention that the Patriots have three Super Bowl titles this decade and have been an annual contender.

Surely, Belichick brings some of the scrutiny on himself with the way he often answers questions. After "fourth-and-2," for example, he didn't say he was protecting his defense, as Tomlin did, so it left much open to interpretation, which only seemed to fuel the feeding frenzy.

Maybe if Belichick answered in the same manner as Tomlin, "fourth-and-2" wouldn't have taken on a life of its own.

"I'll be very bluntly honest with you," Tomlin said Sunday. "Based on the way the game was going in the second half, first of all I thought with the element of surprise we had a chance to get it, but if we didn't get it and they were to score, then we would have necessary time on the clock to score or match their score.

Patriots blog

Reiss ESPNBoston.com's Mike Reiss covers the New England Patriots in his blog. You can send questions and comments to his mailbag.

• ESPNBoston.com

"Plan A didn't work, but it kind of unfolded the way you envisioned it. We had 30 minutes of evidence that we could drive the ball on them. We also conversely had 30 minutes of evidence to show they could also drive the ball on us. That's why we took the risk when we did."

From this view, Belichick's fourth-and-2 risk was not worth taking, as punting still seemed like the right call. Simply debating the merits of such decisions is part what makes following the game enjoyable.

But what became clear this week -- with Tomlin's unconventional decision and even Titans coach Jeff Fisher going off the board by not using any of his remaining three timeouts late in a tie game when the Dolphins were pinned at their 6-yard line -- is that the furor surrounding "fourth-and-2" went way beyond that.

Although the unconventional decisions weren't exactly the same -- and Belichick's didn't work out and Tomlin's did (sort of) -- the dramatic difference in the immediate fallout from both was noticeable.

For that, we ask the question again: Where's the outrage?

Mike Reiss covers the Patriots for ESPN Boston. You can follow him on Twitter or leave a question for his weekly mailbag.

(Where's the outrage over Belichick's dammed cheating? - mesa)

revefsreleets
12-22-2009, 04:38 PM
Nonsense compiled on top of more nonsense doesn't suddenly turn nonsense into sensible fare...

The Pats were in the full thick of the playoff hunt at the time. They weren't a desperate team. They weren't on a 5 game skid. They were still the sweethearts and darlings of the media, and judging by this type of apologistic tripe, they very much still are, despite their obvious mediocrity from the top down....

fansince'76
12-22-2009, 04:41 PM
Nonsense compiled on top of more nonsense doesn't suddenly turn nonsense into sensible fare...

The Pats were in the full thick of the playoff hunt at the time. They weren't a desperate team. They weren't on a 5 game skid. They were still the sweethearts and darlings of the media, and judging by this type of apologistic tripe, they very much still are, despite their obvious mediocrity from the top down....

Tomlin also doesn't get regularly fellated by the media as the bestest, most wonderfulest genius coach ever. "Lesser" coaches are expected to make "stupid" decisions, no?

mesaSteeler
12-22-2009, 04:41 PM
Nonsense compiled on top of more nonsense doesn't suddenly turn nonsense into sensible fare...

The Pats were in the full thick of the playoff hunt at the time. They weren't a desperate team. They weren't on a 5 game skid. They were still the sweethearts and darlings of the media, and judging by this type of apologistic tripe, they very much still are, despite their obvious mediocrity from the top down....

Well you know what they say; "The fish rots from the head down", and there is nothing more rotten then Belicheat.