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Old 09-08-2007, 10:58 AM   #1
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Default Sporting News: Tomlin Takes Big Risk With Big Ben

Tomlin takes a big risk with Big Ben
September 7, 2007

Mike Florio
For Sporting News

Change can be hard. Change can be good. But change for the sake of change usually is a waste of time (like reading a column that some converted Internet hack is writing for one of the oldest and most respected brands in sports).

Change is the buzzword in Pittsburgh, ever since Mike Tomlin made like Eddie Murphy in "48 Hours" and declared that there's a new sheriff in town.

The troops had gotten soft under the man with the concrete chin, so Tomlin shook up most everything. Linebacker Joey Porter was dropped like a cellular call in a cast-iron elevator. Center Chukky Okobi went from being a candidate to start at center to being a candidate to sling peanuts at Heinz Field. And right tackle Max Starks will have trouble generating interest in his services on the 2008 free-agent market from, you know, the bench.

It could be that these changes are more evolutionary in nature, but they were magnified by Tomlin's loud bark in an attempt to get the veterans to bite on his new approach.

Tomlin apparently made no changes in his area of expertise -- defense. The Steelers have the personnel and the coordinator (Dick LeBeau) to continue to run the blitz-happy 3-4 scheme. And they will use this scheme despite Tomlin's mastery of the Tampa-2 attack, which uses a 4-3 front with the down linemen usually the only players rushing the quarterback. It is a prudent exercise in restraint for Tomlin. Over time, he might convert predominantly to a 4-3 alignment but he realizes that tinkering significantly with the Steel Curtain now would be akin to carving a couple of additional lines onto Moses' original stone tablets.

Tomlin's big change is on offense -- entailing far greater risk.

Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, who flamed out in that same gig with the Browns, promises to spread the receivers horizontally and chuck the ball vertically. With that, Tomlin might as well be expanding the Ten Commandments to include "thou shalt not leave the toilet seat up" and "thou shalt floss after eating corn on the cob."

Seriously, the Steelers plan to become a high-octane offense with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger throwing the ball all over the field. Yes, the same Roethlisberger who threw on average 22 passes per game during the 2005 regular season and 23 in four subsequent playoff games.

It's a huge alteration to Roethlisberger's role -- only one year after he hit a car with his face and a scalpel with his appendix. The new offense puts a huge burden on a guy who never has had to win games with his arm.

If it works, Roethlisberger could join the ranks of Manning, Brady and Palmer. Santonio Holmes could become the next great NFL receiver, and speedster Willie Parker could grow into an L.T.-style dual threat, possibly doubling the number of times per game he touches the ball on the perimeter.

If the Air Steelers plan doesn't work, the defense will be on the field too long and/or beginning drives with its back far too close to the goal line. And the fans will decry the abandonment of smashmouth Steelers football. And Bill Cowher will pass judgment in sprays of spittle from his new perch at CBS. And Arians will be fired, again.

Even though the Pittsburgh defense almost always is a sight to behold, all eyes should be glued to the offense. That's the unit that will help to determine whether the '07 season will be any different than the disappointing '06 campaign.

In meeting Tomlin, he displays the type of aura and intensity that could lead a group of men to embrace change. He is universally well-liked. Pretty much everybody outside Cleveland, Cincinnati and Baltimore are pulling for Tomlin. Well, except for the guy who had Tomlin's job last year.
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Old 09-08-2007, 11:07 AM   #2
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Default Re: Sporting News: Tomlin Takes Big Risk With Big Ben

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It's a huge alteration to Roethlisberger's role -- only one year after he hit a car with his face and a scalpel with his appendix. The new offense puts a huge burden on a guy who never has had to win games with his arm.
Another one who didn't bother to watch the '05 playoffs. Or the comeback against Dallas in Dallas. Or the shootout win against the Giants....
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Old 09-08-2007, 11:17 AM   #3
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Default Re: Sporting News: Tomlin Takes Big Risk With Big Ben

he makes it sound like big ben is gonna be firing away and we'll only run on 3rd and short. wrong!
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Old 09-08-2007, 11:20 AM   #4
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Default Re: Sporting News: Tomlin Takes Big Risk With Big Ben

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Originally Posted by fansince'76 View Post
Another one who didn't bother to watch the '05 playoffs. Or the comeback against Dallas in Dallas. Or the shootout win against the Giants....
Aparently not many people have watched those games now I'm not saying Ben is Manning but when is this kid going to get any credit for the stuff he has down well. He was a huge reason the Steelers got through the playoffs to even get to the Super Bowl. Now I know he didn't play well against the Seahawks but is that all people can remember from that season or what.
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Old 09-08-2007, 05:49 PM   #5
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Default Re: Sporting News: Tomlin Takes Big Risk With Big Ben

Isnt it amazing that these so called experts stiil think Pittsburgh won three straight road playoff wins with Running and Defense? I have those games on tape and I remember Ben destroying people's defenses....trhough the Air.
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Old 09-08-2007, 07:30 PM   #6
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Default Re: Sporting News: Tomlin Takes Big Risk With Big Ben

Yep - depending heavily on a ball control running game brought unprecedented success in the playoffs prior to 2005 and a resulted in a great 8-8 season last year.

This team's goal presumably is not to play it safe and be at best one and done in the playoffs. To do well in today's NFL (or at least its major league division aka the AFC) you have to rely heavily on your QB. Rex Grossman under center might work in the NFC but not against the big boys. As another poster noted, the 2005 playoff run was keyed by turning Ben loose as a counterpart to focusing on the run.

This writer is a fool and just trying to stir the pot, as evidenced by this comment

Pretty much everybody outside Cleveland, Cincinnati and Baltimore are pulling for Tomlin. Well, except for the guy who had Tomlin's job last year.


There is no indication Cowher bears Tomlin any ill will - this idiotic article was topped off by a totally unjustified shot at Cowher.
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Old 09-08-2007, 09:41 PM   #7
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Default Re: Sporting News: Tomlin Takes Big Risk With Big Ben

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Originally Posted by Steelers43fan View Post
Isnt it amazing that these so called experts stiil think Pittsburgh won three straight road playoff wins with Running and Defense? I have those games on tape and I remember Ben destroying people's defenses....trhough the Air.
Yep. But you know, I am getting blue in the face trying to tell peoiple about it. So screw it. Let 'em think that. I will tell you all this much... Let's hope they succeed in convincing the coaches of this same stuff...
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Old 09-08-2007, 10:21 PM   #8
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Default Re: Sporting News: Tomlin Takes Big Risk With Big Ben

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If it works, Roethlisberger could join the ranks of Manning, Brady and Palmer. Santonio Holmes could become the next great NFL receiver, and speedster Willie Parker could grow into an L.T.-style dual threat, possibly doubling the number of times per game he touches the ball on the perimeter.

If the Air Steelers plan doesn't work, the defense will be on the field too long and/or beginning drives with its back far too close to the goal line. And the fans will decry the abandonment of smashmouth Steelers football. And Bill Cowher will pass judgment in sprays of spittle from his new perch at CBS. And Arians will be fired, again.
i think this article is more accurate of a commentary of cowhers coaching styl eas opposed to bens skills.

if you look at the colts opening game it is easy to see where this writer is off:

clots 30 pass/ 29 rush = balance

manning 18/30 288 yds 3 td (ive seen ben have numbers similar to these)

the only difference in bens games, is if it were ben and cowher beating up on the saints sunday night, ben woulda been pulled in the beginning of the 4th quarter and batch wouldve come in to throw 1 pass and hand off the ball about 20 times for 2 ypc.

the colts win 41-10, the steelers woulda won by only 17-20.

and its hard to argue with cowhers astonishing record of games won when having a lead of more than 10 points. however he cheated his quarterbacks of developing that "foot on the throat" and "going for the kill" instinct that was desperately needed in some big game losses.

when the game was out of hand, and when cowher wouldve yanked manning in the 3rd quarter, manning was allowed to stay in and play. did he just hand off the ball? no, he was dropping bombs to r. wayne. this is what we call practice. then again, it took cowher far too long to even provide a qb coach to his players.

i think im gonna trust mannings former qb coach and tomlin on this one.
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Old 09-08-2007, 11:55 PM   #9
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Default Re: Sporting News: Tomlin Takes Big Risk With Big Ben

Sports writers might be the dumbest breed of human. Fickle too.
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Old 09-09-2007, 01:08 AM   #10
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Default Re: Sporting News: Tomlin Takes Big Risk With Big Ben

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Originally Posted by tony hipchest View Post
i think this article is more accurate of a commentary of cowhers coaching styl eas opposed to bens skills.

if you look at the colts opening game it is easy to see where this writer is off:

clots 30 pass/ 29 rush = balance

manning 18/30 288 yds 3 td (ive seen ben have numbers similar to these)

the only difference in bens games, is if it were ben and cowher beating up on the saints sunday night, ben woulda been pulled in the beginning of the 4th quarter and batch wouldve come in to throw 1 pass and hand off the ball about 20 times for 2 ypc.

the colts win 41-10, the steelers woulda won by only 17-20.

and its hard to argue with cowhers astonishing record of games won when having a lead of more than 10 points. however he cheated his quarterbacks of developing that "foot on the throat" and "going for the kill" instinct that was desperately needed in some big game losses.

when the game was out of hand, and when cowher wouldve yanked manning in the 3rd quarter, manning was allowed to stay in and play. did he just hand off the ball? no, he was dropping bombs to r. wayne. this is what we call practice. then again, it took cowher far too long to even provide a qb coach to his players.

i think im gonna trust mannings former qb coach and tomlin on this one.
That is EXACTLY right. I would LOVE to see a stat on first half QB's. Before coaches start taking th eball out of their hands.
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