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Old 12-02-2008, 06:11 AM   #1
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Default Tomlin strikes a balance with Steelers

Tomlin strikes a balance with Steelers
By Scott Brown
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Steelers are coming off their most complete game of the season, a resounding 33-10 win over the New England Patriots.

If they appear to be peaking at the right time, here is another reason the Steelers should be optimistic that they will hold off the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC North and secure a first-round playoff bye: They will be fresher in the final month of the regular season than they were a year ago.

Mike Tomlin worked his players hard in his first season as the Steelers' coach, and tired legs may have contributed to the team losing four of its final five games, including in the wild-card playoff round against Jacksonville.

Familiarity with his players has resulted in a practice regimen that isn't as demanding as it was a year ago. That, along with a running game that appears to be hitting its stride and a defense that continues to dominate, bodes well for the Steelers as they embark on the final quarter of the regular season.

"We were padded up a lot more last year," Steelers defensive end Aaron Smith said of practicing in pads. "I think it was a matter of (Tomlin) not knowing whether we were going to show up and be physical and lay it out there. I think after going through (a season), he's gotten to know his team better, and he knows what the guys are going to show up and do."

Tomlin did not require his players to show up at the team's South Side practice facility on Monday after the Steelers beat the Patriots on the road for the first time since 1997.

Not that they can breathe easy. The Steelers' domination of the Patriots may have provided Tomlin with the signature victory that had eluded him, but they are still only one game ahead of the Ravens in the AFC North. The rest of their schedule includes games at Baltimore (8-4) and Tennessee (11-1), plus a home contest Sunday against Dallas (8-4).

"We're not worried about Baltimore," Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward said. "We worry about us. Everyone else has to catch up to us. We've had the hardest schedule in the league, and we're 9-3."

The Steelers have weathered a spate of injuries, and lately they have shown the ability to overcome early adversity.

In the Steelers' past four wins, the opposing team has scored first. A Patriots team that had won 22 consecutive regular-season games in which it scored first took leads of 7-0 and 10-3 on Sunday.

The Steelers, however, scored 30 unanswered points on the way to a 23-point unmasking of the defending AFC champion.

"That's kind of been our personality here, as much as you don't like to accept that," Tomlin said of the Steelers coming back from early deficits. "We've gone into some hostile environments and gotten off to a slow start. But the guys don't blink. They persevere."

Just as in 2007, the Steelers are 9-3 after playing the Patriots in New England.

Unlike last year, they take momentum into the final stretch of the season -- as well as legs that should have more spring in them given the balance Tomlin has struck between pushing his players and easing up on them.

"It's very important to keep your team fresh and ready for the game, and that's something you've got to learn as a coach," Steelers inside linebacker James Farrior said. "I think the sooner you learn it, the better off your team is going to be. And I think (Tomlin) understands that."


http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pitt.../s_601002.html
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Old 12-02-2008, 07:24 AM   #2
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Default Re: Tomlin strikes a balance with Steelers

Good read, LLT!

It's apparent to me that Tomlin is starting to really put his stamp on this team. I believe he treaded somewhat lightly last season. But as he is becoming more comfortable with his team and staff, and himself in a new position, he has shown the leadership that the Rooneys saw in him.
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Old 12-02-2008, 07:52 AM   #3
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Default Re: Tomlin strikes a balance with Steelers

I like the direction Tomlin is taking the team. He learns quickly......he took them to the playoffs his first year, but was not satisfied by any means. He made changes at training camp, and found out how important depth is after the injury plague of '07. What you see today is the Tomlin blueprint of the future .......depth, depth, and more depth. He dealt quickly and swiftly with distraction players (Santonio's incident). He had the guts to look Casey Hampton in the face and say "shape up, man". (Casy is still round, but a better round!) He recognized the potential of Melwelde Moore and Keyaron Fox (just to name two....there are more unsung heros on this team). I have a feeling we are going to see more of the 2 back schemes for the rest of the season, instead of running the wheels off one of them. (I know that was the intention with Rashard......I can't wait to see what happens next year). Special teams was also addressed as a major problem and while our ST is not an elite group, huge strides have been made. He didn't give up on Timmons and we are reaping the rewards of patience. Are we the perfect team, yet? Hell, no. Just give Tomlin more time........

And he obviously loves him some nasty D like the rest of the Steelers Nation! How can you not love that!
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"We're not going to turn our backs on him," Ward said. "We're going to treat him like our brother. We're going to accept him back and be very supportive of him and help him get through this. In this locker room, he's still our quarterback."
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Old 12-02-2008, 11:22 AM   #4
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Default Re: Tomlin strikes a balance with Steelers

With all the accolades Bill Walsh and Mike Holmgren get for having a tree of successful assistants, people seem to overlook how Tony Dungy has had this same tree of success...

Lovie Smith - Took the Bears to a Super Bowl, and has had this team going in the right direction since he took over.

Herm Edwards - OK, things haven't worked out well in KC for him, but despite his awful clock management issues and lukewarm game planning, he's a great motivator and has had nice success as a HC.

Mike Tomlin - Comes into a very proud franchise and looks to be every bit the long-term guy the Rooneys were hoping for.

Rod Marrinelli - Too bad it's the Lions he's coaching, otherwise, with any other halfway decent team, he might have had much more success.
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Old 12-02-2008, 03:46 PM   #5
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Default Re: Tomlin strikes a balance with Steelers

Quote:
Originally Posted by TNewman41 View Post
With all the accolades Bill Walsh and Mike Holmgren get for having a tree of successful assistants, people seem to overlook how Tony Dungy has had this same tree of success...

Lovie Smith - Took the Bears to a Super Bowl, and has had this team going in the right direction since he took over.

Herm Edwards - OK, things haven't worked out well in KC for him, but despite his awful clock management issues and lukewarm game planning, he's a great motivator and has had nice success as a HC.

Mike Tomlin - Comes into a very proud franchise and looks to be every bit the long-term guy the Rooneys were hoping for.

Rod Marrinelli - Too bad it's the Lions he's coaching, otherwise, with any other halfway decent team, he might have had much more success.
Herm Edwards is a case of affirmative action at its worst. If he was white, he would not have a head coaching job right now. He's a defensive coordinator at best.
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