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Old 12-19-2012, 12:52 PM   #1
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Default Mike Tomlin up to the tall tasks ahead

Kovacevic: Tomlin up to the tall tasks ahead

By Dejan Kovacevic
Published: Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Let‘s get this out of the way early: If the Steelers fail to make the playoffs, it would — and should — mean nothing to Mike Tomlin‘s future with the team.

Even if they lose out to the Bengals and Browns.

Even if they finish 7-9 after starting out 6-3 in a mostly miserable AFC.

To even discuss the man‘s immediate future, to me, feels a little silly. Resumes do matter. Experience matters. For all the 24/7, tweet-and-text analysis in which our sporting culture now engages, no reasonable, rational fan (yeah, I know) could fairly assess Tomlin without weighing his:

• Two Super Bowl appearances, with one Lombardi Trophy.

• Four playoff berths in his first five years.

• 62-32 career record.

OK, with that said, as has been documented in this very space, Tomlin is not having a good 2012. And it‘s getting more glaring with each passing week that he has plenty of areas to address toward restoring the Steelers‘ elite status, as well as his once-sterling reputation for stewarding a winner.

Thus, I humbly offer these three wholly unsolicited concepts for the head coach‘s consideration, not so much for this weekend but for the weeks and months ahead:

1. SOLVE BEN VS. TODD

Tomlin predictably downplayed this topic Tuesday in his news conference, saying of Ben Roethlisberger‘s Sunday jabs at Todd Haley, “When you come up short, there are frustrations associated with that.”

Tomlin added that he met with Roethlisberger on Monday and that the QB is “on-board with what we‘re doing.”

Well, that‘s that, then.

Or not.

Again, I‘m behind Roethlisberger on this. He‘s the franchise player, and that‘s the lay of the land anymore.

To address that fully — and let‘s not pretend it won‘t come up anew — Tomlin must first accept that the star holds all the cards. He‘s got no choice. If it comes down to a him-or-me from Roethlisberger‘s perspective, the $102 million quarterback has to win that duel 102 times out of 102. And, yeah, even if that means finding a new coordinator.

I still don‘t buy that Tomlin had much to do with the switch from Bruce Arians to Haley, no matter the chest-thumping to the contrary. Something happened over Tomlin‘s head, and only Art Rooney II breathes the air up there.

If Tomlin is to reclaim his swagger at some point, he‘s got to reclaim his staff and his broader vision for winning football.

2. SHAPE UP THE DEFENSE

There are three ways to explain how this honest-to-Ziggy No. 1-ranked defense can exhibit sound strategy — hence, the low yardage totals — but so seldom get close enough to the ball for interceptions, fumbles or sacks: They‘re old, they get hurt easily and/or they‘re out of shape.

Or all three.

And all three, to some extent, are within Tomlin‘s control.

Setting aside the far larger task of finding more athletic replacements at some point, the coach can begin by asking why LaMarr Woodley, for one, has virtually vanished. Anyone isolating on No. 56 for any spell Sunday saw a $62 million linebacker being swallowed whole by anyone lining up across from him. On one play, the blocker doing the burying was 5-foot-8 running back Lance Dunbar.

To be fair, Woodley has had issues with an ankle and a long-troublesome hamstring. But the latter almost always is viewed as a conditioning issue. Not much of an excuse.

All this clearly is Woodley‘s responsibility, but there‘s no way Tomlin or linebackers coach Keith Butler — and coordinator in waiting — should have let it reach this point.

And Woodley‘s hardly alone.

3. SINGLE OUT A LEADER

Leadership must originate within the locker room, but it‘s clearer now than ever that the committee approach isn‘t clicking somewhere. Brett Keisel and Roethlisberger are the captains, and both, to their credit, have been lauded by teammates for rousing speeches the past couple of weeks. But all we‘ve seen translate to the field in that time is a flat-line loss to the Chargers and an equally blah first quarter Sunday.

Tomlin earned his reputation as a players‘ coach, one as much in harmony with his room as in control of it.

So where is that now?

I don‘t have the answers here. No one on the outside could. Maybe one player, someone in the James Farrior mold, can be anointed. Maybe Larry Foote if he‘s still got time on the clock. Whoever it is, one voice tends to resonate more than a cacophony in these settings.

Look, these Steelers aren‘t the NFL‘s most talented team. But they‘re significantly better than the sum of their results, and that buck stops on the desk of a highly capable coach facing the highest climb of his career.

http://triblive.com/sports/-topstori...#ixzz2FWOHRRSr
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Old 12-19-2012, 01:33 PM   #2
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Default Re: Mike Tomlin up to the tall tasks ahead

thank you once again - that about sums up the tasks at hand for Tomlin, his coaching staff, and the players. time to figure it out, not just for whatever remains of this season - but for the next one - the glaring issues aren't just going to go away through the draft - there is leadership, personality, discipline and conditioning that needs to be re-assessed and fleshed out to get this team back to really, truly competing at the standard that Steelers fans expect - no matter the record, we need to get back to winning the division. We haven't since 2010 - that isn't good and usually makes it that much harder or nearly impossible to be in the best position to reach the SB.

Win your division, get a home playoff game, or even better . . .
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Old 12-19-2012, 02:27 PM   #3
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Default Re: Mike Tomlin up to the tall tasks ahead

Great article as always, HAWAII5-0.

I do beg to differ with the Haley vs Roethlisberger thing though. Since day 1, the press has been trying to engineer a rift between the two, where one does not exist to begin with.

Ben's one, lone, comment about the no-huddle not being used enough has now become a newfound cache of ammunition for that camp of journalists.

Until Ben got hurt, this offense was CLICKING. It was a comment made out of frustration, but he and Haley are still on the same page, as far as I know. Ben has been pushng for more no-huddle (as have we fans) since he was drafted-- nothing new.

The things Tomlin needs to address this offseason and next camp:

* CONDITIONING - guys should NOT be "playing their way back into shape" around midseason, unless they are willing to only get a contract for half a season. Tomlin needs to crack the whip NOW, and let guys know to be ready for camp next year, because their will be running and lots of endurance training. LOTS.

* OLINE - I think the Oline woes are an oddity and should correct themselves next year. We have the right personnel on the Oline finally-- just need to get them some playing time together, some conditioning and we will have the elite blocking unit we envisioned this year.

* DEFENSE - Steelers need to spend most of the draft fixing the defense, because it sure needs it. Hopefully Sean Spence can come back in a big way next year. We need to draft OLB, CB, and DB early. A legit NT wouldn't hurt either, since Ta'amu probably won't be with us. Ziggy has not lived up to expectations in the ground defense, but he is a 1st round pick with time on his contract still-- he is not going anywhere, so we have to make due.

Personally, I think we SHOULD switch to the 4-3, especially if DL retires. Based on the personnel we have, I think Tomlin was aiming in this direction anyhow.

Cam Heyward and Hood are both one-gap, pass rushing defensive ends best suited to a 4-3. We are expecting Ziggy to fill in for Aaron Smith, who was quite possibly one of the best 3-4 DE's ever. Smith was huge, and had an enormous wingspan perfect for taking on two blockers. Ziggy Hood is best at shooting singel gaps and collapsing the pocket.

Also, Timmons would be an ideal 4-3 MLB., and perfect for running Tomlin's Tampa cover-2 (which needs a fast, agile MLB).

Needless to say, it looks like Polamalu's career may be winding down. Used to be, when healthy-- he was invaluable. But to be honest, since he came back a couple weeks ago-- I don't recall a single, notable play he made. If anything, he has gotten burned pretty bad a few times. At this point, I think opposing teams have to plan for Ryan Clark mroe than they need to worry about Polamalu.

Yeah, our secondary needs HELP, in a big way this offseason.

* SPECIAL TEAMS - This has been the team's achilles heel for like.....4 years now. We brought in Everest this offseason to try and fix Ligashesky's mess. He was no better and Tomlin sent him for the breadlines. Either we get slammed with penalties or they allow opposing returners huge returns or TDs-- both have been repetitive problems that need to be fixed. With Rainey and Brown, they have the homerun threat they need on returns, but it would help if every long gain doesn't get caled back for holding or illegal blocks.
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Old 12-19-2012, 03:48 PM   #4
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Default Re: Mike Tomlin up to the tall tasks ahead

Riddle brings up good points~

I know it's been said here, but this team lacks discipline. Fundamentals seem to be forgotten and wether its tackling or holding on to a ball.
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Old 12-19-2012, 03:52 PM   #5
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Default Re: Mike Tomlin up to the tall tasks ahead

yup - back to the basics

playing mistake-free (or nearly) football will take a team a LOOOONG way.
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Old 12-19-2012, 06:37 PM   #6
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Default Re: Mike Tomlin up to the tall tasks ahead

Very true.....back to basic football...and as few mistakes as possible!
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Old 12-19-2012, 06:49 PM   #7
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Default Re: Mike Tomlin up to the tall tasks ahead

Very good article. Riddle of Steel makes a good point about the 4-3 D. I think our D will be better suited for it at this point.
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Old 12-19-2012, 07:09 PM   #8
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Default Re: Mike Tomlin up to the tall tasks ahead

A good amount of Cowher's guys are gone and the rest of his guys have lost a step. A good amount of Tomlin's drafts are mediocre AT BEST. So how is it that his future should not be discussed if we miss the playoffs or get kicked out in the first round again? Of course we can't win a SB every year, but we've been kicked out in the Wild Card by average teams (Tebow's Bronco's and Gerrard's Jaguars) and have already missed the playoffs in 2009. This year and 2009 show me the same thing, that when this team loses focus and leadership, Tomlin doesn't have the capability to "right the ship" and get the team back to winning.

I'm not trying to bash Tomlin, and I'm not necessarily saying that he HAS TO GO if we miss the playoffs, but what exactly is Tomlin doing for this team? He doesn't call the plays, he hasn't managed the clock well lately, somehow we're inconsistent even though we're the most veteran team in the league, he doesn't fire up the players like a leader should (and has always done in Pittsburgh), so what exactly is HE doing that makes him untouchable if the team fails again? Remember this is the guy who allegedly wanted to keep Arians and didn't override Arians in the SB when both of Green Bay's starting CB's went out. I agree with the points made in the article, we need to get back to the basics and it is true that that's on Tomlin to make happen, let's just hope he doesn't unleash hell again, we've already lost to the Browns once.

I will happily eat my words if we do "right the ship" and at least go deep into the playoffs, I just haven't seen anything in the better part of the last two years that shows me that he will get the team playing good enough and playing with enough heart to make a realistic playoff push.
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Old 12-19-2012, 08:15 PM   #9
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Default Re: Mike Tomlin up to the tall tasks ahead

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Originally Posted by tanda10506 View Post
A good amount of Cowher's guys are gone and the rest of his guys have lost a step. A good amount of Tomlin's drafts are mediocre AT BEST. So how is it that his future should not be discussed if we miss the playoffs or get kicked out in the first round again? Of course we can't win a SB every year, but we've been kicked out in the Wild Card by average teams (Tebow's Bronco's and Gerrard's Jaguars) and have already missed the playoffs in 2009. This year and 2009 show me the same thing, that when this team loses focus and leadership, Tomlin doesn't have the capability to "right the ship" and get the team back to winning.

I'm not trying to bash Tomlin, and I'm not necessarily saying that he HAS TO GO if we miss the playoffs, but what exactly is Tomlin doing for this team? He doesn't call the plays, he hasn't managed the clock well lately, somehow we're inconsistent even though we're the most veteran team in the league, he doesn't fire up the players like a leader should (and has always done in Pittsburgh), so what exactly is HE doing that makes him untouchable if the team fails again? Remember this is the guy who allegedly wanted to keep Arians and didn't override Arians in the SB when both of Green Bay's starting CB's went out. I agree with the points made in the article, we need to get back to the basics and it is true that that's on Tomlin to make happen, let's just hope he doesn't unleash hell again, we've already lost to the Browns once.

I will happily eat my words if we do "right the ship" and at least go deep into the playoffs, I just haven't seen anything in the better part of the last two years that shows me that he will get the team playing good enough and playing with enough heart to make a realistic playoff push.
Lets see, we lost in the SB in 2010 and went 12-4 in 2011. What the hell are you talking about man?
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Old 12-19-2012, 08:27 PM   #10
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Default Re: Mike Tomlin up to the tall tasks ahead

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Lets see, we lost in the SB in 2010 and went 12-4 in 2011. What the hell are you talking about man?
I was referring to this year and last year. Yes last year we looked good on paper, but they didn't pass the eye test and didn't show up when it mattered most, as MANY on here have already stated before. Then we got kicked out of the playoffs by an 8-8 team with a college level QB. This year we've lost to the Browns, Titans, Raiders, and Chargers, and those are just the scrub teams. That's what I'm talking about. Look at how many of Cowher's players were in there prime in 2008 and still playing at a high level in 2010, now compare them to Cortez Allen, Curtis Brown, Ziggy Hood, Steve McClendon, Jason Worilds, Chris Carter, etc. That is what I'm talking about.

Also, when I said that I hadn't seen anything in these last two years from Tomlin, I meant just that, from Tomlin. This team has played at a high level under him in earlier years, but they're not not, they're not being replaced by starting quality players. Also, since we don't have any players stepping up like Porter did when it was needed, then it's time that Tomlin does it. Cowher inspired this team, it's not like that now.
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