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Old 08-12-2013, 08:22 AM   #1
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Default ‘Dissension’ done, Polamalu, Clark say

The more I read the more I am convinced the 2012 team's locker room was one hot mess of conflict - that is on Tomlin

Kovacevic: ‘Dissension’ done, Polamalu, Clark say
By Dejan Kovacevic


You know, the Steelers just might be kidding themselves. All this talk of close losses in 2012, all this emphasis from Mike Tomlin on being more diligent with little details … all of it could prove to be eyewash in the end. Or hogwash. A state of denial. A dereliction in addressing the real problems at the root of 8-8.

But I don't think so.

And I don't think so, I'm not embarrassed to admit, primarily because Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark don't think so.

The safeties are the souls of any defense, but with these Steelers, these two are the souls of the franchise. Polamalu and Clark, more than anyone now, espouse and embody what's been great about this team for the better part of five decades now, on and off the field.

I interviewed both gentlemen late Saturday night after the preseason opener at Heinz Field, and both spoke passionately about how what this collective group needs most at this pivotal point — Reloading? Rebuilding? Rethinking everything? — is simple stability. To push something of a spiritual reset button.

Such a catharsis, of course, has to begin with recognizing the problem. And it's safe to say the safeties get that.

“I believe the strength of this organization is in its camaraderie and its family atmosphere. We didn't have those last year,” Polamalu said. “To me, that's kind of what separates us from most teams, that we've had that foundation here. When talent is pretty equal across the board — and it is in the NFL — you're looking in areas other than schematics to gain an edge. And that was an edge we didn't have.”


Remember when Hines Ward suggested as much last winter on national TV and was laughed off by some in the Steelers' locker room?

Well, don't laugh when Polamalu says it.

Or Clark, for that matter: “This camp has been leaps and bounds better than last year as far as the chemistry. Guys aren't necessarily working harder. They're just working better together. There hasn't been that dissension ... even through the media, about this guy not getting along with that guy, different fights happening, you haven't seen that. I think that bodes well for us. That's the Steelers you're used to seeing. And I think it showed in our play and our execution.”

Roll your eyes if you want. Few will want to hear or read about chemistry or intangibles after 8-8. And for sure, no one will want to offer brownie points for playing nice together.

Especially not if all this apparent harmony is simply the result of some Mike Tomlin directive to keep any discord in house.

“Coach?” Clark came back when I raised that possibility. “No, he's still being Mike T. and letting us be men, allowing us to do and say the things we feel. I just think it's more about his sense of urgency, correcting things with this team from last year … that filters down. We understand how serious he is about getting this fixed.”

Clark's eyes then widened.

“But also, we hate it. We hate being attached to 8-8. So we're trying to fix that ourselves, through the leaders, through the guys who have been here, we're trying to implement the old Steeler Way. You know, getting along, chemistry, hanging out, working hard on the field but having a good time doing it.”

To that end, Polamalu, Clark and other team leaders — Brett Keisel, Larry Foote, Ben Roethlisberger, Jerricho Cotchery — have, by all accounts, welcomed this promising rookie class as if it's truly something special. And it's gone beyond helping with the playbook or practices. It's almost as if they're looking at these draft picks as some symbolic chance to start anew.

“Absolutely. Oh, absolutely,” Polamalu said at the mere mention of the draftees. “When you bring in guys that have that humble disposition, guys who have that Steelers Way about them … they play hard, know their role, know the chain of command. I can't tell you how happy we are to have them here.”

“We've showed it in Latrobe the whole camp,” Clark said. “It's one of the positives of having camp away from home, where we're all together. Those two hours between meetings or other free time we have, we're using them now to get to know Jarvis Jones, to get to know Le'Veon Bell. We want to embrace them. First of all, they're talented. It's a great group. But we also want to bring them into this. We want to make them Steelers.”

Believe yet?

If not, I can offer at least six compelling — and silver and shiny — reasons why the safeties might be onto the smartest route.


http://triblive.com/sports/dejankova...#axzz2bgZ3YDww
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Old 08-12-2013, 09:03 AM   #2
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Default Re: ‘Dissension’ done, Polamalu, Clark say

Quote:
Atlanta Dan

The more I read the more I am convinced the 2012 team's locker room was one hot mess of conflict - that is on Tomlin
^^^QFT

It was obvious to me as well and I agree it's on tomlin.

Shit happens. It's done.

How Tomlin responds to this in my mind may largely determine if he is a great coach or simply a good one.

So far I like what I am seeing...
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Old 08-12-2013, 09:09 AM   #3
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Default Re: ‘Dissension’ done, Polamalu, Clark say

How much of the change is addition by subtraction? It's easy to say it's on Tomlin but is it on him because he didn't have control over each player's attitude (not possible) or because he just didn't cut highly talented problems? (not necessarily practical)
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Old 08-12-2013, 09:25 AM   #4
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Default Re: ‘Dissension’ done, Polamalu, Clark say

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How much of the change is addition by subtraction? It's easy to say it's on Tomlin but is it on him because he didn't have control over each player's attitude (not possible) or because he just didn't cut highly talented problems? (not necessarily practical)
Agree the number one bad attitude was not cut for practical reasons but took his talents to South Beach - when Clark talks about the absence of dissension in camp it is not hard to recall who decided not to show up for camp last summer as his contract dispute festered - but a coach's job is to try and handle that - Cowher had the same problem during the 2006 train wreck when Joey Porter was not a happy camper about his contract situation

I suppose Max Starks and Casey Hampton might have been vexed throughout the season it was their last year but IMO that was not a problem

Of course our favorite departed WR was not the only acting out during camp last summer - Ben took it upon himself to wear a #78 jersey the first Sunday of camp last year after Max Starks was released (before being brought back)



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Old 08-12-2013, 09:30 AM   #5
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Default Re: ‘Dissension’ done, Polamalu, Clark say

But Porter was a locker room leader. Wallace was only ever about Wallace.
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Old 08-12-2013, 09:32 AM   #6
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Default Re: ‘Dissension’ done, Polamalu, Clark say

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How much of the change is addition by subtraction? It's easy to say it's on Tomlin but is it on him because he didn't have control over each player's attitude (not possible) or because he just didn't cut highly talented problems? (not necessarily practical)
Yes it is, whether directly or indirectly it IS his responsibility.

As a mulit-sport competitve athlete through college with close to 30 "seasons" with a variety of teams / coaches I can say without a doubt a coach can make all the difference both individually AND collectively with regard to motivation, morale, team spirit and winning.

If there are problems in the ranks a good coach or manager will identify and fix the problem early whether directly or indirectly. That is often the difference between a great coach / manager and a good one.....fixing problems and motivating the ranks to be their best imo.
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Old 08-12-2013, 09:35 AM   #7
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Default Re: ‘Dissension’ done, Polamalu, Clark say

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To someone who is a casual observer of sports I can see why you might think this.

However, as a mulit-sport competitve athlete through college with 25+ "seasons" with a variety of coaches I can say without a doubt a coach can make all the difference both individually AND collectively with regard to team morale and spirit.

If there are problems in the ranks a good coach or manager will identify and fix the problem early whether directly or indirectly. That is often the difference between a great coach / manager and a good one.....fixing problems and motivating the ranks to be their best imo.
Ok, Sensei, how could Tomlin have fixed Wallace?
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Old 08-12-2013, 09:41 AM   #8
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Default Re: ‘Dissension’ done, Polamalu, Clark say

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But Porter was a locker room leader. Wallace was only ever about Wallace.
In some ways it can be worse when a team leader to whom other players defer no longer appears to be focused primarily on the team - with Bettis gone, Faneca having his own uncertainties about his contract, Ben having a rotten year after nearly getting killed, and Cowher heading out the door that 2006 team was another mess
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Old 08-12-2013, 09:44 AM   #9
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Default Re: ‘Dissension’ done, Polamalu, Clark say

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In some ways it can be worse when a team leader to whom other players defer no longer appears to be focused primarily on the team - with Bettis gone, Faneca having his own uncertainties about his contract, Ben having a rotten year after nearly getting killed, and Cowher heading out the door that 2006 team was another mess
I never heard that Faneca was a problem in the locker room but maybe he was. Don't try to mess with my affection for "Who ride" tho
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Old 08-12-2013, 09:53 AM   #10
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Default Re: ‘Dissension’ done, Polamalu, Clark say

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Ok, Sensei, how could Tomlin have fixed Wallace?
Well grasshopper, this is the difference between people who have actually done things and people who just read about it.

Could the Wallace problem have been avoided, mitigated or at least handled better?

Very possibly but who knows for sure since neither of us was in the trenches....and to argue it could not have is therefore nothing but defeatism and an exercise in mental masturbation imo.

Regardless, it is a coaches repsonsibility to mitigate and fix these types of problems and whether he could have fixed Wallace, right or wrong, the buck stops with the head coach.

If he largely gets credited when a team wins a super bowl....he should also be culpable when a team completely falls apart as we did last year.

It is what it is.

Again, things got out of control last year and that is primarily on Tomlin imo.
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