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fordfixer
01-05-2010, 02:26 AM
Harris: Offseason to dictate Tomlin's growth

By John Harris, PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... 60652.html (http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_660652.html)

It's the curse facing young NFL coaches.

When true adversity strikes, what is the response to the pressures of their profession?

Are they judged differently from their peers because of their age and/or relative lack of experience? If so, does their inexperience cause them to react more emotionally when things go awry?

For the Steelers' Mike Tomlin and Josh McDaniels of the Denver Broncos, 2009 was a season that could make or break them as their careers unfold.

The 37-year-old Tomlin and McDaniels, 33, guided their teams to fast starts, only to endure extended losing streaks and miss the playoffs.

Both coaches seemingly lost control of their teams when they publicly challenged players during low points in the season.

Although the Steelers won their final three games to finish 9-7 in Tomlin's third campaign -- a year after winning Super Bowl XLIII -- they never recovered from a five-game losing streak that included losses against lowly Kansas City, Oakland and Cleveland.

The 13-6 loss at the Browns on Dec. 10, only days after Tomlin scoffed at his team's playoff chances following a home loss against Oakland, was probably the most galling because it was the only time all season the Steelers weren't ready to play.

Threatening to make lineup changes that never materialized, Tomlin questioned the mental fabric of his veteran-laden roster that opened the season by winning six of its fist eight games.

"You have to acknowledge the potential that this can be kind of a shaken group," Tomlin said prior to the Cleveland loss. "I'm going to be looking very closely at these men. It's going to provide quality information for me in terms of who, legitimately, is mentally tough and who can stand the test of adversity, because we have some."

It was a cold night in Cleveland, but despite thriving on the elements much like they did during last season's Super Bowl run, the Steelers appeared to be affected by the weather to the point of disinterest in what was easily their worst effort of the season.

As Tomlin was forced to acknowledge, his players never quit -- much unlike the New York Giants, two years removed from winning Super Bowl XLII, who lost to Carolina and Minnesota by a combined 85-16 in their final two games.

Following Sunday's 30-24 win over Miami that enabled the Steelers to finish with a three-game winning streak, Tomlin attempted to make amends with the same players whose mental toughness he questioned a few weeks earlier.

"We won our last three ballgames and gave ourselves a chance," Tomlin said. "... It wasn't easy; it never is. But I've got a great deal of respect for our football team. Not only in terms of their closeness, but their willingness to fight."

McDaniels, the first-year coach who won a power struggle with former quarterback Jay Cutler (he was traded to Chicago) lost his head-to-head battle with wide receiver Brandon Marshall. Unhappy that Marshall didn't think he could play in the season finale against Kansas City with a possible playoff berth on the line, McDaniels insinuated that Marshall exaggerated the severity of his injury and benched him as a result.

Marshall, only the fifth player in league history to catch at least 100 passes in three consecutive seasons, questioned McDaniels' lack of NFL playing experience and his qualifications to determine the receiver's playing status.

Marshall's teammates appeared to side with the wideout. Needing a win and some help to qualify for the postseason, the Broncos were embarrassed at home by the Chiefs, 44-24, to finish 8-8 following a 6-0 start.

If veteran outside linebacker James Farrior is any indication, the Steelers don't mind playing for Tomlin, despite this year's bump in the road with their coach. Farrior, who at 34 just completed his 13th pro season, is willing to let bygones be bygones. He wants to return to the Steelers next season, even if it means accepting a reduced role.

"I am no spring chicken, but I hope they bring me back," said Farrior, whose sentiments were echoed by 34-year-old cornerback Deshea Townsend after Sunday's finale.

"I still have some fire left in me," Townsend said.

Tomlin's challenge is understanding when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em in regards to playing key veterans while adding younger players to the lineup next season. It's an important step in his growth curve as a successful NFL coach.

Shawn
01-05-2010, 02:58 AM
There is a fine line between motivating your team and publically scolding your team like children. Its easy to lose a team when you are a new coach. It's also easy to have the perception of being soft. I think Tomlin straddles that fence well.

fordfixer
01-05-2010, 03:09 AM
There is a fine line between motivating your team and publically scolding your team like children. Its easy to lose a team when you are a new coach. It's also easy to have the perception of being soft. I think Tomlin straddles that fence well.
:Agree

bostonsteeler
01-05-2010, 08:31 AM
There is a fine line between motivating your team and publically scolding your team like children. Its easy to lose a team when you are a new coach. It's also easy to have the perception of being soft. I think Tomlin straddles that fence well.

It eventually depends on the player. Some of them will turn petulant at anything. Others will take anything manfully.

The real reason we lost was neither BA nor DL adjusted to ANYTHING. BA is congenitally incapable of adjustment -- if he buttons his shirt wrong, he's gonna walk around like that all day.
DL just didnt seem to know how to adjust this year given the players he had..

Mister Pittsburgh
01-05-2010, 08:44 AM
There is a fine line between motivating your team and publically scolding your team like children. Its easy to lose a team when you are a new coach. It's also easy to have the perception of being soft. I think Tomlin straddles that fence well.

It eventually depends on the player. Some of them will turn petulant at anything. Others will take anything manfully.

The real reason we lost was neither BA nor DL adjusted to ANYTHING. BA is congenitally incapable of adjustment -- if he buttons his shirt wrong, he's gonna walk around like that all day.
DL just didnt seem to know how to adjust this year given the players he had..

Very well put. I agree. BA couldn't deter from the gameplan no matter the situation. DL couldn't adjust because of the talent he was dealt on the field. You can't make rookies learn quicker than they are capable, and you can't take age off a player to make them faster or more athletic.

In Farrior, Deshea, and even Carter's cases, I think there is a fine line between being a bonus on the field due to experience and mental awareness, and just being too old.

stlrz d
01-05-2010, 09:46 AM
There is a fine line between motivating your team and publically scolding your team like children. Its easy to lose a team when you are a new coach. It's also easy to have the perception of being soft. I think Tomlin straddles that fence well.

It eventually depends on the player. Some of them will turn petulant at anything. Others will take anything manfully.

The real reason we lost was neither BA nor DL adjusted to ANYTHING. BA is congenitally incapable of adjustment -- if he buttons his shirt wrong, he's gonna walk around like that all day.
DL just didnt seem to know how to adjust this year given the players he had..

Ok, that seriously made me LOL! :lol:

steelblood
01-05-2010, 11:28 AM
Several comments...

1. John Harris is an idiot. That title is utter nonsense. "Offseason to Dictate Tomlin's Growth." The offseason isn't "dictating" anything. The offseason is a time period not a causal factor. The offseason does not cause a man to grow and "dictate" is the wrong word here. Growth isn't dictated, at least not in this case.

2. Shawn is right about in game adjustments. We are among the worst in the league. We rarely seem to be the better team at the end of the game. That is a real problem and tells me that our coaches are either too stubborn to change or incapable of finding solutions. Both are disastrous.

3. I really like Tomlin. But, I think it is time that he becomes less of a cheerleader on the sideline and more of a coach. He needs to assert himself more when things are falling apart.

papillon
01-05-2010, 11:49 AM
Several comments...

1. John Harris is an idiot. That title is utter nonsense. "Offseason to Dictate Tomlin's Growth." The offseason isn't "dictating" anything. The offseason is a time period not a causal factor. The offseason does not cause a man to grow and "dictate" is the wrong word here. Growth isn't dictated, at least not in this case.

2. Shawn is right about in game adjustments. We are among the worst in the league. We rarely seem to be the better team at the end of the game. That is a real problem and tells me that our coaches are either too stubborn to change or incapable of finding solutions. Both are disastrous.

The offense was capable in the 4th quarter this year, more than capable. The defense appeared to adjust, but incorrectly or the OC of the other team figured some things out. Personally, the 4th quarter in many instances looked like the defense ran out of gas and had nothing to do with adjustments. They simply couldn't play an entire game at full speed due to their age at some positions.

3. I really like Tomlin. But, I think it is time that he becomes less of a cheerleader on the sideline and more of a coach. He needs to assert himself more when things are falling apart.

I'm not sure what he can do when things fall apart other than address it in practice the following week. Again, the defense simply looked old to me in the 4th quarter. The Steelers were never overwhelmed in a game during the first three quarters, save the Cleveland II.


Pappy

feltdizz
01-05-2010, 12:02 PM
Pappy you are spot on...

We are used to the D being better than the O. Now that it's flipped... fans don't know how to handle it. Most sweep it under the rug as a one and done and want to get back to the real problem with this team..

I think Tomlin will make minor adjustments.. hopefully ST's and DB coach...

steelblood
01-05-2010, 12:06 PM
Several comments...


2. Shawn is right about in game adjustments. We are among the worst in the league. We rarely seem to be the better team at the end of the game. That is a real problem and tells me that our coaches are either too stubborn to change or incapable of finding solutions. Both are disastrous.

The offense was capable in the 4th quarter this year, more than capable. The defense appeared to adjust, but incorrectly or the OC of the other team figured some things out. Personally, the 4th quarter in many instances looked like the defense ran out of gas and had nothing to do with adjustments. They simply couldn't play an entire game at full speed due to their age at some positions.




Pappy

The in game adjustments for Arians were terrible. Now when his game plan was good, we played well. But, when a D began to dominate us, we were unable to counterpunch. Also, red offense is all about making in-game adjustments. We had a poor red zone offense. Too often we settled for 3 instead of 7 or turned the ball over. Our offense is very good and Arians usually game planned well. Unfortunately, when the game plan didn't work, Arians usually couldn't find a solution and often stubbornly stuck to the original game plan. Watch the 2nd Browns game, the Bears game, the 2nd Bengals game. Deer in the headlights.

Finally, if our D ran out of gas, then substitutions should have been made. Getting Woodley, Harrison, or any tired DBs a few snaps to catch their breath might have been a good idea. It looked to me that when a team spread us out and pushed the pace (any time after the 1st Q), we were scrambling. Maybe Gay and Ike shouldn't have played so much special teams. They didn't seem to be helping matters.

papillon
01-05-2010, 12:10 PM
Pappy you are spot on...

We are used to the D being better than the O. Now that it's flipped... fans don't know how to handle it. Most sweep it under the rug as a one and done and want to get back to the real problem with this team..

I think Tomlin will make minor adjustments.. hopefully ST's and DB coach...

Yea, the special teams guy(s) need to go, even though, I'm not typically a fan of blaiming the coaches, but in this instance I think it was some coaching that caused issues. Of course, once Madison rejoined the team the STs looked a whole lot better.

And, in the Miami game when Reed was able to kick the ball 1 yard deep it was easy for the coverage team to stop Ginn before the 20. You can't underestimate the importance of a deep kickoff to the coverage team. That being said, too many missed tackles and loss of contain on many returns this year.

The DB coach almost has to be a casualty of war as well; the secondary was torched often in the 4th quarter this year.

Pappy

feltdizz
01-05-2010, 01:01 PM
Pappy you are spot on...

We are used to the D being better than the O. Now that it's flipped... fans don't know how to handle it. Most sweep it under the rug as a one and done and want to get back to the real problem with this team..

I think Tomlin will make minor adjustments.. hopefully ST's and DB coach...

Yea, the special teams guy(s) need to go, even though, I'm not typically a fan of blaiming the coaches, but in this instance I think it was some coaching that caused issues. Of course, once Madison rejoined the team the STs looked a whole lot better.

And, in the Miami game when Reed was able to kick the ball 1 yard deep it was easy for the coverage team to stop Ginn before the 20. You can't underestimate the importance of a deep kickoff to the coverage team. That being said, too many missed tackles and loss of contain on many returns this year.

The DB coach almost has to be a casualty of war as well; the secondary was torched often in the 4th quarter this year.

Pappy

The last few years I have held back on TD celebrations because of the dreaded KO...
ST's coach has to go..