View Full Version : Tomlin addresses attitude, coaching issues

01-06-2010, 02:20 AM
On the Steelers: Tomlin addresses attitude, coaching issues
Says selfishness even existed in 2008, predicts 'appropriate change' to team
Wednesday, January 06, 2010
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Did selfish players with bad attitudes drag the 2009 Steelers down and out of the playoff race?

Coach Mike Tomlin yesterday did not discredit that opinion from three-time Pro Bowl linebacker James Harrison, a team captain and their most valuable player in 2007 and '08.

Tomlin instead offered his own view that those concerns were not unique to the team this season.

"We had similar issues when we won the Lombardi," Tomlin revealed. "Anytime you're working with a large number of people, it's going to be very tough to have a pure environment, a utopia if you will. I'm a realist. I recognize that some of those things, selfishness, [are] part of putting together a football team."

The Steelers won many close games in 2008, including the Super Bowl that brought them their sixth Lombardi Trophy. They conversely lost many close games in '09, none of the seven defeats by more than seven points.

"I think at times we played as a team and, at times, we played as individuals," Harrison said in a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette story yesterday.

Could the loss of defensive stars Aaron Smith and Troy Polamalu coupled with those admitted selfish attitudes be enough to represent the difference between a championship in '08 and staying at home in '09?

"Selfishness is part of it, it just is, it always will be, but wins and losses are black and white and it's pure, it's purity," Tomlin said. "I didn't think it was anything uniquely different with any team I've been involved with, I didn't think it prevented us from winning, I didn't think it was abnormal, if you will."

Harrison also predicted "a lot of changes" before the 2010 season.

Tomlin preferred to use a different characterization to describe the changes that might occur.

"I don't approach making major changes in response to our record or anything," Tomlin said in response to Harrison's prediction. "I like to use the term 'appropriate change.' And those aren't knee-jerk reactions, those aren't quick decisions.

"It's built over time as you evaluate what it is that we put on tape. It's a process, starting yesterday. We're at the infancy of that process, if you will. My mentality is and always will be to make appropriate changes, so big changes are not something that I necessarily buy into. Appropriate changes are."
Coaching staff in flux

There was one local report that Tomlin will fire offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, but nothing happened yesterday. Sources in the front office say they know nothing about the report, and Arians has received no word that he will be let go.

Ken Laird of ESPN Radio 1250 reported yesterday afternoon that Arians will be gone soon. Tomlin is scheduled to speak individually with his coaches late this week after he finishes his one-on-one exit interviews with his players.

The Steelers are in the process of signing some of their practice squad players to contracts for 2010 and have declined to give assurances to some players whom their position coaches might be in 2010, including the offensive line. Larry Zierlein has coached the line the past three years.

Tomlin acknowledged that some changes in assistant coaches might occur.

"I have yet to meet with our staff individually," Tomlin said. "I acknowledge in today's NFL that's potentially part of it."

He said that if changes are made "it's primarily my decision, but it is a collaborative effort in a lot of issues. But I believe there will be an appropriate time to talk about that. We're just trying to get our feet on the ground and start this process as I sit here today."

Tomlin said he began meeting with Kevin Colbert, the team's director of football operations, about all types of postseason issues Monday morning.
Ken Anderson steps down

There was one change in Tomlin's staff yesterday, the first after the entire group of assistants remained intact in his three seasons as head coach: Quarterbacks coach Ken Anderson, who turns 61 next month, retired.

Anderson played quarterback for 16 seasons for the Cincinnati Bengals and twice has been a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

"He's an awesome guy, an awesome coach, and been in this league 40 years," Tomlin said. "I guess it's OK to go play a little golf, if that's what he desires. More power to him."
Roethlisberger's shoulder

Tomlin said there is nothing seriously wrong with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's right shoulder.

"No, I don't think that it is, but I don't have specific, detailed information regarding it," Tomlin said. "But I don't think it's anything that's going to require a medical procedure of any kind."

The quarterback could be seen favoring his shoulder late in Sunday's game in Miami, and at one point backup Dennis Dixon warmed up, although he never entered the game.

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