View Full Version : Hearing from Coach Mike Tomlin

01-28-2011, 01:04 AM
Hearing from Coach Mike Tomlin
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On timeouts, clock management, jerks

Throughout the 2010 NFL season, Coach Mike Tomlin will provide his insight and observations to Steelers.com on a variety of topics pertaining to the team and the National Football League.

Q. In a situation where a team might choose to assign a cornerback to a specific receiver, is that ever an advantage for the offense?

A. It is, because then you know who the cornerback is not covering. Anytime you can identify matchups, it helps you from a planning standpoint, from a preparation standpoint. If you have a pretty good understanding about who someone is going to cover, then you of course know who they’re not going to cover.

Q. Who has the authority call timeouts during a game?

A. Usually, I call the timeouts. Of course, Ben calls timeouts from time to time because of information that he has that I don’t, such as lack of communication in the huddle, maybe not getting enough time to execute a call that has come in from the sideline a little late. Primarily, it’s me and Ben.

Q. When it comes to the clock management area of using timeouts, is there some system you use, or are you guided by feel?

A. Often, we use them as needed, with the understanding that we want to preserve as many of them as we can. I don’t try to put too many parameters on it, because each and every game and game circumstance is different.

Q. Generally, do you prefer to use your timeouts only when you’re on offense?

A. Preferably, I like to save them all for offense and the only time I use them on defense or special teams is if I think that something potentially catastrophic is going to happen.

Q. When it comes to timeouts, is it more of a sin to go into halftime or finish a game with timeouts remaining, or to run out of them?

A. It doesn’t really matter to me. There are many instances when we don’t utilize our timeouts and we don’t need them. If we need them, I want to have them. That’s generally been my approach to timeouts, and that has been the case for us since I’ve been here. Very rarely have we been in a situation where we needed timeouts and didn’t have them.

Q. Do you ever consider timeouts when you’re deciding whether to utilize one of your instant replay challenges?

A. No. Usually, I use the red flag in an effort to save points.

Q. In this Steelers locker room, you have a remarkably few guys who could be described as jerks. Does that mean anything?

A. In the big scheme of things, no. This is a business. Everybody is pretty clear about what’s required to be a success in this business. People have to put their best foot forward and be respectful of others, what they need to do to be prepared and then ultimately to play. I think more than anything, it’s about mutual respect. And respect has very little to do with personality and personality types and quirks.

Q. So when you talk about these players’ willingness to put their hands in the pile to contribute to the success of the team, that has nothing to do with whether people are selfish in the way they see things away from football?

A. No. It really doesn’t. It’s really more about respect, respect for what we’re doing and how we all fit into the big scheme of things and that it’s bigger than all of us. If you’re respectful of what we’re doing here and you act in a professional manner, some of the other personal things are really irrelevant. You can be extremely successful without having warm and fuzzy relationships.

Q. So then, being successful and having those close relationships among players do not necessarily go together?

A. Not necessarily. Usually, but not necessarily.

01-28-2011, 01:08 AM
Tomlin has met standard, too

By Bob Labriola - Steelers Digest
http://www.steelers.com/news/article-1/ ... acb4d69ab6 (http://www.steelers.com/news/article-1/Tomlin-has-met-standard-too/2e9d33d7-239b-4327-a1d2-96acb4d69ab6)

When you ask Mike Tomlin what constitutes good coaching, he says, “Providing your guys with what they need to be successful in any and all circumstances. It’s just that. It’s not about ideas. It’s not about being on the cutting edge schematically. It’s making sure your guys are in the frame of mind and have the ability to perform and perform at a high level. Individually and collectively.”

An NFL season is a long one, especially so for the teams that begin with the expectation of competing for a championship, which the Steelers will do on Sunday, Feb. 6 in Cowboys Stadium. Come kickoff of Super Bowl XLV, the Steelers will have been at this for six full months, and that only encompasses the pretty much seven days a week existence they have lived since the opening of training camp.

That’s a long grind, and that is the primary factor in what has come to be known as the “rookie wall.” An NFL rookie often is slow to get up to speed – both mentally and physically – for the start of his first season, but then there’s also the chance for him to have little left in either tank come Christmas.

In some cases that might be inevitable, but in others, maybe it can be avoided. Eight rookies are on the 53-man roster the Steelers will take to Dallas for this Super Bowl, and five of them will be expected to perform in their normal roles, any of which could turn out to be critical in a game where it’s winner-take-all.

Mike Tomlin is slow to anoint. He believes this is a show-me business, and if whomever shows it enough times, well, then the anointing will take care of itself from within the locker room. And along the way, an accountability factor is injected where rookies learn that there will be an expectation for them to provide a winning performance, and that when the games get bigger their level of preparation for them and then their performances in them have to rise as well.

And so the receiver who made a spectacular catch to set up the winning touchdown vs. the Ravens in the Divisional Round and then a sweet reception to convert a third-and-6 to ice the win last Sunday over the Jets is Antonio Brown, a sixth-round rookie who was forced to compete weekly for a spot on the game day roster, a competition he wasn’t winning consistently until December. “Two dogs, one bone” was Tomlin’s description of Brown vs. Emmanuel Sanders, and that competition helped make both deserving to be on the field in the important games played in late January.

“That’s pretty funny isn’t it, a third-and-6 to win the AFC Championship game for a rookie from Central Michigan,” said Tomlin. “Those (rookie receivers) have proven that they belong for the better part of the second half of the season. It was awesome, and I am happy for him.”

Tomlin’s way forced all of the rookies to keep their edge through this long season, and he did that by keeping practices mandatory and competitive for them. The tempo set by the head coach for his practice sessions gradually has to make concessions to the reality of helping guys maintain their bodies over the course of the regular season.

But while it might be OK for Troy Polamalu to rest on Wednesdays and Thursdays and take the practice field only on Fridays, it wasn’t OK for the younger, still developing guys.

Jason Worilds, for example, had to fight through some bumps and bruises and was inactive for two games as a result. Tomlin wasn’t about to commit a game day roster spot to a rookie who hadn’t gotten enough on-field practice. Knowing that they had to earn the right to play every week had to help keep the rookies on their details throughout the preparation process, which then allowed them to have a better chance at contributing to the team on Sunday.

“My job continually changes. It really does, to meet the needs of the moment,” said Tomlin. “The moments are heightened and change in playoff football, and I have to be understanding of that and light on my feet. Different guys, individually and collectively, deal with the stress or the urgencies of single-elimination football differently. I’ve got to have a pulse of individuals and of the group to provide them with what they need to do the job in the midst of all that.

“Some of it’s innate. Some of it’s also learned over time. But many of the things, particularly when you’re talking about bringing out the best in people individually, is innate.”

During the Steelers’ stay in Dallas, the Associated Press will announce the winners of its cache of awards, and one of them will go to a man voted NFL Coach of the Year. Whoever it is won’t have done a better job than Mike Tomlin.

01-29-2011, 03:35 PM
Coach Mike Tomlin hungry for next title
Going for 2nd Super Bowl in 4 years

By John Harvey
Saturday, January 29, 2011

WILLIAMSBURG — In the locker room after last week’s AFC?Championship game, the Pittsburgh Steelers were looking toward the Super Bowl. Head coach Mike Tomlin was thinking about Paul’s Deli.

“I wish I had a hot Holly, LOL,” Tomlin wrote in reply to a congratulatory text message from Pete Tsipas, owner of Paul’s. Tomlin worked at the popular restaurant during his college days at William &?Mary, and the friendship between Tsipas and Tomlin remains strong to this day.

Tomlin is praised around the NFL for leadership qualities beyond his 39 years. He’s brutally honest and demands much of his players. Those qualities have him coaching in Super Bowl XLV, his second trip to pro football’s championship in his four years as head coach of the Steelers.

Tsipas got a firsthand view of Tomlin’s work nearly two decades ago when Tomlin worked at Paul’s Deli.

“Michael is truly a special man,” Tsipas said in an interview on Friday. “He was a strong personality, but was always honest and very down to earth. Guys like that, you give them a chance.”

Tomlin grew up in Newport News and passed on scholarships from several Ivy League colleges to play at W&M. A three-year starter at wide receiver, he finished with 101 receptions for 2,046 yards and 20 touchdown catches. 20 ranks fourth in Tribe history.

“Mike was a good player, but his only chance to make the pro game was as a coach, not as a player. I tell him that all the time,” W&M?coach Jimmye Laycock said when Tomlin first took the Steelers to the Super Bowl in 2009. “He was very smart about how to play. He understood the game and would challenge you as a coach.”

When he wasn’t practicing or studying, Tomlin crossed Richmond Road to the deli. He was a jack-of-all-trades, working the door as a bouncer when bands played, or taking orders and ringing up customers from behind the counter.

“He came from a working class family in Newport News and always wanted to have some extra money,” Tsipas recalled. “I could tell that he was going to work.”

“We clicked,”?Tsipas continued. “We hung out together, we talked a lot about life in general. Even though we were 10 years apart, it felt like we were the same age.

“When he walks into a room, he lights it up,”?Tsipas added. “Mike had the personality that you always wanted to speak to him. During the busy days or after work when we closed, when he came in here with his buddies.”

After graduation, Tomlin went into coaching as an assistant at Virginia Military Institute. Then came stints at the University of Memphis, Tennessee-Martin and Cincinnati before landing in the NFL. Tony Dungy hired him as a defensive backs coach with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and he won a Super Bowl ring with coach Jon?Gruden.

In 2006 then-Minnesota Vikings coach Brad Childress hired Tomlin as a defensive coordinator, where he coached former Tribe?teammate Darren?Sharper. A year later, Tomlin succeeded Bill Cowher as head coach in Pittsburgh.

Tsipas remained in contact the entire time. “We didn’t know that he was going to be a coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers,” he said. “I thought he was going to be a lawyer. He had the personality to be a lawyer. One of the guys that everyone looked up to.”

A year later, Tomlin, then just 36, became the youngest coach to win a Super Bowl, beating the Arizona Cardinals 27-23.

Tsipas had mixed feelings when the Steelers eliminated the Ravens in a divisional playoff game since he held season tickets for Baltimore. “It was tough,”?he said. He and his brother are “big-time Ravens fans.”

Tomlin remembered his old boss. A week after he was hired in Pittsburgh, a UPS?package arrived at Paul’s Deli addressed to Tsipas. Inside was a Steelers helmet signed by Tomlin.

“Michael is like a brother to me,”?Tsipas marveled. “When he comes back, he comes in here and we stay up to 4 or 5 o’clock in the morning talking. He was here till 6 a.m. one time talking about the season and Super Bowl. It’s just unbelievable stuff.”

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