Steelers' Tomlin denies reports Roethlisberger appealed for Arians
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Ben Roethlisberger has been accused of doing many things lately. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin says there is one thing his quarterback did not do; he did not make an appeal to save his coordinator's job.
There were reports shortly after the Steelers' 2009 season ended that Tomlin planned to fire offensive coordinator Bruce Arians only to relent after Roethlisberger's plea to keep him.
"All false," Tomlin said Monday. "It's really a joke."
Tomlin spoke publicly for any length of time since he held a news conference Jan. 5, two days after the season ended without a playoff appearance for the Steelers. Tomlin subsequently fired several coaches but Arians was not among them. He said he was aware of the reports he was going to fire his offensive coordinator.
"I don't know where it came from," Tomlin said during a 30-minute interview at the NFL meetings. "I think it was generated by people outside of our building. I became aware of the confusion, but it wasn't something that was generated by us or through us so really I didn't have an opinion regarding it then, and I really don't now."
Tomlin agreed with team president Art Rooney's assertion to the Post-Gazette that the Steelers must run the ball more consistently than they did in 2009. And he said if they can find a fullback that suits the style of blocking to accomplish that -- as Dan Kreider did previously -- they will use him.
"We've got to run the ball more effectively in critical situations because that's how we desire to play football and it increases our chances of winning," Tomlin said. "It makes us a more dominant football team."
He said they hope to run better by working at it, which includes emphasizing it as well as executing it.
"It's a mentality. We've got to commit to doing it. Yes, ultimately when the ball's inside the white lines and we're playing football it's about execution. But it's also about planning, it's about preparation. It's a commitment, one that we're willing to continue to turn stones over to make sure that we're doing our very best to make sure we're great in those areas."
Among other notable topics Tomlin broached Monday:
• Antwaan Randle El could be used in some ways how he was used before he left the Steelers as a free agent in 2006, including throwing the occasional pass and as a punt returner.
"I'm open to it developing. I'm not going to assume he's the same guy he was when he left here. Four years is a long time in football terms but we know what he's capable of."
• On finding a running back to complement Rashard Mendenhall:
"Mewelde Moore has shown he's capable of that and he started five or six games and ran for 500, 600 yards in '08. He's shown capabilities in that area but we're not going to stop there. With the moves that we've made it's obvious that we're intent on creating competition. We believe that strengthens us. We've done that at linebacker. We've done so at safety. We've done so at wide receiver. If given the opportunity we'll continue to do so at running back."
• On the health of linebacker Larry Foote, who did not play in Detroit's final two games because, one source said, he had a Lisfranc foot injury:
"I feel great about it. He passed our physical so I was comfortable with it."
• On the chance Dennis Dixon will remain the No. 2 quarterback, after he moved into that job when Charlie Batch broke a wrist last season:
"He's a young guy who took a nice step between year one and year two. In terms of what he brings to the table, man, if he continues on that path I see no reason why he shouldn't."
• Nearly three months later, on what went wrong in 2009 that kept his Super Bowl champs from making the playoffs, particularly their five-game losing streak:
"Because that was us. That's the story of the National Football League. It's one of the reasons I love it, man. You either do or you don't. We didn't.
"It was an uncomfortable stretch there for us all that highlights what we weren't. But the reality is we were not a playoff-caliber team. That's why we didn't make it."
Roethlisberger to meet with NFL commissioner.
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