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Thread: Kovacevic: Tomlin up to the tall tasks ahead

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    Legend hawaiiansteel's Avatar
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    Kovacevic: Tomlin up to the tall tasks ahead

    Kovacevic: Tomlin up to the tall tasks ahead

    By Dejan Kovacevic
    Published: Tuesday, December 18, 2012



    Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin on the sideline at Heinz Field Dec. 2012

    Let‘s get this out of the way early: If the Steelers fail to make the playoffs, it would — and should — mean nothing to Mike Tomlin‘s future with the team.

    Even if they lose out to the Bengals and Browns.

    Even if they finish 7-9 after starting out 6-3 in a mostly miserable AFC.

    To even discuss the man‘s immediate future, to me, feels a little silly. Resumes do matter. Experience matters. For all the 24/7, tweet-and-text analysis in which our sporting culture now engages, no reasonable, rational fan (yeah, I know) could fairly assess Tomlin without weighing his:

    • Two Super Bowl appearances, with one Lombardi Trophy.

    • Four playoff berths in his first five years.

    • 62-32 career record.

    OK, with that said, as has been documented in this very space, Tomlin is not having a good 2012. And it‘s getting more glaring with each passing week that he has plenty of areas to address toward restoring the Steelers‘ elite status, as well as his once-sterling reputation for stewarding a winner.

    Thus, I humbly offer these three wholly unsolicited concepts for the head coach‘s consideration, not so much for this weekend but for the weeks and months ahead:

    1. SOLVE BEN VS. TODD

    Tomlin predictably downplayed this topic Tuesday in his news conference, saying of Ben Roethlisberger‘s Sunday jabs at Todd Haley, “When you come up short, there are frustrations associated with that.”

    Tomlin added that he met with Roethlisberger on Monday and that the QB is “on-board with what we‘re doing.”

    Well, that‘s that, then.

    Or not.

    Again, I‘m behind Roethlisberger on this. He‘s the franchise player, and that‘s the lay of the land anymore.

    To address that fully — and let‘s not pretend it won‘t come up anew — Tomlin must first accept that the star holds all the cards. He‘s got no choice. If it comes down to a him-or-me from Roethlisberger‘s perspective, the $102 million quarterback has to win that duel 102 times out of 102. And, yeah, even if that means finding a new coordinator.

    I still don‘t buy that Tomlin had much to do with the switch from Bruce Arians to Haley, no matter the chest-thumping to the contrary. Something happened over Tomlin‘s head, and only Art Rooney II breathes the air up there.

    If Tomlin is to reclaim his swagger at some point, he‘s got to reclaim his staff and his broader vision for winning football.

    2. SHAPE UP THE DEFENSE

    There are three ways to explain how this honest-to-Ziggy No. 1-ranked defense can exhibit sound strategy — hence, the low yardage totals — but so seldom get close enough to the ball for interceptions, fumbles or sacks: They‘re old, they get hurt easily and/or they‘re out of shape.

    Or all three.

    And all three, to some extent, are within Tomlin‘s control.

    Setting aside the far larger task of finding more athletic replacements at some point, the coach can begin by asking why LaMarr Woodley, for one, has virtually vanished. Anyone isolating on No. 56 for any spell Sunday saw a $62 million linebacker being swallowed whole by anyone lining up across from him. On one play, the blocker doing the burying was 5-foot-8 running back Lance Dunbar.

    To be fair, Woodley has had issues with an ankle and a long-troublesome hamstring. But the latter almost always is viewed as a conditioning issue. Not much of an excuse.

    All this clearly is Woodley‘s responsibility, but there‘s no way Tomlin or linebackers coach Keith Butler — and coordinator in waiting — should have let it reach this point.

    And Woodley‘s hardly alone.

    3. SINGLE OUT A LEADER

    Leadership must originate within the locker room, but it‘s clearer now than ever that the committee approach isn‘t clicking somewhere. Brett Keisel and Roethlisberger are the captains, and both, to their credit, have been lauded by teammates for rousing speeches the past couple of weeks. But all we‘ve seen translate to the field in that time is a flat-line loss to the Chargers and an equally blah first quarter Sunday.

    Tomlin earned his reputation as a players‘ coach, one as much in harmony with his room as in control of it.

    So where is that now?

    I don‘t have the answers here. No one on the outside could. Maybe one player, someone in the James Farrior mold, can be anointed. Maybe Larry Foote if he‘s still got time on the clock. Whoever it is, one voice tends to resonate more than a cacophony in these settings.

    Look, these Steelers aren‘t the NFL‘s most talented team. But they‘re significantly better than the sum of their results, and that buck stops on the desk of a highly capable coach facing the highest climb of his career.

    http://triblive.com/sports/-topstori...#ixzz2FWOHRRSr

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    Let's just hope he isn't going to "unleash hell" down the stretch. That was embarrassing as hell.

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    Hall of Famer Sugar's Avatar
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    Even brilliant coaches have time of turmoil or frustration. As great as guys like Bellicheck, Gibbs, Parcells or Johnson have been, they have all had their own coaching Alamo's they've had to face. I'm thinking that Tomlin will have many of these in his time. He has been a proven winner and many of my friends that support other teams have told me that they would absolutely love to have him.

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    Legend hawaiiansteel's Avatar
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    ----Jerome Bettis appeared on a Cincinnati radio show, Fox Sports 1360, with Andy Furman and ex-Bengal Artrell Hawkins, a Johnstown native and had a few interesting things to say:

    Furman: "Have the fans had enough of Mike Tomlin and if the Steelers miss the playoffs, do you think Mike Tomlin will be gone"?

    Bettis: "No way....There's no way. He's been a straight-shooter this whole way. He's dealt with the adversity just as well as he's dealt with the success. Steeler fans have endeared themselves to him and I don't think they want him to leave. The organization understands what's going on and knows that he's given them the right direction. Unfortunately, they're just not getting the job done. There is nothing the head coach can do when guys aren't catching the football, fumbling the football, etc...he's getting the players ready but, when you make these bonehead mistakes then you take yourself out of that chance to win".

    Hawkins: "Would you say the decision to not bring back Bruce Arians and hire Todd Haley was a mistake?"

    Bettis: "I think it was a mistake, but it was a long time coming. When your star QB and offensive coordinator were really close and ownership felt that (Ben) wasn't getting enough discipline. It wasn't a one-year thing. Since Ben wasn't getting the discipline, they also felt that (Arians) was giving in to what Ben wanted to do as opposed to the philosophy of the Steelers, which has always been running the football first. When he (Arians) got away from running the football it created a problem in the mindset of the offense and became public enemy number one. I think the Steelers needed to see what kind of team did they have? Not a team that can run the ball 40 times and win. Now with (Todd) Haley, they don't have the personnel to do that and they're not winning".

    http://plus.sites.post-gazette.com/i...eption-tonight

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    I think Bettis hit the nail on the head in saying Haley doesn't have the personnel to do what the Rooney's want to do.

    The more I think about this, the fault may all rest on Rooney for usurping Tomlin and forcing Haley on him. Tomlin may resent it a bit. Tomlin, BA, and Ben all seemed to be on the same page. Could it be possible that Tomlin resents Haley more than Ben does? And it's affecting Ben and as a result, affecting everyone else downwind. Haley could be taking a mental toll on the WRs and backs. He could be the cancer at the center of everything bad happening in Pittsburgh.

    Haley has a track record of no one liking him. I'm kinda surprised the Steelers seem to get along with him so well. Maybe the Steeler way is just dealing/working through adversity. And maybe Haley's grating on everyone's nerves but no one's saying anything because it's not the Steeler way. But it's impacting the team chemistry and performance.

    The say 1 apple can spoil the bunch. There's only really 1 new apple here.

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    Tomlin ain't going any where, unless this bad chemistry goes on for 2 more seasons. THEN, maybe they would ditch him. Pgh also doesn't boot anyone with $ left on the contract. Unlike players, coaches deals are guaranteed and if they fire him, he gets to keep getting PAID until contract runs out. Rooneys won't be able to stomach that. They are known to throw dimes around like man hole covers.

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    Legend RuthlessBurgher's Avatar
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    Hawkins: "Would you say the decision to not bring back Bruce Arians and hire Todd Haley was a mistake?"

    Bettis: "I think it was a mistake, but it was a long time coming."
    What is this answer supposed to mean, Ol' Bussie? Sounds like he's saying canning Arians is a mistake that should have happened a long ago, which makes no sense whatsoever to me. Perhaps it makes more sense in haiku format:

    Bettis: "I think it
    was a mistake but it was
    a long time coming."

    Nope...still confuzled.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RuthlessBurgher View Post
    What is this answer supposed to mean, Ol' Bussie? Sounds like he's saying canning Arians is a mistake that should have happened a long ago, which makes no sense whatsoever to me. Perhaps it makes more sense in haiku format:

    Bettis: "I think it
    was a mistake but it was
    a long time coming."

    Nope...still confuzled.
    Hines Ku implies it doesn't have to make sense.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RuthlessBurgher View Post
    What is this answer supposed to mean, Ol' Bussie? Sounds like he's saying canning Arians is a mistake that should have happened a long ago, which makes no sense whatsoever to me. Perhaps it makes more sense in haiku format:

    Bettis: "I think it
    was a mistake but it was
    a long time coming."

    Nope...still confuzled.
    It was a mistake to can him... and it was a mistake to beyotch and moan about not having a strong running game in today's NFL.

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    Quote Originally Posted by feltdizz View Post
    It was a mistake to can him... and it was a mistake to beyotch and moan about not having a strong running game in today's NFL.
    I agree with this sentiment entirely. Fans always complained about Arians propensity to run up the middle, Haley's running game is somewhere around 80% (I read this somewhere, but can't recall where) between the tackles, fans complained about WR screens, bubble screens and lack of the standard screen package, Haley's offense uses WR screens, bubble screens and rarely runs a standard screen package, Arains was vertical, Haley is intermediate, Ben is still making lemon juice out of oranges and did so under Arians, the offense was middle of the pack under Arians and is still in the same position with Haley, the Steelers went 3-1 under Arians with Ben on the bench under Arians and 1-2 with Ben on the bench under Haley.

    What I see is the same result with a slighly different path and personnel to get there. People are trying to make Haley out to be Ben's physical savior and he's still getting hit a lot because of his style, no OC is going to remove that from Ben's game, nor should they try.

    Pappy
    Last edited by papillon; 12-20-2012 at 09:13 AM.


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