Tag Archives: Mike Tomlin

State of the Steelers Franchise

The Steelers went 8-8 in the 2013 season and failed to make the playoffs for the second straight season. The last winning campaign came two years ago (12-4) and, head coach, Mike Tomlin heads towards his eighth season knowing that he needs to get something done.

The Steelers front office, with General Manager, Kevin Colbert, will have to make some shrewd moves in free agency, particularly when dealing with his own players.

One of the first things they must prepare for is to start the 2014 season on the right foot; their first quarter play this year brought them a 0-4 record in a tough division that always left them playing catch-up with the rest of the field.

There had been much talk about the Steelers’ coaching staff but that appears to have got a real injection of experience and intellect. Pittsburgh have hired James Saxon as running backs coach and Mike Munchak, the former Titans head coach, to train the offensive line. However, question marks remain over offensive coordinator, Todd Haley.

Defensively, things remain the same, with Dick LeBeau still in charge of the back line; although, it is now looking like the defense needs new blood and fresh faces. Fans betting NFL know cap space has always appeared to be a problem in Pittsburgh and again work is required.

One of the developing storylines could involve three Steelers regulars – Troy Polamalu, Ike Taylor, and Heath Miller; they combine for $32 million in cap room. All three will be candidates for contract extensions or pay reductions, and if an agreement cannot be reached, they could be released.

Free agency is always a worry for any franchise and the Steelers have 21 unrestricted free agents on their roster but only six are current starters. They now need to consider what their needs are in the draft; largely, defensive positions, but some NFL betting pundits believe they could find themselves wanting at cornerback and safety in the new season.

The Steelers enter the 2014 offseason with plenty to address but with a relatively sound foundation to build on.

Pittsburgh – A Team in Transition

Change with all sides has to happen over time, and there has been a gradual change in the personnel at the Steelers over the past few years. The challenge ahead this year for head coach, Mike Tomlin, will be getting back to having a winning season after a 12-4 record and a playoff loss to Denver in 2011 turned into an 8-8 season in 2012.

Defensively, the biggest loss was linebacker, James Harrison, who was released after salary-cap issues (and is now with the Bengals) but it was the offense that saw the biggest changes, with new back-ups behind quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, a new backfield, a much-changed receiving corps, and a new look on the offensive line.

The steady part of the Steelers offense is Roethlisberger; he is the main constant in the attack and, with a new supporting cast this year, fans betting on the NFL will be hoping that he (for once) can stay healthy this year and play all 16 regular season games, something that has happened only once in all his seasons as a starter.

His fitness is vital, especially with veteran backups, Charlie Batch and Byron Leftwich, gone and replaced by another veteran, in Bruce Gradkowski and fourth-round draft pick, Landry Jones, who must be considered a work-in-progress. Jones went from a potential first-round pick to a fourth-rounder after a disappointing senior season; he certainly isn’t NFL ready – yet.

Pittsburgh has always been considered a team that can run the football but, last year, they couldn’t accomplish that, mainly due to injuries. This year, they certainly expect improvement to come in that department, as they have drafted Le’Veon Bell in the second round; he should quickly take over as the featured and starting back.

He’s a workhorse back with good size (6-1, 244); he’s durable, and can take tacklers a few yards; he’s also very powerful and relentless, a good acquisition for the Steelers’ style of running game that they like to play.

Bell should have solid support on the ground with Issac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer competing for the number two spot on the roster. As things stand, it looks as though Redman will get the nod. Bell is likely to see the field on 3rd down as long as he continues to improve his pass blocking & blitz pickup. Will Johnson returns at fullback and will be a good addition in a mainly blocking role.

Question marks must remain over the receiving corps though, especially as Heath Miller at tight-end, their leading receiver in 2012 (71 catches), is not yet slated to return after injury. With him missing, the receivers look like a weaker group, especially as Mike Wallace was also lost to the Dolphins.

So, what have the Steelers got in this department? Well, Emmanuel Sanders, who was a nice slot receiver last year is going to have to step-up and improve his numbers for a start.

Although he did well in 2012 (44 catches for 626 yards), he will have more pressure on him this year and will be expected to produce more; it remains to be seen if he can handle that situation. Antonio Brown needs to improve again after his form rather levelled off in 2012. After those two, the Steelers receivers are a mixture of draft picks and veterans and it remains to be seen who of those make the full roster for the season. Offense is one area where the Steelers are looking a little light, unless Sanders or Brown really engage overdrive this year.

The offensive line gets a very new look and protecting Roethlisberger will be all important; two starters are gone from the “new look” – guard, Willie Colon, and tackle, Max Starks, and it will be three-time Pro Bowl center, Maurkice Pouncey, who anchors the line.

Marcus Gilbert and Mike Adams are being lined up as the tackles but there is still some doubt from NFL betting pundits over who will play left and who will play right. Guards, David DeCastro and Ramon Foster, complete the front five and it looks like the Steelers have a real belief in this line as a unit that could stay together for years – it certainly looks solid enough, providing a platform from which Roethlisberger has time and room to operate.

All in all, ‘transition’ is the right word to use about the Steelers offense – there are elements of stability there, Roethlisberger, for instance. However, much of the cast is new and it may take a while for it all to knit together.

This year, with an increased running game, we can see the Steelers getting back to their “ground and pound” style as the staple for whatever success may come their way, a return to their roots and some “blue-collar football”.

Tomlin: Big Ben, Polamalu Expected To Play Against Chiefs

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The Pittsburgh Steelers are coming a bye week and will travel to Kansas City this weekend to take on the Chiefs.

Pittsburgh is tied with the Baltimore Ravens atop the AFC North Division with a 7-3 record. However, Baltimore holds the tiebreaker after sweeping the season series.

Last week, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger announced that he had suffered a broken thumb on his throwing hand during the team’s 24-17 win over the Cincinnati Bengals.

Roethlisberger said he is planning to play and head coach mike Tomlin confirmed that he will during his weekly press conference Tuesday afternoon.

On Monday, Roethlisberger practiced in a limited role. He did take snaps out of the “pistol” formation, which is a shorter version of the shotgun to try and protect his hand.

According to Tomlin, he will play and most likely won’t be included on the injury report.

Troy Polamalu suffered a rib injury against the Bengals as well. He was a limited participant in practice last week, but Tomlin fully expects him to play this weekend.

LaMarr Woodley’s status is up in the air however. His status will be determind by how he progresses in practice this week.

Kansa City officially put starting quarterback Matt Cassel on injured reserve Monday after he sustained a hand injury.

On Monday night, Tyler Palko from West Allegheny and the University of Pittsburgh made his first NFL start against the New England Patriots.

Palko completed 25 of his 38 passes for 236 yards, but threw three interceptions in the game. New England won the game 34-3.

Palko is expected to start against the Steelers Sunday night as well.

Filed under: Football, Sports, Steelers, Syndicated Sports Tagged: Ben Roethlisberger, Kansas City Chiefs, Mike Tomlin, NFL, Pittsburgh Steelers, Troy Polamalu

Steelers WR Jerricho Cotchery Discusses Moving Up Depth Chart

PITTSBURGH (93-7 The FAN) — Steelers Wide Receiver Jerricho Cotchery joined Seibel, Starkey and Miller on Sportsradio 93.7 The FAN to talk about his expanding role on the team.

It has appeared as though Cotchery is replacing Hines Ward in a number of formations, and he told us what that feels like, and how Ward has been there helping him along the entire time.

When asked where he seems himself on the depth chart, Cotchery said he just views himself as another guy trying to help the team win, and Mike Tomlin creates an environment where everyone feels important does what they’re asked to.

We also talked about the offense running the no huddle, and how Jerricho enjoys running that form of the offense, and why the Steelers having an elite Quarterback makes it easier to run.

We wrapped things up with Cotchery discussing whether or not the Steelers view themselves as the team to beat in the AFC.



Filed under: Football, Heard on The Fan, Sports, Steelers Tagged: Ben Roethlisberger, Hines Ward, Jerricho Cotchery, Mike Tomlin

Ryan Clark Fined $40K For Hit Against Ravens

PITTSBURGH (93-7 The FAN) — Steelers safety Ryan Clark was fined $40,000 Wednesday for a hit in Sunday night’s loss to the Baltimore Ravens.

It’s the second straight week Clark has been fined, as he received a $15,000 fine last week for a hit against the New England Patriots. Clark actually spoke out in approval for the first fine, but he wasn’t as supportive of the league’s decision on Wednesday.

Quite simply, Clark said “this time it’s wrong.”

“We watched this in slo-mo as a team, and as a team say if you’re going to dislodge the ball from somebody, this is the legal way to do it,” Clark said. “This is what we talked about in our meeting.”

Clark hit Ravens wide receiver Ed Dickson down field, jarring the ball loose and causing an incompletion. His helmet grazed the facemask of Dickson, but most of the impact appeared to be between Clark’s shoulder and the chest of the receiver.

Clark was flagged on the play, but Steelers coach Mike Tomlin pointed out to his players this week that Clark — despite the flag — made the perfect play to dislodge the ball from the receiver.

“I think the fine that Ryan Clark received was excessive,” Tomlin said in a statement. “I am a proponent of player safety and the league’s pursuit of improvement in this area. I, like the vast majority of people in this industry, witness daily the steep price that these young men pay to play this game on so many levels.

“Ryan has my full support if he chooses to appeal this in any way.”

Clark says he expects to appeal the fine, but he’s not optimistic the penalty will change.

“I mean you can appeal but I’m appealing to the same person (Roger Goodell),” he said. “The same man (that issued the fine). I know he’s not going to sit across from because I’m not going to sit across from him unless they handcuff me, which is probably the next step anyway.”

Other quotables from Clark regarding the fine:

  • “There wasn’t anything malicious about it. It wasn’t a spear. It wasn’t a forearm to the head. It wasn’t any of those things and to be fined $40,000 for that? To me it’s either targeting me as a single player or it’s targeting this team.”
  • “I was actually expecting to get a call back and say that it wasn’t wrong, because it wasn’t. I did everything I was asked to do and Goodell and all those other guys, they sit in their office with their suits and make these decisions on what a split-second reaction by the player is and this time it’s wrong.”
  • “Am I supposed to let him catch it and then wait for him and hug him? Should I throw a pillow at him? Should I blow a whistle? ‘Hey look, I’m about to tackle you.’ No, that’s not football.”

Filed under: Football, Sports, Steelers Tagged: Baltimore Ravens, Ed Dickson, Fined, Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh Steelers, Ryan Clark

Sanders Out Several Weeks

PITTSBURGH (93-7 The FAN) — Steelers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders had knee surgery and he will be out for “a couple weeks,” according to Steelers coach Mike Tomlin in his weekly press conference Tuesday.

“Emmanuel Sanders had his knee scoped,” Tomlin said. “He should be a couple weeks. That was deemed a success.”

Sanders had been away from the team for much of last week as he had a death in the family. There is not yet a concrete time line of when he might return.

Tomlin also said that punter Daniel Sepulveda had successful surgery. He was placed on injured reserve before the Baltimore game, ending his season. The Steelers have since signed Jeremy Kapinos.

Tomlin went on to say that wide receiver Hines Ward, who left Sunday night’s game with concussion-like symptoms, is doing well. Ward said on the 93-7 The Fan morning show that he expects to play Sunday at Cincinnati, and Tomlin alluded that Ward should be just fine.

“Hines appears to be doing well with his concussion-like symptoms,” Tomlin said. “It shouldn’t prohibit him or slow him down in any form or fashion this week. We’ll assess him again (Wednesday) as we get started with our work week.”

Linebackers James Farrior and Lamarr Woodley are both a risk to miss Sunday’s game with injuries. Farrior has a calf injury that has kept him out the last two weeks, and Woodley missed last week with a pulled hamstring.

Participation for both in practice will determine their ability to play Sunday.

“We’ll take a look at Lamarr Woodley and see where he is with his hamstring,” Tomlin said. “Just like last week, participation over the course of the week will dictate his availability.”

Other injury news:

  • Both wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery and linebacker Stevenson Sylvester are dealing with swelling issues that could keep them out of practice this week.
  • Wide receiver and special teams ace Arnaz Battle is dealing with a hamstring injury and he will be monitored this week.

Filed under: Football, Sports, Steelers Tagged: Arnaz Battle, Emmanuel Sanders, Hines Ward, Injury Report, James Farrior, Jerricho Cotchery, LaMarr Woodley, Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh Steelers, Stevenson Sylvester

Tomlin Looks Ahead To Bengals, Ward Will Play

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The Pittsburgh Steelers suffered a crushing loss to the Baltimore Ravens Sunday night.

Baltimore marched 92 yards down the field to score the game-winning touchdown with just seconds remaining to sweep the season series.

A week ago, the Steelers were coming off a huge win over the New England Patriots. They were on the fast track to potentially securing home field throughout the playoffs.

Now, the Steelers find themselves in third place behind Baltimore and Cincinnati.

Playoff hopes will be on the line when the Steelers go on the road to face the Bengals Sunday afternoon.

Hines Ward left the game after taking a helmet-to-helmet shot from Ray Lewis.

Tomlin said that Ward is expected to play against the Bengals. He has not experienced any lingering issues from the concussion symptoms which kept him from returning against the Ravens.

Other injury notes:

Emmanuel Sanders had his knee scoped and will be out for a couple of weeks.

LaMarr Woodley is day-to-day dealing with a hamstring injury.

James Harrison is also expected to play.

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Filed under: Football, Sports, Steelers, Syndicated Sports Tagged: Football, Hines Ward, Mike Tomlin, NFL, Pittsburgh Steelers

Tomlin – Press Conference

Listen to Pittsburgh Steelers head coach, Mike Tomlin's last press conference of the 2011 training camp series.

Steelers Hire Carnell Lake as DB Coach

Today, the Steelers announced their replacement for the departed defensive backs (DB) coach Ray Horton in Carnell Lake. Horton left the Steelers this offseason to join the Arizona Cardinals staff (big surprise) as the defensive coordinator.

The Carnell Lake hiring will likely be a popular hire to most Steelers fans as Lake was one of the best Steelers defensive players of the 1990's.  Carnell Lake has a short but successful coaching resume in which he did an admirable job with UCLA as the defensive backs coach before resigning for personal reasons.

Quick Facts:

  • Carnell Lake played for the Steelers from 1989 to 1998
  • Carnell Lake was a 2nd round pick in 1989.  Lake played for UCLA as a linebacker.a
  • Carnell Lake made the pro bowl 4 times and finished his Pittsburgh career with 16 interceptions.
  • Carnell Lake has 16 fumble recoveries which in the 4th most in franchise history.

Looking back at the Super Bowl

Looking back at the 2011 Super Bowl, the matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Green Bay Packers, there was one thing evident: The Steelers made way too many mistakes.

The matchup from a talent perspective was even but the Packers without a doubt, played the better game. The Steelers got outcoached on offense and defense and the Packers players executed better and made less mistakes.

There was no excuse for Ben Roethlisberger to force that pass which resulted in a pick six. But the absolute back breaker was Rashard Mendenhall fumbling on the 30 yard line when the Steelers had the momentum heading towards the go ahead score. Talk about stupidity, how did David Johnson completely whiff on Clay Matthews who caused the Mendenhall fumble. He's horrible and shouldn't even be using up a roster spot. Arians got rid of John Kuhn (FB for the Packers) because he doesn't believe in a FB in favor of the worthless David Johnson.

And how about Keyaron Fox? The Steelers would have had 2 minutes to score on the 32 yard line but instead he got a personnal foul on the kickoff essentially pushing the Steelers back to the 17. A critical penalty at a critical time.

Dick Leabeau's secondary looked confused and out of position. Take for example the game winning touchdown by Greg Jennings. Jennings was matched up against the aging James Farrior. How does that happen?

Shall we touch on the horrible lack of adjustments by Bruce Arians? The Packers lost their two pro bowl cornerbacks and the Steelers didn't even attempt a no huddle offense to catch them out of position. Nice work Arians, no wonder everyone except Big Ben wants you fired.

All in all, you can't be upset about the Packers winning. The Steelers beat themselves.

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