Mike Tomlin spoke for the first time since his end of season presser last week at the NFL owners meetings in South Florida. Among the topics he spoke about was the whole Arians/Haley situation and his role in it. Tomlin made it a point to say that the decision to change offensive coordinators was his and not something that was controlled by Art II as previously speculated. With the way it all went down with Arians “retiring” and then popping up as Indy’s new OC a week later and then Haley coming out of the blue as the Steelers new OC, is Tomlin really setting the record straight or just saving face?
No one can blame Tomlin for wanting to establish himself as the leader of this football team, especially when it comes to decision making. The idea that Art II was controlling every detail these coaching changes and Tomlin didn’t have a say in anything had to be pretty emasculating to him. The Steelers have never been known as a team that’s run by an over-reaching owner that forces all kinds of decisions on the coaches like some other teams are. It stands to reason that they wouldn’t start now after 80 years and 6 Super Bowl titles. Tomlin has definitely earned the respect of Steeler Nation, but no one in the Black & Gold is ever above criticism.
The one thing that sticks out to me is that if Tomlin decided at some point that he wanted to overhaul the offensive coaching, than why say Arians retired? If only they hadn’t done that, it would have looked a whole lot better as far as figuring out whose decision it was. I don’t blame Tomlin for stating immediately after the loss to Denver that he “anticipated” his coaching staff back for the next season, I don’t think he ever really did come out and guarantee that no one would be leaving, so that’s not an issue for me. It makes sense that when he had some time to reflect on the season, particularly the missed offensive chances of the season, he came to the understanding that a change would be for the better. Most likely if it in fact was Tomlin’s original idea to “retire” Arians from the Steelers coaching staff and he brought that idea to Art Rooney II, Art replied something like “Hells yeah I think he should get aht!”
When it comes to Haley, I have no reason to doubt that it was Tomlin’s idea to hire him. Tomlin himself knows the value of the interview process and that the most unlikely of candidates can change perceptions with an impressive interview. I don’t see Tomlin allowing a coach to join his staff that he thinks will clash with everyone and cause nothing but problems. Tomlin saw something in Haley that he thinks will work for Ben and the offense, and if does work the only downside will be it will most likely lead to head coaching offers being thrown at Haley. If it doesn’t work, Tomlin will definitely have to own it after making this firm declaration that it was all his idea.
“I’ll start by saying Art Rooney owns the football team so obviously he has the autonomy to do what he wants,” Tomlin said. “But some of those reports that were reported regarding the changes are just quite simply untrue. I made the decision to make the change from an offensive coordinator standpoint. I made the decision to hire Todd Haley.”
I’m sure there’s a little truth to the reports that Art II had his influence or suggestion or whatever you want to call it in these coaching changes. I don’t doubt Tomlin completely though. Not only does he not strike me as a Jason Garrett type of coach that is completely controlled by a meddlesome owner, but Art II doesn’t strike me as a meddlesome owner in the first place. Most likely the true story on how all this really came down is not nearly as interesting as the speculation of it is, as with most stories.
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