Photo Credit: Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Steelers Tomlin Deflects Questions About Downward Trend

Steelers head coach and football philosopher, Mike Tomlin, is never hesitant to quip and use confusing catch phrases while talking football to the press.  I’ve come to equate it as something like what an octopus does when threatened – it ejects ink into the water to confuse and disorient the potential predator.  Tomlin continued that survival tactic on Tuesday during the coaches breakfast that took place in Phoenix Arizona.

Tomlin was questioned about the team’s chances of being a playoff team in 2013 after suffering some key losses with players released and those who went to other teams via free agency.  And, in Tomlin fashion he replied,

That’s March talk.  I’ll see you at stadiums in the fall.

Oh like ever the master, Tomlin easily crafts a playground type response that shuts the door and wipes the slate clean for the next question before anyone in the room has a chance to follow up with a more prodding query.  What is this ‘March talk?’  Do you mean legitimate questions of how the team plans on getting better after a disappointing 8-8 season?  Or better yet, how the team has been on the decline for the last several seasons with disappointing draft picks, poor development, and an inflated team salary that is compounding upon itself every year due to restructuring of contracts?  When do we talk about those things, Mike?

I’ve never been a fan of the double talk that comes from Tomlin.  I at one time respected such statements as ‘The standard is the standard,.’ But, as I see what that ‘standard’ is becoming, I’ve just about had my fill of Tomlinisms recently.  To his credit, he did admit that the Steelers weren’t very good in 2012 when he said,

I acknowledge we got a ways to go.  [We lost close games] because we weren’t good enough. Good teams win close games. Teams that are not lose those games.

There’s a start at least in some straight answers and shouldering of responsibility (and a far cry from ‘raising hell’).  But, that’s about where it ended.  He danced around the relationship between Haley and Roethlisberger like it had been just announced on Facebook or something.  He also (as per usual) did not go into much depth on how the team plans on approaching using a new zone blocking scheme.

I guess it will be a mystery to us all what the Steelers plan on doing to rebuild retool rehash restructure play football in 2013.  We’ll just see him at the stadiums still making questionable coaching decisions.  Don’t worry, when asked again why his team is sitting at 5-6 by Week 12 I’m sure he’ll come up with a doozy of a zinger like,

I’ve got the AFC right where I want them.’


‘The team is playing sound minded good solid physical mental hard tough football.  We just lose some of those games.’


‘It may seem we are a team on the ropes.  But then Rocky loses.’


‘Bleep bloop blerp blong….’

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Tags: Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Dom DiTolla

    I’m honestly stoked to hear some “Tomlin-isms” this year. They haven’t finished with a losing record under him, so if they’re on pace to finish 5-11ish I’m downright curious to see what he can come up with “excuse-wise.”

  • Nine

    Excuse me, but this team in a “downward trend”, as you call it – is this the same team that went 12-4 the previous year? And didn’t the Steelers make the Super Bowl the year before that?

    And as for Tomlin, is he the same coach that won a Super Bowl in his second season (after his predecessor took 15 years to do the same?). Is he also the same coach that has taken the Steelers to two Super Bowls in his first 5 years (after his predecessor took the team there twice in 15 years)? This is the coach you criticize? This is the franchise you nonchalantly say is in decline?

    Maybe you just don’t know football, Craig.

    • Craig

      ‘downward trend’ was used because that was the context of the question asked to him during the meetings with the media in Phoenix. So yeah – downward trend.

      It’s difficult to defend Tomlin as good a coach as you try to make him out to because he essentially rode the coat tails of solid drafting and development during the Bill Cowher era. Now that the team has been his for this amount of time, there are huge flaws that need corrected. Yes, the Steelers went 12-4 but it was a shakey 12-4 that saw them losing to Tebow in the Wild Card game. The defense, though ‘ranked #1′ has been playing under that guise for too long, and the offense has one of the worse Red Zone offenses. This doesn’t even begin to cover the weird and often awful game management decisions Tomlin makes on an almost weekly basis.

      And I’m not really one to argue who knows football over the other. But thanks for playing. Oh and I’m not bashing the franchise. I love my Steelers and always will. Just because I criticize doesn’t mean I’m any less of a fan of the Steelers over someone else. But I guess you know better, Nine

      • Nine

        I certainly know better than you, Craig. It sickens me everytime I see some self anointed “expert” use the old double standard when referring to a coach – basically, whatever success he’s had was because of someone else, but whatever failures he’s had is all on him. Your referral to Bill Cowher is a perfect example of that. If I agreed with your analysis (which I do not), I’d have to at least mention that Tomlin has done better with Cowher’s players than Cowher did – 2 Super Bowl trips in 5 years, with a Super Bowl victory in his 2nd year.

        I do not, however, buy into the “Cowher’s team” line of thinking, however. The head coach has a big say in personnel, but the Steelers as an organization make the call, not just the head coach. Perfect example being that Tomlin wanted Harrison back – but did not get his wish. Regardless, in this era of the NFL with free agency and salary caps, nobody is appreciably better than anybody else, Despite that, the Steelers have had very strong success in the past 5 years. You don’t see a lot of teams doing that, even with strong talent.

        The other thing I really dislike is when people will make any argument, no matter how weak, just to make their point – such as what you have done. You knocked a 12-4 season as being a “shaky” 12-4, and you knocked the #1 ranked defense in the NFL (and then somehow blaming it on Tomlin??). Amazing. It isn’t Tomlin who ranked the Steelers defense #1, it is the NFL.

        I don’t believe everything is rosy, either, and I don’t really have high expectations for next year, with all the changes taking place. However, hopefully one can at least be objective in it, instead of trying to throw our excellent coach under the bus.

        • Dom DiTolla

          By your assertion that you “know better than” Craig, you certainly appear to be one of those “self anointed experts” you claim to despise. But I digress.

          Anyway, let me just state that arguing who is the better Coach in the “Tomlin vs. Cowher” debate is fruitless and is essentially like arguing “apples vs. oranges.” I mean, we could throw Cowher’s accomplishments from 1992-2002 “under the bus” because he had players like Neil O’Donnell, Mike Tomczak, Kordell Stewart, and Tommy Maddox running the Offense the first 12 of his 15 years instead of a Ben Roethlisberger.

          Plus, we could go back and forth over how well Cowher would have done with the teams Tomlin has Coached from 2008-2010 with players that the Cowher-led team drafted and developed. But it’s a waste of time because none of that matters in the present.

          In addition while I would choose to refer to the Steelers’ 12-4 2011 season as something other than “shaky,” why is one not allowed to not knock Pittsburgh’s #1 ranked defense from that season? They might have been ranked #1 in Yards Allowed and against the Pass, but outside of their masterful performance against New England, they feasted on the likes of Matt Hasselbeck, Curtis Painter, Kerry Collins, Kevin Kolb, Andy Dalton (x2), Colt McCoy, Tarvaris Jackson, Kellen Clemens, and Seneca Wallace.

          Furthermore, the unit only recorded 35.0 Sacks (17th), and recorded the fewest Takeaways (15) in the entire League that year. Their #1 ranking in yards allowed meant less than the paper it was printed on because they could not rush the passer or record turnovers with any consistency. Plus it didn’t help that they gave up over 300 Yards passing to of all people Tim Tebow.

          Also, Craig never specifically blamed Tomlin for that as you stated. He simply pointed out that the Defense and entire team has weaknesses that Tomlin and the rest of the Coaching Staff need to step up and fix if they wish to remain competitive.

          Because the Rooney’s are patient and intelligent owners, they will allow Tomlin the chance to rebuild and re-make the team just like Cowher was afforded in the late 1990s. Thankfully Cowher, Donahoe, Colbert, and the rest of the staff were “money” when it came to offseason and draft acquisitions from 1998-2002, and those years plus the acquisitions of Polamalu, Starks, and Roethlisberger in 2003 & 2004 were chiefly responsible for building the backbone this team’s success over the last decade.

          I for one can’t wait to see Tomlin guide this team through the upcoming doldrums. It will be a great chance to see if he is capable of piloting a rebuilding project and steering a developing team in the right direction.

          Also, can you send me a link or give me definitive proof of Tomlin wanting Harrison back this past offseason? I guess that I didn’t find it when that news came out.

          Thanks for reading, and take it easy man. It’s football. :)

          • Nine

            Search a little bit, Tomlin said he wanted Harrison back. Sorry I’m not in the business of providing links, I just pay attention when these things come out.

            I’m not a ‘self-annointed expert” and never said I was. Knowing more than Craig doesn’t qualify anyone for that title. I didn’t write the article, though.

            Take it easy yourself. Craig’s the one attacking our coach.

          • Dom DiTolla

            I searched high and low and found nothing that explicitly stated that Tomlin wanted Harrison back, and the Front Office said no to him and his demands.

            From what I found it seemed like all parties (Tomlin and the F.O.) wanted him back, but the veteran didn’t agree to a pay-cut. Simple cap-cutting move which needed to be made on a player with a history of knee and back issues. I just figured that if you were going to claim something like that happened that you would provide a link to two to any interested parties who wanted evidence behind said claim.

            Now on to your “Our Coach” comment. I know that I’m not a member of the Steelers, but which position do you play on the team? You know, so I can cheer you on during the rebuilding process while you give 100% on that field for Coach Tomlin. :)