It’s never a bad thing to bask in the glory of a win over the Ratbirds but, like the Steelers, we need to keep our eyes moving forward and onto the next one. The Steelers have a big road trip ahead of them out to the west coast to play the Oakland Raiders on Sunday. Seems like an easy enough task but we all know that the “Black Hole” hasn’t been very forgiving in recent years. Here’s what’s being said about your Pittsburgh Steelers around the block.
Mike Tomlin stepped up to the microphone on Tuesday afternoon as he always does during the season to review the previous game, update injury statuses, preview the upcoming opponent, and answer questions. I counted 19 “Obviously’s” in his presser that ran for a little over seventeen minutes. That’s a good rate considering he’s not talking that entire time, he’s listening to questions towards the end and responding. Captain Obvious strikes again! Tomlin seems to be taking a different approach this season with his pressers, could be that he’s never started the season 0-4 before but he’s calling guys out for positive and negative reasons more than he ever has before. With regards to RB Le’Veon Bell, Tomlin acknowledged that he had high praise for him the previous week following the win over the Jets in spite of a stat line that might not have warranted that praise in part to help boost Bell’s confidence.
“You guys know I don’t care what you say or write, but I realize he is a young guy and he may. I felt the need to assure him he is doing the right things, he is doing what we are asking him to do in the manner we are asking him to do it. I don’t want him to listen to the elevator music. I want him to listen to what matters and that is the opinion of the people that evaluate him.” – Mike Tomlin
On the injury front, surprising news came on Tuesday when Tomlin revealed that Lawrence Timmons suffered a fractured hand during the Ravens game and has been put into a cast and will continue to play going forward. That makes his performance of 17 tackles against the Ravens a scooch more impressive, I think. You can listen to Tomlin’s presser in its entirety right here.
Steelers Insider Ed Bouchette of the PPG has noticed how Tomlin has been using his press conferences to “send messages” to his players, like Le’Veon Bell. He also noticed how Tomlin used this week’s presser to call out some underperforming players, something he hasn’t really done before either. With regards to underwhelming punter Zoltan Mesko, Tomlin showed some frustration at how inconsistent he has been since the Steelers acquired him.
“He’s been inconsistent. Just about every game over the last three games, he’s had what you call a ‘junior-varsity’ punt. Thankfully, we only punted once in the game from a collective standpoint. Obviously, negatively for him, he didn’t get an opportunity to redeem himself from that punt. We need more consistency there.” – Mike Tomlin
Tomlin didn’t stop there, he also answered brutally honestly as to why special teams CB Curtis Brown didn’t dress for the Ravens game.
“Curtis is a top-flight special teams player but hadn’t been playing that way over the last several weeks.” – Mike Tomlin
If Tomlin calls Ryan Clark out for missing tackles in the next presser I think Dom is going to become the new president of the Mike Tomlin Fan Club.
Steelers must avoid falling to Oakland again
For the Steelers in the past several years Oakland really has been a “Black Hole.” As Alan Robinson of the Trib points out, the Steelers have had some of their worst losses as a team out in Oakland going back to 2006. The Steelers right now sit at 2-4 and really need to go at least 8-2 in their final 10 games to hope for a playoff berth so dropping a deuce in Oakland would not serve their best interests when they still have teams like New England and Green Bay on the schedule, not to mention another meeting with each the Bengals and Ravens. This week you’re going to hear a lot about travel plans. That’s because the Steelers are 0-7 going back to 2011 when traveling outside of the Eastern Time Zone, which makes some wonder if their policy of traveling on Saturdays is something worth changing up. You know what changes all that? Winning another game.