Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin is one to not give the media much during his press conferences. Attending a Tomlin press conference is like listening to a tape recording of the same clichés over and over again.
Tomlin will put on the tough guy routine and spit out numerous platitudes over and over again and that’s fine. If he doesn’t want to give the media the time of day, that is certainly his prerogative.
But what’s not fine is the fashion that his team often seems to be unprepared at times and his decision making process during games.
Yes, you can use the excuses that the Steelers are banged up and down to their third-string quarterback in Charlie Batch, but Tomlin makes it clear that he doesn’t believe in excuses. Plus injuries have nothing to do with preparation and this Steelers team has not been prepared at times, especially against lower competition.
Eventually all of the penalties, turnovers and mistakes have to point at one man: Tomlin. It’s his job to prepare the team properly. He preaches accountability among his players. Now it’s his turn to practice what he preaches. He needs to look in the mirror and realize that this team can be more prepared than what it usually is.
That is something that can be fixed easily.
But then there is the way that Tomlin hands out punishments and disciplines his players. Hey, I get it. Fumbling the football is not acceptable. Neither is throwing interceptions.
But by yanking every running back after he puts the ball on the ground does very little to help the team out. The Steelers needed to develop a rushing attack Sunday afternoon and when you get to the guy that’s fourth on your depth chart by halftime, it is next to impossible to develop any rhythm and consistency.
Tomlin has handled making a decision on his running backs very poorly. He has been unable to just pick a guy and go with him. The guy that gives them the best chance of winning is still Jonathan Dwyer, but Tomlin won’t make a decision. He was hoping the fumbles would help him sort it out, but that didn’t quite work out once everyone put the ball on the ground.
I understand sitting Mendenhall to send a message to the team, but playing musical chairs in the backfield went way beyond ridiculous. It would be different if that was Tomlin’s M.O.
However, we have never seen Tomlin yank Mike Wallace out of the game for putting the ball on the ground. Wallace has dropped the football all season and had a costly fumble against the Ravens. Tomlin didn’t put him on the sidelines. Neither has he done so with Antonio Brown or any other receivers that have fumbled this season.
He also hasn’t benched a quarterback for fumbling or throwing picks, nor has he done anything about the rash of penalties the Steelers have racked up all season.
So why now? That’s quite simple. Tomlin is guessing.
He’s out of options and he’s guessing, hoping that one of the darts he blindly throws hits a bulls-eye. That’s a bad spot for an NFL coach to be in.
Tomlin can throw out all the blame he wants to his players and it is all well deserved. But to not say that the Steelers sideline leader is not at fault for his share of mistakes would be foolish. He should have his share of blame for Sunday’s debacle as well.
The good news is that this is all fixable. What the Steelers need the most from their head coach is for him to drop the tough-guy routine and get back to coaching.