WHEN “TOMLINISM’S” COLLIDE Whenever you listen to Mike Tomlin speak, you can count on a few of his favorite clichés. “Their play was ‘above/below the line’ this week” is one of them. “Next man up” &/or “The standard is the standard” are a few more. In fact, “the standard is the standard” is so often employed as a team credo by Tomlin, it was even bolted up on the walls of the Steeler’s locker room. But those catch phrases came into direct contrast with one another as the coach assessed his team’s Sunday loss vs the Bengals. When I asked Tomlin on Tuesday about his offensive line play Sunday, he said “I thought they were above the line in the running game and the passing game. Not perfect by any stretch. But I think they represented themselves well and are doing a nice job in finding the necessary continuity givenRead More »

Benz: Pitt Football Program gets a Reality Check


PITT FOOTBALL PROGRAM GETS A REALITY CHECK The coach lost his cool. The players lost the football game. And the program lost its momentum. That’s what happened to Pitt on Thursday night. Although I guess it’s hard to say “momentum” with a straight face after that many Pitt fans successfully pulled off Halloween costumes as empty seats at Heinz Field Thursday night. But let’s not get bogged down on the Panther attendance debate at Heinz Field. Let’s focus instead on whether or not this year’s Pitt team really is all that different from the 14 years of its predecessors at Heinz Field instead. One thing I learned watching Pitt’s 26-19 air-brake type of loss to North Carolina is this: There’s a difference between “different” and “good.” Yeah, this Pitt team is different. It didn’t lose its season opening game at home against Youngstown St under a new coach. That wasRead More »

Benz: Data shows Penguins’ not the lone ranger in being offensively challenged


BENZ ON PENGUINS OFFENSIVE WOES Please allow me a quick preamble here. The following post isn’t an attempt to massage the Penguins’ early offensive problems. Like a lot of Penguins’ fans, I’m also alarmed by their lack of goal scoring punch. There is no “excuse making” or “carrying water” for the team here. It’s a star powered, offensively built club that is vastly underachieving in the goal scoring column. But a quick glance at the NHL shows it’s not JUST the Penguins who are having eye-popping problems when it comes to putting the puck in the net as the first month of the season is about to close. —– WHAT OTHER TEAM COULD POSSIBLY BE WORSE THAN THE PENGUINS OFFENSIVELY?: I submit the Anaheim Ducks. They had scored just six goals in 8 games prior to tonight’s game in Dallas. That’s absurd. Seven PLAYERS have as many goals as that!Read More »

Benz: David Perron is an empty sweater


What does David Perron DO, exactly? GOOGLE claims he is a left wing for the Pittsburgh Penguins. But I see no evidence of that. Wait, I retract that. There is evidence. There is video proof of that hideous turnover Thursday night (right on the stick of Jason-freaking-Spezza, by the way) vs the Stars which lead to Dallas’ third goal of a 4-1 victory in Pittsburgh. And he took a boarding penalty too. So, yes, apparently the Penguins employ Mr. Perron to do….something. I just don’t know what it is. He is (I’m told) “a skilled guy.” Ok. So he is a scoring winger? Then how come he doesn’t score? Like, ever. Perron has no points this season. He’s a -3. And he is getting almost 16:00 of ice time per game this season. Unbelievably, he got over 17:00 as a Penguin a year ago. In his last 17 games ofRead More »

Benz: Mike Tomlin dealing with a selective case of Amnesia


TOMLIN SHOULD LIST HIMSELF ON THE INJURY REPORT WITH “AMNESIA” —– Now I’m really getting worried about the Steeler injury situation. The top two quarterbacks are hurt. Two offensive linemen are done for the year. Stephon Tuitt has been great. Now he’s got a knee issue too. Plus the head coach is apparently dealing with a severe case of amnesia. During his Tuesday press conference this week, Steeler coach Mike Tomlin was asked about his team’s failed two point conversion vs the Cardinals Sunday. He was also asked about his team’s utterly ineffective 3-&-out sequence at the end of the first half with 0:47 seconds left. He couldn’t readily remember either situation and needed prompts from reporters to recall the specifics. “I’m sorry. I’ve watched so much tape since then. I get fuzzy rehashing some of this minute stuff. I stand by it. But I don’t remember the scenario toRead More »

When a three game losing streak to start the year feels like six


When is an 0-3 start worse than an 0-3 start It’s not like Penguin winger Patrick Hornqvist was wrong as he spoke with reporters after his team’s third loss in as many games to start the 2015-’16 season. “We’re going through a tough stretch right now. But good teams go through these stretches and we just have to battle.” It’s a completely valid point. Yes, even the best teams are going to lose three in a row. But it’s one thing to say that in the middle of January after a block of games against Washington, Tampa and the Rangers. It’s quite another when these were the first three games of the season. And two of them were against non playoff teams from the West. Others in the locker room seemed to place a higher premium on the bad start. “It brings more light to the situation,” said fellow wingerRead More »

MNF win a Microcosm of all things Tomlin


It’s been about 13 hours since the Steeler victory in San Diego on Monday Night Football as I write this post. And I’m still trying to figure out how that came together. It was 60 minutes of at times exciting, at times boring, football balanced between exhilarating highs of solid execution, and nauseating lows of ineptitude. In other words, it was a microcosm of what we have come to know about Mike Tomlin coached football teams. Those Steeler fans who say Tomlin has underachieved because “he only won with Cowher’s players” (which isn’t true) or that he should be fired are usually looking to start social media flame wars or are just spouting off on a barstool. Those who insist he is an elite coach either willfully ignore his warts, or are often times simply comparing him to other coaches that are worse. If you never saw a Mike TomlinRead More »

Benz: Pirates have become a baseball version of “The Hangover” trilogy


Photo: David Hague The Pirates 2013-2015 seasons have become a baseball version of “The Hangover” trilogy…a highly entertaining original followed by two similar sequels that left you underwhelmed as you got up from your seat. The cast and creators of “The Hangover” always admitted “Hey, we made the same movie three times.” And they never apologized if you noticed. The Pirates have basically done the same thing. Three years in a row they’ve been just good enough to NOT win the NL Central. Three years in a row they HAVE been good enough to host the Wild Card game. And while Johnny Cueto dropping the ball on the mound in the first edition was a scene as memorable as Mike Tyson singing “In the Air Tonight”, Madison Bumgarner and Jake Arrieta just spent the last 18 innings of Wild Card baseball making Bucco fans feel as if they just mindlesslyRead More »

Ben Roethlisberger’s bad history of rushing back from injury


As you know by now, Ben Roethlisberger is expected to miss the next 4-6 weeks with a knee injury after suffering an MCL sprain at St. Louis last Sunday. Let me be perhaps the first in Pittsburgh to say, I hope it’s six. Not because I’m super excited to see Mike Vick. No, quite the contrary. The thought of Vick starting as the Steelers’ quarterback is revolting to me. I hope it’s six weeks because I don’t want to see Roethlisberger rushing back. So, let me rephrase. I hope Ben comes back as fast as possible. But I only want him back at 100%. Not a slight bit less. Because history suggests Roethlisberger is a repeat offender

Benz: Mike Tomlin isn’t ignoring history yet again, is he?


REPEATING HISTORY? We knew that Mike Tomlin would be asked about how much action DeAngelo Williams would see now that Pro Bowl running back Le’Veon Bell is coming back from his two game suspension. Why not? Bell is a great player. But Williams is leading the AFC in rushing with 204 yards in two weeks. So Steeler fans were interested to hear how much of the burden Williams could take off the valuable shoulders of Bell. Instead, during his Tuesday press conference, Tomlin spoke of Williams as if he had just been cut! “Can’t say enough about the contribution of DeAngelo Williams. He’s been a good asset and acquisition for us. Working hard to contribute and compete in all areas. Obviously we get Le’Veon Bell back this week. Excited about that. Looking forward to having both guys. Um…” And then his voice trailed off as he transitioned into some thoughtRead More »