Mike Tomlin’s press conferences aren’t as much fun as Bill Cowher’s pressers used to be. Tomlin somehow manages to say even less than Cowher did. Tomlin never takes a public stance on a league issue.
Tomlin’s hair never goes up on the back of neck in regards to another coach’s comments. Tomlin is never going to fly off the handle, spit, point, jaw jut, stare and get mad like Cowher used to do. His grammar is better. And so are his sweaters.
So those Tuesday press gatherings at the UPMC facility on the Southside are even more laborious than they used to be. But at least they are shorter.
Tomlin doesn’t have the same affinity for delivering messages through the media to his players, fans, and opponents that his predecessor used to have.
So, those peppy, old school football rah-rah speeches Cowher used to spout out are now absent from Tomlin’s routine. That means the press conferences have at lot less meat on the bone, but it’s a quicker race to the meat on the deli tray at the lunch line.
This week though, Coach Tomlin decided to deliver a few messages to his players. It was clear on Sunday in Chicago after his team’s loss to the Bears that Tomlin was more angry than normal following a defeat.
Maybe that’s because the Steelers hadn’t suffered a loss that mattered in about nine months and Tomlin wasn’t used to it.
But on Tuesday at this week’s press conference it was still pretty obvious that the third year boss of the Black and Gold was more irked than normal.
And he should’ve been. The Steelers had a road lead against a decent team. But they blew it. The run game got better but still wasn’t good. Their defense is injured and isn’t what it was a year ago.
They committed turnovers. Took some dumb penalties. And despite all that, if the club’s normally reliable kicker (who has publicly lobbied for a new contract) didn’t screw up on two easy kicks, his team still would’ve won.
It was evident that Tomlin wanted to prod his players in front of the cameras the way Cowher had so many times over 15 years in that position.
Specifically Tomlin was talking to Ty Carter, Santonio Holmes, and Rashard Mendenhall. Tomlin was more subtle than Cowher used to be.
But not so subtle that we all couldn’t tell specifically who he was addressing…even when his responses about these players had nothing to do with the questions that were asked.
For instance, at 8:32 of the press conference, the coach was asked if the Bears made offensive adjustments in the second half of that game to move the ball better.
Tomlin turned that response into a mini-speech about how Chicago didn’t do anything differently. Rather he claims the Bears just made more plays on offense than his guys did.
Here’s the quote: “We were able to get them in third down situations. They made some plays in third down situations,” said Tomlin
“Let’s face it; they had some wide receivers who made some nice catches for them. The rookie (Johnny) Knox played a rock solid football game for them. The tight end, #87 (his name was Kellen Davis by the way, Coach) stepped up and played well for them with Desmond Clark down. They had some guys respond and make some plays. That’s how we desire to play and win. We weren’t able to do it. And they were.”
Here’s the translation: “While a second year back up tight end and fifth round pick from Abilene Christian we bypassed for Mike Wallace were kicking our butts, our Super Bowl MVP dropped a touchdown and three more passes that could’ve gone for first downs. So, Santonio, instead of telling everybody on the sidelines how it’s your turn to be great all the time… how about just being average and catching a ball when the QB puts it right in your hands.”
At 9:25 of the press conference, Tomlin was asked why he put Ty Carter back into the game after he left the field following a big collision with Chicago tight end Greg Olsen.
Carter was at least partly responsible for two touchdowns after he re-entered the game. Following the game, Carter claimed he had a thigh bruise and probably shouldn’t have gotten back into the huddle.
Here’s Tomlin’s response: “Really, it’s no decision. If he gets medical clearance, and he’s ready to go, we put him back in the game. That’s what we did. We won’t second guess that decision or use hindsight in any regard. We trust our medical staff. We trust Ty. He’s a professional. Maybe any comments he made after the fact were hindsight.”
Here’s the translation: “Ty, we already know you are no Troy Polamalu. That’s fine. But if you are hurt, and you can’t even be Ty Carter, then tell us. And stop using injury as an excuse.”
At 16:27 of the press conference, a reporter wondered if struggling second year running back Rashard Mendenhall might get some confidence after busting off a 39-yard run and turning a busted play into an 11-yard reception.
“I don’t believe he’s lacking confidence at this point. He got an opportunity to play. And he delivered, which is what we expect him to do,” countered Tomlin, “As we continue on he’s going to get more of those opportunities, and he better make more of those plays.”
Here’s another translation: “It’s two plays in two years, Kid. Keep getting better.”
Tomlin may not make his points in as interesting of a fashion as Mr. Bill used to do. But the points he makes are no less accurate or important to heed coming off a loss.