Rundown on Tomlin’s Q & A

The Defense 

Question: “Do you expect to schematically change or tweak anything on defense?”

Mike Tomlin: “I am not opposed to it. That is the mentality I got into each year with in terms of our evolution, or how we evolve from an X and O standpoint or a utilization of players standpoint. We are just beginning that journey in terms of analyzing what we have done, putting together this current crop of guys and charting out a path in terms of what we are going to be in ‘18. I am not opposed to dramatic changes. I think that is the appropriate mentality to have. We may change in dramatic ways, we may not. It depends on what the totality of the variables of totality means for us. But I think it’s great to have an attitude that’s not resistant to it.” 

  • Tomlin is not the type of coach to give away too many of his plans but this may be his way of hinting at a few changes changes. We saw the defense this past season utilize more man coverage which seemed to be relatively effective when used. We could see even more man this upcoming season especially after the signing of Bostic and Burnett. With those guys the overall coverage skills of the defense could be much improved over what we saw at the tail end of last season with Mitchell and Spence. It is worth noting that outside of the coverage on Gronk, man coverage worked much better than zone coverage against Brady in week 15.


Question: “What Jon Bostic and Morgan Burnett bring to the defense?”

Tomlin: “They’re capable veteran players who are solid guys, guys that we had knowledge of in terms of how they entered the league. We researched those guys when they came into the league so it made the research of them in the free agency market a less daunting task. So, we’re excited about having those guys. We’re excited to get them in but we’re also excited about the experience and expertise that they’re going to bring as well.”

  • Steelers signed these guys because they are great players at a cheap cost. If you’re a Steelers fan you should be excited about adding them. Burnett is a experienced and talented leader and Bostic is still a young player who has shown to possess great upside.



Question: “What does Tom Bradley add to the staff?

Tomlin: “I love the fact that he has no professional coaching experience. I wanted a teacher or a guy with a teacher’s mentality in that position. We have a lot of young people in the secondary and the development of those people is critical for us. The fact that he doesn’t have NFL experience is not a negative for me, it’s quite the opposite. I am excited because he is an accomplished coach with a legitimate resume who does have experience in terms of the development of players and I think all of those things are real positives as we embark on this journey, which would be his first one in the National Football League.”

  • I am in total agreement with Tomlin on this. Tom Bradley will be determined to make a name for himself  in the NFL after spending 30 plus years coaching at the collegiate level. The secondary in recent years has been a liability therefore its never a bad idea to bring a new teacher into the mix.


Question: “Should coaching fundamentals be stressed more this year?

Tomlin: “I don’t know that it needs to be stressed any more than in the past. I am just always in the business of the stressing of fundamentals. The teaching element of Tom Bradley, I think more than anything, I would refer to. We have a lot of young players in the positions that need to grow. The ways that they are teaching in college today is different than when they were teaching when I coached college football a number of years ago. The constraints in which they work in terms of time. The utilization of technology is a teaching tool. All of those things are interesting things that he has had direct involvement with in terms of coaching the young people and that is what I was referring too. Not in terms of mentality. I believe that everybody I am interested in doing business with is a fundamentalist in terms of the approach to teaching.”

  • I think this is a good take from Tomlin but I believe a key issue is left out of the question. All of the young guys on the roster such as Artie Burns and Sean Davis are very talented players and I’m sure are very proficient in fundamentals but what they lack is the discipline to succeed in game situations. We saw many lapses in judgement and breakdowns defensively over this past season mostly on the defensive side of the ball whether it be a penalty or letting up a big play. It’s great to teach fundamentals but mental breakdowns is the issue that needs to be fixed.


Le’Veon Bell

Question: “Have you talked to Le’Veon Bell during this process?”

Tomlin: “I talk to Le’Veon quite a bit. Just normal interactions a coach has with a player. We hadn’t talked a lot formally about his status contractually. I think Kevin Colbert was pretty clear with you guys when he made his comments here in the last 24-48 hours of where we are with that. We have him under a franchise tag and we’ll get back to that at a prescribed, appropriate time. Right now, our focus is gathering information for this draft class and the people that comprise it. And I’m sure Le’Veon has a similar mentality. I think we all want to do long-term business, all people have said that. But right now, his focus is his physical preparation for the upcoming season and his training. So, he’s focused on that. We’re focused on the people that we’re going to bring that are going to be his eventual teammates and I’m sure we’ll all come back together here at some appropriate time and continue business.”

Question: “You said that you would like him to be around (in the offseason) as opposed to last year?”

Tomlin: “I said I’d like him to be around. Not as opposed to last year. Just because of what happened last year, I’m not going to anticipate some of the things transpiring with him or anyone else this year. I anticipate all guys being full participants. Until I get an indication that that’s not the case, that’s going to be my mentality not only with him but with all our guys.”

Question: “Does the situation at all affect how you approach the running back position in the draft?”

Tomlin: “It does not.”

  • Not much here in terms of news or information that we did not already know. I hope Le’Veon does participate in offseason preparations for the season but doubt he will without a contract. I believe this season could be his last with the Steelers so do not be surprised if the Steelers use one of their first 3 picks on a running back. It is also worth noting that there continues to be rumors that the Steelers have interest in Derrius Guice.


Rule Change

Question: “What is your feeling on the catch/no catch rule proposal?”

Tomlin: “Obviously, the catch no-catch is something that needed to be cleaned up. We feel really confident about what we’ve been able to do in that area. More than anything I think is language. Everyone knows what a catch is, or that’s debatable, but everyone feels comfortable about their knowledge of what a catch is. The key is to find appropriate language to not only cover obscure but the unforeseen obscure. So, I feel comfortable with what we’ve been able to get done. I think I’d be remised if I didn’t mention that catch no-catch has been officiated really well on-field and in real time. Where we’ve gotten into issues is replay in that area, so we focused our language in an effort to assist that replay process. And while doing so, we acknowledged that the on-field officials have done a really good job officiating the play.”

  • I agree with Tomlin that the rule has been officiated correctly, but there is no doubt about how dumb it was as previously worded. How Jesse James was able to catch the ball and lunge across the goal line and have it end up becoming an incompletion is just pure absurdity. In my opinion that ruling was the beginning of the end for the Steelers season last year. A win against Brady and the Pats would have given the Steelers needed momentum going into the playoffs. Instead the ruling and the loss took some wind out of the sails and put too much focus on beating the Patriots in the playoffs and less on the Jaguars.




All quotes are provided courtesy of The Athletic

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