Steel City Underground

Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin

Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin holds his weekly press conferences every Tuesday. Each week, we will take a glimpse at what stood out from coach’s comments about the previous week and heading into the Steelers next game.

Doesn’t logic dictate that you would want to run against the Jaguars defense as oppose to pass?

Game plans and things of that nature are often revealed over the second half of football games, the last quarter and a half of football games. So, the bomb went off there on us in the third quarter. We threw a couple pick-6’s so the stats aren’t going to reflect our plan or our intentions.They got the ball the start of the fourth quarter and chewed up five minutes of clock. You’re going to lose any balance over the last quarter, quarter and a half, when those things occur. You’re going to seem one dimensional because you are.

Time becomes a factor. It was a factor for us. We weren’t as balanced as we would like.

If you look at our stats at halftime they resemble what we anticipated. Our rush totals are very similar to Jacksonville’s rush totals at halftime. We hadn’t thrown two pick-6’s at halftime. So that’s just the nature of ball.

I know you’re always going to have questions in that area. Feature runners like Le’Veon Bell, you’re always going to have questions in that area. When you’re winning, you run the ball over the last quarter and a half of football games. Le’Veon probably ran the ball 12 or 14 times over the last quarter and a half or so in the Baltimore Raven game. He didn’t because we were down by multiple scores.

We got one dimensional. Time was a factor. It happens.

So, you can paint whatever story you want to paint or tell whatever story you want to tell them regards to that. Often times, plans are intentions lost in play and no question. Our intention was lost in play on those two pick-6’s in that subsequent. They chewed up six or seven minutes of clock and gave them three points. We were playing to win the game. We weren’t trick playing to appear to be balanced so that you can read that stat sheet and talk about we were balanced. We were playing to win the football game. We always will but in an effort to do that sometimes, losses are uglier than they could be.

We don’t care. We don’t care what we look like, we’re playing and playing to win. If there’s time on that clock we’re going to play.

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Ben Roethlisberger’s decision making overall

It could have been better but it probably wasn’t catastrophic. It probably wasn’t as catastrophic as the statistics barred out.

Things happen. The protection of the football is a 11-man job just like the protection of our quarterback is an 11-man job. I know you guys have heard me say that routinely over the years and it’s true.

His first interception was a great play by Jalen Ramsey, don’t want to take anything from him but we had pressure up the middle and he couldn’t step into it. So probably lost a little something on that ball and Jalen made a nice break.

The next pick was a pick-6, that ball was batted by a defensive lineman.

None of that has to do with his judgement but it does have to do with interceptions being thrown. Such as life in this business and when you play his position. He understands that as well as I do.

Run defense, changes personnel-wise

It’s popcorn like we’ve talked about and part of it is exposure. I tell our guys routinely, spend a lot of time on the bench so you don’t know where the holes are. We gave up a big drive we’ve been talking about a bit here. The drive the chewed up a lot of clock and gave up a field goal on. There were a couple of long runs in that drive but prior to those long runs we had a third-and-9 where we allowed [Blake] Bortles to get out, escape, and convert. To be quite honest with you, if we win that third-down where we don’t allow him to scramble and run those other two plays don’t occur.

So, I’m alarmed by the statistics but I also understand how defensive football is played and you protect yourself by winning downs you should and getting off the field when you should. In third-down-and-9 when nobody is open you should win those downs. We didn’t. we allowed him to escape. He converted and ran and converted the third-down. The consequences of that, those consequences are those exposures to those subsequent downs. So, we have some work to do.

Areas where they could’ve run it more. Improving in the red zone

We ran it on first and second down on our first red zone possession. We ended up in third-and-8, and then they dropped eight guys and there was nowhere to throw the ball. So we settled for a field goal.

There are a lot of things that go on during the course of football games. No disrespect if I don’t discuss the minutia with you all. I just don’t have enough time in the day to explain my reasoning sometimes.

Do you notice any difference in Ben Roethlisberger this year?

No. No, I don’t.

This many years in, do you feel like you need to sure up your quarterback’s confidence?

No. No, let me say this about Ben. Ben is a big-time competitor, an emotional guy who’s seen a lot in this business. He’s not afraid to tell you guys the truth in terms of how he’s feeling in particular moments.

Sometimes there might be things that might be somewhat alarming to you guys. There are a lot of emotions at play when these guys pour themselves into competition, so he might say something after the game that might allow you to run and overreact to it.

The bottom line is that I know Ben. I’ve known Ben. I’ve known Ben 11 years. I know the competitor he is. I know his level of confidence. What he says after a five-interception performance, moments after a five-interception performance, probably is not reflective of who he is and how he feels.

It wasn’t reflective of who he is and how he felt when he walked in here yesterday. He looked like a guy who’s ready to gun sling and get back at it. That’s more in-line with the guy I know and what I anticipate from him, and that’s why I take those comments with a grain of salt and I don’t react the way that some of you guys react when you hear comments.

Last year after a very disappointing playoff exit, he talked about retirement. You guys ran to the moon and back with that. Here we sit today and he’s our quarterback.

So, write what you will.

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Did you get the challenges from upstairs, or did you just go with them?

No, I went with both of those.

Very rarely will a challenge a line to gain, unless there’s visually a line to gain. I was standing on the yard-marker. It was maybe the 40-yard line. There was a white line. When a line to gain is a line, that’s the only time that I’ll consider challenging the spot because now the visual evidence required to flip it, you’ve probably got a better shot in terms of seeing something definitive.

I was standing on the line. I didn’t think he got the line to gain. I was extremely confident in it. I challenged it. I didn’t win the challenge. I challenged it again under the same circumstances based on what I saw.

Did Roethlisberger call many plays Sunday?

I don’t know relative to normal. He’s been doing it a long time. He understands all the crevasses of what we do. He’s an active participant in plan development and play calling from time to time – nothing out of the ordinary there. Nothing stood out to me as unusual?

Is Roethlisberger’s usage changing as he gets older?

The older he gets, the more experienced he gets. We utilize that experience for our good.

How active are you in the offensive play calls?

I’m pretty active in everything. It comes with my position.

Antonio Brown having 19 targets

It’s a product of us throwing the ball 55 times, and if you throw the ball 55 times, he’s probably going to be a decent percentage of those throws. The Jaguars are uniquely confident in their corners. They play normal coverages. Most of the time when we play people you see unique coverages multiple people on A.B. [Brown] and things of that nature. They play straight-up football. One guy was a top-five pick. Another guy was a high-priced free agent. They have a lot of confidence in them. That confidence was warranted. Those guys play well. A.B. was in some one-on-one situations. When A.B. is in one-on-one situations, we like him.

So that’s what his number of targets reflected. It was the volume of passes due to game circumstances which I outlined in great detail, and they were playing straight-up football. When those two things meet, A.B. could get the ball thrown at him 20 times in a game.

Le’Veon Bell averaging 4.6 yards per catch vs. Jacksonville

Sometimes it could just be one negative play. A screen that gets dropped for four, five yards or so forth. I haven’t over analyzed that. Most of his catches are at or around the line of scrimmage. Sometimes due to schematics you get opportunities to run after it. Sometimes you don’t.

I’m not overly concerned about it to be honest with you. I do like that we’re utilizing him as an integral part of the passing game. I think that provides balance. I think that creates more one-on-one opportunities for guys like Antonio.

What goes into determining whether Ben will practice on Wednesdays?

Just our plan, not only in terms of overall readiness short term and long, but the overall readiness of Landry Jones short term and long.

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How do you feel about your team’s focus right now?

I’m confident in it. Just because we’re talking about [it] doesn’t mean that we lack focus. It just means that we’re answering questions. In general, we’re answering questions that you guys ask, and that’s our professional responsibility.

Might Eli Rogers play this week?

Yeah, I’m open to that. I was open to that a week ago. Like I said when we deactivated him, it wasn’t a death sentence. It was an opportunity for him to re-center and get squared away from a technical standpoint, particularly from a field-the-punt standpoint, which is one of the core jobs that he possesses.

He’ll be given an opportunity to prove that and wide receiver play this week, and we’ll see where it leads us.

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On Kansas City RB Kareem Hunt

We have a lot of respect for him obviously. We looked at the running back position thoroughly in draft preparation. We drafted James Conner, and he was comparable in a lot of ways. He’s a talented runner, has a definite run demeanor. I’m not surprised by what he’s doing. He’s been an asset to them.





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