Tag:Mike Tomlin
Posted on: January 19, 2009 2:12 pm
Edited on: January 19, 2009 2:23 pm

Bye Week: Will It Slow Down the Cardinal Express?

The always-grueling Super Bowl bye week may turn out to hurt Arizona, big time.  The general consensus in sports suggests that when you are that hot, you do NOT want to wait that long to play again.  Moreover in this case give Steelers Defensive Coordinator Dick LeBeau that much more time to devise a strategy to shut down your potent offense. Advantage, Pittsburgh.

In better news for players on both teams, it seems that the media for the next two weeks will be focused squarely on the coaching matchup.  Even in the week leading up to the AFC and NFC Championship games yesterday, some were anticipating some kind of grudge match pitting Ken Whisenhunt and Russ Grimm's Cardinals vs. The Rooney Family and Mike Tomlin's Steelers.  Whisenhunt did say after the NFC game but before the Steelers-Ravens game that he preferred to face Pittsburgh.  But he said so more out of respect. He knows that he wouldn't be a head coach anywhere without his time on Bill Cowher's staff.  Sure, he wanted to stay in Pittsburgh, in part so that he didn't have to move his family cross country.  But I honestly don't think Whisenhunt can actually be upset by the Rooneys' decision and certainly not upset at Mike Tomlin in particular.  If anything, maybe he should be upset at Bill Cowher.  I mean, Cowher certainly seemed to earn the ability to name his successor like all these college coaches with much less success.

Regarding Whisenhunt, this suggests two possibilities: 1) Cowher didn't go to bat for Whisenhunt--or Grimm, we have to consider as well--in large part because he had loyalty to both Grimm and Whisenhunt or 2) Cowher's influence in the Rooney "circle of trust"-- to borrow a term from retired CIA Agent Jack Burns in Meet the Parents--wasn't all that great.  Ultimately, the fact that both Grimm and Whisenhunt were vying for the job led the team to go in another direction entirely.  Easier to do that and create something new than split your old loyalty.  You see this in lots of things in life.  I've been at companies where two middle managers are vying for an open upper-level position and the top brass ultimately brings in someone from outside.

Getting back to the point, all this attention given to the coaching matchup will give the players much less time in the spotlight, and should make their preparations for Super Bowl gameday much more efficient and focused.

One random concern I have about the Steelers is the location for this Super Bowl XLIII.  Tampa Bay and its beaches are, shall I say, a bit more lively than Detroit where they played SBXL.  I hope that the players still on the team from that season don't go crazy at the clubs this time 'round.  They may want to stick it to the NFL after being stuck in Motown back in 2006!

Posted on: January 19, 2009 1:05 am
Edited on: January 19, 2009 1:08 am

Tomlin Outcoaches Harbaugh

A quick postmortem on the AFC Title Game before I nod off.

One factor being seriously ignored in the postgame hullaballoo is that Mike Tomlin totally outcoached John Harbaugh from whistle-to-gun.

Tomlin is a real, genuine leader.  He does exactly what needs to be done to each player.  Some need yelled at, some need a pat on the back, some need something else and he knows exactly how to treat all 53.  He's not a one-trick pony like so many coaches who are all rah-rah (Sparano, e.g.) or overly stoic (Reid, e.g.).  On the other hand, the only things I saw Harbaugh doing tonight were throwing his red hankie and unsuccessfully needling the officials after just about every play.  Harbaugh also had a whiny look on his face all night (not unlike former Ravens helmsman Brian Billick, ironically).  Mike Tomlin never has a whiny face, ever.

There are other areas where the Steelers are stronger than Baltimore, but by-and-large this game was won by the better-coached team.

Posted on: January 15, 2009 3:27 pm
Edited on: January 15, 2009 6:07 pm

So Glad Mike Tomlin Coaches My Favorite Team

Mike Tomlin is a wonderful coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers.  He has just the right personality for the job. He opened his press conference on Tuesday by saying with a wry smirk, "Greetings from the non-bird contingent of the final four. It's nice to be here."

I think the conferences are slated to go no further than 40-45 minutes each Tuesday at noon. He starts getting a little agitated around the 12:28 mark just about every week. For the most part of the regular season, they are done by just after 12:30. I think I've watched them all this season on FSN Pittsburgh (DirecTV Ch. 659), what else does a man currently employed by life have to do on Tuesday while enjoying his lunch?

Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin During Weekly News Conference January 13, 2009 (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)Anyway, this week about 12:35, some reporter I don't recognize (it was packed this week with a lot of non-regulars, thus longer than normal) asks about comments made by (un-named of course) veterans after the win over San Diego about him being a better coach in January of his second season as opposed to his rookie season last year and if he feels the same way about his performance? Tomlin has this nonsensical look in his face and replies rather tersely, "Frankly, I'm not interested in evaluating my own performance as a head coach, and I'm certainly not interested in discussing my players' evaluations of my job. It's my job to evaluate their performance just as there are others in this organization that evaluate mine!" By this point, he was kinda steamed and he wanted you to know it, but he did so without looking angry at all, and the room was busting up laughing. After a perfect pause, he finished it off with a great zinger to the reporter, "How's your editor doing (at his job)?"

I have read accounts that Tomlin does a crossword puzzle and the jumble daily. You can tell that he is a man of letters because he is great with the media each Tuesday. Tony Kornheiser heaped all kinds of praise on Tomlin during a Steelers Monday Night Football game earlier this season. Tomlin is humorous yet stern, candid yet reserved, confident in his team yet respectful of all their opponents. He's easy-going yet all-business, too. You can see why all kinds of players perform for him because he's so flexible, personality-wise. From my observation, he has this great presence on the sideline and locker room as well as in the media center.

I liked him the day the Steelers hired him and I grow to like him more and more as a coach with every passing game. I grow to like him more as a person with every passing press conference and interview.  And this week, a brief flash of seemingly-unassuming footage just strengthened my fondness for Mike Tomlin.

On Showtime's Inside the NFL this week, they opened the segment of highlights from the Steelers-Chargers AFC Divisional Playoff game with an NFL Films-shot from the 50 yd.-line; camera on the ground looking up right at Coach Tomlin, before kickoff and just after the team had charged, no pun intended, onto a frozen Heinz Field. He turned around both to face and take in the frenzied crowd; he breathed in the cold air enhanced by falling snow in the twilight.  If October's brown-dead ivy in Wrigley Field is the visual symbol to Cubs fans that it's the postseason taking place now, then the falling snow beneath a January steel-grey sky against a Heinz Field backdrop is the same to sons and daughters of Western Pennsylvania.  Last Sunday's snowflakes sparkled between tens of thousands of gold towels waving above tens of thousands of gold seats that would go practically unused throughout the game.

As Mike Tomlin appreciated this moment, he didn't gesture or play to the crowd--he isn't Ray Lewis and this isn't Baltimore. He just smiled proudly, then turned back to face the field, almost like a conductor would face his orchestra after greeting the audience, then the Head Coach took a deep breath and donned his headset. Another professional football postseason was about to begin at the confluence, and all seemed right in Pittsburgh.

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