Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Tomlin Misses On Two Opportunities To Explain Two; Mendenhall Suspended

"First rule of coaching: Never admit you made the wrong call." - Ed Bouchette

Second rule of coaching: "NEVER admit you made the wrong call!"

That's the path that Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin is taking, anyway, as he went 0-for-2 in two-point conversion excuses. At the post-game press conference Sunday, Tomlin said he wanted to save plays for later (in game or in season). Weak, but at least he was consistent.

Tomlin compounded that error Tuesday by saying he thought they had a better chance to "sneak back" into the game by not scoring the two-point conversion. - http://blog.steelers.com/2012/12/11/colon-out-after-having-surgery/

???

BUZZ!!! Aww...sorry. The correct answer was, "We got it wrong." Thanks for playing, though.

Tomlin should have just said, "I messed up by not going for two." But, evidently, he must have thought he could "sneak back" into the game since the Chargers were up by so many points that they wouldn't bother looking at the scoreboard.

Tomlin got this wrong. Period. Going for two and succeeding gets you to 16 points down with 6:07 remaining. Six minutes is a lot of time.

Teams have come back many times in the fourth quarter under similar circumstances. In 1985, the Minnesota Vikings were down 23-0 in the fourth to the Philadelphia Eagles. The Vikings won 28-23.

Want a more recent example? These very same San Diego Chargers blew a 24-point lead earlier this year.

To further the thought, if they had gone for two after the last two touchdowns and had been successful each time, it could have been an 8-point game which would have permitted an onside kick chance with 0:58 remaining.

Later, Tomlin admitted his failure to go for two was because "it was bleak at that point.''

Um...ok. If it was so "bleak" why keep Big Ben (SC joint) and Troy (calf/achilles) in the game? Essentially, mixed signals being sent by a coach who comes off tersely and with an H.N.I.C. demeanor more often than some would like.

Tomlin also again used his "We don't live in our fears, we live in our hopes" line. As Mark Kaboly of the Tribune-Review said, "If Tomlin doesn't live in his fears, why is he afraid to admit that he made a mistake by not going for 2?" Touché.

Further than that, Tomlin agreed with Keisel, among others, that the Steelers 'possibly weren't ready' Sunday. He doesn't mind players speaking "the truth," he said. Fine, but that's something they should own.

As Bob Labriola of Steelers Digest accurately stated on "Talking Steelers Football" on Monday, "these are professionals." This isn't college football, they shouldn't need to be rah, rah, sis boom bah'd or 'Gippered' into having an "urgency" about playing on Sunday. - http://tinyurl.com/beshdxa

That said, it's something that Tomlin needs to own as well. As was pointed out by Bob Smizik in his blog in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, losing "to bad teams is a direct reflection on coach Mike Tomlin, though he hardly is the only person who must take blame. A five-loss team, which the Steelers were, should have entered the game against San Diego yesterday with a greater sense or urgency." - http://communityvoices.sites.post-gazette.com/index.php/sports/bob-smiziks-blog

Now, before the Tomlin detractors who love to say "Bring back Cowher!" jump on their soap boxes and try to use this as ammunition for the "fire Tomlin" canon, please remember a couple of things.

You say Tomlin is only 'winning with Cowher's players?' Well, Cowher won initially with Noll's players too. There are subtle differences, but that's the basic truth. In fact, every new coach initially wins or loses with the former coach's players. The key lies in what the new coach does once his or her players start filtering into the team.

With that in mind, what did Cowher do once the players Chuck Noll had drafted retire or move on to other teams? He had two losing seasons, ('98 & '99) and three consecutive seasons of nine or fewer wins.

Plus, Cowher was constantly being outcoached in the big games, specifically the AFC Championship games. So, don't tweak any neck muscles looking behind, the past isn't always as good as you remember.

All-in-all, though, Tomlin hasn't exactly had the best year. Can he salvage it to some degree? Yes. Three wins would help, though a mea culpa on Tuesday would have been a nice start. But, that isn't all.

His in-game management skills are lacking and this has been evident for a couple of years now. Granted, half the coaches in the NFL mismanage their timeouts, challenges and whatnot, it's just that one would expect there to be an appreciable increase in success in these areas.

His game planning for specific teams, though usually solid, has been up and down this year. In part, that is because the "next man up" has more often this season been an inexperienced player.

When that happens, it is ultimately on his shoulders to make the necessary adjustments to put that player in the best position possible. That isn't always the case, and there needs to be more consistency in that.

Of course, at least he was consistent on Tuesday...

~

"Understand Rashard Mendenhall tried to "sneak" back into game Sunday disguised as a 2-point conversion. Tomlin didn't go for it. #steelers" - Alan Robinson (@arobinson_Trib on Twitter) of Trib Total Media

Thank you for the segue, Mr. Namesake.

Tuesday, Mendenhall was suspended for one game for "conduct detrimental to the team." As Ed Bouchette reported, Mendy did not show up for the Chargers game after being told he would not dress. Mendy will lose $41,176 for missing one game, one week of his $700,000 salary.

Baron Batch was activated from the practice squad.

Need any fresher ink on that ticket Mendenhall signed for his way out of town this offseason?

It wasn't all bad, though. Mendy did have 3,309 total rushing yards and 29 touchdowns from 2009-2011, despite not being used as much by Bruce Arians as he could have been.

But, Mendy thinks he's still in the Steelers plans: http://tinyurl.com/9w8tbhj

~

TIDBITS: Tomlin confirmed that left guard Willie Colon underwent knee surgery Monday and will miss several games; rookie David DeCastro is healthy enough to play and will likely to start at right guard with Ramon Foster moving to the left guard spot; and Mike Adams out again.

Ike Taylor is out again, there is good news: http://tinyurl.com/bb49mlf

Byron Leftwich and LaMarr Woodley should be back on practice field. Cortez Allen and Keenan Lewis both limited early in week. No setbacks with Troy Polamalu.

~

Curtis Brown allowed six receptions for 84 yards and a touchdown. Five of those six were on 3rd downs and they all resulted in 1st downs.

Cortez Allen allowed six receptions for 86 yards on Sunday. Three of those six catches were on 3rd downs and all three resulted in 1st downs also.

Get well soon, Ike, these youngins need your presence and tutelage.

~

Bad, bad trend for the Steelers: http://tinyurl.com/aromvwb