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Never get too high after a big play, and never get too low after a bad one
Steelers continue their search for the ever elusive balance
on offense “Never too high Youth
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, never too low.”This was a saying I had for the
teams I coached over 12 years at the Varsity High School level. The key is
balance, and the goal is equilibrium.I view offensive play-calling, especially
early in a game almost the same.Never too much pass, never too much run.I
understand if a team is being gashed one way or the other, abusing a weakness is
never a bad thing, but finding your way back to balance should always be the
goal, in my opinion.Take the Week 1 contest vs. the Cleveland Browns as an
example, even though there are other games much more egregious. When all was
said and done, the Steelers, who once had a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter,
threw the football 41 times, in less-than-ideal conditions, and ran it 35. Not
too bad, right? But when you look into the game deeper, you see just where the
team strayed away fr om the desired balance.Let’s break this down by quarter:1st
Quarter Total Plays: 15 Pass Attempts: 10Rush Attempts: 52nd Quarter Total
Plays: 15Pass Attempts: 9Rush Attempts: 61st Half Numbers:Pass Attempts: 19Rush
Attempts: 113rd Quarter Total Plays: 11Pass Attempts: 4Rush Attempts: 74th
Quarter Total Plays: 23Pass Attempts: 8Rush Attempts: 152nd Half Numbers: Pass
Attempts: 12Rush Attempts: 22Overtime Total Plays: 16Pass Attempts: 12Rush
Attempts: 4Just look at those numbers in the second half. Once the Steelers
obtained their lead, the plan by offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner was to
essentially take the air out of the football and ice out the game.But let’s go
back to the old mantra at the beginning of the article:Never too much
pass Womens
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, never too much run.I’m not saying
Fichtner should have been dialing up deep bombs with a 14-point lead, and a game
which seemed to be in-hand, but the predictability is what doomed the Pittsburgh
offense down the stretch. In today’s NFL, being predictable on offense is a
death knell, and one which should be avoided at all costs.There will be games
which buck this “balance” theory, but more often than not a team which is
balanced offensively will keep the defense on their heals. In the Week 1 tie
with the Browns, in the second half, mainly the fourth quarter, the Browns knew
what the Steelers wanted to do, and were loading the box to do it. For some
reason, maybe the weather or Ben Roethlisberger’s ineffectiveness, Fichtner kept
banging his head against the wall.In Week 2, with a Kansas City Chiefs defense,
which probably isn’t as good as the Browns’ unit faced in Week 1, the Steelers
will have the opportunity to find their balance. Run Conner, but mix in the pass
at appropriate times. Use the pass to open up the run on some drives. It is all
about keeping them guessing, and balance is the perfect recipe for success in
this area.The biggest criticism of Mike Tomlin should derive from the incessant
drama surrounding the Steelers I’m a big Mike Tomlin fan — have been since he
was hired as the Pittsburgh Steelers’ head coach in 2007. But despite enjoying
what Tomlin brings to the Steelers on a weekly basis Womens
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, I realize there’s some criticism which is
on-point. To be honest, all NFL coaches get criticism for one thing or another.
Even the evil genius in New England, Bill Belichick, has been criticized and
chastised for decisions made — Malcolm Butler in the Super Bowl anyone?As for
Tomlin, the majority of criticism he faces typically is based on this thought of
the team being unprepared. On our weekly podcast last night (which you can
listen to by clicking HERE), I spoke about this and asked listeners to give
concrete football evidence of how Tomlin should be blamed for something like Ben
Roethlisberger’s five turnovers vs. Cleveland in Week 1 — or how they can point
to a team that isn’t performing and pin this on the head coach in terms of
“preparedness”.I don’t know what goes on inside the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex
on a daily basis, but I highly doubt the Steelers had fewer meetings leading up
to Week 1, than they will prior to their Week-2 game vs. the Kansas City Chiefs.
I doubt Mike Tomlin told Keith Butler, “Hey man, we’re playing Tyrod Taylor and
the Browns this week, tell the guys to skip all defensive meetings today — we’re
good.”If the coaches coach similarly regardless of opponent, then how can they
be blamed for unpreparedness? I digress, but this all leads to my main point.
While I don’t believe being unprepared is somehow a legitimate criticism of Mike
Tomlin, I do believe the constant and incessant drama surrounding the Steelers
is a very just criticism of the man calling the shots in Pittsburgh.The one
constant throughout Tomlin’s tenure has been drama. He’s had immense amounts of
talent wearing the black-and-gold, but the drama has never gone away. In fact,
it seems to have intensified during the past few seasons.Off-field drama and
other nonsense might seem a far cry from something that impacts the product on
the field, but let’s take a look at the lead-up to last year’s AFC Divisional
game vs. the Jacksonville Jaguars.Not only did Tomlin tell Tony Dungy of NBC he
had already plotted the plan wh ere the Steelers and Patriots would meet again in
the AFC Championship game Womens
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, but the way his players responded and
reacted to the game certainly made an impact — for the Jaguars. Just look up the
team’s quotes about Mike Mitchell after their playoff win.I know Mike Tomlin
can’t be sitting next to every player as they stare at their Twitter app and are
close to hitting the ‘TWEET’ button, but he can also make policies which curtail
this type of behavior. He can also tell his team how to respond to situations
and questions to help avoid the media nightmare which might ensue.When Le’Veon
Bell didn’t report to the Steelers as everyone, including his teammates, thought
he would, Tomlin could have said to the team, “Listen, we’re all disappointed,
but let’s not make this about Le’Veon. Let’s not give the media anything when it
comes how we are handling this situation. We’re focused on the players here, and
won’t comment on anyone who isn’t.”That message clearly didn’t get sent, or was
blatantly ignored, when Maurkice Pouncey, David DeCastro and Ramon Foster (the
Steelers’ NFLPA Player Rep) spouted off about Bell’s absence, which caused the
entire football world to stand in awe of what just took place. The questions
surrounding Bell aren’t going away, but Tomlin could have forced those questions
to be answered strictly by himself if he had stopped this train before it ever
got started. Now the latest situation which was forced to be addressed, not only
by the team, but by team President Art Rooney II, was the social media threat
Antonio Brown made towards a reporter at The Undefeated for doing a report on
the man Brown is away from cameras Youth
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, and away from social media. When Tomlin was
asked about this at his most recent press conference, he shrugged it off, but
maybe tightening the ship a bit might be the better response.Again, Tomlin can’t
hold his players’ hands every second of the day, but if he took a more
consistent stance with this type of behavior, it might go a long way towards
stopping the drama with the team.Martavis Bryant was suspended by the team for a
game in 2017 when he criticized JuJu Smith-Schuster in the comment section of an
Instagram post. Antonio Brown says the following to a reporter, “wait to I see u
bro, we gone see what your jaw like.” and Tomlin seemingly looks the other
way.Consistency is key, and right now the Steelers look like a team running amok
— distracting from what could be a Super Bowl season.For Tomlin, and any coach
for that matter, I criticize the things they’re able to control. This likely
comes from my years as a coach myself, albeit at the High School level, but
similar nonetheless. You can’t go onto the field and tackle for your players,
nor can you throw perfect passes. All you can do is prepare your team to the
best of your ability, and hope the results pay dividends on game day.I have no
gripe about Tomlin in this area, but when it comes to things you can control —
like how the team is constantly engulfed in drama — there’s some room for
criticism in my opinion.
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