Tomlin downplays Roethlisberger comments on offense
Maybe Mike Tomlin should hang a sign outside the Steelers' meeting room stating, “No controversy here.”
With his injury-thinned and losses-stacking team facing a playoff-elimination game Sunday against the Bengals, the last thing Tomlin needs is friction between Ben Roethlisberger and offensive coordinator Todd Haley.
Not surprisingly, Tomlin is downplaying Roethlisberger's postgame play-calling analysis in Dallas, citing the frustrations that can surface immediately after a loss as difficult as the 27-24 overtime defeat Sunday to the Cowboys.
At his weekly news conference Tuesday, Tomlin emphasized that:
• He likes Haley's offense so far, but, with all such evaluations, the final determination is a team's won-lost record. And at 7-7, that's not good enough. “I like the direction that we're moving,” Tomlin said. “I'm not satisfied with where we are.”
• Roethlisberger is “on board” with the Haley offense, one that substantially has improved the quarterback's numbers compared to those from a season ago.
• Tight end Heath Miller, who's “a big part of what we do,” was targeted regularly in Dallas and wasn't ignored despite a catch-free second half that followed a dominating first half.
• The Steelers are getting ready to play, um, a pretty big game.
“It's an enormous week for us,” Tomlin said.
One that, to Tomlin, is too important to get waylaid by distractions, especially given the Steelers' four losses in their last five games.
The Steelers (7-7) must beat the Bengals (8-6) for the 11th time in their last 13 games Sunday at Heinz Field to move past them for the AFC's second wild card. If they do, the Steelers would be assured of a ninth playoff appearance since 2001 if they beat the Browns (5-9) on Dec. 30 or if the Bengals lose to the Ravens.
No wonder Tomlin needs Roethlisberger, as he said, “to move forward.”
“That was a tough, hard-fought game, an emotional one, and when you come up short, there's frustrations associated with that, natural frustrations associated with that,” Tomlin said. “I'm sure if anything was read into his comments, it was just that. I met with Ben (Monday), and he's ready to move forward with this week, and he's on board with what we're doing.”
That Monday quarterback-coach meeting, Tomlin said, is held weekly and was not precipitated by any Roethlisberger remarks.
Roethlisberger has been respectful, if not genuinely enthusiastic, about Haley's lower-risk offense, which has trimmed the quarterback's sacks and interceptions but taken away some of the downfield throwing featured by former coordinator Bruce Arians.
Despite missing 31⁄2 games with rib and shoulder-related injuries, Roethlisberger has 22 touchdown passes, six interceptions and 24 sacks, compared to 21 TD passes, 14 interceptions and 40 sacks in 2011, when he had 115 more attempts than he currently does.
A few times this season, Roethlisberger hinted he enjoyed Arians' more free-wheeling style. Once, he referred to Haley's offense as “dink and dunk.”
Roethlisberger was less veiled with his comments Sunday when, asked why Miller didn't see the ball in the second half, he said, “I just don't think we called the right plays.”
He called it “disappointing” he didn't get to run the no-huddle offense after it was successful early on. Roethlisberger likes it because he calls his own plays. Tomlin said its use depends “on game circumstances.”
And Roethlisberger said he and Miller improvised their 30-yard touchdown pass play late in the second quarter because the play that was called from the sideline “wasn't a good play.”
As for that remark, Tomlin said a veteran quarterback such as Roethlisberger changes plays at the line of scrimmage “all the time during the course of football games. That's really a non-issue.”
Just as what Tomlin hopes these what-did-he-really-mean comments by his quarterback are by Sunday, when the Steelers truly play a must-win game.
Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers offensive linemen looking to build on strong 2013 finish
- Steelers hoping that youth movement breathes life into team
- Steelers hope group of low-budget cornerbacks can deliver
- Inside the ropes: Shazier shows off speed
- Steelers linebacker Spence confident he can avoid injury setbacks
- GM Colbert expects Roethlisberger to end career with Steelers
- Steelers notebook: Team hasn’t called on Keisel, Harrison yet
- Steelers WR Wheaton wants to produce after injury-plagued rookie year
- Steelers notebook: Ben believes rookie WR Bryant can contribute
- Roethlisberger ‘prays’ he can stay with Steelers when deal expires
- Inside the ropes: Roethlisberger may have his big receiver