Harris: Tomlin backed down from promise
CLEVELAND — Win or lose, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin should have attended Thursday night's news conference with his mouth taped shut.
After seemingly giving up on the season following Sunday's loss to Oakland when he flippantly cast aside his team's fading playoff chances, Tomlin promised lineup changes entering last night's game against the Cleveland Browns.
At halftime, the Steelers trailed 13-3. There were no changes in the starting lineup. It looked like the same team that fell apart in the fourth quarter four days earlier as Cleveland dominated both sides of the ball.
Final score: Cleveland 13, Steelers 6.
What movie will Tomlin decide to quote from this time for inspiration• "Alvin and the Chipmunks?"
Maybe he'll promise to start five new offensive linemen based on what transpired against Cleveland.
But, seriously, the biggest change was sure-handed Mewelde Moore replacing Stefan Logan as the kickoff returner. Moore quickly made an impact when he fumbled on two returns.
Tomlin had no answers before or after the game. It's too late now for the Steelers to save their season.
No coach should ever publicly give up on his team when there's still a mathematical chance of reaching the playoffs, no matter how slight. It was Tomlin's responsibility to keep his players going, even when the well appeared dry.
What kind of message did that send to his veterans who won two Super Bowls in the last five years?
"As a veteran, I always feel like it's better in these type of situations to go with the veteran guy that's been there before," defensive co-captain James Farrior said of Tomlin's broken promise to make changes on defense.
To say that Tomlin jumped the gun in writing off the season is stating the case mildly.
What if former coach Bill Cowher had taken that approach when the Steelers were 7-5 and struggling late during the 2005 season• No way the Steelers would have won Super Bowl XL, much less qualified for the postseason.
The Steelers lacked the fire last night that has enabled them to dominate the Browns well before Tomlin took over.
Afterward, an emotional and red-eyed Hines Ward said he wants to see what players are going to approach the final three games like they want to be with the Steelers.
Does that mean Ward believes some of his teammates quit?
"I don't know. I'm never going to judge somebody," Ward said. "Time will tell. We have three games left. It's gut-check time. I hope nobody quit, because that's not the type of characters we have on our team."
Clearly, Tomlin's pre-game strategy backfield. The Steelers played last night's first half as if they took Tomlin's words literally.
As the game progressed, the Browns took control of the line of scrimmage, running the ball right at the Steelers and harassing quarterback Ben Roethlisberger as if they knew the snap count.
When the Steelers had the ball, they tried to finesse the Browns with passes. It was quite a role reversal from recent Steelers-Browns games, when the Steelers offense did whatever it pleased.
Faced with third and short on back-to-back possessions to open the game, Roethlisberger, who lined up in the shotgun, was sacked both times.
Tomlin's rise in the coaching ranks is a fascinating one.
He received his first coaching position right out of college in 1995 as an assistant under current West Virginia coach Bill Stewart at Virginia Military Institute.
In 2007, he became coach of the Steelers.
Tomlin has been the golden child, so to speak, enjoying fabulous peaks and precious few valleys so far.
There's a first time for everything. Let the second-guessing begin.
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.
- Police officer reported wounded in New Florence; suspect at-large
- Central Catholic wins 5th WPIAL football title
- WPIAL Class AAA notes: Title games draw 16,500 to Heinz Field
- Zatkoff’s, Malkin’s heroics not enough as Oilers down Penguins in shootout
- Funding highway bill atop Rep. Shuster’s agenda
- Four downs: Steelers might still be Adams’ best bet
- Aliquippa wins 16th WPIAL title, ends South Fayette’s 44-game winning streak
- Steelers find success vs. NFC
- Steelers notebook: Brown downplays possible matchup against Seahawks’ Sherman
- Robert Morris defeats Mississippi Valley State for 1st victory of season
- Anti-drug agencies find key ally in battling overdoses: Addicts