Kevin Gorman: Playing true or false with Steelers’ Mike Tomlin’s news conference
The NFL preseason should come with a warning label: Objects on your television aren’t as close as they appear.
When it comes to watching the Pittsburgh Steelers, you can’t trust everything you see. You certainly can’t trust preseason statistics to tell the story of training camp.
And, no matter what you see, you definitely can’t trust that Steelers coach Mike Tomlin sees it the same way.
Take, for example, the transcript from his post-game news conference after the Steelers’ 17-7 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs Saturday night at Heinz Field.
Let’s play true or false:
1. Has Mason Rudolph separated himself from the other backup quarterbacks?: “Not as we sit here right now.”
Truth. Rudolph completed 10 of 15 passes for 77 yards, but missed on passes to JuJu Smith-Schuster on three of the first four offensive series and took a 5-yard sack on third down against the starters.
The good: Rudolph looks like a rhythm passer, one who showed he can lead a scoring drive with a 14-play, 89-yard march that covered eight minutes, six seconds.
Seven different playmakers touched the ball on the Steelers' 14-play, 89-yard drive spanning eight-plus minutes and capped by clean 19-yard TD by JaylenSamuels. Mason Rudolph went 7-of-8 for 65 yards on the drive. Both teams were playing mostly backups.
— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) August 18, 2019
The bad: Rudolph is slow to go through his reads, which causes him to deliver some passes into coverage. The battle between Rudolph and Josh Dobbs for the backup job is closer than you might think.
2. What did you think of your starting outside linebackers, Bud Dupree and T.J. Watt? “I thought they brought great energy. I thought they were productive. It was a good representation of them, I thought.”
Truth: Dupree had three tackles, two sacks for minus-11 yards, three quarterback hits and a pass defensed, but also drew an offsides penalty for jumping the snap count. Watt had one tackle, two quarterback hits and a pass defensed.
I thought they were the most impressive players in the game, especially Dupree. Now if he can only play like that in the regular season.
OPI call is soft, nice adjustment by DiontaeJohnson
— Austin Gayle (@PFF_AustinGayle) August 18, 2019
3. What did you think of the offensive pass interference review? “I’ll keep that to myself.”
False. Tomlin had to hate it that a touchdown was negated when Diontae Johnson was called for an OPI on a play that was nowhere near as egregious as the New Orleans Saints’ Michael Thomas’ push-off on Joe Haden last December.
Tomlin just doesn’t want to be fined for it.
The @steelers defense with another fumble recovery!
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) August 18, 2019
4. Were the three fumble recoveries encouraging? “Yeah, that was encouraging.”
False. Yes, the Steelers got three turnovers, on fumble recoveries by safety Sean Davis and linebackers Tuzar Skipper and Tegray Scales.
But I cheated here a bit. Tomlin added that he would like to see the Steelers “maintain possession of the ball a little better than we did in the game” and continued with an explanation.
If anything, Tomlin was probably as pleased with the plays that forced the fumbles as he was their recoveries. Credit goes to safeties Terrell Edmunds, Marcus Allen and cornerback Mike Hilton for causing the turnovers.
But Tomlin also had to hate that Donte Moncrief lost a fumble, that Vance McDonald fumbled out of bounds, that Josh Dobbs threw an interception (instead of a touchdown) at the goal line and Diontae Johnson muffed a punt.
“I think that turnover margin speaks to both sides,” Tomlin said. “We have to be good at getting it, but we also have to be good at securing it. We got some today, but we also gave some up today. We have some more work ahead of us.”
— Blitzburgh (@Steel_Curtain4) August 16, 2019
5. What is Ola Adeniyi’s status? “He is out right now. I will have some more information for you probably next week.”
Technically true. But Tomlin wasn’t forthcoming, even though Adeniyi posted a post-surgery shot of himself in a hospital gown and bed on social media before deleting it.
Kevin Gorman is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Kevin by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .