PITTSBURGH - OCTOBER 15: Head coach Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers watches his team practice at the Pittsburgh Steelers South Side training facility on October 15 2010 in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
A fairly quick post here prompted by a recent fanpost that questioned several of the decisions made by Mike Tomlin and the rest of the Pittsburgh Steelers' coaching staff. Before my rebuttal, here's the part of the fanpost I took umbrage with:
Let's start with Mike Tomlin and the end of the first half.
1:43 - On Pitt 40 - BB throws to Ward for 26 yards.
1:12 - On Miami 34 - Pass to MM for 6 yards, ball on 28
1:03 - TO #1 called, Reverse with MM, loss of 8 - absolutely dumb call BA if you are setting up for FG.
00:19 - On Miami 36 - Ben gets sacked, loss of 3, On Miami 39, another dumb play call BA combined with BB not throwing ball away. The pass play called should be a quick throw with no chance of a sack or a run.
MT must be saving the 2 TO's in his pocket for a refund later in the year. MT once you the half ends the TO's disappear like sleeves on a vest !! Stop the clock and try to kick the FG.
Reed missed a few this year but if you don't try to kick the ball, you can't make it. STOP the clock let him try a 56 yd one; he had the wind at his back and he just sent a kick-off 9 yards deep in the endzone. Time management - F. Play calling F for the reverse, followed by a sack.
Let's break this argument down.
* About the reverse play call on 2nd and 6 from the Miami 26 with 1:03 left. Was it disastrous? Yes, it ended up that way. But was it really an atrocious play call with two timeouts left? No, no it wasn't. Why? Well, let's look first at the numbers, specifically Mike Wallace's average rushing the football last year on reverses. He had five carries for 48 yards, good for almost 10 yards per pop. Calling the reverse there, when the defense is definitely expecting pass, isn't a shabby call at all. Typically those types of calls go for 5-10 yards or at worst, go for no worse than a five yard loss. Considering those runs also are on the perimeter, odds are that Wallace has a fair shot at getting out bounds if he's not taken down in the backfield. Also, if you re-watch the play, you'll notice that if Moore had pitched the ball, Wallace actually had lots of real estate to work with. Granted, I don't blame Moore for swallowing it and not risking a turnover, but regardless, that play was real close to being a huge gainer.
* As for Ben taking a sack on the next play, well, that's on Ben and not the coaching staff. Bad decision there.
* Finally, why didn't Tomlin trot Jeff Reed out there to attempt a 56-yard field goal attempt as the final play of the half? Don't get me wrong, I wondered the exact same thing in the moment. But now, after thinking about it a bit, I honestly think Tomlin was not exposing Reed to another potential miss. Why? Well, the psyche of a kicker is a fragile, precious thing not to be tampered with unnecessarily. Had Reed not missed a number of kicks in previous weeks, I definitely think Tomlin sends Reed out. That's not at all a bold claim actually, as Tomlin did just that in other games this season. Reed wasn't able to deliver in those situations in previous weeks.
Bottom line is I think Tomlin was saying these potential three points are not as important to me as keeping my kicker's head right for both the second half of this tightly contensted game, and in the forthcoming weeks when Reed surely will be called upon to deliver in more important situations.
I don't mind the decisions one bit. A grade of C- for that game is certainly bogus. You can easily argue that the coaching staff didn't have their very best game on Sunday, but to say they had a below average, borderline failure game is nonsense. And if it's not nonsense to dole out a C-, it's still unquestionably (in my mind at least) way too harsh.
Look, maybe think of it this way instead. Tomlin wasn't born yesterday. He knows there's no risk at all in attempting a long field goal as the clock expires in the half. Hell, 56 yards isn't even that long and unrealistic of an attempt. Many coaches might even consider attempting the long field goal from an additional 5-10 yards out. Tomlin himself has rolled the dice in that fashion.
Like I said, he's not an idiot. So, there has to be some reason why he wouldn't opt to try the FG, no? Just sayin', I think there was a reason behind the decision, and being that he knows the mental makeup of his players better than anyone, I'm comfortable assuming that he believed the reward of a long-shot 3 points wasn't worth the risk of having Reed misfire yet again.