clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Mike Tomlin on using the wildcat: “We did what we had to do to win”

Coach Tomlin admitted using the wildcat formation was gimmicky, but based on the personnel available it was a good fit against the Bengals

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers Photo: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

In his weekly press conference on Wednesday, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin discussed Monday night’s 27-3 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals and the Steelers game plan on offense. In particularly, Tomlin discussed the usage of the wildcat formation and getting both running backs James Conner an Jaylen Samuels involved in the offense at the same time.

“We just wanted to get guys on the field that we felt like were capable of varsity playmakers,” Tomlin stated. “Guys that have been here. So that’s why we moved in the direction that we moved in, in terms of utilizing James (Conner) and Jaylen (Samuels). It leveled the playing field. It also limited Mason’s (Rudolph) exposure, quite frankly, to the defense.”

Coach Tomlin went on to explain the Steelers line of thinking in changing up their offensive scheme in formations where Mason Rudolph was split out wide and not a factor in the play.

“When you’ve got a young quarterback, sometimes you can assist them by turning a 70 play game into a 50 play game. Sometimes a bunch of exposure is not good exposure, so I thought it was helpful to him to chew up some of those snaps to limit some of his exposure to the defense while putting the ball in the hands of some capable men.”

Once the press conference was opened up to questions, Coach Tomlin was asked if the wildcat is sustainable throughout the year as well as ways to improve the offense to allow quarterback Mason Rudolph to be successful?

“I just think continuity with the current pieces that we have are going to assist there.” Tomlin answered. “The fact that Nick (Vannett) is here another week; that Zach Gentry has another game under his belt; Diontae Johnson has another game under his belt. I think those are significant components in terms of aiding him in the ways you suggest.”

As for why he felt the wildcat would fit nicely with the Steelers personnel, Coach Tomlin explained it was about the players who were unavailable short term as well as players like Ben Roethlisberger who is out for the season with an elbow injury.

“We’re down tight ends and a fullback and we’ve got a young quarterback.”

Using the wildcat formation was something the Steelers had shied away from due to taking one of their biggest playmakers in Roethlisberger out of the play. But with Mason Rudolph now the quarterback, getting the ball more easily in the hands of other playmakers has become a welcomed addition. Coach Tomlin went on to explain the nature of using this particular offensive style which has made the rounds through the NFL in recent years.

“I acknowledge that the wildcat is somewhat gimmicky, but at the same time, all of us in the National Football League are prepared for it week in and week out. We just don’t get a lot of physical reps when we don’t anticipate it. So from that standpoint, because it’s on video, I’d imagine that Baltimore is going to be prepared for it.”

While some criticize the Steelers for adapting an offensive style which may not be sustainable in the long run, Coach Tomlin explained exactly why the Steelers used the wildcat and how it may fit into the offense in the future.

“We did what we had to do to win that game with given circumstances and the players available to us,” Tomlin answered. “We’ll shape a plan that puts us in position to win this one with the current mix of players and under the circumstances. I acknowledge that it could be different. I acknowledge that it could be very different, quite frankly, from what you saw on Monday night. We’re just in a fragile state right now and we need to do whatever it is to move the ball and win football games.”

And win the football game they did. The Steelers showed they were ready to do whatever was necessary to get their first win of the 2019 season. With another AFC North matchup looming this weekend, it will be interesting to see what other offensive scheme head coach Mike Tomlin and offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner can dial up on Sunday against the Baltimore ravens.

As for Coach Tomlin’s entire press conference, it can be seen below.