The Pittsburgh Steelers got a much-needed win and locked up the AFC North division prior to facing the Cleveland Browns in Week 17. Getting back to business, Mike Tomlin held his usual Tuesday time with the media. While not always asked about specific players, Tomlin sometimes brings up more players in responses than ones he was specifically asked about. Remember these are players mentioned in response to specific questions during the press conference.
As part of the Steelers big comeback, Ben Roethlisberger was throwing passes downfield more than he had in weeks. Coach Tomlin was asked if Roethlisberger’s confidence had been wavering with his deep ball and if he regained it on Sunday.
“I don’t feel like there was any issues regarding his confidence. There were some opportunities missed down the field, whether or not we didn’t take them or the route wasn’t run correctly or what have you, it’s popcorn when you’re not executing and executing at a high level. Whatever it may be, we got it together at the half, and we had more success in the second half. That was a catalyst for getting our unit going.”
Coach Tomlin was asked a follow up question about if Roethlisberger still needs tangible proof that he still can face adversity and score quickly.
“I don’t know. He is probably better equipped to answer that than I am. I don’t know the reference that you speak of, so I would probably be inaccurate in adding to that. I’m not in position to expand upon that.”
Coach Tomlin was asked another follow up question about the report of the Colts calling out the Steelers offensive plays in the first half and if Ben Roethlisberger was making up things as he went along in the second half. Of course, Coach Tomlin focused on only one part of the question in order to avoid the other.
“We were calling out their plays, too. Phillip Rivers was calling out our adjustments. I think it is one of the things that goes on in 2020 during the global pandemic when you are playing in crickets, in eerily quiet stadiums. I know other teams have talked about that some. I think it is just one of the adjustable things that we all globally have to deal with in the 2020 environment because of the level of communication and the amount of communication that’s heard between units prior to a snap in 2020’s environment.”
During the press conference, Coach Tomlin announced Mason Rudolph will get the start at quarterback on Sunday against the Browns. Coach Tomlin was asked a question if he had a chance to talk to Rudolph about starting considering the events that took place in his last game in Cleveland.
“I haven’t had the chance to talk to him about it, but I’m sure he’s excited about getting an opportunity to start certainly.”
Coach Tomlin was asked a follow up question about the excitement for players such as Rudolph to have a chance to play this week.
“I assume that they are. I haven’t had an opportunity to talk to them. Again, I don’t want to make this seem like it’s a preseason game. As I mentioned, Ben is the only guy that I am willing to acknowledge won’t play in this game. We have a number of guys who are working to come off of injury right now and that could fill out the remaining portion of our inactive list if you will. This is no preseason game where we are playing backups where we have player 54 through 75 to evaluate and things of that nature. We have one NFL football team. That NFL Football team will go play minus Ben and maybe another guy or two. I don’t want to make more out of it than what it is from that perspective.”
T.J. Watt, Cam Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, & Bud Dupree
The Pittsburgh Steelers crossed the 50 sack threshold for the fourth straight year this past Sunday. Coach Tomlin was asked if the sack production was a result of scheme, mindset or the players. In his response, he mentioned four players by name.
“It starts first and foremost with the guys that we have. I don’t want to take anything away from them. Guys like T.J. Watt and Cam Heyward and Stephon Tuitt and Bud Dupree and others, they provide the wave that we all ride. We’ve got quality players in our front. Some of the best in the world at what they do and I think the total that you mentioned is reflective of that.”
Coach Tomlin was asked a follow up question about T.J. Watt and what sets him apart from other players he has coached.
“T.J. is visiting from another planet, to be quite honest with you. He has freakishly unique talent coupled with freakishly unique work habits and mindset, and it produces what you guys witness every week, which in my opinion, is Defensive Player of the Year quality.”
One key player who can return for the Reserve/Injured List this week is linebacker Robert Spillane. Coach Tomlin was asked if he expects Spillane to return and play this week.
“We will see. I haven’t had a chance to talk to John Norwig, our head athletic trainer. I know that he is down the hall working as we speak, so we will get some clarity there. Make no mistake, we are looking forward to getting him back and when we do, it will be appropriately so. He will be capable of putting his hand in the pile and helping us with our efforts.”
Chris Boswell & Matthew Wright
For the second time this season, kicker Chris Boswell missed the game due to injury and Matthew Wright was called upon to replace him. Coach Tomlin was asked if Boswell’s injury this week was the same injury as before and if he got enough from Wright in backup duty.
“Two distinct injuries, separate. Hopefully we have Boz back this week. I know his intentions are to work. We will let the quality of that work be the judge in terms of his availability, and we are appreciative of the efforts that Matt have given us in the interim.”
One of the new players on the Steelers who made an impact on Sunday was outside linebacker Cassius March. Coach Tomlin was asked what he knew about Cassius Marsh before the Steelers signed him and what else he knows about him now.
“I’ve known quite a bit about him over the years. He has been on several teams. He is a guy that’s always proven to be willing and capable regardless of the circumstances that he has been in. He has a resume of to speak of. He has some rush talent. He’s a veteran guy. Often times when you are acquiring a guy like him or a guy in his position this time of year, that guy lacks experience. We are excited about the acquisition of him because he does have some game experience and has played in this league. More similar to Avery Williamson than maybe some of the other scenarios that you talk about under those circumstances. And the experience of those two men are added value to our cause this past weekend and I’m sure it will continue to add value to our cause as we push forward.”
For a full recap of Mike Tomlin’s press conference, check out our podcast recap below:
Mike Tomlin’s interview can be seen here: