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Mike Tomlin Tuesday: This is not checkers, it’s chess

With no more press conferences from Steelers’ head coach Mike Tomlin in the foreseeable future, we’ll look back at some of interesting quotes from the 2019 season

Miami Dolphins v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Once again, it doesn’t seem like a Tuesday unless we are graced with words from Steelers’ head coach Mike Tomlin from his weekly press conference. Since we aren’t expected to hear from coach Tomlin until the NFL draft in less than two weeks, let’s take a look at some of the most interesting quotes Tomlin has given us this past season.

We’ve experienced several “Throwback Tomlin Tuesday” quotes so far this off-season. So far we have re-lived the following:

A nose guard is like Blockbuster video
We weren’t ready for prime time tonight
So that’s how you lay an egg
We’ve got to make plays
I’m not a doctor
We’re excited infusing him into the fold
You have to work in concert as a football team
The competitor in all of us is a little bit pissed off
It feels really good to handle our business
Obviously, the night was not perfect
Why would I sign up for that?
I am not into the hypotheticals
We didn’t have a lot of other options

As we continue through the 2019 season, let’s go back to Coach Tomlin’s press conference coming out of the bye week leading into the matchup on Monday Night Football against the Miami Dolphins. With new Steelers’ safety Minkah Fitzpatrick going against his former team in only his fourth game in black and gold, several questions were asked of Coach Tomlin about acquiring players during the season and their getting acclimated to a new setting.

Coach Tomlin’s first question was about the changing trend in the NFL to take on a new player during the season via trade.

“I can’t speak for the National Football League or what is going on globally,” Tomlin replied. “I know that we are not major players in that market. But when we are, it is because we probably coveted that particular player in the draft.”

It was no secret the Steelers are more willing to acquire a player they looked at during the draft. Both Minkah Fitzpatrick and Nick Vannett were players the Steelers studied diligently during their respective draft seasons.

Tomlin continued on to explain the significance of trading for a player they had researched during the draft.

“We had a level of comfort about who they are as football men, but also who they are as people and had a certain level of comfort with that. That is probably been the instance with us that we felt like we have done the work even prior to the trade discussion because most of those instances we look hard at those men prior to the draft in which they came out.”

Coach Tomlin was also asked about the development of team chemistry with players they have acquired and have put directly onto the field.

“I think we are developing in those ways particularly when you are talking about new components, whether it is Nick on the offensive side of the ball or Minkah on defense, just to get to know the communication, formal and informal, that comes with knowing people and having shared experiences. I think we are very much in development that way, but so are a lot of people.”

Coach Tomlin then went back to the earlier question about more in-season trades and the effect they have in the locker room.

“It was mentioned that there are some trades going on in Today’s game,” Tomlin explained, “so it is competitively fair from that standpoint. We don’t worry about it. We won’t look to hide behind it. We understand that it is a collective effort. There is a component of this that is intangible, and that closeness, those relationships, that understanding is an element of it that produces victory. So, we are working at it, but we acknowledge that it is still in development in some instances.”

Tomlin was asked about teams making other strategic moves during the offseason, such as releasing a player to better their standing in the compensatory formula. As teams release players to gain an extra compensatory draft pick, other teams lose out on the chance of qualifying for an additional selection.

“You know, this is not checkers, it’s chess, and so I don’t get frustrated,” Tomlin answered, appearing to accept the challenge rather than run from it. “I do what it is I need to do man. There’s a lot of complexities to this role and in this business at this level, and I embrace it, and really, I enjoy a lot of it. The strategic element of it.”

The question about the compensatory draft formula in Coach Tomlin’s press conference was brought to you by the number eleven. It would be only eleven days later when the Steelers would show their willingness to play the compensatory game by releasing #11 Donte Moncrief. In turn, the Steelers received a third-round compensatory pick for the 2020 NFL draft. Had Moncrief actually produced on the field, the decision might have been at least a little difficult.