In Mike Tomlin’s first weekly press conference of the season. the final question he was asked was in regards to preparing for the New York Giants in Week 1. With no preseason games and a new coaching staff, preparing for the Giant’s scheme produces a bit of a challenge.
But have no fear.
Tomlin gave some insight as to what film the Steelers could use in preparation for next Monday’s matchup, specifically when it comes to second-year linebacker Devin Bush and his preparation to kick off his sophomore season.
“Schematically, you watch Dallas tape because coach Jason Garrett is the leader of the group from a schematic standpoint,” Tomlin stated about the Giants new offensive coordinator who spent the last decade as the head coach in Dallas. “But also their offensive line coach comes from Dallas as well, and their shared experience probably provides some speculative insight for us to be prepared for.”
The offensive line coach who Tomlin is referring to is former NFL right tackle Marc Colombo. Drafted in the first round of the 2002 NFL draft by the Chicago Bears, Colombo played nine years in the NFL for the Bears, Cowboys, and Dolphins. Although he only started a handful of games for the Bears, Colombo made his mark in the NFL with the Cowboys where he started every game from 2006 to 2008.
More importantly, Colombo spent the last two seasons with Garrett as the offensive line coach in Dallas and was the assistant line coach the previous two years.
Another member of the Giants offensive coaching staff who the Steelers would be much more familiar is tight ends coach Freddie Kitchens who was most recently the offensive coordinator and then head coach of the Cleveland Browns. Although it is an interesting tidbit of information, watching Browns tape probably isn’t the most useful thing to prepare for this Giants offense.
But the other tape which needs to be viewed comes from a personnel standpoint. Even though the coaches scheme may be different, looking for tendencies of the players on the Giants will proove helpful.
“And if you’re watching people,” Tomlin continued, “If you want to watch Saquon (Barkley) work, which I would think is appropriate for a guy like Devin Bush, then you watch Giant tape as well.”
As much as Jason Garrett schemes will help identify certain things for the Steelers, their biggest concern will be running back Saquon Barkley who is entering his third year with the New York Giants. Drafted second overall in 2018, Barkley has rushed for over 1000 yards in each of his first two seasons while averaging 5.0 yards per attempt his rookie season and 4.6 yards per attempt in 2019.
When it comes to this plan of watching multiple team’s tape to prepare for the New York Giants, Coach Tomlin doesn’t feel like he’s doing anything to reinvent the wheel.
“But that’s not earth-shattering a groundbreaking in any way,” Tomlin confessed. “That’s what you do in Week 1 when you face some of the challenges that Week 1 provides us.”
As much as it is difficult to prepare for a team with a new head coach and a young quarterback, the bigger challenge lies with the Giants as they have to step in stadium Week 1 playing the first time together. Whether it is more difficult to scheme against the unknown or to actually be that unknown entity remains to be seen. But the good news is we are less than a week away from finding out when the Pittsburgh Steelers meet New York Giants in the Meadowlands on Monday Night Football.