The 2021 NFL regular season is underway and teams are starting to get into a routine with what occurs during a typical game week. As the Steelers begin their preparation for their third home game of the season, head coach Mike Tomlin held his regularly scheduled press conference on Tuesday. With many players discussed, it’s time for another players mentioned by Coach Tomlin during his media time. Remember these are current players where a specific question was asked during the Q&A period.
Instead of calling this article “6 players mentioned…” I should have called it “10 questions about Ben Roethlisberger.” Getting right to it, Coach Tomlin was asked about where Roethlisberger inconsistency is coming from and how to fix it. In his response, Coach Tomlin mentioned Chase Claypool but he will be addressed later.
“It’s him some. It’s us, collectively, some. We’ve just got to keep working. Sometimes it could be attributed to altering of plans late in the week because of player availability or guys not being available. We lost Chase Claypool in the middle of the week or toward the latter part of the week last week, so we had to alter our plans in some instances. But we’re not looking to make excuses. We’ve had some big play opportunities. We haven’t cashed in on them and we need to cash in on them. They’re a big component of moving the ball and scoring, particularly when you’re not working as efficiently as you’d like on possession downs, which we aren’t. Chunk plays eliminate a lot of execution, we say in the coaching world. We’re gonna continue to work to get better from an efficiency standpoint. We’re also going to continue to work to connect on higher percentages of these chunk opportunities because that aids us in terms of ringing up the scoreboard as well.”
In the next question, Coach Tomlin was asked if reviewing game tape to fix things with Roethlisberger is done by him, offensive coordinator Matt Canada, or quarterbacks coach Mike Sullivan.
“No question, that is a Coach Sullivan task, along with Ben. Positional coaches really focus on technical aspects of play, and they analyze that continually, whether he’s playing well or he isn’t. That’s just a component of play. Skill development is big at any position, but doubly so at the quarterback position. Positional coaches, regardless of position, spend a great deal of their time working with and dealing with the aspects of technical play or skill development with guys that they work with. Coordinators and guys like myself take a more global approach and talk about schematics and big picture things and how those individuals fit into 11 man football.”
Coach Tomlin was then asked if Roethlisberger is the best quarterback for this offense.
“Absolutely. What he does and what he’s done makes me really comfortable in saying that.”
In a later question, Coach Tomlin was asked his level of concern about Roethlisberger’s safety at quarterback with him continuing to have different injuries.
“Not out of the ordinary. I’m sure if you reviewed the tape and looked at these visits from the first 11 weeks of last year, I probably said similar things, and he was upright and we were undefeated. It’s probably a component of just being in your late 30s and playing this game and playing that position, and particularly when you’re not playing winning football you get somewhat one dimensional. There’s collateral damage that’s associated with that for him and for us, and I think we all understand that. I think that’s why it’s important that we continue to work to improve, and have a well-rounded approach to play and get better in all areas.”
Coach Tomlin was asked about how much freedom Roethlisberger has to make audibles at the line of scrimmage, particularly on fourth down.
“He has a lot of freedom in that regard, but maybe not in those moments. Those moments are so weighty and there’s so much preparation in those moments, oftentimes, those decisions are had and thought through and discussed prior to being in them. There’s more fluidity in that decision-making and more certainty in terms of the play selection.”
Coach Tomlin was later asked if Roethlisberger is more limited in the no huddle than he has been in years past.
“He’s not limited in any way. If there are any alterations to that approach besides the plays themselves— the plays change—it’s always got something to do with who’s available to us, their level of experience, their ability to execute, particularly in those moments when you’re talking no-huddle. Usually, you’re talking about those weighty moments, and so you want execution to be at a certain level and you work in the wheelhouse of the people that are in the huddle.”
Coach Tomlin was then asked what he would say to fans who wants to move on from Roethlisberger.
“I think Ben and I have been at our jobs long enough that we know and understand what comes with it. We love Pittsburgh, PA. We love Steeler Nation and appreciate the passion that they have, and we understand the responsibilities that come with our roles. Him being a quarterback, me being a head coach, oftentimes we get too much credit when things are going well, and we’re always ready to absorb the negativity of our positions when things aren’t going well. That’s just life for us.”
In the final question of the press conference, Coach Tomlin was asked what he has seen on film from Roethlisberger that is fixable versus things that they just don’t expect Ben to do as well at his age.
“Everything except mobility. I don’t have an answer for that, or lack thereof. Ben used to be able to run really well when he was young. Those days are behind him. Other than that, I don’t see much that’s not a discussion in terms of technical alterations or quality of play that can be improved.”
Finally, we get to talk about another player other than Ben Roethlisberger. Coach Tomlin was asked a question that started off mentioning Roethlisberger’s comments about rookie running back Najee Harris, and what Tomlin and has seen from Harris in the first few games when it comes to challenging tacklers.
“I’m encouraged and excited about his continual development and the progression of that development. He’s good, we’ve seen that, but he’s continually getting better, and that’s been on display throughout the first four games of the season as well. I think it’s reasonable to expect that to continue. This guy’s unbelievably talented. He’s a competitor. I like his preparation. He’s passionate about football. I’m excited about what the near future and the future in general holds for Harris”
In yet another question that was ultimately about Ben Roethlisberger, Coach Tomlin once again brought up wide receiver Chase Claypool and how he was absent form Sunday’s game. Coach Tomlin was asked a follow up question about the ability to audible on fourth down and if it was something that changed from previous coordinators.
“I was just talking about specifically as it pertained to Sunday. We were working in a hostile venue, communication was limited, we had a good plan. We had an alteration to that plan based on availability in the latter part of the week with Claypool being removed from availability and so forth. There weren’t a lot of discussions about changing or altering our plans because of those variables and circumstances specifically.”
Devin Bush, & Joe Schobert
In the only question about players in the entire press conference that didn’t connect with Ben Roethlisberger, the inside linebackers were brought up. Coach Tomlin was asked his assessment of Devin Bush and Joe Schobert and their cohesion working together this season.
“Based on the variables, Devin working himself back to health and Joe being new to us, it’s a work in progress but a work in progress that I think is going rather well. I’m excited about it continuing to improve and get better.”
With Ben Roethlisberger dealing with a hip injury, there is a possibility he will not be able to play this week. Coach Tomlin was asked if Roethlisberger can’t go, what his confidence level is in Mason Rudolph.
“I have a lot of confidence in Mason. We’ve called on Mason in the past and he’s been able to play winning football for us. I think it’s reasonable to expect that to not only continue but to improve. I know he clocks in here every day with an attitude geared toward getting better and being that guy when called upon.”
For more information on Mike Tomlin’s press conference, check out the podcast below:
If you want to watch Mike Tomlin’s press conference, you can do so below: