The Pittsburgh Steelers are now 2-0 in the 2021 preseason. After their 24-16 vitory over the Eagles in Philadelphia, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin had his normal post-game press conference before the team headed back to Pittsburgh. Therefore, it’s time to look at the 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, with a potential soon-to-be player thrown in.
One of the biggest performances of the night for the Steelers was by quarterback Dwayne Haskins. Coach Tomlin was asked several questions about Haskins, the first simply about seeing the scoring drives.
“I did. I really thought he was in command tonight. He did a great job of communicating with people, going through progressions, and so forth. He had a third-down play. It was third and eight or so, and I saw him go through three or four reads and throw the ball over the middle of the field and convert for us. And that was just a snapshot of the type of night he had tonight. I thought he was very much in command of his play.”
Coach Tomlin’s next question about Haskins what about if he has seen enough of Haskins or if he wants to see him go against first-teamers.
“No. We need to see more. We need to see more of him, we need to see more of everybody. We’ve got two more preseason games and we’re going to continue to write our stories. I think if we continue to put the ball out there and let these guys play and try not to come to any quick conclusions, they will continue to definitely sort themselves out. And that’s something that I’m challenging the staff on. Sure, that we have enough evidence to start forming opinions, but boy, we’ve got a lot of ball in front of us. Just keep an open mind, keep teaching. They keep learning. We keep snapping the football. Decisions will become clear.”
The final question about Dwayne Haskins was about the progressions he went through with his passes and if they are things Coach Tomlin was looking for.
“There’s no question. It’s the above-the-neck things that define that position and quite frankly, many others, when you start talking about playing well.”
As the game got going Thursday evening, reports surfaced that the Steelers have finalized a trade with the Jacksonville Jaguars for inside linebacker Joe Schobert. Coach Tomlin was asked about what he could tell about Schobert.
“I can’t tell you much of anything about it, to be honest with you. I can’t speculate on reports at this time. If there is news, I’m sure I’ll be happy to address it when I’m allowed to.”
After missing the final 11 games of the 2020 regular season, Devin Bush made his first appearance in 2021. Coach Tomlin was asked his thoughts about Bush’s first game.
“He got his feet wet, so that’s a great start. We’ll continue to push forward from there. Today was a big day from that perspective but I don’t want to make more out of it than what it is now. We just go on.”
One player who has been scrutinized and had every word by his head coach picked through is second-year guard Kevin Dotson. Coach Tomlin was asked about if he thought Dotson made a big step forward in his first game.
“I have no idea as I stand here right now.”
Despite only having three official touches, Najee Harris looked to be everything the Steelers wanted in a first-round draft pick. Coach Tomlin was asked Harris being able to get something out of nothing when carrying the ball.
“There’s no question. But you guys have seen that in practice settings, those of you that watch us in practice. I don’t think any of us are surprised about what we’re seeing in-game. By the same token, it’s the same things that he displayed on college tape, and that’s one of the reasons why we really coveted him in the Draft. He’s as good as advertised in that area”
Anthony McFarland, Antoine Brooks, James Pierre, & Carlos Davis
For second-year players, now that they are accustomed to the NFL there is the expectation of vast improvement over their rookie seasons. Coach Tomlin was asked about the difference he has seen from year one to year two with running back Anthony McFarland, and he chose to bring up other second-year players such as Antoine Brooks, James Pierre, and Carlos Davis.
“We’ve been talking quite a bit about these second-year guys. It starts first and foremost with conditioning that displays the understanding of the challenges that lie ahead. Ant came in highly conditioned. Last year, he missed some work during the team-development process because of his lack of readiness, which is very common for a young guy. He’s been very available this year, and I think that’s just aiding in his growth and development, and I think it’s producing the play that you’re looking at. But again, you could say the same thing about Antoine Brooks [Jr.] prior to his injury, James Pierre, Carlos Davis. We expect those guys to make a significant jump. The things that allowed them to be around here a year ago aren’t the things that are going to have them employed this year. And we’re very honest about that. The level of expectation changes, and appropriately so.
Sometimes the easiest way to tell the mood of Coach Tomlin is based on his response to questions. Coach Tomlin was asked if he is planning to play Ben Roethlisberger next week, and, surprisingly, Tomlin gave a response.
“I am. Surprised you with that answer, didn’t I?”
A replay of Mike Tomlin’s interview can be seen below.