With the Steelers losing a game they could have won on Sunday night, there were a lot of questions at the Mike Tomlin 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.
There were a lot of questions throughout the press conference about Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett. Coach Tomlin was asked if he talked to Pickett about the Steelers final offensive play from Sunday night.
“I haven’t specifically one-on-one had a discussion with him regarding it. I know that it’s been a topic of discussion among him and the offensive coaches and there’s opportunity for growth.”
In a follow-up question, Coach Tomlin was asked when Pickett is allowed to let his instincts to run take over.
“He’s always allowed. You’ve got to give a quarterback latitude to do what comes natural, particularly those with mobility. The only framework that I put on it is that I say the prudent use of mobility, because with quarterback mobility comes exposure and risk, so we need to proceed prudently. That’s the only guardrail, if you will, that I put on him from that perspective.”
In a later question, Coach Tomlin was asked about talking with Pickett about his interceptions and what is leading to some of the mistakes he’s made.
“I’m not overly communicating those conversations. He’s playing and playing to win. There’re some things to be learned, but they’re not producing unusual conversations between he and I regarding that. We’ve got to take care of the ball every week. That’s our mindset. I’m just highlighting why Philadelphia is a 6-0 group. But in terms of our agenda, our preparedness, our focus, how we develop plans and his role in it, ball security is a significant component week in and week out.”
In a later question, Coach Tomlin was asked about Kenny Pickett being thrown into some difficult situations and how he has seen him respond to those kind of moments.
“He is a fish in water. It’s a natural act for him. He’s a competitor. He’s got a thirst for it. It’s been fun being in those circumstances. Obviously, we want the outcomes to be different. But to communicate with him professional and to watch him operate, to watch his demeanor, to watch his approach to those circumstances, it’s exciting and refreshing.”
In another later question, Coach Tomlin was asked about if he talked specifically with Pickett about the interceptions from this past game.
“Not necessary. We have plenty of conversations. We have conversations about those plays, we have conversations about other plays, but the depths of those conversations are so much deeper than what you reference. Yes.”
On the third and one late in the game in Dolphins territory, the Steelers were called for an illegal motion penalty on a play that would have converted the first down. Coach Tomlin was asked if he was given any clarification as to the nature of the call or if it was due to Chuks Okorafor rocking back.
“It was, and I didn’t get clarification, I saw the video.”
Calvin Austin III
The Steelers are on the cusp of having to make a decision about bringing rookie wide receiver Calvin Austin back on to the 53-man roster. Coach Tomlin was asked if he had any indication if he could be ready to be activated.
“I haven’t asked. It’s the early portions of the week. We’ve been more in the schematics and the game plan. I’m sure I’ll get some clarification a little later, maybe even later on today. It just hasn’t been high priority for me at this juncture. This guy hasn’t played in a stadium yet anyways. He hasn’t played in a preseason stadium. So, it’s more about development for him, and that’s the perspective that I have. I’m just being realistic, up or down, active or inactive. His overall readiness this weekend, it’s probably not a high probability, and I’m just being straightforward.”
The Steelers have continued to struggle to really get the running game going in 2022. Coach Tomlin was asked about the play there was a handoff to Najee Harris on the third and one where he was stopped and the defense had the Steelers outnumbered on the side in which they ran the ball.
“We were working at pace in an effort to catch them off guard. Sometimes, when you work at pace, there’s risk and reward associated with it. They provided a look and made a good play. Those are some of the challenges of making pace a weapon. When you increase the pace in an effort to catch them off guard, there’s risk and reward associated with that. That conversation is as simple as that.”
One player who took advantage of his renewed opportunity in Week 6 was cornerback James Pierre. Coach Tomlin was asked what it was about Pierre that they saw the previous week that made them use him more this week.
“It was due to circumstance. We were running thin at corner, and he had an opportunity to ascend,and he’s taken advantage of it. That’s what this journey is about. That’s what this team is about. One man’s misfortune is another man’s opportunity. He’s gotten some and probably is going to continue to get some as we deal with guys working their way back from injury, particularly at that position. There were two guys that I read on the injury report just a couple moments ago at that position, so that might create opportunity for guys like him.”
Devin Bush & Miles Jack
The Pittsburgh defense will continue to improve if they get better play from their inside linebackers. Coach Tomlin was asked about Devin Bush looking like he was getting back to his former, pre-injury self.
“I agree. I agree, but I think that’s been the storyline regarding him for the 2022 season.”
In a later question, Coach Tomlin was asked about the defensive adjustments made towards keeping the Dolphins from attacking the middle of the field and how much of a depended on the athleticism and communication of Devin Bush and Myles Jack.
“Yeah, I don’t know if there were adjustments as much as it was just us getting a feel. I don’t know that there were a lot of significant changes in terms of what we were doing. Wejust detailed and had a few necessary conversations and got some of our guys closer to some of their guys. Obviously, his athleticism is a component of that, but his athleticism has been a component of the reason why he’s here.You like athletic linebackers that from time to time and in certain underneath matchups are capable of occupying space with more athletic guys, knowing that there’s help over the top, etcetera. He’s certainly capable of that.”
George Pickens, Chase Claypool, Diontae Johnson, & Pat Freiermuth
The Pittsburgh Steelers have a number of offensive weapons to use in the passing game for their young quarterback. Coach Tomlin was asked about the growing rapport between Kenny Pickett and George Pickens. In his response, Coach Tomlin also mentioned Chase Claypool, Diontae Johnson, and Pat Freiermuth.
“I would imagine that the same could be said for all of his eligibles and I would expect and it’s reasonable to expect that to continue. They’ve made some plays, but again, I think a kind of catalyst for him moving forward and in minimizing negativity is to not get zeroed in on any particular eligible, to take what defenses give him and do some of those things. Obviously, Chase [Claypool] made a lot of plays versus Tampa and merited some attention in this game. Diontae [Johnson] merits attention each and every week; he’s the more senior of all the guys. So, it created some opportunity. It also created some opportunity for Pat Freiermuth. I think that’s why you surround him with quality eligibles so he has a complete arsenal,and he can make rhythmic decisions based on what was being presented to him. I know that’s his and our intention.”
In a later question, Coach Tomlin was asked about getting certain matchups for players like Pickens and Freiermuth and if they were specifically mentioned about getting them the ball.
“Those discussions are continual each and every week. In all three phases. That’s just football.”
In a later question, Coach Tomlin was asked about some of the issues with Pickens in college that may have kept teams from drafting him, and where he draws the line with him.
“I just don’t even understand where that’s coming from, man. This guy is doing everything that we ask him to do. He’s playing good ball. A lot of people have incidences in their college background; I’m certainly not going to hold that against him. We did our due diligence. We were completely comfortable with his character. He has displayed that since he’s been here. So, I somewhat resent that.”
After a rough game against the Buccaneers, Steelers guard Kevin Dotson bounced back with a much better performance against the Dolphins. Coach Tomlin was asked how he saw Dotson respond to the challenge this week.
“It was better, but we’ve got a lot of work to do, obviously, just in terms of minimizing negativity. You mentioned the motion penalty or procedural penalty on third-and-one was significant. So, just as a collective, we’ve got continued room for growth there.”
Whenever the notion of being someone who loves all aspects of the game comes up with the Steelers, it’s often where Minkah Fitzpatrick gets thrown into the conversation. In a question where Coach Tomlin was asked about George Pickens being a proficient blocker and it looking like he has fun doing so where he was asked what element of his game excites him the most, Coach Tomlin took the time to bring up Fitzpatrick.
“He loves to play football. He’s a competitor. The guys that love to play football, it shows up in everything that they do. It doesn’t matter whether it’s something specific to their job. On Fridays, we field onside kicks at the end of practice and Minkah [Fitzpatrick] is always the last guy on the field fielding onside kicks. He loves football. He likes to work at it, he loves what’s seemingly the drudgery. I think you could say the same thing about George. He loves to play. He’s excited when he makes plays, he’s excited when other people make plays. He’s good with the ball, he’s good without the ball. He’s a football player. He loves to play.”
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