Less than a day after the Steelers defeated the Indianapolis Colts on Monday Night Football, head coach Mike Tomlin was back at the podium to speak with the media ahead of Week 13. Being fresh of the previous game, 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.
James Pierre & Arthur Maulet
The Steelers got production from players in a lot of different areas on Monday night. Coach Tomlin was asked about what he contributed to this when it comes to offense, but in his answer he focused on defense and specifically mentioned James Pierre and Arthur Maulet.
“I don’t know—it’s just daily work. Whether it’s the offense, or a guy stepping up on special teams, or on defense. I think we used everybody in the secondary in some form or fashion; James Pierre, Arthur Maulet and others. We just work diligently every day, and we continually try to put eight pounds in a five-pound bag. That’s an analogy that I use because you just never know when you’ll get an opportunity to call upon it. I never ask guys to be patient; I just ask them to work while they wait and to display their readiness when called upon. That’s what a lot of guys were able to do.”
In a later question, Coach Tomlin was asked what Arthur Maulet’s role is in the defense and if he can describe the intensity he brings to the game.
“He’s a run-down nickel, he’s a good blitzer, he’s a good tackler. He brings a demeanor for a small guy that’s kind of reflective of the dominant nickels that play. All the nickels that are dominant ones are angry little people. They don’t stay blocked; they don’t get blocked. They blitz extremely hard and well. They tackle big people. They play with an edge. And he fits that mold.”
In a later question, Coach Tomlin was asked about the maturation he has seen in James Pierre as he has come off the bench multiple times to help the defense.
“It’s just not too big for him. I just think that there’s a steadiness in him that maybe wasn’t there before. It’s probably just reflected more than anything in levels of communication. The conversations that you can have with him in game, he’s present, he’s aware, he can articulate the things he’s seeing. I just think it’s just where he is relative to where he’s been.”
Benny Snell Jr. & Anthony McFarland Jr.
Running backs Benny Snell and Anthony McFarland both received their first carries of the season in Week 12. Coach Tomlin was asked about the work ethic of Snell and McFarland as well as James Pierre as they saw lesser roles this season than in years past.
“I think we always acknowledge that roles never stay the same; they’re ever changing. And so, sometimes it’s positive, sometimes it’s negative. This is football at its highest level. I think all guys know and understand that and that’s why they walk in the building with the spirit that they do every day. You’ve got to earn it daily. Those guys continue to walk in with that spirit regardless of what the division of labor might be, because they need to be ready for their next opportunity.”
In a follow-up question, Coach Tomlin was asked what he liked most from what he got from the two running backs.
“I thought they stayed within their skillset. Benny is a deliberate one-cut downhill runner, AntMac [Anthony McFarland Jr.] is bursty and explosive and good in space. I just thought they leaned on their strengths.”
After missing the second half of last weeks game, center Mason Cole was able to go the distance on Monday. Coach Tomlin was asked the biggest thing that he appreciates from Cole.
“Man, he’s a sharp guy. He brings a can-do attitude. He’s a winner in his approach to ball. He’s a good communicator. His football intellect is really solid, and it’s helpful at that position in terms of the identification of protections and picking up a blitz game.”
The biggest injury coming out of Monday night’s game was Najee Harris not being able to return after halftime with an abdominal injury. Coach Tomlin was asked if there’s any long-term concern over Harris’ injury.
“Not as I sit here right now, but I don’t have a lot of information as I sit here right now. I have no more information right now than I had last night when I addressed you guys.”
For the most part, both Steelers fans and those breaking down the game Monday night believed this was the best performance so far for young quarterback Kenny Pickett. Coach Tomlin was asked about how much input Pickett has now versus the start of the season.
“I think it’s a natural progression. I just think the more he gains experience, the more he’s engaged in the process of game readiness, the more there’s a give and take in communication in terms of what’s appropriate from a play-selection standpoint. Just natural business in terms of dealing with quarterbacks and their inclusion in the process.”
In a follow-up question, Coach Tomlin was asked about Pickett’s ability to take on the volume of defense that he sees in the NFL.
“That’s just the transition that everyone has to go through. It’s the same thing for receivers. The myriad of coverages and the bastard coverages that you see and the complexities of the things that you see requires adjustments and thinking on your feet and running adjustments. It’s a challenge for all young people on offense, probably receivers just as much as quarterbacks.”
In a later question, Coach Tomlin was asked about Pickett’s first comeback win, his ability to do so, and if it was from observations when he was a Pitt or from just knowing him in general.
Dan Moore Jr.
One player who had a very solid game after a rough couple plays early on was left tackle Dan Moore. Coach Tomlin was asked about Moore’s ability to bounce back and how he is progressing in his second year.
“It’s football, you know. In the National Football League, you’re going to lose some downs. There is ebb and flow, but you remain singularly focused on winning. When you do that, you don’t tote bags of negative plays. That’s what we ask all the guys to do. It requires a certain level of maturity, and that’s something that Dan has shown since day zero, and that’s why he’s been such a significant contributor since day zero.”
In a later question, Coach Tomlin was asked about having players such as Moore and James Pierre who can be resilient later in a game after making an earlier mistake and finding a way to win.
“We expect them to. This is big boy football. We expect them to.”
Devin Bush, Robert Spillane, & Myles Jack
The Steelers were forced to have a different rotation at inside linebacker with Devin Bush playing every defensive snap. Coach Tomlin was asked if Bush has earned a bigger role since he played so much on Monday night.
“Robert Spillane was hurt.”
In a follow-up question, Coach Tomlin was asked about Bush also playing more than Myles Jack.
“Myles was hurt maybe the week before.”
One player who has struggled this season to find his role with the new quarterback is wide receiver Diontae Johnson. Coach Tomlin was asked about Johnson wanting to be targeted more and how he would rate his performance.
“I’m sure he does. I’m sure every receiver in the National Football League does. He made the necessary plays and we’re appreciative of his efforts. The target game, I’m not going to play that. You can play that every week with every receiver; everybody wants targets.”
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 see it in its entirety below.
Coach Tomlin addresses the media ahead of our Week 13 game against the Falcons.— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) November 29, 2022
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