There was a bevy of topics discussed, and I felt it would be easier to give them to you all right here, and let you digest them piece by piece. As always, you can check out all of Tomlin’s press conferences both live and on replay at Steelers.com.
On to the news...
- Not a glowing endorsement for coaching staff
There has long been a desire from the fan base to see coaching change. While many want one of the coordinators, Todd Haley or Keith Butler, to be axed, the most common candidate to be gone is special teams coach Danny Smith. At Tomlin’s press conference, he wouldn’t commit to all of his staff returning. This is a change from year’s past where Tomlin often talked about keeping the staff intact.
- Hope for Martavis Bryant
Tomlin was asked about Martavis Bryant, and he mentioned the entire reinstatement process. However, Tomlin mentioned he didn’t know what to expect with Bryant. In fact, no one does. The ball is literally in his court. Clearly the team would hope the ridiculously talented receiver is able to right the ship, but I don’t think you can bank on that...yet.
- Le’Veon Bell injury madness
So Bell left the game Sunday with a groin injury, and opened up his mouth to speculation and criticism when telling reporters after the game it wasn’t a new injury. Yet, Bell was never on an injury report with his groin injury. This could have the Steelers in some hot water with the league for failing to list an injury, but Tomlin said the groin injury never caused Bell to miss practice, so why the need to report it? He has a point, and mentioned if every bump, bruise and muscle pull was listed on the injury report, there would be 46 names on it weekly. I have a feeling this isn’t the last we hear of this situation, but hopefully the Steelers don’t fall the way of the Seahawks and possibly getting punished for these actions, or lack thereof.
- Ben Roethlisberger retirement talk
Yesterday the black and gold world was abuzz with talk of Roethlisberger’s potential retirement. Tomlin was asked about this, obviously, and honestly said it wasn’t the first time Roethlisberger has hinted at leaving the game. He also mentioned he had yet to meet with the franchise quarterback, stating he is always the last exit interview he has with his team.
- Exit interviews for players/coaches
Speaking of exit interviews, Tomlin was in the midst of performing those on Tuesday, after his final team meeting on Monday. After the player interviews conclude, he meets with each of his coaches to talk about the season. This is where it might become clear if there will be a vacancy to be filled on the Steelers’ coaching staff this offseason.
- Not ruling out playing the field in Free Agency, want to sign their own first
Mike Tomlin was asked about the team’s approach to free agency, and he toed the company line which has been in place for decades. The team will look into free agency, likely to bring in one moderately priced player, think Mike Mitchell and Ladarius Green, but will be wanting to sign some of their own free agents before looking elsewhere. The Steelers have a long list of free agents to tend to, and some very high profile names. Yeah, this offseason will have some news coming from the Steelers’ organization for sure.
- Open to a Deebo return
James Harrison said he isn’t done and wants to return next season. Quite the difference between the way he spoke after the Divisional round loss to the Denver Broncos in the 2015 season. Tomlin said he is open to Harrison returning, and the team will likely keep No. 92 around as long as he is willing, and able, to play.
- QB Sneak
Shockingly, Tomlin wasn’t asked a lot about the loss to the Patriots in the AFC Championship game. Reporters weren’t going to get a lot out of the Steelers’ coach, so why bang your head against a wall repeatedly. Nonetheless, Tomlin was asked about why the team didn’t run a quaterback sneak with Roethlisberger when they were 1st and goal from the one-foot line. Tomlin’s answer was simple: the Patriots stacked the middle of the line, which wouldn’t have been the best scenario to run a quarterback sneak. This likely isn’t the answer most fans want to hear...especially when you have a 6-foot 4-inch quarterback who weighs over 240-pounds.
- Hope for Coates Rogers
Tomlin did give credit to two young players on the offense, and that would be Sammie Coates and Eli Rogers. Although Coates played with an injury the majority of the season, Tomlin mentioned how he and Rogers were bright spots for the team throughout the season on offense.
- Ladarius Green concussions
Medical issues are always a topic throughout the last press conference of the season, and although Tomlin didn’t have a list of players who were expected to undergo surgery this offseason, he was asked about Ladarius Green’s ongoing concussion issues. Tomlin said he had no word on where he currently stands on the protocol, and his recovery. He did mention it is a serious cause for concern, and one of the biggest medical questions on the team this offseason.
This is the last time Tomlin will speak to the media for a while. He will have a press conference leading up to the 2017 NFL Draft, and will also talk with reporters at the league winter meetings, but other than those the business handled at the Steelers Rooney UPMC facility will be mostly behind closed doors.