Mike Tomlin is known as a player’s coach. Some feel this is a negative trait for someone in his line of work, but players typically want to play for Tomlin and the Steelers. However, despite players being willing to go to battle for Tomlin, it sure doesn’t seem as if his locker room is “buttoned up” very well. Especially not after Ed Bouchette’s article in the Post-Gazette Friday.
Take a look at what Bouchette had to say about some burning topics after the season:
Nevertheless, there is another elephant in the room that Rooney, Tomlin and Colbert must address. Are the Steelers’ disciplined enough?
Tomlin never lost the locker room, he had it under control and his players respect him. However, there were many instances in which he could have taken better control, including the fiasco for the national anthem in Chicago.
As another example, Tomlin wants players and coaches to report to the locker room two hours before kickoff for games. That was continually ignored by both players and a coach or two.
Not only did Bell arrive much later than that for the playoff game against Jacksonville (as well as one coach), he missed practically the entire Saturday walk-through the day before, showing up about five minutes before practice ended.
The first thing which came to mind when reading this wasn’t about Tomlin’s discipline, but the report itself. Reporters are not permitted to report what they see, or don’t see, at practice, so this report had to be released by someone at a very peculiar time. The timing being when Bell is facing free agency, or another franchise tag year — which he stated three days before the playoff loss to the Jaguars he would consider retirement before playing another year under the franchise tag.
After the initial thought passed, the next thing which came to mind is the truth in this report. If Bell did indeed miss the final walk through before a playoff game, without proper reason, and wasn’t punished at all, that speaks volumes about what certain players think about the team, the organization, and most importantly the head coach.
Now, it should be noted these are just reports, and Bell went on to have a tremendous game against Jacksonville, but the principle of the matter remains. The fact Bell isn’t the only player, and coach, who doesn’t heed Tomlin’s very general rules is also worrisome.
Ultimately, it comes down to the simple fact the Steelers are one of the most confidential teams in the NFL. They surrounded themselves with drama this season, but they are a team who conceals what they want to conceal, and releases what they want to release. However this report ended up in Bouchette’s hands likely had a purpose behind it.
It paints an ugly picture of Bell, and some teammates, but an even uglier picture of Tomlin as a leader and a coach. If a message was meant to be sent by way of a public forum, the message was sent, and likely received, loud and clear.
Just think, all of this and the Steelers’ offseason isn’t even a week old yet.