On Friday, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ world was rattled with Ed Bouchette’s report on how players like Le’Veon Bell routinely showed up late on game days, as well as Bell essentially missing the final walk-through before the playoff game vs. the Jacksonville Jaguars.
This certainly created some waves among fans of the Black-and-gold. But if you read the entire report, it did much more than show some players might not care about Tomlin’s rules or policies. It also gave a few hints as to why the Steelers didn’t release any defensive coaches immediately after the season.
There was some surprise no coaching change was forthcoming on defense, but if that were to occur, Tomlin might have to start with himself. He called many of the defensive plays from the sideline this season. He also took charge of many of the secondary meetings and those with the entire defense.
In a recent Q&A on our Facebook Page, as well as on our most recent podcast, I spoke about how Tomlin put his fingerprint on this defense, and that was the main reason no defensive coaches would be fired or let go at the end of the season.
As it turns out, I was right, but even I didn’t think it would be as detailed and extensive as Bouchette is reporting.
Tomlin making calls on the field, running meetings, etc. certainly came as a surprise. While I’m sure other head coaches who have specialties and histories as coordinators would be active paticipants in those meetings and planning sessions, it seems odd Tomlin would be the one running a defensive meeting, and not Keith Butler.
Since Dick LeBeau’s departure, Tomlin has taken advantage of the situation and has worked hard to put his own stamp on the defense. It’s his draft picks, his style of play and his overall philosophy being infused on a daily basis—not anyone else’s. This is fine, but when the defense fails as it did vs. Jacksonville, the buck falls squarely on Tomlin’s shoulders.
Just as Ben Roethlisberger is putting himself out there by taking ownership of the offense, Tomlin is doing the same in being overly active with the defense, and also by not holding any defensive coaches responsible for the dreadful loss to Jacksonville.