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Mike Tomlin not calling out Todd Haley, but calling out things for which Haley is responsible

Careful and well-chosen words were used by Steelers' coach Mike Tomlin at his press conference Tuesday. He didn't call out offensive coordinator Todd Haley directly, but he might as well have.

Ron Schwane-USA TODAY Sports

When the Things Remembered platitudes aren't flowing out of the speakers from Mike Tomlin's microphone, something's wrong.

It's never particularly direct but, when it is, the talk scarcely covers growing resentment.

This sense of resentment was understandable in Tomlin's recent press conference when discussing his team's current, offensive quagmire.

"Not only game-planning, but who we're utilizing," Tomlin said at his press conference Tuesday. "Schematics and the personnel that we're utilizing needs to be evaluated."

He's not directly calling out or even directly challenging offensive coordinator Todd Haley, but what other way is there to take that statement? Most observers of this team would agree criticism of this offense is fair.

The game plan and the personnel being utilized, things by and large more important than the particular play being called, are critical components in the Steelers' preparation during the week. Perhaps with an extra day to prepare for the Houston Texans, the Steelers' offense can come out with more of an edge.

Markus Wheaton getting a career-high 11 targets appears, by the fact he only caught four of them, to have been an error both in game-planning and execution. He'll almost assuredly get the ball less on Monday night, even though his positive, praise-giving QB will never publicly criticize him. Four catches on five or six targets appears to be a better range for Wheaton in terms of priority, but if the Texans plan to blanket Antonio Brown as much as the Browns and Jaguars did, Wheaton needs to step up and make a few plays, plain and simple. No strategy and no specific play-call will change that need.

Getting the ball to Heath Miller is understandable, but for the amount of 2-TE sets the Steelers run, they're going to have to mix in a few passes to Matt Spaeth or Michael Palmer. The weak side of formations is getting overlooked and, with a running back who cuts back frequently off of the strong side, defenders have figured it's best to be cautious in their approach and bracket Le'Veon Bell inside. This brings us to...

Play-action passing has been all but non-existent this season. It was largely missing last year as well. While there's something to be said about the Steelers not using play-action because of the amount of plays being called at the line of scrimmage, add this to the running list of things Haley has gotten away from despite having a proven record of success. Roethlisberger certainly isn't a worse quarterback using play-action and, while the team can't use the amount of movement teams like Cleveland use with their quarterbacks, the Steelers could use some of the capital their running game earns to open up the field up vertically. This will help to re-open the short-to-middle passing lanes that have become clogged since the Steelers' ran all over the Browns during the first half of Week 1.

Tomlin only had a few minutes to speak. Perhaps he didn't want to dive into this detail or perhaps it's all wrong. Mostly, Tomlin will need more than what he has been getting, or he'll have to vaguely call out Haley again next week.

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