Home > The Tomlin Chronicles > The Tomlin Chronicles – The Midway Point of the 2010 Season

The Tomlin Chronicles – The Midway Point of the 2010 Season

At the midway point, head coach Mike Tomlin has his team at 6-2, just like last season. The most impressive thing Tomlin has accomplished thus far remains the way he prepared the Steelers defense to be motivated and focused enough to win games almost single-handedly with Ben suspended for the first 4 games of the season. The first two games of this season the defense was simply awesome, playing with a ton of intensity. To start the season 3-1 without your best player (and QB) is no small feat. Let’s look at some other positives from Coach T thus far this season –

– The Steelers are +9 in turnover ratio, which is tied for best in the NFL. Awesome!

– Lawrence Timmons, who was the first pick ever taken with Tomlin as head coach, is having a breakthrough season and is showing signs of being a dominant player. There were many people (not me, I was always a believer!) that Timmons would be a bust after a slow start in Pittsburgh.

– Showing perhaps that he’s learned from past mistakes (“we’re going to run him until the wheels fall off” in reference to former RB Willie Parker) Tomlin is spelling starting RB Rashard Mendenhall during games and NOT “running him until the wheels fall off”. Great move, Tomlin. This is the kind of positive growth I like to see from a young head coach.

It could be argued that Tomlin’s most frustrating coaching move this year is his stubborn and myopic stance on the Steelers running game. OC Bruce Arians may be a lot of things, but he’s not a lover of the run game. Arians may say he is in the press but it’s obvious based on his history as a coach and his overall offensive philosophy that he is clearly not. The fact that the Steelers this year are running the ball on 1st down an astounding 70% of the time clearly points to Tomlin (and possibly the FO and Rooneys) playing a big role in that decision. Much ado was made about improving the Steelers run game in the offseason and the team is clearly trying to run it better. But in order to actually do that on a consistent basis you have to mix it up better on 1st down, especially when your O-line isn’t exactly elite. As has been pointed out on here before, most of the Steelers TD’s have been scored on deep passes or with a shortened field from turnovers or when the Steelers are running a no-huddle or “up tempo” offense where more passes are thrown into the mix. Running the ball on 1st down at a 70% clip is a caveman approach of epic proportions when the results, time and again, do not yield points and instead continually put your offense in 2nd and 3rd and long. To put it in further perspective, the Steelers are tied for the 2nd fewest 1st downs in the entire NFL. That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement on the Steelers new found love of running the ball almost exclusively on 1st downs. Hopefully, Tomlin figures that out. Let’s look at some other negatives from coach T so far this year –

– Even though the Steelers are tied for best turnover ratio at +9, the Steelers are also tied for the 8th most fumbles at 14 (that’s almost 2 a game). That is not good and the Steelers could easily have a worse turnover ratio but the team only lost 5 of those fumbles. Combine that with Mendenhall’s reckless ball handling on run plays and don’t be surprised if there are more fumbles down the road.

– Tomlin’s timeclock and overall game management is still an ongoing problem. Will it ever improve? So far there hasn’t been any signs that it will. Just this last week against the Bengals, the Steelers had the ball at the end of the 1st half with under a minute left and were driving. Ben completes a pass downfield with 33-35 seconds left on the clock. Ben runs down to spike the ball to stop the clock. The Steelers had 2 TOs. The gameclock is now at 21 seconds. Basically, the Steelers unnecessarily wasted 12 seconds and a down, which is huge in that situation. Jeff Reed ended up making a 53 yard FG, but given how poorly Reed has kicked from that distance all year the Steelers (and Tomlin) unnecessarily put themselves in a riskier postion than was needed.

– Why is Randel El still getting so much playing time? Manny Sanders has shown he can play, give him some more playing time!

– As was mentioned earlier on here, most of the Steelers biggest problems from last year – defensive meltdowns in the 4th quarter, no identity offense, redzone problems, questionable coaching and personnel moves – are all alive and well this season. Hopefully, Tomlin is taking note of that so he can steer this team to a playoff berth instead of another 2nd half meltdown.

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Categories: The Tomlin Chronicles
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