The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Pro

November 6, 2013

Tomlin sees potential for turnaround

PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin insists he’s “not opposed to turning over any stone” to breathe some life into his listless team.

Midway through the season, there may be no stones left. Not at 2-6.

Trades. Waiver wire signings. Minor starting lineup tweaks. Cutting underperforming players. Banning shuffleboard, pool and ping-pong in the locker room. Tomlin and General Manager Kevin Colbert have tried it all in the two months the franchise has appeared in free fall following a decade of nearly unparalleled success. Since reaching

6-3 with an overtime win against Kansas City last November, the Steelers are 4-11.

Tomlin stressed on Tuesday the potential for turning it around remains in the locker room, even after a 55-31 gouging by New England last weekend. Yet the Steelers couldn’t change much in the middle of the season because the trade deadline has passed. The waiver wire is barren and the injured reserve list is thick with starters turned hobbled bystanders.

Any sweeping changes will have to wait until after the season. Until then, Tomlin will press on with an underachieving group that he had a major hand in putting together. He has faith better football is ahead.

“We’ve got 53 capable guys, plus eight on the practice squad, at our disposal and I consider all guys as viable options,” he said. “I think that would be selling them short if I didn’t take that approach.”

While promising he would “re-evaluate” everything following the debacle against the Patriots, there appear to be no major moves in the offing heading into Sunday’s game versus Buffalo

(3-6).

Safeties Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark, who took most of the responsibility after Tom Brady shredded Pittsburgh for 432 yards and four touchdowns, will start.

“I’ve got a great deal of confidence in them and their abilities to play and play winning football for us,” Tomlin said.

The same goes for cornerback Ike Taylor if he’s cleared to return from a concussion.

Ditto nose tackle Steve McLendon and defensive end Brett Keisel, who anchor a defense that ranks 31st in yards rushing allowed. Tomlin declined to place blame in one particular place.

“There have been, popcorn if you will, a variety of things that create the end result,” he said. “Obviously, it

doesn’t require a lot of missteps in the National Football League to be out of place or to be out of whack, if you will. Obviously, we were not in step on Sunday.”

When that step may return is unclear.

Pittsburgh’s second-half schedule includes Detroit, Cincinnati and Green Bay and two meetings with Cleveland, which appears to be passing the Steelers in the AFC North.

If things don’t improve, Pittsburgh could threaten the 1988 team’s mark of 5-11, the franchise’s worst record since Chuck Noll took over in 1970.

Tomlin isn’t in the mood to look at the season as a whole yet, even with the Steelers seemingly already out of it a few days after Halloween.

“We’re here to win,” Tomlin said. “That’s our charge, that’s our job, that’s our passion. We’re not getting it done consistently to this point. So, that’s irritating and frustrating.”

Despite his anger, Tomlin pointed out he didn’t see any “blatant” evidence of his players quitting during the fourth quarter on Sunday.

He benched wide receiver Antonio Brown for a series after a blown assignment led to an interception.

Other than that, he thinks his players remained engaged even as things got out of hand.

Even if he did, he has little room to make a statement.

A quick scan of the two-deep roster reveals a list of players either still trying to figure things out – rookie linebacker Jarvis Jones and rookie safety Shamarko Thomas – or veterans who struggled elsewhere looking for a second (or third) chance at reviving their careers.

Tomlin doesn’t appear concerned that his first stringers feel “safe” because they’re not being pushed by the backups. The starting 22 includes 12 players who have a Super Bowl appearance on their resume, including eight who have at least one championship ring. That doesn’t preclude them from having a rough day at work.

“I really think kind of more than anything that we were beaten,” Tomlin said. “And it happens from time to time, as humbling as it may seem. I think that we can grow from this and move forward.”

Notes: G David DeCastro (ankle) and WR Markus Wheaton (finger) have been cleared to practice and should play on Sunday against the Bills ... LT Kelvin Beachum (left hip flexor), C Fernando Velasco (thigh) and DE Cameron Heyward (left knee contusion) could be limited early in the week.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Pro
  • Pirates 0417 Pirates power past Brewers

    Andrew McCutchen hit his first homer of the season and drove in three runs, Pedro Alvarez had a three-run shot and pinch-hitter Josh Harrison broke a tie with a long ball in the seventh inning as the Pittsburgh Pirates handed the Milwaukee Brewers their first road loss, 11-2 on Thursday night.
    Harrison’s two-run drive down the left field line off Rob Wooten (0-1) was the second of his career as a pinch hitter.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Penguins 0417 Jackets preparing for Game 2

    The Columbus Blue Jackets don’t feel they’re doomed after blowing a two-goal lead in a Game 1 loss of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
    “It’s not about missed chances, or feeling sorry about it,” goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky said at Thursday’s optional workout, 13 hours after falling 4-3 in Pittsburgh.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • racin 0416 Jennerstown Speedway gearing for May open

    Jennerstown Speedway released a very ambitious schedule on its website and continues to prepare for its 2014 reopening.
    The track is set to hold a practice day for drivers as well as an open house and media day on April 26.

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

  • Pirates 0416 Dominant Cueto drops Pirates in matinee

    That playoff loss in Pittsburgh last year? Johnny Cueto never thought about it much. So getting a chance to shut out the Pirates in a rematch wasn’t any more special.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Penguins 0416 Penguins rally to wear out Jackets

    Brandon Sutter scored on a wrist shot from the left circle 8:18 into the third period, helping the Pittsburgh Penguins rally for a 4-3 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals on Wednesday night.
    Beau Bennett and Matt Niskanen scored power-play goals 45 seconds apart in the second period, erasing Pittsburgh’s two-goal deficit.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Shelley and McElligot Series serves as reunion for former Chiefs personnel

    Not so long ago, Bob McElligott, like most Western Pennsylvania hockey fans, would savor a long Pittsburgh Penguins playoff run.
    The Somerset native followed the Pens’ Stanley Cup-winning teams in 1991 and 1992.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Malkin nearing return

    The Columbus Blue Jackets are the closest NHL team to the Pittsburgh Penguins, at least geographically. The two franchises are separated by 185 miles of highway.

    April 15, 2014

  • Reds swing way past Pirates

    Mike Leake doubled and hit a two-run homer Tuesday night, ending Gerrit Cole's winning streak and leading the Cincinnati Reds to a 7-5 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates that completed two days full of homers and delays.
    First, the NL Central rivals completed a game that was suspended in the sixth inning because of rain the previous night.

    April 15, 2014

  • Pirates Game 1 0415 Pirates edge out Reds in suspended game

    After all those home runs and an overnight delay, it was settled by a single.
    Andrew McCutchen doubled and came around on Russell Martin’s single in the seventh inning on Tuesday, giving the Pittsburgh Pirates an 8-7 victory over the Cincinnati Reds in the completion of a game that spanned two days and 10 home runs.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Penguins 0414 Pressure on Penguins to capture Cup

    The statistics are gaudy.
    And if the Pittsburgh Penguins can’t find a way to extend their season into the final days of spring, ultimately forgettable.
    The same team that led the NHL in man games lost due to injury (more than 500) also earned 109 points, led the Metropolitan Division from mid-October on and received another peerless effort from star Sidney Crosby, who topped the league with 104 points and is a near lock for the second MVP award of his career.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

Poll

Do you think that Jack Williams will get the 270 signatures from city residents needed in order to have a referendum placed on a municipal ballot to have the city's pressure test mandate repealed?

Yes
No
I'm not sure
     View Results
Order Photos


Photo Slideshow

House Ads