Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin always talks about the standard being the standard and in the Sunday season opening loss to the Tennessee Titans, he, like most of his players, failed to live up to that standard. Below are a few issues I have with Tomlin’s coaching on Sunday and a few of them took place prior to kickoff.
Pregame Inactives: While it might not have seemed like a big deal prior to the game, I was pretty shocked when the inactives were released. For starters, Cody Wallace was signed to be the backup center because Tomlin and the coaching staff did not have faith in John Malecki to be the backup. While Kelvin Beachum worked quite a bit at the position during training camp and the offseason, he saw very little time over the ball during the preseason. Was Wallace not up to speed on the playbook? If the plan was to use Beachum quite a bit at tight end during the game, wouldn’t it make sense to have another center active instead of Guy Whimper?
Keeping with the inactives theme, what part of run fast and tackle the player with the football did Antwon Blake not understand? Instead of having a special teams warrior active, Tomlin decided to dress fullback Will Johnson, who was still nursing a hamstring injury. Not only did Johnson not play in the game on offense, I don’t think he played on special teams despite Tomlin saying that he did during his post game press conference. Tomlin could have chose to dress Wallace over Blake and Johnson just as easily.
No, I am not done with the silly inactives. Rookie linebacker Vince Williams is regarded as a player that likes to hit yet Tomlin decided to dress Terence Garvin, an undrafted rookie, instead of the sixth-round draft pick. Keep this in mind as well. If Garvin is active for nine or more games this season, he will lose his practice squad eligibility. If he is needed, that’s fine, but it is obvious that he wasn’t needed in this game.
Redman Fumble: On the play that running back Isaac Redman fumbled at the goal-line, the Steelers had the wrong personnel on the field. If Ben Roethlisberger thought about calling a timeout, why didn’t Tomlin? The whole play looked rushed and it was. You just can’t play around with goal-to-go opportunities like that. You have to take a timeout there.
Not Felixing It: Tomlin went out of his way to praise the play of Felix Jones during the preseason after the team acquired him in a trade and even cut Jonathan Dwyer to make room for him. When Redman fumbled a second time, Tomlin let the smallish LaRod Stephens-Howling take over instead of Jones. If anyone deserved a shot at jumpstarting the running game before Redman returned, it was Jones, who just so happens to be a former first-round draft pick. What did Tomlin have to lose at that point? Jones has been with the team for a few weeks now and should surely know the playbook by now.
Clock Management - While the chance for a win at the end was slim, there was no reason to burn the final timeout with 2:02 left in regulation. It saved all of two seconds as the two-minute warning would have stopped the clock following the completion to Redman. Being as the next four throws, if needed, would have gone into the end zone, the offense would still have had a timeout left and plenty of time left on the clock had they recovered the onsides kick following a touchdown.