Mention Of Limas Sweed Sparks Tomlin’s Ire

By Matthew Marczi

Yesterday at head coach Mike Tomlin’s weekly press conference—during which he was abnormally forthright and ingratiating—one reporter was so swept up in the new and improved Tomlin Experience that he was lulled into a false sense of security. In his docile state, he even went so far as to evoke the name of he who will not be named: Limas Sweed.

The reporter brought up Sweed in reference to Tomlin’s supposed history of taking away playing time from players who have failed to come up with a makeable play at key times in the past—in this instance, regarding Emmanuel Sanders.

Tomlin’s initial response was appropriate, and probably should have been the end of the discussion: “I don’t want to compare it to the Limas Sweed situation, but that’s going back and reaching”.

The reporter pressed on, however, which prompted an unusually verbose response from Tomlin to what is a rather silly question:

He’s made some plays for us too; obviously, he’s missed some plays, like everybody…Obviously, he didn’t make the play in that circumstance, obviously, there’ve been other circumstances where he had made plays, but I’m sure you could say the same about guys you might deem reliable like Antonio Brown or Heath Miller for that matter…so if I took that approach I wouldn’t be playing with any eligibles.

Emmanuel Sanders is not Limas Sweed. It’s not even close to a reasonable comparison. Sweed’s career highlight was a block downfield on a journeyman defensive back with his back turned.

Sanders has 58 receptions this year for 661 yards. He has a career-high five touchdowns, or five more than Sweed ever had. He averages 4.2 yards after contact per reception, for a total of 246 yards, or 37 percent of his total yardage, which is the result of having forced 10 missed tackles.

Over the past two seasons, Sanders has accumulated 102 receptions for 1287 yards and six touchdowns. Oh, and he hasn’t missed a game, for all of the worries stemming from the foot and knee injuries he suffered early in his career.

Sanders doesn’t deserve the Sweed treatment. Sure, there may be some resentment over his having signed with the New England Patriots and some pre-emptive angst over the strong possibility that he leaves for greener pastures in free agency after this season (can you blame him?), but his production is ignored far too often in favor of spotlighting the times that he doesn’t come through.

Miller doesn’t get that treatment. Brown doesn’t get that treatment. And believe me, they could have come through for the Steelers lots of times in which they’ve come up short. Sanders isn’t the type of player that is going to make every play every time, but he has been an asset to this team since he’s been drafted, and he’s a far cry from a bust. Leave Limas out of this.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

  • Elijah Stevenson

    Just give Sanders to New England so we can develop Markus Wheaton already.

  • Alexander Sebastian Heath

    As much I like Wheaton’s potential, I truly believe the slot wr is his to take, which is the same one Cotchery employs, one Manny Sanders had before Mike Wallace left and did really good. This still left us desiring for a flanker WR. Oh an athletic tight end too, Heath Miller is declining and his contract makes more sense to let him go.

  • Elijah Stevenson

    Is heath entering the final year of his contract ?

  • steeltown

    Sanders is having a pretty decent year, though he has dropped some key passes he has performed about as good as I expected him to.. in the end though we have too many other needs this offseason to offer Sanders a new deal (especially the deal he’ll be looking for)

  • Shannon Stephenson

    Sanders is a proven commodity. Wheaton , who I believe will be good, has yet to prove him self. Do we keep an aging vet over a young proven commodity in Cotchery over Sanders. Hope to keep both but we need Sanders. Some need to remember this was Sanders first year starting and there will be some blunders.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    Depends on what he is looking for?

  • steeltown

    I actually think we need Cotchery more than Sanders.. we have two other guys that possess Sanders size and speed (Brown and Wheaton) what we also need is a Cotchery type player, decent size, good hands and experienced veteran to boot…and he’ll cost a fraction of what Sanders will cost

  • 20Stoney

    Limas Sweed didn’t deserve the Sweed treatment either. One thing he proved is that he could get open deep (and drop balls), But instead of coming back to him to try and build some confidence, he was always shown the end of the bench. He reminded me a lot of Braylon Edwards, not the most sure handed, but could stretch the field. I really think he could have at least been useful if handled better instead of immediately being put in the doghouse. You can’t do that with high picks.

  • steeltown

    Are you asking or are you telling?

    Sanders and his agent came out last year and said he wont sign unless its a “really good deal” and that was after the 2012 season when he had a total of five career TDs

  • DrakePirate

    I agree, i think it was a bad move to pay sanders this year instead of getting a 3rd rounder … we could have used Wheaton which would have likely given similar stats and invaluable playing time and development for next year which he has lost. Sanders hasn’t been awful by any means, but gets duly criticised for all his timely drops and hasn’t really stepped up enough to be a keeper. I believe it was another poor decision by the front office for keeping him.

  • walter mason

    Absolutely. I seem to remember Wallaces first catch. He nervously cradled the ball into his chest but he hung on. Sweeds confidence was shattered. He desperately needed back on the field. I always wondered what might have happened if Wallace could not hang on to those first few passes? Sweed had hands at least as good as those of Wallace. Its all about building confidence with some players and Sweed never had a chance. I believe it would be much different had Sweed hung on for a TD.

    I dont have much to say about Sanders. He has proven he cannot make the clutch play and he shouldnt be counted on in those situations. That doesnt mean he cant be productive. I would prefer a slow Hines Ward type over a speedster that cant make the big play.

  • DrakePirate

    Although I think Heath is on the wrong side of 30, i think he is still solid and has 3 good years left and I think we need to keep him, but I do agree we should get an athletic receiving TE in the Draft that he can groom and give us a double threat, not to mention David Johnson as a nice 3rd TE … I really like the gains he made prior to his injury. I am not familiar with Heaths contract, but I would really like to keep him and see if we can extend him and get some kind of discount …

    Steelers are a great organisation and do a terrible job of using that to their advantage, I truly believe that their is a lot of value in players staying in Pittsburgh due to its organisational strength and they need to start using that as leverage for the older players and others to get them to stay at a modest discount, although some will still leave to make even a modest extra $$ … many will stay due to the value of the Team, Organisation, community and value in ending their careers in Pittsburgh, not to mention having to move homes, friends, schools families etc

    I think after the Harrison lesson, there is a good chance we can keep Troy and Ike for nearly half price for the next yr or two if the front office plays its cards right.

  • 2443scott

    touchy ..i think tomlin may be hearing the sounds from management ….but then again the media loves to cause turmoil and some times guys just have to raise the eye brow and stiffen the chin and clinch the teeth and let the media have it back …sweed was carried by the team for more reasons then we know but thats why the steelers are known as a family friendly team ….sanders is a half decent wr but i dont think hes the guy to throw ball too if the games on line i would rather saw heath or brown even bell and cot get a shot at sanders play …i would of liked to have wheaton play this whole year and sanders left to go to ne …even though he was a rookie this year i believe wheaton had more up side then sanders did ….now next season sanders will still be gone and wheaton be on team and he lost all that experience he would of gotten this year….i know the tow the line hes a rookie so he aint worth the time or effort to start him these wr`s coming out now are as ready as half the wr`s in nfl who been playing over 4 or 5 years …he may not be brown but wheaton sure is close to sanders in talent as a rookie

  • Kenneth Wilt

    I honestly think that Sanders will be gone at the end of the year. We are not going to be able to afford him. I think NE will take another run at him and we will walk away. Cotchery is a guy we will probably bring back. We may take an impact WR in this years draft in round 1 or 2.

  • Ken

    Sanders is good at catching short passes and running. He also can get open, but the down the field stuff and big catches he has failed at miserably. At this point I keep Worilds if I get to pick between the two. It is the defense that continues to let us down the most.

  • Luke Shabro

    I agree. I will be highly depressed if we lose Cotch. What a career resurgence. Dave pointed out how clutch he was last year on third down but man, what a signing

  • Luke Shabro

    I think you’re seeing Sanders ceiling right here. To me he’s worth about 3-4 million a year. He’s as good as gone. Somebody like NE, Detroit, San Fran, Baltimore is going to be willing to pony up. He’s a mostly solid #2 he just isn’t a world beater

  • Luke Shabro

    In all likelihood we won’t be picking either. Cap dollars are short. Times is hard

  • Luke Shabro

    A big body WR would be nice. Offensive weapons can cover up a lot of glaring problems with protection. At this point I honestly believe besides WR and a younger TE, the defense needs boatloads more help than the offense

  • RW

    Couldn’t disagree with you more. He may not be Sweed, but he isn’t reliable with the game on the line and has dropped easy catches in most of this year’s games. Show me the statistics and maybe then I’ll reconsider. Maybe.

  • Jonathon Bert Schade

    All through the draft I begged the Steelers to select another WR as insurance for the “old-timers”, (Burress and Cotchery). I thought surely one if not both of them would miss time with injuries, this being their wont. Jericho has been steady, but wouldn’t another hungry, young gun have been appreciated this season? I realize the jury is still out on Wheaton…I just hope they don’t fall asleep watching his “highlights” footage.

  • Kenneth Wilt

    I totally agree there. In fact, other than the 2 position you note above, I think defense needs lots more help. That being said, I don’t think we need a lot of starters at the moment assuming Troy and Ike come back. I’m okay with:

    Woodley/Timmons/Williams/Jones or Worilds if we can get him signed.
    Ike/Gay or Allen/Troy/Shamarko

    Others I like: Arnfelt, Woods, Nic Williams, Garvin, Golden

    That being said, we need a ton of depth on that side of the ball, because we don’t have a lot.

  • sean mcmartin

    And Don’t forget using a 4th round pick on a guy who never dressed for a game , When they needed Defensive help more.

  • sean mcmartin

    too many crucial drops by sanders.. good riddance.

  • Elijah Stevenson

    Wheaton has a lot of talent and haley just can’t c that.

  • Mike Sweeney

    a solid route runner with hands, would be nice, to acquire in the offseason

  • Shannon Stephenson

    Cotch will be out of the NFL in 2 years and Sanders will still be playing. This is the insanity that has us in the place we are in now. I would like to have him for those 2 years but not at the expense of the younger Sanders.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    Its posturing and all agents do that. Clarks agent on his last contract wanted top 5 safety money in the 7-8 M range and ended up with 4-5. It’s smoke.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    3-4 M is what he is worth IMO as well but I think you are right in that someone will pay a little bit more.

  • steeltown

    We wont be able to keep Sanders, he’ll want somewhere around $5MIL a season, atleast, and with that money we could re-sign Dwyer, LSH and Cotchery for the next 3yrs or whatever group of lunch pale players you choose. They wont overpay for a #2 WR

  • Shannon Stephenson

    We may not be able to afford Sanders but that is due to over paying for older players but it is what it is.