2017 South Side Questions: What One Question Do You Want Answered From Tomlin?

The journey toward the Super Bowl is now well under way with the Pittsburgh Steelers back practicing at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, still informally referred to as the ‘South Side’ facility. With the regular season standing in their way on the path to a Lombardi, there will be questions for them to answer along the way.

We have asked and answered a lot of questions during the preseason and through training camp, but much of the answer-seeking ends in the regular season, and teams simply have to make do with what they have available to them. Still, there will always be questions for us.

You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring the developments in the regular season and beyond as they develop, looking for the answers as we evaluate the makeup of the Steelers on their way back to the Super Bowl, after reaching the AFC Championship game last season for the first time in more than half a decade.

Question: What one question would you most like to hear head coach Mike Tomlin address today?

It’s been a while now since we’ve last heard from Mike Tomlin. That is the downside—or upside, depending upon your inclination—of the Steelers being on a bye week. After some rest and relaxation—and a bunch of losses from teams they would have liked to have seen lose—however, it’s back to action.

And that includes yet another Tomlin Tuesday, the first in two weeks. The Steelers close out the first half of their season with three consecutive wins, but have never really seemed to put together a complete game, perhaps the closest being the victory over the Bengals.

So while they are charging into the second half with the best record in the AFC—tied with the Patriots—it is still a unit that comes with some questions, some of which can of course only be answered on the field, but of those questions that Tomlin can answer, what would you like to hear?

I don’t think I’m going out too far on a limb if I were to venture a guess that the role of Martavis Bryant will be the biggest question. The wide receiver himself has suggested that he believes he will play an increased role against the Colts after being benched for the Detroit game.

Another question, no doubt, will be about the outside linebacker rotation, and specifically if it’s time to get James Harrison some playing time. Defensive coordinator Keith Butler did hint that he would have a role to play as the weather gets colder.

How much are the Steelers willing to ride Le’Veon Bell? I expect that to be another popular question. Pittsburgh used him heavily over the past few games. While he has shown no signs of wear and tear, many probably fear that they could manifest suddenly, as was the case last season as he battled an undisclosed groin injury.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

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

  • My question would be why do the Steelers more often then not lose to inferior teams and more often then not beat playoff caliber teams?

  • CP72

    You know I think this is kind of a interesting perception. One I agreed with by the way. Then I did some research.

    The Steelers are I think 15-3 over last 18 games. Their last 5 losses have been to the Patriots (twice), Dallas, Jacksonville, and Chicago.

    Now obviously the Bears game stands out. That game was guideline on how to lose to an inferior team. The Cowboys and Jaquars both are good teams. The Patriots are well the Patriots.

    We may play down to our competition a bit, but more often than not we find a way to beat them.

  • Iulo

    dear M. Tomlin, do you understand the meaning of time? any clue about time-management or whatsoever?

  • Ichabod

    Do you game plan according to your strengths/weaknesses or your opponents strengths/weaknesses

  • Alright you picked 20 games but going back to the start of last season They lost horribly to the eagles who finished 7-9. I suspect thats why you only went back 20 to avoid including that embarrassing loss but that isnt why I am responding so dont be offended. The question posed was any question you would like to ask Tomlin and my question is more often then not why do the Steelers lose to inferior teams and more often then not beat playoff caliber teams. My question would span his entire tenure as the Steelers head coach and not just 20 games. True the Ravens are always tough but that is true for almost every nfl in regards to their divisional games so that ultimately shouldnt matter if they played them tough but still wound up as a poor team overall.

  • CP72

    The last 20 games is a pretty good sample size.

  • GravityWon

    How can the defense reduce the number of missed tackles in the 2nd half?

    Why does the offense keep forcing the deep balls?

  • CP72

    Coach Tomlin…..
    Would you like me to help you find the incriminating photos that Todd Haley must have of you 🙂

  • Stairway7

    Why does it take the offense so long to line up during the situational 2 minute offense? I notice most teams can get lined up to spike the ball within 17-20 seconds. It seems it takes the steelers 30-35 seconds. Those few seconds can be the difference in getting another play off.

  • steelburg

    Can you tell me 1 clock management issue he has had this year? I fell like he has come a long way in that department.

  • falconsaftey43

    That is a great one. I have no clue how they can take so long sometimes to run their 2 minute drill. Seems like we take a minimum for 30 seconds between plays.

  • Tomlin became the Steelers head coach on Jan,27 2007 so lets go from the first regular season to current.

    2008: 12-4 losses to Eagles,Giants,Colts,Titans. Eagles 9-6-1 Giants 12-4 Colts 12-4 Titans 13-3. 4 losses to winning teams 0 losses to losing teams

    2009: 9-7 losses to Bears7-9,Bengals(x2)10-6 ,chiefs4-12,ravens9-7,raiders5-11,browns5-11 3 losses to winning teams 4 losses to losing teams

    2010: 12-4 losses to Ravens12-4,Saints11-5,Patriots14-2,Jets 8-8
    3 losses to winning teams 1 loss to losing team

    2011: 12-4 losses to Ravens(x2)12-4,Texans10-6,49ers13-3
    4 losses to winning teams 0 losses to losing teams
    2012: 8-8 losses to
    Broncos13-3,Raiders4-12,Titans6-10,Ravens10-6,Browns5-11,Chargers7-9,Cowboys8-8,Bengals10-6
    3 losses to winning teams 5 losses to losing teams

    2013: 8-8 losses to Titans7-9,Bengals11-5,Bears8-8,Vikings5-10-1,Raiders4-12,Patriots12-4,Ravens8-8,Dolphins8-8
    2 losses to winning teams 6 losses to losing teams

    2014: 11-5 Ravens10-6,Bucs2-14,Browns7-9,Jets4-12,Saints7-9
    1 loss to winning teams 4 losses to losing teams

    2015: 10-6 losses to patriots12-4,Ravens(x2)5-11,Chiefs11-5,Bengals12-4,Seahawks10-6
    4 losses to winning teams 2 losses to losing teams

    2016: 11-5 losses to Eagles7-9,Dolphins10-6,Patriots14-2,Ravens8-8,Cowboys13-3
    3 losses to winning teams 2 losses to losing teams

    2017: 6-2 losses to Bears3-5,Jags5-3
    1 loss to winning team 1 loss to losing team

    Total losses To winning 28 To losing 25

    Now to get a non biased picture of this compared to other teams I would have to do this for every team for a comparative amount of years and to be honest that’s just way to much work. Heck even this was to much work but I was curious and did this for nothing other then my curiosity on the matter. It wasnt to prove me right or wrong I just wanted to know.

  • David Shoff

    Mr Tomlin, why don’t you depend more on what your people upstairs see on replays before you throw the red flag?

  • hdogg48

    That Eagles game was just a blue print of what they (Eagles)
    could and would become.

    True Carson Wentz was a rookie then. This year
    he is in EVERYONE’S conversation for MVP.

  • I agree it is a good sample size but how can you apply your sample size to my question?

  • hdogg48

    If you had it to do over again, would you have had
    a UNANOMOUS vote instead of a majority vote in order
    to decide to keep your team off the field in protest
    during the National Anthem at home against Jacksonville?

  • Tomlin became the Steelers head coach on Jan,27 2007 so lets go from the first regular season to current.

    2008: 12-4 losses to Eagles,Giants,Colts,Titans. Eagles 9-6-1 Giants 12-4 Colts 12-4 Titans 13-3. 4 losses to winning teams 0 losses to losing teams

    2009: 9-7 losses to Bears7-9,Bengals(x2)10-6 ,chiefs4-12,ravens9-7,raiders5-11,browns5-11 3 losses to winning teams 4 losses to losing teams

    2010: 12-4 losses to Ravens12-4,Saints11-5,Patriots14-2,Jets 8-8
    3 losses to winning teams 1 loss to losing team

    2011: 12-4 losses to Ravens(x2)12-4,Texans10-6,49ers13-3
    4 losses to winning teams 0 losses to losing teams
    2012: 8-8 losses to
    Broncos13-3,Raiders4-12,Titans6-10,Ravens10-6,Browns5-11,Chargers7-9,Cowboys8-8,Bengals10-6
    3 losses to winning teams 5 losses to losing teams

    2013: 8-8 losses to Titans7-9,Bengals11-5,Bears8-8,Vikings5-10-1,Raiders4-12,Patriots12-4,Ravens8-8,Dolphins8-8
    2 losses to winning teams 6 losses to losing teams

    2014: 11-5 Ravens10-6,Bucs2-14,Browns7-9,Jets4-12,Saints7-9
    1 loss to winning teams 4 losses to losing teams

    2015: 10-6 losses to patriots12-4,Ravens(x2)5-11,Chiefs11-5,Bengals12-4,Seahawks10-6
    4 losses to winning teams 2 losses to losing teams

    2016: 11-5 losses to Eagles7-9,Dolphins10-6,Patriots14-2,Ravens8-8,Cowboys13-3
    3 losses to winning teams 2 losses to losing teams

    2017: 6-2 losses to Bears3-5,Jags5-3
    1 loss to winning team 1 loss to losing team

    Total losses To winning 28 To losing 25

    Now to get a Total picture of this compared to other teams I would have to do this for every team for a comparative amount of years and to be honest that’s just way to much work and not in the scope of my question. Heck even this was to much work but I was curious and did this for nothing other then my curiosity on the matter. It wasnt to prove me right or wrong I just wanted to know.

  • pittfan

    Or, if you could, would you require all your players to stand?

  • #beatthepats

    I don’t think so, I get the feeling it’s more of “ we are the Steelers come stop us” the jaguar game should have been 3 tes and 55 RUSHES, and the bear game ; they should have had 9 in the box to stop the run. They stubbornly stick to their schemes no matter what.

  • Reg Sayhitodabadguy Hunt

    do you ever make halftime adjustments or do you just stuck to the game plan even when it’s not working

  • Ace

    He hasn’t done anything that I can recall that has bitten them, but it’s been some little things. Calling timeouts around the 2 minute warning is always something that can be debated. Save the time before or after the warning. I agree he hasn’t done anything too bad. David Todd does a pretty good job of covering his clock management in game on Twitter actually. Someone needs to start a weekly article on bad coaching on this site or elsewhere. Clock management, coaches challenges, when to punt, when to kick a FG. See how they stack up.

  • Marcel Chris Chauvet

    What is the team philosophy on tackling? More specifically, do you support a ‘wrap and grab cloth’ philosophy or are you a ‘big hits’ (separate man from ball) kinda guy? The Steelers lead the league in missed tackles and the flying shoulder is one of the main culprits for that. What I’d really like to know is this: are you teaching your defenders to wrap up?

  • Michael Mosgrove

    when will you and kevin get a new freaking o coordinator?

  • Michael Mosgrove

    the national anthem debaucle was at chicago not jax.

  • Michael Mosgrove

    before halftime of the ravens game. wasted about 30 seconds.
    3rd quarter of the bungals game wasted about 47 seconds.

    just off the top of my head.

  • Michael Mosgrove

    we are 25-24 against 500 and below teams AT the TIME of the Game. since haley took over.

  • David Henderson

    Who does he consult with on making challenges?

  • Darth Blount 47

    Why doesn’t this team incorporate more trick plays into the Offense like we used to have???

  • hojo

    I began my research with the initial thought of disagreeing with you, but found that Tomlin, when compared to other heavily favored teams/coaches don’t have an elite record. Mind you, he still has a very good record, but just not as good as some other teams, especially the ones the commentariat likes to compare against i.e. NE, GB, SEA, etc.

    Over the last six years (this is how far the data I found goes back), Tomlin has a win % of 0.701 when favored. This is the 10th best in the league. So I guess the numbers bear out the notion that the Steelers do play down to the competition more than some other top teams.

    This is the Win% when teams are favored.

    Team Win %
    New England Patriots 0.794
    Denver Broncos 0.757
    Green Bay Packers 0.750
    Seattle Seahawks 0.746
    Arizona Cardinals 0.745
    Houston Texans 0.721
    San Francisco 49ers 0.712
    Carolina Panthers 0.707
    Dallas Cowboys 0.704
    Pittsburgh Steelers 0.701
    Baltimore Ravens 0.698

    I would love to see how the numbers look if the spread is greater than a touchdown, but haven’t seen this data yet.

  • SouthernSteel

    Can you get me on the sideline for one game?

    That would be so awesome….and last guy running out of tunnel..

  • Rick Tilves

    WHEN are we going to start getting more 7’s than 3’s in the RED ZONE ?

  • You also missed his first year as a head coach which was the 2007 season.

    They finished 10 – 6 loosing to the Cardinals 8-8, Broncos 7-9, Jets 4-12, Patriots 16-0, Jaguars 11-5, and Ravens 5-11.

    6 losses 2 to winning teams, 1 to .500 team, 3 to losing teams.

    No one considers an 8-8 team a loosing team so I don’t think its fair to do so in this study.

    You just use it to drive the narrative forward.

    It should look like this;

    Tomlin’s records

    Regular season: 109–59 (.649)
    Postseason: 8–6 (.571)
    Career: 117–65 (.643)

    losses to winning teams = 30

    losses to .500 teams = 7

    losses to losing teams = 22

    We can all agree the playoff losses are to winning teams.

    It’s not going to change the narrative but at least be correct.

  • Chad Weiss

    The missed timeout at seven seconds on third down letting clock run down to three seconds and had to settle for a fginstead of one more chance at td

  • There is no narrative. I have no agenda I was curious as to what side of the coin it fell on and I do consider 8-8 as a losing season. I had to go through every Steelers season I did Write down their opponents they lost to then go find that teams season that year and find out their record and write that. No agenda just a lot of work. I must of missed the first season because I seen in Jan of 2007 and equated that to the end of the season again sorrys all around my daughter kept me up all night this after going 24 hours. So there is no Winning, .500, losing. 8-8 is losing in my mind because you sure aren’t playoff bound and so your team lost out And the “narrative” was why does tomlins steelers more often then not win against playoff teams and lose to inferior teams. 8-8 is indeed inferior and 8-8 is not part of the playoff category therefore it is part of the other. Real simple. It is 1 or the other. James Harrison said it best there are no participation trophys and there are none here as well.

  • So going off your additional season I forgot it is 30 to winning teams and 29 to losing teams. Thank you for adding that first season it was a oversight. If tomlin had told me I forgot the first season as well Id tell him thank you we own our mistake we dont live in our fears and we will give them heck in december.

  • Ive seen you postulate this at the time of the game stuff elsewhere. It doesnt matter how you start it is how you finish. I mean if a team starts 0-1 that makes them below .500 or 2-3 but these teams can still turn things around in a very short order. It is a much better gauge to see if a team is above or below .500 once the season ends as a much better barometer of that team . To many variables to consider your way and only 1 with 2 choices if you declare these things at the end of the season.

  • Michael Mosgrove

    I’d rather look at the mindset if the teams at the time if game. See what variables come into play then.

  • And thats fine Im just saying you get a much clearer picture at seasons end . For example the Chargers are a team that is hot one half of the season and cold the next. Teams are streaky. The chiefs started 5-0 and then lost 3 of the next 4 so depending on when you look at them it shows 2 wildly different pictures of the same team and that is why at least for myself I go off of end of season records since there is no more games that season thats it and the picture of all of the teams is set in stone with no more variations.

  • Iulo

    agree… not this year.
    The question was simple (and somewhat funny).. it is however still valid since in more than 10years the time management has been poor when not awful… I really would like to know what is he doing in such phases because I’m not satisfied with Tomlin’s answers (something like: “it was like it was”)…
    I’m not a trolling type fan…

  • Mark

    When are you firing Todd Haley? He is killing your and your team chance at a Superbowl.

  • Mark

    lol! It’s not that. It’s the Rooneys and their nepotism. Todd’s daddy was a personnel guys during the 70s dynasty team. Daddy’s boy…..