Also at these meetings are team general managers and head coaches and that means the Pittsburgh Steelers head man Mike Tomlin is there enjoying the weather if nothing else.
Tomlin spoke to media this morning and while he didn’t make any comments out of the ordinary for himself, I interpret some of them as a clear message to the fans, players and rest of the league. Here’s my take…
On the issue of Todd Haley’s first year as the offensive coordinator Tomlin said, “I thought we did some good things early. I thought we waned down the stretch.”
Translation: “Teams were not ready early in the season for what we could do offensively but through injuries and ‘stale as month-old bread’ play-calling we suffered.”
In regards to whether the team is ‘rebuilding’ Tomlin said, “I acknowledge we got a ways to go,” We lost close games because we weren’t good enough. Good teams win close games. Teams that are not lose those games. We were an 8-8 team. I’m not going to hide from that.”
Translation: “I will not use the term ‘rebuilding.’ We lost close games because players didn’t make plays and in fact made poor ones. From Ben Roethlisberger to Antonio Brown to LaMarr Woodley. We also saw poor coaching as well from myself on down.”
Regarding the potential for zone blocking by the offensive line Tomlin said, “We’ll lean on the strength of our guys. It’s something we’re going to explore. But we’re not going to move too far from what the guys are capable of doing.”
Translation: “We are hoping like hell that these guys can stay healthy enough to at least play a few games together which would be something new for this team compared to recent years.”
Regarding the relationship of Haley and Roethlisberger, Tomlin said, “I think it’s going to be a healthy one and one that grows. Both guys are geared toward winning and are unselfish from that standpoint.”
Translation: “If we can find someone other than Antonio to throw to and we win games, they’ll get along just dandy.”
Tomlin would go on to make other comments but none that are really worth discussing. Trying to figure out Tomlin sometimes is as easy as a Little Orphan Annie Decoder Ring and other times as difficult as calculating the exact time the sun will burn out.
The most important thing Tomlin is saying is that he knows this team has to do better regardless of the personnel that is on the field. Special teams’ lapses cannot be allowed any more than penalties and missed assignments can. Perhaps most importantly, Tomlin recognizes this team needs guys who can make plays that change games.
There is no translation needed for that.
Marc Uhlmann writes for and co-owns www.steelcityblitz.com. Follow him on Twitter @steeldad and follow the website at @SCBlitz. He can be heard Mondays on Trib-Live Radio at 4pm ET talking Steelers.