You saw the same thing I did on Monday night in Washington. You saw Steelers’ Head Coach Mike Tomlin go ‘balls to the wall’ on a fourth and one and it paid off in the form of an Antonio Brown touchdown. You saw him do it in other short yardage situations as well but as is the case with many aspects of football or life for that matter, there is a down-side.
There is going to come a time when Tomlin stays aggressive and tells Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley to ‘think big’ on yet another forth and short. But what happens when the pass is incomplete or intercepted?
I’ll tell ya what happens… Every armchair quarterback in the world will immediately say “Why’d you do that?!?!?!?” The dilemma takes on more emphasis when you go back to that same Ben Roethlisberger to Antonio Brown touchdown. On the play, two Steelers’ receivers were WIDE open underneath and would have easily had first downs. This is where the second-guessing begins but I don’t think it should.
I’m on board the ‘go for it’ train with Mike Tomlin this year and I have no problem supporting him even if the play doesn’t work. Players want to play for guys who trust them and that’s what those calls screamed on Monday night. Where Tomlin and company will have to be careful is not just when a specific play doesn’t work but also when there were options available that would have made its’ success a much higher probability. Such as the play I referenced.
Last year, Big Ben took a lot of shots deep on third and short and many went incomplete. Those can often be tough blows to the team especially if they come in three and out situations or right after the defense has been on the field a lengthy amount of time. So sure, there’s an argument to be about “time and place” when it comes to gambling but I still like the approach.
This leads back to what Tomlin’s decisions have created. Opposing coaches have to now plan for the Steelers to be ready to go for big plays on third and fourth and short and that requires time in practice which means something else gets left out. The aggressive approach forces opposing defenders to think twice as well before committing in these situations.
For one week, the gambles and aggressiveness from Mike Tomlin paid off. We must understand that there may come a time when they don’t and all I’m saying is don’t be that guy. Don’t be the guy who loves the call when works and hates it when it doesn’t. You either like the forward thinking by Tomlin or you don’t.
You saw what I saw this past Monday. Just keep it in mind over the next 16 weeks.