Love him or hate him, Pittsburgh Steelers’ Head Coach Mike Tomlin will give credit to the players when the team wins and will take the blame when the team loses. After the week one 16-9 opening day loss to Tennessee, Tomlin finds himself facing more issues and questions than perhaps any other head coach in the NFL.
Coaches, whether they win or lose, will always have questions to face especially about injuries, game situations and personnel. This week will be a tidal wave for Tomlin. Here is just a sample of the problems Tomlin faces this week.
1. Who plays center next week? And for the rest of the season for that matter? The Steelers will more than likely place Maurkice Pouncey on IR and will start tinkering with the practice squad. Do they go with newly acquired Cody Wallace or go back out and get John Malecki who knows the offense?
2. How do you feel about cutting Jonathan Dwyer now? Tomlin is a good solider and won’t sell out any of his superiors but we know the coaches were not in favor of cutting Dwyer. Now on the heels of Isaac Redman’s pathetic performance and the injury to LaRod Stephens-Howling, the dismissal of Dwyer looks down-right ridiculous. And how does Felix Jones not even touch the ball? Wasn’t he supposed to be the man to replace Dwyer?
3. How do you keep Ben Roethlisberger alive let alone healthy? – Roethlisberger was sacked five times against the Titans, was hit several other times and was under pressure all day. The loss of Pouncey hurt, but I don’t know how much it would have really mattered. Many fans are screaming for Max Starks to return but he isn’t the answer. Starks was cut by the Chargers after having a brutal preseason where he gave up three sacks in just one game.
4. Who replaces Larry Foote? Talk about going from one extreme to the other…. Foote is lost for the season with a ruptured bicep that will require surgery. Kion Wilson replaced him and rookie Vince Williams was inactive. I have to believe Terence Garvin is activated from the practice squad as well. The difference in leadership and knowledge between Foote and his replacement will be striking.
5. How do you address Todd Haley? It becomes more and more clear that something just isn’t right with this offense regardless of what anyone says. This offense was less than two minutes away from being shutout by one of the worst defenses of 2012. Players must execute, we know and understand this but the Redman fumble on the Steelers opening possession was due in part to not having the right personnel on the field and that falls on Haley.
Those are just five questions that could be aimed at Tomlin. Here are a few more…
How soon is Heath coming back? Only one target and one catch for Steelers’ tight ends.
Why the timeout with 2:02 left? Saving it would have at least forced Tennessee to run a play after the unsuccessful onside kick attempt.
Are you concerned with Emmanuel Sanders’ sudden case of butterfingers?
Where are the screen passes that the team ran so many of during the preseason?
You get the point don’t you? Tomlin won’t sleep well this week and I probably won’t either. Too many issues to deal with for just one week.
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.