Hearing from Coach Tomlin
4-4-2011

On rules changes, hiring Carnell Lake

Throughout the 2011 NFL season, Coach Mike Tomlin will provide his insight and observations to Steelers.com on a variety of topics pertaining to the team and the National Football League.

Q. At the NFL meetings in late March, there were two rules changes: one involving the automatic review of every scoring play, and the other being one that moves kickoffs back to the 35-yard line. What are your thoughts about those changes?

A. In regards to the replays, it’s obvious. Game-deciding plays are something you want to get right, and I think that’s the emphasis of that rule, so I have an understanding there. With the kickoff, that falls in line with the commissioner’s initiative. He’s been pretty clear that he’s interested in player safety, and that’s as dangerous a play as there is in football – probably since the beginning of time and probably will continue to be. So they were just trying to reduce the total number of those plays that occur. If you move the ball up 5 yards, there’s a chance you’ll do that.

Q. There were some other player safety initiatives discussed at those meetings, but those were tabled. What does that mean?

A. I think the initiative is clear. I think the application of the initiative in some instances was unclear, and I think that’s why those proposals were tabled. I think we need more clarity in terms of what we’re trying to get done with some of those rules changes, and until we get that clarity there’s no need to institute a new rule.

Q. What do you mean when you say “the application?”

A. We understand we want to increase emphasis on player safety, but we’re trying to find the best way to go about getting it done. Some of the rules proposals may or may not have gotten that done, or may or may not have a clear understanding of what’s trying to get done in regards to some of those things.

Q. What were you looking for in a defensive backs coach to replace Ray Horton, and why did you choose Carnell Lake?

A. Personally, I was looking for somebody with some upside, and usually that means somebody without an extensive coaching resume. Of course, I have secondary coaching experience, and Dick LeBeau has secondary coaching experience. I thought it was an excellent opportunity for someone to grow. Carnell Lake’s playing experience just accentuates it. His reputation and resume from a playing standpoint add value, but we like this guy. He has exposure to this system from a playing standpoint as a cornerback and a safety, he has coaching experience, he’s a rock-solid person, he’s got great football character and a great outlook with regard to football. Just all of the things you look for in a football man, I think he possesses.

Q. You mentioned Lake’s playing experience. Is there anything to the belief that good players don’t necessarily make good coaches?

A. When I was talking about his playing experience, I was really referring more to his versatility, how he saw the game, and the fact he was capable of seeing the game from multiple positions. I think that lends itself to coaching. I wasn’t necessarily talking about the type of player he was, even though we know he was a great player. The fact that he saw the game, and was capable of seeing the game, from multiple positions, is probably the most important aspect of his playing career as it relates to coaching.

Q. The fact you have experience coaching the secondary, do you find yourself having to resist being hands-on with that area of the team?

A. It really depends on circumstance. Of course my head coaching duties would trump any desires to be a secondary coach. I get my fill, and I inject myself when I get the opportunity.

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