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Thread: Tomlin fumbles his own ball

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    Default Tomlin fumbles his own ball

    By Dejan Kovacevic

    Published: Monday, November 26, 2012
    Updated 10 hours ago

    CLEVELAND — The amazing part wasn’t the eight turnovers, and maybe that’s the most amazing part in and of itself.

    It wasn’t that these desperate, defensively stout Steelers slinked off the field as 20-14 losers at Cleveland Browns Stadium, even though the home team was exactly as awful as advertised.

    It wasn’t that Drew Butler punted six times for 275 yards to essentially outgain Charlie Batch’s offense, which amassed 248 when it wasn’t booting the ball away.

    And, no, it wasn’t even that this allegedly deep, dynamic collection of running backs — Rashard Mendenhall, Jonathan Dwyer, Isaac Redman and Chris Rainey — spit out the ball six times, losing four of them for half of those eight turnovers.

    Mike Tomlin called it “ugly,” but I’d prefer to hear from the contrite culprits themselves. Not to name-drop, but these gentlemen seem capable of coughing up explanations even if they had to fumble for words as they tried to come to grips … OK, sorry, I’ll stop now.

    Mendenhall: “Embarrassing. Frustrating.”

    Dwyer: “Unbelievable.”

    Redman: “Unacceptable.”

    Rainey: “Can’t do it. Can’t have it.”

    Suffice to say, it was inexcusable in the setting, indefensible given all four players’ talent, inexplicable given their history of not being turnover-prone.

    When Rainey said, “This is really all our fault,” he came close to the truth.

    Close, but not all the way.

    No, the truly amazing part to me, the question that lingered well after the Browns were done counting up souvenirs, was this: What exactly was Tomlin hoping to achieve by benching his top three running backs?

    Part of it I understand. And for those unfamiliar with the fine print of the coach’s doghouse lease, it goes a little like this:

    1. Fumble.

    2. Sit.

    No discussion, no debate. When Dwyer fumbled in Week 3, he didn’t carry another ball in anger until Week 6.

    But this was wholly different. Or at least it should have been.

    Sure, the Steelers’ offense fell apart in every way, especially the fumbles. Redman recalled how “we’d just finish telling one guy to keep his head up, and the next guy would go out there and fumble, too.”

    It was bizarre.

    But Tomlin’s reaction was no less bizarre: When Mendenhall fumbled, he was benched for Dwyer. When Dwyer fumbled, he was benched for Redman. When Redman fumbled, Rainey was summoned off kick-return duty.

    “Man,” Rainey said with a shake of the head, “I didn’t even think I was going to play .”


    The 5-foot-8, 178-pound scatback was the goal-line back for the Steelers’ 1-yard TD run near the end of the first half that brought a 14-13 lead. He even was sent, Bus-style, right between the tackles!

    Had Rainey not pinballed outside and scored, Tomlin and offensive coordinator Todd Haley would have looked ridiculous.

    Tomlin’s explanation for benching the backs was succinct and predictable: “They were fumbling the ball. So we are going to play people who can secure the football. But after everybody does it, obviously, there aren’t many choices left.”

    OK, so why then did Tomlin come back with Rainey to open the second half?

    Rainey didn’t lose a fumble in the first half, but he let one slip out of bounds.

    Is that the new standard?

    The Steelers lugged that one-point lead into the third quarter, and they surely didn’t need much more to bury this opponent. But their first two offensive drives moved the ball a total of 4 yards, and the Browns had life. That doesn’t all fall on Rainey, of course, especially since Batch killed one of those drives with an interception. But Tomlin would have done far better to go with one of his best. Or one of his three best.

    This, I dare say, smacked of coaching to be the coach rather than coaching to win.

    It’s not unreasonable to think one of Mendenhall, Dwyer or Redman could have broken a big one. Or that Mendenhall might have gotten going with more than four carries, Dwyer more than nine, Redman more than two. Or that going to the run had a better chance of success than anything involving the sadly struggling Batch.

    Standing by one guy, showing a little faith, might even have cut short the cycle of fumbling.

    As Mendenhall put it when asked that hypothetical, “Yeah, when you see it keep happening, you start to kind of shadow-box yourself out there.”

    As fate and fickle fingers would have it, Mendenhall fumbled again shortly after his return late in the third quarter.

    Like I said, plenty of blame to go around.

    Bottom line: The Steelers face what nose tackle Casey Hampton correctly called “a steep climb” at 6-5, three games behind Baltimore in the AFC North with the Ravens next, with no real feel for when Ben Roethlisberger might return and still no clue about their No. 1 running back hierarchy.

    It’s well past time to pick one and see if the choice — or the football — sticks.

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    Ok, let's have a thread devoted exclusively to Tomlin and the coaching.

    My personal feeling is that he's a highschool coach. Why? Because his antics are better suited for HS kids.

    Fumble the ball and get benched. Oh wait!! Commit a holding penalty that negates a 1st Down? Drop a ball that is thrown right to you? Run the wrong route? Throw a ball into an impossible double coverage and get it picked off? Miss a tackle? Don't worry. Pat on the butt. We'll get next time.

    Tomlin's act now bores me to death. Yea, he's won 2 SB. Those were almost entirely with players he inherited. On the other hand, I see the Steelers headed in the wrong direction under him.
    1. He's a terrible game-day coach.
    2. Beginning to question his talent evaluation. Keeps players way too long. (Maybe that's not ALL on him)
    3. Players like him. Who cares? Performance ON THE FIELD is all that matters.
    4. I really wonder about his motivational skills at all. The offense looked horrible yesterday. Almost like they were led to believe they weren't any good.

    I could probably sit and think of more, but I'm too busy and tired. Let you guys put in your 2 cents.


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    Default Re: Tomlin fumbles his own ball

    My personal feeling is that he's a highschool coach. Why? Because his antics are better suited for HS kids.

    Fumble the ball and get benched.
    Belichick did the same thing this year multiple times with Ridley.

    I don't disagree that it's somewhat foolish to do that, but that doesn't mean it's a "high school antic" move to do and isn't done by other successful coaches.

    I'll move my take from another thread to this one as it's more topical:

    I'm sorry, but I cannot pin fumbles and int's on the coaching staff. That's all on the players messing up, not the coaches. I mean it's not like the coaches aren't telling the guys to take better care of the ball or anything.

    Now we can pin some personnel issues (the treatment of the rb's and the bad personnel decisions of the backup qb situation as two glaring examples) moreso on the staff. We can also partially pin the team always losing to bad teams on the staff (a lot of that goes onto the players for their effort too), but not turnovers.

    Tomlin looks bad right now, but let's be honest, what coach in the NFL does well when down to their 3rd string QB and has as many injuries as we have?

    Call them excuses if you want, but they're legit reasons for our poor play.

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    Default Tomlin fumbles his own ball

    The fumbles are inexcusable. That many anyway but I'm not so quick to off with the coaches head. I honestly didn't think they had the roster this year to go deep into the playoffs and with the injuries they have had it looks impossible to me. I understand where the buck stops but sometimes it is about the players. I think this year has been coming for some time. It's a transition year. Not even as bad as a rebuilding year but this team ain't doing **** this year.

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    Default Re: Tomlin fumbles his own ball

    For what its worth I remember the 1st fumble I think by mendy was mostly caused by a inadequate block by the blocking fullback who was right in front of him and whiffed on the block.

    On the INT burress ran a lazy route.

    Lets face it we've had a ton of injuries. We also have a speedy WR (MW) who can't catch the ball and IMO should not be resigned because he causes too many problems and misses too many passes.

    We really miss Brown and Ben thats basically the main point they both have talent. They both have big time talent.

    However Ben needs to learn to get rid of the ball before being hit..He killed us last year when he was stubborn and did not get rid of the ball in browns game @ the burgh and got hurt and same thing happened this year against the chiefs. Do you ever see Breez, Manning or Brady waiting that long to throw a ball -- nope.

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