Good Tomlin; bad Tomlin

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Fans have been clamoring for Mike Tomlin to dish out some discipline to a Steelers team they believe to be too lacking in that critical trait. The coach did just that late in the game against New England Sunday and is to be commended for his stance.

When Antonio Brown ran a wrong route that resulted in an interception, which basically ended any chance of the Steelers winning, Tomlin used it as a teachable moment. He benched Brown, the team's best receiver and playmaker, for the remainder of the game -- two possessions.

Discipline, unfortunately, does not come in front of winning in the NFL or, for that matter, on most levels of athletic competition. That doesn’t mean it can be forgotten. This was a near-perfect opportunity for Tomlin to show his team that details and discipline matter. He benched No. 1 draft choice Jarvis Jones over details and now he was doing the same to one of his best players.

Those are strong messages. He’s not picking on the punter or a special teams scrub, but two important pieces of the franchise. This doesn’t make Tomlin a great coach or erase the team’s 2-6 record. But it was absolutely the right thing to do.

* * *

Tomlin’s decision to play Ben Roethlisberger late in the fourth quarter against New England was harebrained, to say the least, but no less so than his explanation of that tactic.

Background: Roethlisberger played two possession in the final 5 minutes, 15 seconds with the Steelers trailing first by 17 points and then by 24 and thoroughly beaten. He dropped back to pass 12 times on those possession, which meant his season could have been ended on any one of a dozen plays.

This is Tomlin’s explanation as to why he stayed with Roethlisberger instead of going with backup Bruce Gradkowski: "Because we have to get better and those are snap opportunities to get better. We aren't turning it down. We aren't running away from anything. We had the opportunity to work in get better so we did that. The guys that were healthy we're going to stay on the grass and finish the game."

That is nonsense. What ever level of improvement Roethlisberger might have gained in that playing time was more than negated by the possibility of injury. Has Tomlin actually forgotten the Steelers season unraveled when Roethlisberger was hurt last year?

If anyone could have benefited from the playing time, it was Gradkowski, who hasn’t taken a snap against competition since the exhibition season.

The fact Roethlisberger didn’t want to come out of the game is all the more reason why he should have. It would have given Tomlin a chance to assert some public authority.

* * *

The definition of spoiled Steelers fan reached a new level yesterday in this question on Ed Bouchette’s chat:

Concerning the tenure of Art Rooney as president of the Steelers, a reader asked: "Is Art’s failure the reason Dan came back from Ireland?"

Did he say "failure?" Failure? How fast they forget. Under the team presidency of Art Rooney, now in its 11th season, the Steelers have won two Super Bowls and three AFC championships. That is not failure; that is the definition of success. Good grief!

* * *

Props to Tomlin for standing tall when asked about his role in the recently lackluster Steelers drafts: “I take responsibility for the players we've drafted.”

* * *

In their long run of success this century, the Steelers defense lived by the mantra of 'stop the run.’ Which it did with spectacular success. That proud heritage has literally been trampled by opposing running backs this season.

With the season only half over, the Steelers have allowed more rushing touchdown -- 12 -- than in any full season since 2003, when they were 6-10 and allowed 14.

From 2006-11, the Steelers were first twice, second twice and fourth twice in fewest rushing touchdowns allowed. This season they are 31st.

* * *

Tomlin’s support for defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau was admirable but meaningless.

The thought that LeBeau should retire in probably rattling around a lot of heads in the Steelers offices, including LeBeau’s.

If the Steelers season continues on its current track, it’s almost certain multiple members of Tomlin’s staff will be looking for jobs.


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