10 players mentioned by Mike Tomlin in Tuesday’s press conference
The 2023 regular season is underway. The Steelers laid a complete egg on the road in Week 4 and took a significant step back in their progress for the season. As is typically the case, head coach Mike Tomlin took to the podium on Tuesday to address in the media for Tomlin Tuesday. With plenty of questions asked by those in attendance, it is once again time for a players mentioned article. Remember these are players where a specific question was asked during the Q&A period.
With so many players, I’ll stick to just the questions.
Kenny Pickett & Mitch Trubisky
Coach Tomlin was asked how he will handle the breakdown of reps at practice between Kenny Pickett and Mitch Trubisky.
“We’ll have a brief meeting tomorrow in the morning at some point before we get on the field to kind of just see where our baseline is and kind of proceed from there. But I’ll ask him not to be selfish. I want to get an exposure to where he is without robbing the other guys potentially of preparation. And then as we get into it, his functionality, the quality of his play, how he feels will be a determining factor, not only tomorrow, but how we proceed throughout the week. The remainder of the week.”
In a later question, Coach Tomlin was asked what he wants to see better from Kenny Pickett.
“You know, I want to see him make fluid decisions, particularly at the early stages in games. You know, I think as plays get extended particularly early in games, it increases the potential for offensive negativity and defensive positivity. And so, I think a component of us getting off to more fluid starts. There’s more fluid decision making and things happening more on rhythm. And so, I think that’ll be a focus for him and for us, because it’s not just him. We got to be assignment perfect. If we want the ball to come out on time, then guys got to be where they need to be. They got to win individual one on one matchups and do so quickly. We got to protect him. As I mentioned, he got hit on the fifth play of the game last year and that altered his day in a significant way and that was a rhythm pass. But you can’t cut people free in the A gap. And so, it’s not only him, it’s us. More fluidity in our starts, more rhythm particularly to our rhythm structures, play extensions aren’t necessarily good, particularly at the early stages in games.”
Later on, Coach Tomlin was asked if Kenny Pickett can’t go on Sunday if it will be Mitch Trubisky starting.
Coach Tomlin was asked about a comment Mitch Trubisky made following the game that the offense needs to play with more heart.
“No, he probably referred to it as heart but it’s probably about playing hard, which is what I talked to the team about before we opened the locker room to the press. And so, it was probably an interpretation of that discussion. They played harder than us. We got to tip our cap to them for that. But we got to rectify that and the quickest way to rectify that is to acknowledge it sooner rather than later. I didn’t waste any time in doing so. I talked to the team about it immediately after the game. I talked to you immediately about it after the game. I talked to the team yesterday about it in our tape review. And all was done in an effort to change that narrative. That can’t be a component of how games unfold, regardless of whether we win or lose or win close games or not in close games. The physicality component of it needs to be non-negotiable. That’s just how we function. That’s Pittsburgh Steelers football.”
Later, Coach Tomlin was asked about the fluid decision-making he wants to see from Kenny Pickett and how much of that is his pocket management and avoiding some of the pressure.
“You know, sometimes the pressure is born out of not making fluid decisions. And so, that’s just a component of it. It’s not only a challenge that he has, it is a challenge, as I mentioned that we have. There’s a bunch of variables in terms of our offense, operating particularly from a possession down perspective and drop back passing circumstances with fluidity.”
Coach Tomlin was asked how he juggles things with practice on a short week and in his response about practicing in pads, he mentioned how it will be tough for James Daniels to participate.
“Just as I mentioned, man, you make decisions, and you don’t look back, but you are also willing to evaluate and learn throughout the process. And so, you know, we talked openly in the last couple of weeks about the risk of practicing in the manner in which we were practicing. But you know, as we saw it that was the best course of action to take, not only because of the short week component of it but because of the limited number of players available to us. And we wanted to have an inclusive mentality so that we could have more people involved in the in-helmet perspective on preparation. And when you practice in helmets, when people are limited, you’re more inclusive. When you practice in full pads and people are limited, you’re essentially excluding them. And all I’m saying is based on the result of us not being as physical as we’d like to be. I’m probably going to be more exclusive than inclusive this week in our practice. And so, those that are limited, a guy like James Daniels, this would be a tougher train to get on this week maybe than in recent weeks because we were only practicing in helmets for an example.”
Dan Moore Jr., Pat Freiermuth, & Broderick Jones
Coach Tomlin was asked specifically about the 4th & 1 call if it was a bad play call or bad execution and in his response he mentioned the availability of several players which factored into the decision.
“You know, there’s a lot of variables at played. The bottom line is it wasn’t a good call because it wasn’t productive. But to be completely transparent with you, we lost a lot of short yardage personality because of Dan Moore and Pat Freiermuth. We lost all our big packages. Broderick Jones was already on the field. And so, we probably had to get out of our intended box if you will in that circumstance because of lack of player availability at that point in the game. But such as life man, this is the National Football League. There’s not 100 guys standing on the sideline. There’s an attrition component to play and it’s borne out, and matchups is borne out in decision making. And that’s one instance where we were in less than ideal circumstances because of lack of player availability.”
In a later question, Coach Tomlin was asked to assess the development through the first few weeks of the season of Broderick Jones as he prepares for his first start.
“I think he’s been practicing really well. I feel really good about what he’s done to tee up his performance from a practice perspective, the amount of urgency that he has, the quality of his play. He’s gotten his feet wet now. I thought the quality of his play improved over the course of the game. Oftentimes when you get inserted into a game like that, you got to get on a moving train, and you feel some of that. That was evident. I think he gave up a pressure on his first snap, but I thought he got better throughout. And I think it’s reasonable to expect him to be really solid with a week’s prep.”
Coach Tomlin was asked if he considered kicking a field goal when the Steelers went for it on 4th & 1.
“It really was but that was my initial thought. But at some point, you got to draw a line in the dirt. We had momentum and rhythm. We had converted to field goals. I wanted to win that circumstance and keep the pressure on. And obviously, when the play wasn’t successful, it negated whatever rhythm that we had established, and it really was a significant play in terms of the trajectory of the game. Obviously, had I known that the play was going to be unsuccessful, I would’ve sent Bos (Chris Boswell) out there, but I don’t get do overs.”
Joey Porter Jr. & Patrick Peterson
Coach Tomlin was asked if Joey Porter Jr. has earned more reps and if he hasn’t how close he is to being a bigger factor in the defense. In his response, Coach Tomlin explains how Porter gets more practice reps on Wednesday when Patrick Peterson has the day off.
“Very much like Broderick Jones. I think the trajectory of his practice has been really good, and I think his play reflects that. I think he’s had an opportunity in recent weeks to really develop more components of his game. For example, we give Pat (Peterson) Wednesday’s off, he’s a veteran corner, which serves him from a physical standpoint. He doesn’t require as many physical reps in an effort to be ready to play. But more importantly than that, it provides physical reps for a guy like Joey in all circumstances. He’s been playing in one-dimensional passing circumstances, two-minute, third downs, things of that nature. Wednesday’s are big days for him when we rest Pat and he gets an opportunity to work first and second down football and work the totality or the base if you will of the installation. And he’s been doing a really good job of that in recent weeks. And so, we’re getting really comfortable with some of the things that we’re seeing from him across all circumstances. And so, he’s positioned himself to be more of a factor moving forward for sure.”
Coach Tomlin was asked about the progress of Keanu Benton compared to that of the other rookies since he has received the most experience so far this season.
“He’s doing really well, but again like in a lot of circumstances oftentimes a rookie’s opportunities are not born out of what it is they do, more about what’s going on around him. With Cam Heyward being out since week one that’s provided more of a platform for him than others and I think he’s done a really good job with it. He’s getting better with each outing, and I think it’s reasonable to expect that to continue.”
Mike Tomlin’s complete press conference can be seen here:
Coach Tomlin addresses the media ahead of our Week 5 game against the Ravens. @PNCBank
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) October 3, 2023