Tag:Mike Tomlin
Posted on: January 15, 2011 5:43 pm
Edited on: January 15, 2011 7:52 pm
 

Steelers dearth of challenges could alter outcome

Posted by Will Brinson

Everyone knows the rules -- you get two challenges per game in the NFL, unless you win both of those, in which case you're awarded a third timeout. Mike Tomlin lost his second challenge of the first quarter during the Baltimore-Pittsburgh AFC divisional game. On the play in question (below), Ben Roethlisberger was mauled by Terrell Suggs and appeared to throw an incomplete pass, but never got a whistle from the refs, and therefore fumbled. Cory Redding scooped up the ball and scored.



Tomlin's first challenge was, oddly enough, on the first play of the game. He won that one (and got a whole 15 yards on a Baltimore return taken off!) but now the Steelers can't challenge a play for the remainder of the game.

This is highly significant, because given the way that Jeff Triplette's crew has called the game thus far, there's a reasonable chance that a red flag or two could be handy in the second half.

Although Tomlin's challenges aren't necessarily terrible -- the first one was an unfortunate early missed call and the second one, as you can see above, changed the entire nature of the game. Tomlin had no real choice but to challenge given the odd nature of the play.

Tomlin was clearly correct on his viewpoint of the first challenge, but there's a pretty good chance that those 15 yards won't be worth whatever (admittedly hypothetical) call goes against. Which is why you always want to try and save your challenges for as long as you can.

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Posted on: December 9, 2010 12:43 am
 

Top Ten With a Twist: Non-Brady MVP votes

M. Ryan would be the top MVP candidate in the league right now if it wasn't for a guy named T. Brady (US Presswire). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

This week, seemingly everybody is proclaiming Patriots QB Tom Brady as the player who should be named MVP – including his former teammate, Troy Brown, who I talked to for this week’s Five Questions (or more) segment. After watching Brady dissect the Jets on Monday, that’s hard to argue.

But we’ve still got four weeks of regular-season NFL football, so Brady can’t be named the Most Valuable Players quite yet (I think that’s actually in the rules). That said, there are a number of players who have done quite a bit to help their respective teams this season that also must be in the conversation for MVP. What happens, after all, if Brady throws 10 interceptions in the final four games and the Patriots go 0-4 in that stretch?

Thus, this Top Ten With a Twist pays homage to those who are having hellaciously good years for teams good and bad and could creep into a voter’s conscience (assuming he/she doesn’t simply write Brady’s name in every possible space on the ballot). I’m not saying most of these guys should win; I’m just saying they should be considered.

10. Julius Peppers, DE, Bears: In his first season in Chicago, the defense, ranked as the third-best in the NFL, is a huge reason why the Bears are 9-3, lead the NFC North and own the second-best record in the conference (tied with the Saints). He’s recorded seven sacks and a very strong six passes defended and he’s forced three fumbles. You could also make a case for Brian Urlacher in this spot.

9. Drew Brees, QB, Saints: So many other quarterbacks have made big headlines this season – some for good reasons (we’ll get into those candidates later) and some for bad reasons (ahem, Brett Favre) – and it seems like Brees has been slightly ignored. That’s also because he isn’t the top quarterback in his division at this point and because the Saints are in danger of not winning the NFC South (more on the Falcons below). But the fact is that Brees is statistically the most-accurate quarterback in the league, and the Saints are 9-3 with a chance to return to the Super Bowl. That’s not too shabby.

8. Clay Matthews, LB, Packers: Remember how amazingly fast Matthews started the season, recording six sacks in the first two games? Well, he’s slowed considerably since then, and even Miami’s Cameron Wake has surpassed him for the league lead (Wake has 12 sack to Matthews’ 11.5). Matthews only has one sack in the past three games, but he’s still got a good shot at defensive player of the year (along with Julius Peppers, Steelers LB James Harrison, Eagles DE Trent Cole and Bills NT Kyle Williams), and he’s still having one heck of a year. 

7. Jamaal Charles, RB, Chiefs: Coming off a sophomore season in which he averaged 5.9 yards per rush and finished 2009 with 1,120 yards and seven TDs, Kansas City rewarded him by going out and getting (gulp!) a legitimate RB in Thomas Jones. In his first two games of the season, Charles averaged 11 carries and 70.5 yards per contest, leaving some of us to wonder what was going on in Kansas City. But Charles has been awesome for the resurgent 8-4 Chiefs, averaging a ridiculous 6.2 yards per carry while gaining 1,137 yards.

6. James Harrison, LB, Steelers: You’d be forgiven if, the other day when Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin was defending Harrison in another laborious discussion about fines, you would have scoffed when Tomlin said Harrison was having an MVP-type season. But look at the plays he’s made and the numbers he’s produced. Harrison is third among linebackers with 10 sacks, he’s defended six passes and produced two interceptions, and he’s forced six fumbles, best among LBs. And he does it for a top-five defense which could help the Steelers to a deep postseason run. He's the MVP of NFL fines, but he might be the MVP overall as well.

5. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers: You’ve got Matthews on defense, and now you’ve got Rodgers as the catalyst for an offense ranked in the top-10, despite a dreadful running game. Rodgers has been so impressive (a 65.4 completion percentage, 3,243 yards, 23 TDs and nine INTs) without the benefit of Ryan Grant and having to play with very little support in Brandon Jackson and John Kuhn (they rank 30th and 50th in rushing in the league, respectively). His MVP candidacy obviously will ride on whether he can get Green Bay into the playoffs.

4. Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers: A week ago, I might have picked Rivers a little bit higher, but he’s coming off a bad, bad home loss to the Raiders that dropped San Diego two games behind the Chiefs in the AFC West. Not that Rivers played poorly, because he wasn’t bad. But it’s tough to get excited about a QB leading a 6-6 squad who very well could miss the playoffs, even if he is the guy who’s led his team to all six of those wins.

M. Jones-Drew has made himself a strong MVP candidate in the past five weeks (US Presswire). 3. Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jaguars: What would you say if I told you that Jones-Drew has rushed for at least 100 yards in his past five games and helped Jacksonville win four of its past five to take over first place in the AFC South? Would you say that man would be an MVP candidate? I would.

2. Michael Vick, QB, Eagles: Yes, he’s missed three games because of injury, but other than that, Vick is, bar none, one of the best quarterbacks in the league and he’s having a career season in a year in which he wasn’t supposed to be the starter (you might have forgotten about a guy named Kevin Kolb). He could, throughout his career, always change the game’s dynamic with his running ability (and he’s got 467 rushing yards, a 6.3 average and six scores this season), but he’s showcased his arm this year as well (63.8 completion percentage, 2,243 yards, 15 TDs, two INTs). He is absolutely a complete quarterback and absolutely an MVP candidate.

1. Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons: The “Matty Ice” moniker has already worn thin – unlike the “Pocket Hercules” nickname for Jones-Drew – but there’s no question that it’s reflective of his playing ability. Even when he doesn’t play altogether well – an example would be last week in Tampa Bay – he still somehow finds a way to lead Atlanta to a win. At this point, the Falcons are the best team in the NFC, and Ryan is the biggest reason for that. If Brady falls off in the last month of the year, my vote at this point would go to Ryan.

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Posted on: November 28, 2010 7:47 pm
Edited on: November 28, 2010 8:09 pm
 

Harrison says he did nothing wrong

R. Fitzpatrick took a shot here from Pittsburgh's J. Harrison that could land Harrison another fine (US Presswire). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Today’s installment of James-Harrison-is-flagged-for-unnec
essary-roughness, the Steelers LB got the flag for smacking Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick in the chin with the crown of his helmet.

For a guy who’s been fined $100,000 this year for infractions such as this, he really doesn’t seem to care about the rules that govern NFL football. Either that, or he doesn’t care about saving his money.

After the game, Harrison said he did nothing wrong.

"It's the same exact thing if you go back and look at the play from last week," he told reporters after the game. "I got the same flag (last week), but I didn't get a fine."

For his part, Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin wasn’t interested in discussing the topic.

“I don’t even want to talk about it,” he said.

Chances are, if Harrison hears from this league this week, he’ll be champing at the bit to discuss his feelings. And perhaps he’ll start thinking about retiring again.



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Posted on: November 2, 2010 1:18 am
 

Can Childress survive this?

Brad Childress released R. Moss, but apparently didn't clear it with ownership (US Presswire).

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Brad Childress hasn’t been popular in the Vikings locker room for quite some time now.

Some in the organization believe Minnesota went to the NFC championship game last year in spite of Childress, not because of him. He came off looking awfully weak during the preseason when he traveled to Mississippi multiple times in an attempt to sweet-talk Brett Favre into returning for one more season. He’s made other people in the organization deal with his dirty work when talking to the media, and he’s made two of his top players (Favre and Randy Moss) look bad in recent press conferences.

There’s a faction of the locker room that wants to see Tarvaris Jackson as the starting quarterback. They can’t like the fact Childress starts Favre. There’s another faction of the locker room that is in Favre’s corner. They can’t like the fact that Childress basically called out his quarterback in his postgame news conference following the Packers loss last week (and oh yeah, Brad, Favre was playing on a fractured ankle. No matter what you think of Favre, the dude plays hurt. And you look small for bashing him.).

As a result, many of the Vikings don’t like playing for him, and worse yet, they don’t respect him as a coach. You can be a hardass if you’re Bill Belichick, and yeah, maybe some players despise playing for guys like that. But there’s no question Belichick has the respect of the locker room. Childress simply doesn’t.

That leads us to Childress’ performance today when he released Moss. A performance that could lead to Childress’ eventual firing.

After talking to people close to the Vikings organization, here’s what we know.

Stunningly, Childress, who can shape the 53-man roster as he sees fit, apparently didn’t consult ownership about his plans to release Moss. It’s stunning because of owner Zygi Wilf’s love for Moss. The first time the Vikings got rid of Moss, it was because ownership grew tired of his act. Wilf, who took over the team a few months later, said he never would have seen Moss go if he was in charge.

Suffice to say, Wilf must have been extremely happy when Moss returned to Minnesota from New England. For Childress not to know that – or for him to willfully ignore that – is the height of arrogance or stupidity.

For now, it looks like Childress has won this power struggle (if there was a struggle in the first place), because for a few hours Monday evening, we weren’t sure if the ownership would veto the Moss waiver and, instead, fire Childress.

“If they really are all-in (for the Super Bowl), who gives the team a better chance to make the playoffs right now – Moss or Brad Childress?” Vikings Rapid Reporter Dana Wessel told me earlier tonight before the Vikings released a statement unofficially confirming that Moss had been waived. “It’s Randy Moss, no question.”

Knowing that, you have to know that if the Vikings don’t quickly turn around their season, Childress is a prime candidate to be let go.

The reasons: 1) Everything I wrote above.

2) When the trio of Jared Allen, Ryan Longwell and Steve Hutchinson flew to Mississippi basically to beg for Favre to return, Childress let offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and special teams coach Brian Murphy answer to the media for him. Basically, not knowing what to do, the coaches lied. Childress apologized later for putting his assistants in that awkward position. Today, after not telling the media about his plans during the presser, a stunned LB Ben Leber had to answer a media horde’s question after the Moss news broke. Childress did not talk to the media again, though he did release a one-paragraph statement.

In effect, others have to clean up his dirty work.

3) There’s a hot assistant coach waiting in the wings. His name is defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier. He very obviously wants a head coaching job, and one of these days, somebody is going to give him one. From what I understand, Wilf might not want to risk losing him like the team lost Mike Tomlin to the Steelers after the 2006 season. If you’re choosing between Childress and Frazier, who do you go with? You already know what you've got with Childress.

4) The Vikings are trying to get a new stadium built. Childress isn’t well-liked in the city, doesn’t really excite anybody. If he’s lost his locker room, he’s lost his city, and if he’s lost his city and his locker room, does Wilf have any other choice but to fire him?

A better question: can the future of the organization count on a coach like Childress? I say no.

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Posted on: October 26, 2010 2:45 pm
 

Aaron Smith undergoes surgery on triceps

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

It sounds like the Steelers won’t put DE Aaron Smith on the IR list as they hope he can recover from his torn triceps muscle and return in time for the end of the season.

Smith underwent surgery Monday after suffering his injury during Pittsburgh’s win against Miami on Sunday.

“It was partially torn and was fixed,” coach Mike Tomlin said today, via the team’s official website. “He is going to be out an extended period of time, and at this juncture, we intend to wait that out. Aaron is a quality player, a veteran leader for us. If there is hope for his return then of course we are going to be hopeful for as long as we possibly can. That is our mentality as we sit here today.”

Making matters worse for Pittsburgh is that DE Brett Keisel – who plays opposite Smith on the line – is battling a hamstring issue and likely will be limited in practice this week.

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Posted on: October 19, 2010 9:15 pm
Edited on: October 19, 2010 9:16 pm
 

Hot Routes 10.19.10 vi




Posted by Will Brinson

Got a link for the Hot Routes? Hit us up on Twitter (@CBSSportsNFL).
  • Vince Young thought his season was over when he left the field on Monday night. That's understandable, especially considering how close Young appeared to being seriously injured when he fumbled a snap, recovered the snap and then tried to get up and run with the ball even after his knee hit the ground. Instincts and athleticism and whatever aside, there's only one option at that point in time for any NFL quarterback: fall on the freaking ball and lay there, praying you don't get smushed.
  • Sean Payton was apparently running his mouth against the Buccaneers on Sunday. That seems karmically foolish for the same reasons as pointing and laughing at your seven-year-old cousin when you block his basketball shots is mean. Or something. 
  • This may come as a surprise, but Jacksonville Jaguars fans are about as happy with Jack Del Rio as anyone who played against Chris Johnson in fantasy this week.
Posted on: September 28, 2010 2:05 pm
Edited on: September 28, 2010 2:07 pm
 

Tomlin says Batch will start against Ravens

Posted by Will Brinson

Charlie Batch's improbable dream gig of starting for the Pittsburgh Steelers at the age of 35 will continue for at least one more game, as Mike Tomlin announced that "Chuck" will get the nod against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 4.

There was some speculation that Tomlin could give Byron Leftwich the starting nod, but Batch's "breakout" performance against Tampa Bay probably made up his mind for him.

"Guys got a great deal of confidence in him," Tomlin said. "He’s simply a man that’s taken advantage of an opportunity. You’ve got to be happy for him. It’s an awesome lesson learned for our young players, one that I hope they take heed to. It’s about perseverance. This profession’s about perseverance. It’s about taking advantage of opportunities when they’re given and he’s given them a shiny, clear-cut example of that."

Batch does define perseverance -- and luck, too. Were it not for Ben Roethlisberger's suspension followed by Byron Leftwich's injury, followed by Dennis Dixon's injury, well, he probably wouldn't be on the roster.

But a lot of times life is about being in the right place at the right time and then, most importantly, doing the right thing when you're there. As a starting NFL quarterback, "tossing touchdowns" and "keeping your team undefeated" absolutely qualify as just that.

Batch's time starting is likely done when Roethlisberger returns following the Steelers' bye, but with his performance thus far, he'll almost assuredly stick on the roster as the backup quarterback, provided the Steelers decide to put Dixon on IR.

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Posted on: September 28, 2010 9:59 am
Edited on: September 28, 2010 5:07 pm
 

Top Ten with a Twist: Biggest problems

Mike Singletary has led his San Francisco squad to an 0-3 start to the season (AP).
Posted by Josh Katzowitz

The first game, if your favorite team has a bad day at the office, you can forgive it. “Ah, it’s just one game,” you might say. “My men have plenty of time, and it was the first game of the season. Obviously, they haven’t worked out all the kinks.” You can still sleep at night.

The second game, if your team stinks up the joint again, you can forgive it. With reservations. “OK, it’s only two games. The season is still long. You can still make the playoffs if you start it out 0-2. They’re still figuring things out.” You still sleep at night, though probably not as soundly.

By the third game, though, if your team is still playing really, really poorly, you might have a tough time catching those Z's. By game three, problem teams – and problem players – are becoming more “the trend” and less “just a phase.” Your team might really suck, after all. Your favorite player might officially be over the hill.

You might officially have a problem.

10. Carson Palmer:
I’ve watched Palmer closely the past five or six years, and after the Jets beat Cincinnati in the playoffs last year, I wrote Palmer was no longer an elite quarterback (you can’t be elite, after all, if your stats fall somewhere between Jason Campbell and David Garrard). He’s continued his struggles this year, and though, the Bengals don’t need him quite as much if they have a healthy Cedric Benson, you can close the book on him as one of the best in the game.

9. Shawne Merriman’s Achilles/Andre Johnson’s ankle: Let’s combine two annoying injuries for players who would do well to stay on the field. Merriman, who missed much of the preseason because of a holdout/Achilles injury, played the last two weeks, but he had to leave Sunday’s contest because of a calf injury. Though he’s not the player he once was, he’s a better option for San Diego than Antwan Applewhite and Brandon Lang. And Johnson’s ankle is self-explanatory. If he’s not on the field – and he’s had to miss part of the past two games – the Texans offense isn’t nearly as potent.

8. David Garrard: I know, I hate putting two QBs on here in the first three picks, but, unlike Palmer, I’m not sure why Garrard is still playing with the first string. I mean, aside from Todd Bouman (hasn’t thrown a pass in five seasons) being his only backup. Coach Jack Del Rio was asked how much longer he could play Garrard, and Del Rio said as long as he was the team’s best option. Meaning he’s the team’s only option. Which is bad news.

7. Ben Roethlisberger’s return:
This isn’t about Roethlisberger necessarily and I assume coach Mike Tomlin will give him back his job when he returns from his four-game suspension, but the Steelers could be 4-0 playing a combination of Dennis Dixon and Charlie Batch. Roethlisberger obviously is a better QB than either of those two, but he’ll probably be rusty. What if he struggles against the Browns in his first game? What if Miami’s defense lights him up the week after that? Will Steelers fans be chanting Charlie Batch’s name (probably not, but you never know …)?

6. Brandyn Dombrowski:
So, how soon can Marcus McNeill return for San Diego? Dombrowski, playing LT and trying to protect Philip Rivers’ blindside, had a tough time against Seattle on Sunday, Chris Clemons toasted him a few times to sack Rivers, and on the Chargers’ first attempt to get within two late in the game – the first time Rivers hit TE Antonio Gates – Dombrowski was called for holding. San Diego coach Norv Turner has defended him, but Dombrowski had a rough one in the Chargers loss.

G. Hartley had a rough week for New Orleans last week and is in danger of losing his job (AP). 5. Garrett Hartley: It’s hard to believe how badly Hartley missed his game-winning 29-yard field goal in overtime of the Falcons victory against the Saints. Coach Sean Payton has shown plenty of loyalty to Hartley, but Hartley directly cost New Orleans the game Sunday. How many more games will he negatively impact the Saints before he’s off the team? Maybe, none. John Carney and Matt Stover apparently have tried out for the Saints this week, and at this point, if Hartley lasts the year in New Orleans, it’d be kind of a surprise. 

4. The entire AFC/NFC West: We’ll get into San Francisco’s Mike Singletary in a minute, but man, how inconsistent have these conferences been? Oakland has been terrible (against Tennessee), less terrible (a win against St. Louis), and almost not terrible enough to win again (a 24-23 loss to Arizona). Derek Anderson has worked his anti-magic for the Cardinals. And you still don’t know what you’re going to get when Seattle runs onto the field for the game. I'm still shocked St. Louis beat Washington. These divisions are wide open for the taking, especially when Kansas City starts 3-0 and leads the AFC West.

3. Chargers kick return coverage:
OK, so you saw what Leon Washington did against San Diego on Sunday, returning a kick for 101 yards for the TD and then returning another kick for 99 yards. That was unreal. But don’t forget about Kansas City’s Dexter McCluster, who had a 94-yard punt return in the season opener vs. San Diego. On Monday, several Chargers veterans volunteered for special teams duties in order to help improve that unit. Hey, it certainly couldn’t hurt.

2. Giants discipline:
Remember how Antrel Rolle complained about how much control the coaching staff held over the players? Well, that’s not exactly true, especially when we’re talking about New York’s 11 penalties, including five personal fouls that occurred after the play was over, in its bad loss to Tennessee. Two 15-yarders came courtesy of RT Kareem McKenzie (behavior McKenzie called “despicable” the next day), and Rolle incurred one when he tried to punch Tennessee TE Craig Stevens. With performances like that, you have to wonder what kind of control coach Tom Coughlin actually asserts over his players. And how much longer he’ll be in control of the Giants at all.

1. Mike Singletary:
After the 49ers 31-10 beatdown by the Chiefs, word filtered out that Kansas City’s defenders apparently were calling out San Francisco’s play calls before the plays were actually run. Now, the 49ers are 0-3, and maybe, aside from pulling down his pants to motivate his team, Singletary doesn’t exactly seem like an X’s and O’s guy. He actually was asked after the game if he had been outcoached, and he said, “I would not say ‘outcoached.’ When you have a loss like this, a lot of things look wrong.” Like the offense. And a day after backing his offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye and saying he’d be around the rest of the season, Singletary fired him. That means new offensive coordinator Mike Johnson continues the streak of Alex Smith never playing for the same coordinator in back-to-back seasons. I’m sure that will help.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com