Steelers, Mike Tomlin and the art of maintaining smoke screens

OK, let’s call it a show.

Let’s take a contrarian approach to what we’ve seen since mike tomlin last week, with every quarterback he dined with, joked with, and watched closely as an icon of the NFL coaching world.

There is no doubt that young athletes recognize Tomlin and appreciate the attention of a coach who has never had a losing season. And there is no doubt that Tomlin loves the ball. He enjoys all things travel and meeting strangers and watching even the dullest form of football – throwing against the air, indoors, in early spring.

I don’t know if it’s so much for the recruiting aspect – which sometimes pays off four or five years later when these players become free agents – as much as he loves the ball. It’s clear.

He even told reporters at the NFL owners meeting over the weekend that he was ‘pissed’ to have disappeared Sam Howellit’s pro day. Tomlin and Kevin Colbert watched the other four best quarterbacks last week day after day. They missed Ohio State. They missed TravisJones. The Steelers have made it clear that they are looking to sign a quarterback in the first round and, as you know, about the Steelers…

They don’t care who knows what of their intentions. We have seen this dynamic develop with Najee Harris Last year. We have seen it grow with Devin Bush in 2019. We saw it with Jarvis Jones in 2013 and Maurkice Pouncey in 2010. Heck, we saw it with Lawrence Timmons in Tomlin’s first draft in 2007.

But there was something a little different about that first draft. Draft week, at the annual misinformation conference where Tomlin and Colbert “don’t talk about specific players” to the media, or much else, Tomlin was asked about Darrelle Revis, and Tomlin raved about him. It raised hopes in the city where the future Hall of Fame cornerback played college ball.

I felt like Tomlin was only praising the kid next door at the time out of respect for the team next door. And on draft day, I knew it was nothing more because I found out that morning, on my way to the radio show at the team offices, that they were targeting Timmons in the first round. The New York Jets bit on Tomlin’s raves and traded a spot past the Steelers to draft Revis. Not that it mattered to the Steelers, except, of course, that they got away with drafting a Hall of Fame corner for a linebacker who was good enough to make a Pro Bowl.

Was it a smokescreen? Or was it just respect for Pitt? If we have to look at the roll call of the aforementioned first-round picks, we can theorize that Tomlin isn’t smoking hot and his comments were just respectful. But people closer to Tomlin will tell you that wasn’t his last fight with the smoke, that he used the media attention on those professional day trips to sow doubt and confusion in the world. spirit of other teams.

I won’t go into examples, but I remember when they happened. And they were minors. Still, that tells me Tomlin is capable of smokescreening, and so it tells me there’s a chance he’ll do it again with these quarterbacks.

The obvious reason is that they are a poor group of quarterbacks. Tomlin also seems to be quite happy with the acquisition of a free agent. Mitch Trubisky that he is apparently ready to neglect Mason Rudolf and his experience of the offence.

Perhaps Tomlin knows these young quarterbacks well enough that his opinions are well formed for anyone who might fall to the Steelers in the second round. And it’s also possible he’ll get to know these guys if they end up scrapping in a few years, like Trubisky did this year.

Or, Tomlin could use some smoke to create a buzz about these quarterbacks and maybe spur a team or two to the top 19 and thus allow a gem to fall to the Steelers at 20.

Thor Nystrom Just Released his latest draft which has quarterbacks picked at 2, 6 and 18. Is Tomlin driven? Only Thor knows, but there’s a lot of buzz this week after pro QB days have rolled around. Tomlin’s face is undoubtedly imprinted on most of this buzz.

Thor, by the way, asks the Steelers to draft an offensive tackle Trevor Penning.

Daniel Jeremiah also released his latest draft Last week. He’s a former boy scout who doesn’t care about buzz. Not that the buzz doesn’t affect teams on draft day, but I doubt it will affect a professional scout who makes a mock draft in March. In the one Jeremiah posted last week, he has his only top-19 quarterback in 18th place. He has the Steelers cornerback Derek Stingley.

Both Penning and Stingley are intriguing prospects, in my opinion far more exciting than any of the quarterbacks. Jeremiah had already chosen Penning; Nystrom had already chosen Stingley. Penning is an elite offensive asskicker, that’s what this non-elite racing game, non-elite racing team, desire. The locker room is craving it too, having lost its veteran asskickers to retirement and free agency last year. As for Stingley, he would be the most talented cornerback to fall to the Steelers since, well, Revis.

In my opinion, however, there is not a dire need for either player. And, please, I accept and understand all criticism of that sentence, but there is an old Dan Rooney axiom that Colbert, in his yearly attempts to preach the best athlete available, cannot make us forget. : the goal is not to win the repechage; the goal is to win the Super Bowl.

That means filling glaring holes, and the most glaring hole right now is defensive tackle – especially in light of what Tomlin just told Missi Matthews at the owners’ meeting. She asked him for something definitive about the return of the defensive tackle Stephon Tuitt after a year of absence:

“You know,” Tomlin began, “like a lot of unanswered questions, we may not always get the answers we want, especially in a timely manner. But we had some really good discussions. good communications. We will just continue to walk the path and do so in a very transparent way. Yes, we would like to have answers as we sit here today, but that is not always the case. We will develop contingency plans and preparing and working to isolate ourselves by acquiring as much talent as possible, but obviously the addition of Stephon Tuitt would be significant.

Of course, that doesn’t sound as hopeful as Colbert at the NFL Combine. Of course, that doesn’t sound as optimistic as Cam Heyward hearing the words of Colbert. Of course, Tomlin might want to send smoke to filter his intentions to sign a player who can help fix the worst defense in franchise history. And, really, there seems to be only one player to suit both the needs and the style of the Steelers, and that player seems to be Devonte Wyatt from Georgia.

Tomlin participated in his professional day. He also dined with the other star defensive tackle, Jordan Davisand linebacker Nakobe Dean. There was no mention of Wyatt at dinner, but that doesn’t mean he was absent. Dinner attendees are sometimes missed in the news, especially with the more popular Davis on the scene.

But Davis is more of a 4-3 tackle while Wyatt is more of a 3-4 end with 4-3 tackle versatility. It seems like a perfect fit. And if there’s only one perfect fit, why not create some smoke to help that player pick 20?

The Steelers have a habit of drafting the defensive tackle before the quarterback. It worked incredibly well when they drafted Joe Greene instead of Terry Hanratty; it worked the exact opposite when they drafted Gabe Rivera instead of Dan Marino.

And, yes, there is a record quarterback coming out of Pitt this year. But, with all due respect to Kenny Pickettit’s not Dan Marino.

This might be an overly elaborate ruse for Tomlin to pursue a key player. But, again, he has theft in his heart. This we know. And he and Colbert have enough experience to know that dinners don’t really help coaches understand players better and really don’t mean much. TJWatt proved this during his dinner when, despite Tomlin’s gregarious nature, he did not open up to the coach during their dinner. In fact, it was something the Steelers found intriguing about a player who preferred to sit back and let others do the talking.

I can buy into this contrarian approach. I can also rely on most of Tomlin’s backstory that he doesn’t care that everyone knows his intentions.

I know it’s fun to watch and I respect the non-rhythmic approach Tomlin takes to playing ball. I realize that could be another side of it all.

Obviously, I’m sifting through the smoke, confused as you may be. But knowing the story behind the story is important because we’re watching it develop.

Devonte Wyatt recovers a fumble in the national semifinals (Photo: John David Mercer, USA TODAY Sports)

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