Steelers Offseason: Tomlin Tuesday


Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin isn’t giving weekly pressers during the offseason but he was available this week to the media during breaks for his work on the NFL’s Competition Committee while at the NFL Owners Meetings out in Arizona.

Tomlin spoke to Mike Prisuta about what the competition committee is working on to enhance the game and what the Steelers are working on to build a successful 2015 season.

Tomlin discussed getting the defense back to the point of domination, which used to be the norm in Pittsburgh, but hasn’t been the case for some time.

"“Our goal is to be the very best, or at least be in that discussion, depending on how you define it. Obviously, the last couple of years I don’t think we’ve had a legitimate argument in that discussion. We have for a great number of years I’ve been here and that’s our intention, to be back in that discussion no matter how you shape or cut it.” – Mike Tomlin"

To achieve that goal, Tomlin is going to have to rely on some young guys for the first time. If James Harrison isn’t a starter on Week 1, the only defensive starter to be at least 30 years old would be William Gay, who is 30. Harrison does throw off the average age quite a bit as he’ll be 37 by the time the season kicks off.

Harrison’s addition to the team is hopefully key to the development of the last two first-round draft picks, linebackers Jarvis Jones and Ryan Shazier. Both of them are currently training with Harrison in Arizona and neither have them had previously experienced OTAs or even training camp with Harrison.

Tomlin did explain that he’s not opposed to relying on this year’s draft picks to contribute to the goal of improving the defense by making immediate impacts and embraces the challenge the change in defensive coordinators has brought the team.

"“I am not opposed to change. Changing isn’t something that I fear. If you are trying to be the very best that you can be, you can’t have that mentality.” – Mike Tomlin"

Tomlin switched gears and spoke about the offense and the expectations for the unit to top what was a record-breaking season in 2014.

"“My expectation is they’re capable of being the very best because we have the goods. We’ve got guys who are capable. We’ve got guys who know what they’re doing. We’ve got guys who have played together for an extended period of time now. Being the very best is a reasonable expectation.” – Mike Tomlin"

The Steelers finished No. 2 overall in total offense in the league and set franchise records for points scored (463), total yards (6,577), first downs (379) and passing yards per game (301.6). Tomlin credits offensive coordinator Todd Haley for the offensive performance and production.

"“He’s the central, key strategic figure. It comes with the position. I’m not trying to over-score it. I’m not trying to underscore it. That’s what comes with the job. He’s done a really solid job for us in the three or so years he’s been with us.” – Mike Tomlin"

Tomlin also went over the process by which the team went out to fortify the running back position in preparation for a potential suspension of Le’Veon Bell. The only outside free agent the team has signed has been 31-year-old running back DeAngelo Williams.

"“We’ll wait to hear what happens from a league level, but obviously we’ll be prepared to move on without him for whatever time is necessary. Obviously the acquisition of DeAngelo Williams helps us in that regard, but it goes beyond that.” – Mike Tomlin"

While the focus for Tomlin immediately following the meetings out in Arizona will undoubtedly be towards the NFL Draft, he’s anxious to get back to work on the field as well.

"“I can’t wait to get back to work when we get the guys in and continue to get better.” – Mike Tomlin"

Teams with returning head coaches can begin their offseason workout programs as soon as April 20th, less than a month away. The NFL Draft runs from April 30-May 2 and then the rookie development programs can begin as early as May 11th. Then, before you know it, the team will be checking into the dorms at Saint Vincent in Latrobe.

Next: Steelers 3-4 Defense a Disadvantage?

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