Monday, December 21, 2009

Mike Tomlin? Puh-leeeeese...

20/20 hindsight is a great thing for people in a position that puts a microphone in front of your face.  The better you are at spinning a story, the more you can create a genius thought process to cover your arse.

It sure doesn't hurt to win the game, either.

Mike Tomlin was spinning his best lines regarding the late-game onside kick gambit he pulled late in the fourth quarter.  You just went up by two points with under four minutes to go in the game, and you pull a surprise onside kick (that your cover team ineptly messes up anyway).

Let's color this what it is.  It was a huge gamble.  It was a "let's pray we get the ball and can sit on it for a long time, then punt".  If it works out (low percentage), it's genius.  If it doesn't (high percentage), it gives the ball to the Packers on the wrong side of the field and plenty of time to work with it.  The element of surprise is the key thing here, mainly because no sane coach who values his job would attempt such a risk.  And, if that ball had taken even a slightly different trajectory from its bounce, it just might have worked.

Tomlin, however, explained this failure as working completely into the Steelers master plan.  Seriously.  He makes it sound as if he PLANNED on having the Packers score, and scoring so quickly that the Steelers would have more than enough time to then score on them back!!!

"I'll be very bluntly honest with you, based on the way the game was going in the second half, first of all I thought with the element of surprise we had a chance to get it, but if we didn't get it and they were to score, then we would have necessary time on the clock to score or match their score. Plan A didn't work, we got the ball but we were illegal, that was the correct call, but it kind of unfolded the way you envisioned it.

"We had 30 minutes of evidence that we could drive the ball on them, we also conversely had 30 minutes of evidence to show they could also drive the ball on us. That's why we took the risk when we did. We were just trying to win the football game. There was time left in that game that had we kicked that ball away and the half had gone the way that it'd gone, they were converting third downs. They would have moved the ball down the field on us, we wouldn't have had necessary time to respond. I'm just being honest, but it starts with feeling pretty good about the element of surprise and having a good chance to get that ball, but that part of it didn't work out."

If we could somehow condense all that down into one sentence, it would look like this: "If it didn't work, we figured they'd score on us, and do it quickly we have a chance at the end to come back."

Now, as Tomlin is basking in the glory of a last-second win that revitalized the players and fan base, and got him of the snide of a five-game losing streak that essentially took them out of the playoffs, it's pretty easy to spin that into a winning strategy move.  But, it makes little sense.

A smart team would drive down the field and take time off the clock.  When you put the ball in the other team's hands, you have given up control of the clock.  Period.  And, indeed, you put yourself in the position to either burn your timeouts and leave yourself at the mercy of chance, or you let them score in order to get the control back.

But the Packers were out of timeouts.  Even with 3:48 still on the clock, it would limit what Rodgers and Co. could do offensively on a long field.    Giving the Packers a 39 yard field to work with, especially given they only needed a field goal to go ahead, was essentially giving them all they needed to have the momentum their way.

Give the Packers a 79 yard field to work with, with the Steelers in a nickel/dime defense, and they would have needed exactly what the Steelers needed on the very next drive...a lot of calls going their way, some no-calls going their way, and some really lucky and timely plays.

According to Tomlin, you would think that he intentionally let the Packers score, just so he would have the ball last in the game.  Didn't he learn anything from watching Super Bowl XXXII, when Mike Holmgren let Terrell Davis score so they would get a chance to have a game-winning drive at the end of the game?  How did that work out for them, when the Broncos went into a stop-the-pass defense and prevented the Packers from scoring through the air?

It's not a safe bet, and face it...had the Steelers not gotten some help from the referees, the game would have been over long before they were in field goal range.  And, have to admit, Ben Rothlisberger made some amazing throws, too, against the "#1 defense in the NFL".

If this is what Tomlin is sellin', I ain't buyin'.  Kind of reminds me of the guys sitting around after deer camp, embellishing the story of how they got their buck.  When you don't get your buck, no one believes your tall tales.  But when you do, you get a little more play with how you can spin the story...after all, the evidence is right there.  Right?

Tomlin owes Big Ben and Mike Wallace (and perhaps the officiating crew) a nice fruit basket this holiday season, because they bailed him out of a pretty high-risk, all-or-nothing gambit that by all rights should have been egg all over his face.   I've been told in the past that we ignorant fans should never question the play-calling by these highly trained NFL head coaches, but that sure would take all the fun out writing about them, wouldn't it?

In one stroke, Tomlin made a risky choice, robbed his defense of an opportunity to make a game-defining stop on a long field, and put all the pressure back on his quarterback with scant time left.  Give Rothlisberger credit for coming through on a fourth quarter comeback.


Speaking of 20/20 hindsight, I'm just as entertained by the number of folks who insist James Jones should have taken a knee at the one-yard line.  Oh, sure, in retrospect, but you gave them two minutes and a long field against the #1 defense in the NFL, playing nothing but pass.  Jones did fine. Put the blame where it belongs.


Anonymous said...

maybe you need to go check the stats on recovering an on side kick when it is expected v when it is unexpected

a little information, a fact or 2 might change your mind

you might also want to go game by game and see if that #1 defense is a top defense or if it got lucky with a schedule and with facing backup QBs of really bad teams which is an additional bonus

this is certainly not close to your usual standard which is pretty high

blaming the refs is equally weak especially when we got so many gifts, just as many if not more than the Steelers got

IPB said...

Once again, Anonymous dazzles us with brilliance ? I think not.

C.D. - the issue here was whther or not Capers felt sorry for his former Team, and decided to throw LeBeau a bone or two, to save their season somewhat. Seriously, how else do you pull Woodson off CB duties with a sideline passer like Big Ben? You just don't do that. And, after he made 'hey' outta Bush on the very first drive, why do you leave him there? Sure, BB could have resorted to the middle as opposed to the outside edges, but he's not that good at down the middle passes, their always to the outside shoulder along that edge. He doesn't trust the middle that much. Even his crossing route pattern plays were hit after they crossed the middle.

We lost this game due to Capers leaving it wide open and having Shankapotamus (I mean Crosby) miss yet another E-Z FG. Much like last year, we've lost more games due to his failure to chase perfection. And, MAC is almost as bad a bullshit artist as you point out Mike Tomlin to be. Maybe moreso. Even Barnett was out of position on that crossing route pass. He should have played the man and not the ball - he would have gotten him by the ankles. Go back and look. Very little yardage.

Still, overall, most packerfans (themselves) had Green Bay losing to the SuperBowl Champs, at the beginning of the season. C'mon gang, go ahead and deny deny deny - make arse's outta yourselves. We all also had ourselves losing to Arizona in the final game, too. Baltimore was one where most figured we might win andultimately made it a MUST WIN situation to keep ourselves at 10-6. Right now, we're still on course for a potential 11-5, sans the Gunslinger, too!

They say WINNING cures all that ails ya. Win & We Forgive, is the motto. The O-Line was shown that they had not really improved after all. So, I would call it that Campen's job is STILL on the line, or dang well should be. The middle was absolutely porous all game long. I got real tired, real quick listening to the Media worry so much about those few times Favre was being pummeled by Julius Peppers. BIG FAT DEAL. Aaron Rodgers handles it much better than ol' #4. I just hope our O-Line sees how much punishment is piling up. They owe him bigtime.

As far as the Packers having a #1 rated Defense? I don't buy it. I'm selling it, to keep from being taken to the cleaners. Especially after the stunt prep Capers just handed us... or should I say the Steelers.

Bad form, Dom... real bad form!

Anonymous said...

actually surprise on site kicks are recovered about 60% of the time

certainly nobody was more surprised than our ST coach and return team

and if you knew anything about football you would recall that PITT has done the surprise on side kick more than once including a successful recovery in a super bowl

dazzling someone and befuddling them are two different things

packerbacker1 said...

leaving aside the total stupidity of saying a professional coach 'felt sorry' for his old team and 'threw them a bone' that impacted a game

do you have any clue what you are saying?

what you are accusing capers of?