Last week wasn’t a good one for Pittsburgh Steelers’ playcalling. It’s always subject to criticism every game, regardless of outcome, but the team’s two failed fourth down calls were objectively poor and panned nationally.
Mike Tomlin sat down with Bob Labriola, as he does each week for Steelers.com. It’s one of my favorite articles because Tomlin provides more insight there than he does in almost any other interview. This week, he shed a little light on his playcalling role and the impact it has.
Tomlin referred to the “moment” determining his involvement in the decision-making.
“Sometimes I make calls. Sometimes I’m a part of the equation in talking about variables relative to a call that needs to be made. Sometimes I’m just listening. It really depends on the moment, or circumstance, or how much time we have for discussion and decision-making.”
And though valuable, he believes execution trumps playcalling, the latter’s importance being “less than 50 percent.”
“The execution is more important than the call.”
That is generally but it’s still hard to shake the bewilderment in asking Mike Vick to make a play – the 4th down incompletion to Antonio Brown to the field – he never attempted in practice. That is a tangible example of failing to put a player in a position to succeed. Yes, it was a throw a veteran quarterback is capable of making. But given the short week and all the unusual circumstances, the playcall doomed the play.
With a full week and an extra couple of days to practice, the Steelers’ offense should be much crisper. Vick’s comfort level in the offense will continue to expand the playbook, but the biggest benefit is the efficiency. Comfort creates speed whether it’s getting the playcall communicated, identifying the right defensive personnel, and communicating any pre-snap calls. That couldn’t be more critical playing a road game like tonight against the San Diego Chargers.