In last Sunday night’s game against the Indianapolis Colts, the Pittsburgh Steelers fumbled the football a total of four times with return man Jacoby Jones and running back DeAngelo Williams both being responsible for two of them. After Jones’ second fumble he was benched and ultimately demoted on the team’s depth chart. During a Saturday interview, head coach Mike Tomlin was curiously asked to explain his decision-making process when it came to benching one veteran player and not the other.
“One is a feature ball-carrier and the other is a return man,” Tomlin told Bob Labriola. “Obviously, a feature ball-carrier is a different standard in terms of ball security and the things they have to deal with. A returner, ball security is job. No. 1. The production they provide us is secondary to their ability to secure the ball for us. A returner is the first guy who touches the ball in a change of possession. We want to ensure that change of possession, so it’s a heightened awareness and a heightened responsibility that comes with the position of returner.”
Wow, that’s Tomlin being very politically correct, in my opinion. All he really needed to say is that Williams has made more than his fair share of plays so far this season while Jones hasn’t since he was acquired several weeks ago off waivers from the San Diego Chargers. It’s really just that simple. Besides, no way was Tomlin going to bench Williams in favor of Fitzgerald Toussaint, who dressed for the first time Sunday night.
Labriola would’ve been better served to ask Tomlin why Jones is even still on the roster at this point. We still likely would’ve gotten a PC answer, but at least the question would have been justified.
With Jones now demoted on the returner depth chart in favor of wide receivers Markus Wheaton and Antonio Brown, we’ll have to wait and see if he gets a helmet Sunday afternoon against the Cincinnati Bengals. He shouldn’t, but stranger things have happened.
As for Williams, who enters Sunday’s game against the Bengals with 953 yards from scrimmage so far this season, expect him to be used early and often against Cincinnati. Hopefully he holds on to the football better this week, but even if doesn’t, Tomlin’s not going to pull him from the game unless it happens several more times.