Mike Tomlin may have said he won’t change his approach to beat the New England Patriots but playing man defense sure might help do so. And he admitted the obvious – the team simply wasn’t up to snuff late in the season, most notably, against New England.
Speaking to reporters today, Tomlin went through a list of areas the team struggled with down the stretch. This all comes from ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, the network’s top Steelers’ guy.
Mike Tomlin said words Steelers fans love to hear: Man-to-man. pic.twitter.com/UDFOl7bC4b
— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) March 27, 2017
If you can’t see the tweet, here’s the key part.
“Our inability to play man-to-man effectively, our inability to pressure the QB without blitzing, our inability to maintain balance as Le’Veon Bell was unavailable to us, were issues in [the Patriots game] specifically.”
The Steelers have tried to merge Tomlin’s Cover 2 background with Keith Butler’s Fire Zone but now, they may have to switch gears again and look to introduce more man-heavy concepts. A spot dropping zone isn’t going to beat Tom Brady and he shredded a predictable Steelers’ defense in the title game. I don’t think there’s a Steelers’ fan who disagrees with that premise even if the details are much more complicated and nuanced.
Tomlin also mentions a lack of pressure from a four man rush, something he’s harped on for at least the past two seasons, making it abundantly clear the team will go into the draft with a defensive heavy focus, though that was already pretty apparent. It’s hard to imagine the Steelers won’t come with one OLB and at least one member of the secondary after the first two days of the draft.