Here’s an interesting little nugget that I picked up from Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin’s pre-game press conference yesterday. This is on the speculative side, I admit, but his response to a question about the simplified scheme on the back end yesterday caught my attention.
Asked if there was anything that he could carry forward from Sunday’s performance, during which he employed simplified schemes and assignments because of the limitations and experience within the system of the personnel involved, Tomlin’s response seemed to hint at doing more to keep things simply moving forward.
“I think every time you step into a stadium you learn something about yourself”, he said in response, via the team’s website, “whether it’s division of labor, use of people, or schematics. And if you’re smart, you utilize that information moving forward for good”.
Considering the Steelers’ defensive gameplan in the secondary drew praise not only from those who executed it but also from those who had to play against it, the line of questioning and the response, I believe, lends itself to a reading that Tomlin is open to simplifying some things in the secondary in the hopes of bringing about improvement.
Pittsburgh just played on Sunday without most of its starting secondary. All-Pro safety Minkah Fitzpatrick missed the game due to a knee injury. Top three cornerbacks, Cameron Sutton, Ahkello Witherspoon, and Levi Wallace, were all unavailable, the former two with hamstring issues and the latter due to a concussion.
All four have the potential to return in time for Sunday’s game against the Miami Dolphins, but Tomlin was also pleased to see how those who filled in stepped up to the challenge. Of particular note was third-year cornerback James Pierre, who has started games for this team in the past, but ended up demoted.
Tre Norwood made his third start of his career, and second in as many games, offering his highest level of play in that capacity yet. His head coach also singled him out for praise, describing him as a “unique communicator”. Josh Jackson was another key contributor, now signed to the 53-man roster after being promoted from the practice squad.
With the prospect of potentially getting safety Damontae Kazee back within the next couple of games, the defense’s depth in the secondary is starting to look better, at least if we are comfortable judging it from Sunday’s performance. But everybody will look better whenever they get outside linebacker T.J. Watt streaking off of the edge again.