On Thursday, newly signed Pittsburgh Steelers CB Patrick Peterson spoke to the media in an introductory press conference, after officially signing his deal with the team today. When Peterson was asked about his relationship with HC Mike Tomlin, Peterson talked about their interactions dating back to when his cousin, Bryant McFadden, played for the team, as well as his own interactions with him since entering the league and how Tomlin has left a mark on him as a player.
“When you see his coaching style, how much his players talk about him his sayings, you know, you just want to be a part of something like that, and when you have an opportunity, you don’t want to waste that opportunity,” Peterson said in his press conference, which aired on the team’s YouTube channel. “On this second go-around, I felt like I definitely have a lot left in the tank. I think that I can provide a lot to whatever team I was going to land on. But I felt that this was the best fit for me just because of what Coach [Tomlin] can do for my career as a DB.”
Peterson was drafted with the fifth overall pick of the 2011 NFL Draft, going well before Pittsburgh got on the clock at 31st overall in the first round. They ended up selecting DL Cameron Heyward. Now the Steelers are pairing the two All-Pros from the same draft class.
Peterson mentioned his interactions with Tomlin coming out of LSU in 2011 but also watched him from afar when the Cardinals or Vikings would play the Steelers over the years. McFadden also shared plenty of insight on Tomlin, giving insight of Tomlin being a “player’s coach.” That carried added weight meaning with Peterson since he and McFadden are cousins.
Tomlin is a leader of men, something that Peterson obviously holds in high regard. However, Peterson also wants to go down as one of the best at his position. Tomlin has the background as a former DB coach to help him, at this stage of his career, continue to play at a high level. Tomlin has coached the likes of Joe Haden, who was past his prime in his final season with the Steelers but was still played at a high level, relying more on savvy than athleticism.
Pittsburgh led the league with 20 INTs last season thanks to the work of Tomlin, DC Teryl Austin, and DB coach Grady Brown. That made Pittsburgh an attractive option for Peterson, who had five INTs last season in Minnesota. Tomlin coached the likes of Ronde Barber and John Lynch in Tampa Bay and Antoine Winfield during his time with the Vikings, working with some of the best DBs of that era.
Tomlin is often regarded as a great motivational coach, but he also is an experienced mind when it comes to coaching defense, especially DBs. Both aspects likely appealed to Peterson, who will turn 33 before the start of the season and try to maximize the years he has left in the league. Look for Peterson to continue making plays on the football and help Pittsburgh attempt to win the league’s INT crown in back-to-back seasons.