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Tomlin talks tempo, O-line, no-huddle

Posted Aug 21, 2014

In advance of the third preseason game, Coach Mike Tomlin addressed a variety of issues

Q. The Philadelphia Eagles, under Coach Chip Kelly, run an up-tempo offense. How is tempo a weapon?

A. It potentially reduces the menu of your opponent. If it gets to the point where the players are uncomfortable or the play-caller is uncomfortable, then he’s not pulling from a wide variety of calls. He’s pulling from a menu of core calls, calls that roll off his tongue quickly or can be executed and communicated easily among the players. That’s the main reason you change tempo – to destroy the rhythm of the opponent’s play-calls.

Q. On the other side, how does a team deal with the opponent trying to utilize tempo as a weapon?

A. I think you just make decisions, and you make decisions quickly. And you practice that. And you’re capable of executing defense and not allowing the change of pace to limit your menu. Personally, when people change the pace on us, I don’t want it to dictate the menu we select from. It may change the pace of how we administer calls and communicate calls, but I think you’re allowing them to win when you allow that to change the calls themselves.

Q. You have said you have confidence in the first group’s performance so far in the running game. What leads you to say that?

A. I like the way we got off the bus in New York. That was a point of emphasis for us, and we created some nice running lanes there initially, with Le’Veon reeling off a couple of nice, solid, efficient runs, as did LeGarrette Blount as the field got short at the end of that drive. And also because of what they’ve done in a training camp setting. We’ve done a lot of live tackle football in our team run periods, every day in fact, and I believe there is credibility in that regard because we go good-on-good in those instances, and the first group has done a solid job of winning the line of scrimmage. Obviously the proof is in the pudding, and every time we step into a stadium they have to be willing and capable of proving that.

Q. What do you like about this offensive line?

A. They’re all moving into that stage in their careers where they’re in their mid-20s. They’ve experienced some things, they’ve seen some things, they know and understand the drill, and they’ve done it collectively. And I think that’s a unique opportunity. When you’re talking about guys like Maurkice Pouncey and David DeCastro and Marcus Gilbert and Kelvin Beachum, they’ve essentially grown up together over the last 2-3 years. There’s a benefit to that. Maybe you can’t measure that, but you acknowledge that it exists.

Q. Will the no-huddle offense be the Steelers’ go-to offense, or will that remain just a part of the overall package?

A. It’ll be a component of what we do. In some weeks, it’ll be strongly featured and in other weeks maybe not so much. We’ll continue to have the same mentality. We’re open to using it, and we’ll look at the variables in play and make the decision week to week.

Q. Was Antonio Brown’s 76-yard touchdown against Buffalo an example of the adage, you play how you practice?

A. In Antonio, you’re talking about a guy who finishes everything he does, every day when he’s on the field. It just sets a mentality in him that’s on display when he steps into a stadium. Habits repeated become you, and that’s become him.

Q. Will there be an emphasis on working on the running game tonight?

A. We need to do a better job of winning the line of scrimmage. The second and third units particularly haven’t done a good job in any stadium setting. I’ve been really comfortable with what I’ve seen from the first group, but largely we have to do a nice job of winning the line of scrimmage against the Eagles and staying on schedule. Part of our third-down failings against the Bills were that they weren’t manageable third downs. They were third-and-9s, third-and-10s, particularly as the game wore on, and that can be alleviated by a good, sound running game.

Q. Is this basically the same offense Chip Kelly used when he was the coach at Oregon?

A. I really didn’t study it when he was at Oregon. When I was watching it then, I was more interested in the personnel as opposed to the schematics. From what I understand, it is basically the same offense. I also know it’s a very sound offense post-snap.

Q. Was it really important to get a win last week against Buffalo?

A. It always is. That’s why they keep the lights on the scoreboard.

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