On dirty players, reputations, Maurkice Pouncey
Throughout the 2010 NFL season, Coach Mike Tomlin will provide his insight and observations to Steelers.com on a variety of topics pertaining to the team and the National Football League.
Q. Within the fraternity of NFL players and coaches, what constitutes a dirty player?
A. We can use the words that are being bandied about right now, because I think they're appropriate. Intent is a big part of it. Flagrant, or flagrancy is a big part of it. A guy who consistently is flagrant or shows a negative intent can be characterized as that.
Q. It was said by Mike Pereira, the former head of NFL officials, that he can judge intent just by watching video. Do you believe that?
A. I believe that, but I believe video tells a truer story when it's watched at real speed. I think you can trick yourself into seeing whatever it is you want to see when you start watching things in slow motion. That's why I have such respect for officiating crews and their judgments of plays in real time in stadiums. There was no flag thrown on James' play, not only by the official closest to it, but by any official. These are trained professional officiating crews, and I respect their ability to do their jobs. And the fact that none of them saw it as flagrant or egregious speaks to me.
Q. When this happens – when one of your players is fined and threatened with suspension – and in 2008 the Steelers got a personal visit from NFL Vice-President of Football Operations Ray Anderson in the wake of Hines Ward's hit on Keith Rivers and Troy Polamalu's subsequent comment about the NFL becoming a pansy league – do you think it reflects poorly on the coaching techniques taught by you and your staff?
A. I come in here every day and I do my job in a manner and in such a way that I provide my guys with what they need to be great. That guides my actions and thoughts. I hadn't thought about it one iota from the standpoint of how I'm being perceived or how we're being perceived as a coaching staff. That's secondary for me. The big thing for me is to provide these players what they need to be great.
Q. Dick LeBeau is the defensive coordinator here, and he's a guy recognized by all as a class individual, a recent Hall of Fame inductee. Is the league creating an impression about the way the Steelers defense plays that is not accurate?
A. I can't worry about that. I'm not a conspiracy theorist by nature, but even if I was I can't worry about it. I try to do the things I need to do to keep this group singularly focused on the task at hand. And that's ultimately preparing for and playing each game one by one. My entire mentality this week in regards to dealing with this was how to move forward, how to put in behind us constructively and continue our preparation for our next game. That's what guided my actions largely. A lot of these discussions are discussions that need to be taking place in the offseason when emotions aren't involved in it. And then whatever decisions are made during the offseason – at the appropriate time in some of these matters – we need to stick to them. We don't need to have knee-jerk reactions to what happens during the course of football seasons, because those are emotional decisions, whether they're coming from me or whether they're coming from New York.
Q. Is there anyone on the team right now who has been playing quite well who might be going unnoticed by the general public?
A. Maurkice Pouncey is playing extremely well, and the only reason I mention his name is I hear a lot of things being bandied about around the league in terms of potential Offensive Rookie of the Year candidates, and it's amazing to me that he hasn't been included in that. Maybe it's because of the position he plays, and other guys throw touchdowns and catch touchdowns and run for touchdowns, but he's as impressive as any young guy I've been around since I've been in this league.