On the coach-quarterback relationship, run defense, records
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. From the viewpoint of a competitor, what is the dynamic between Bill Belichick and Tom Brady?
A. You're talking about two extremely intelligent and competitive people, and Tom is probably the physical manifestation of Coach Belichick in uniform. Uniquely competitive, uniquely intelligent, both of them possess natural leadership talents. I think the personalities of those two men permeate that football team, and over the course of many different football teams in New England over the last decade.
Q. When you look at a franchise that wins multiple championships over a relatively short span of time, how important is the coach-quarterback relationship?
A. It's important. It's probably not supremely important. It's probably given more attention than it deserves because of the nature of the positions. When you win, both guys get too much credit, and when you lose they probably get deserved blame. But it is unique, and I would imagine those guys have a unique relationship. I know that their competitive spirit permeates through everybody who wears that uniform.
Q. Do you have that here, with Ben Roethlisberger?
A. I think that we do. We don't have multiple world championships together, and that's why I say I think that we do. We're a work in progress.
Q. In the NFL, what makes good run defense?
A. More so than statistics, I think it has to do with stepping up situationally. When people have a lead and are trying to take the air out of a football game, you don't allow them to do that. When people are trying to move the chains via short yardage, or pound the ball over the goal line, good run defenses don't let down situationally. Some of the stuff that goes on during first-and-10 or second-and-medium, sometimes a good run defense's performance can be overshadowed by a breakout run. A 60-yard run, if you will. I look toward situational football. When the opponent is trying to run the football and is unable to, and it's important for them to do it, that's good run defense.
Q. You're not a big one for records, but the Steelers became the first team in NFL history to hold each of their first eight opponents to no more than 75 yards rushing in a game. That encompasses a lot of great defenses, back to and even before the Bears' Monsters of the Midway teams of the 1940s. Does that impress you?
A. Not really. It's an incomplete body of work. It's eight games, and we play a 16-game schedule. Quite frankly, our opponents are probably throwing more than anybody has in NFL history.
Q. Do opponents throw so frequently because of the Steelers' pass defense, or because of the run defense?
A. I think they throw for a lot of reasons. Our ability to stop the run is part of the equation. The development of top-quality quarterbacks in the game today is part of the equation. I think the way the game is officiated from a rules standpoint lends itself to throwing the football. I think there are a lot of things going on in today's NFL that makes that run defense record less impressive to me, to be quite honest.
Q. What goes into blocking a kick in the NFL?
A. You have to be perfect, and even if you are, you have to be helped in some form or fashion. Operation time, location and accuracy of snaps, and so forth, have to assist you. It has to be a set of perfect elements, kind of like the development of a tornado. It takes multiple things to happen for it to come to fruition.
Q. Is blocking a kick something a team will attempt to do, or is more of a collision of the events you described?
A. Week in and week out we take our shots at trying to develop a potential block plan. Often times, the ingredients are not perfect to make it happen. Thankfully in Cincinnati, they were.