On Flozell, mentors and the James Brothers
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. There has been a lot of upheaval on the offensive line all season, but hasn't Flozell Adams been something of the steadying influence?
A. Which is pretty funny, considering that we acquired him in July. He is a breath of fresh air. This guy is in football for all of the right reasons. He really is. He just wants to win. That's all our conversations ever entail, and his actions match those words.
Q. When you add someone like Flozell Adams – with his experience and background but all of it coming with a team other than the Steelers – what does he give you, beyond what he contributes on the field?
A. He gives you what you can't bottle and sell, and that's life experience. There aren't many situations we've been in this year, or are going to be in this year, that he hasn't experienced in some form or fashion. He can be a source of quality information for young guys, such as Maurkice Pouncey and others, because he's a been-there, done-that guy. And I'm not just talking about in terms of existing. I'm talking about this guy being a significant component for a lot of really good football teams for a number of years.
Q. Do you see him providing those young guys with the benefits of his wisdom?
A. You do, but he's not overt about it. You have to approach him usually. He's really a low-key guy. He doesn't force it on anyone, but you see those intimate relationships and that wisdom being passed along, and from a coach's standpoint that's a good thing to see.
Q. It can be said that Flozell Adams also has the proper demeanor for the sport. Do you see that as well?
A. He's a mean guy on a football field. That's kind of a personality that we covet quite openly.
Q. Among the players you have singled out recently is Ziggy Hood. How has he been progressing?
A. Ziggy is one of those players who's taking advantage of an opportunity presented through injury. He played over 50 snaps for the first time in a football game a couple of weeks ago against the Raiders, and I thought he was very effective. Not only stout and square against the run, but I also thought he had some nice edge rushes when given an opportunity in the passing game. He's a young guy with a lot of talent. He's going to get better, and those are his intentions and ours.
Q. During all of your experience as a coach, who would you call a mentor?
A. My college football coach – Jimmye Laycock – is a special guy for me. He exuded ridiculous confidence and professionalism at the same time. He wasn't a very personable guy from a players' standpoint, but what we had was that we felt we had a supreme closeness with this guy because he had a supreme confidence in us and was professional as well. We still keep in touch, and I probably have a better relationship with him now than we did 15 years ago when I was playing for him. I've even got him texting, which is pretty funny.
Q. You have referred to James Farrior and James Harrison as the James Brothers. What about them makes them special as players, beyond the obvious things they do on the field?
A. How ridiculously regimented they are, not only in formal preparation but in informal preparation, the things they do as professionals to prepare themselves over the course of the work week. Guys who have played ball as long as James Farrior, it's usually because they take very good care of their bodies and they have a unique approach to preparation and preserving themselves. He does. You can set your clock to his approach to preparation, and the same really can be said of James Harrison. He is a guy who has been in this league for some time now, and he re-copies meeting notes and things of that nature. Their regimented approach to preparation is a winning edge for both men.
Q. When you say they take care of their bodies, what does that mean?
A. There are a lot of things that go into staying ahead of the curve, whether it's fatigue or injury. Acupuncture, chiropractors, massages. James Farrior's house is a big-time gathering spot during the course of the week for various forms of therapy for players.
Q. You win the coin toss at the beginning of the game. What goes into the decision whether to take the ball or defer?
A. The matchups in the football game, and the weather condition. If we feel like we have a strategic advantage defensively and believe we can get a quick stop, then we'll try to put our defense on the field initially so our offense can work with a short field. If the weather, or wind is such that we'd rather play the elements then we're willing to give up the football. Those are the two key issues for me going into a game.
Q. It's the end of a game, and you have a multi-score lead. How do you decide when to take the air out of the ball and simply run out the remaining time on the clock, and can the actions of the opposing coach affect that?
A. It does. If the other team is utilizing timeouts and things of that nature, if they're still playing the game in a sincere effort to win, that plays into how we finish football games when you're in a lead position. Each scenario or situation is different, but a lot of the times the decision of when to run the clock out, per se, is dictated by the action of the opposing coach or team.