On Rashard, Troy, integrity
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. What dimension does Rashard Mendenhall bring to the Steelers offense?
A. He has a complete skill-set. He has a nice blend of power and speed and vision. He's got really good hands. It's just about everything about the running back position that he does extremely well. He's a well-rounded talent, and that's why I think you're seeing the contributions he's providing for us.
Q. Is he having a Pro Bowl season?
A. I know he is for us. I know he's a valued member of our football team, but I haven't looked at the field of competition in terms of what he's up against to make the Pro Bowl. But I know he's a linchpin around a lot of the things we do offensively.
Q. The Steelers are one of the few teams with double-digit wins already in the regular season. Is that significant any way in your mind?
A. It's hardware you pick up along the way. I'm appreciative of where we are, but to go where we want to go, that's probably a prerequisite. I'm pleased with the work that we've done, the way we battled through adversity – some of it created by us – I acknowledge that. We're in good position, and where we go forward, of course, is up to us.
Q. Antwaan Randle El hasn't been a featured part of the offense, and yet he maybe turned in the catch of the year against the Bengals. What does he bring to this team?
A. This guy is a reliable guy. He has a unique skill-set and is capable of doing a lot of things for us. We utilize him in a lot of ways. He's always ready to answer the bell when called upon.
Q. The defense has been making more splash plays in 2010. Why would you think it's going that way?
A. We're catching our interception opportunities. We're always going to be in position to make those kinds of plays because our guys play pretty good assignment football and we get good pressure on the quarterback. In some years we don't catch as many as we do in other years. This has been one of the years when we've caught a lot of them.
Q. Has the efficiency of the red zone offense become a high priority to you?
A. It has become a priority, but I wouldn't say we're pushing the panic button. When we look at the tape, we see that we're extremely close. The answers are going to lie in the detail and the communication, the continued execution. We can't get up in arms about where we are in terms of that. We have to make the significant plays that will help us win. And there's no question that when we play good people, the red zone is going to be significant.
Q. Troy Polamalu won AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors two weeks in a row. What makes him such a special player?
A. Courage of conviction. This guy has intuition, has innate awareness and ability. He probably trusts his more than anybody else I've ever been around. When he makes a decision to take a calculated risk, he's 10 toes in on it. He's full steam ahead.
Q. So far this season, there have been fines levied against teams for illegally videotaping an opponent's practice, and for deliberately tripping an opposing player during a play in a game. How do you view that kind of stuff in light of the NFL's disciplinary initiatives?
A. I think the integrity of the game issues should touch us all, because all of us are responsible for upholding the standard that is the National Football League. We all play behind that shield. On a personal level, when I believe the integrity of the game is compromised, yes, I do take it personally, and yes, it does hit home. But I don't necessarily have a strong opinion in regards to the guidelines the punishment should follow. I'm not involved in that. I don't know the history of that. I haven't studied that. I just trust the people in position to make those decisions are doing do thoughtfully.
Q. You have something you do with your team every week that's called "the winning edge." Where is the line between the winning edge, and maybe gamesmanship, and then the things that strike at the integrity of the game?
A. To me the lines are pretty clear. A winning edge are things you can do to increase your chances of performing better, to play to the best of your ability. Some of the things that are going on that are outside of those lines involving cheating, if you will, to me that's black-and-white, and there is no gray.
Q. Do you have these conversations with your people?
A. Very little, if any. I think everybody in this organization understands where I stand with regard to the integrity of the game.