Hearing from Coach Mike Tomlin

On timeouts, clock management, jerks

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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.

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Q. In a situation where a team might choose to assign a cornerback to a specific receiver, is that ever an advantage for the offense?

A. It is, because then you know who the cornerback is not covering. Anytime you can identify matchups, it helps you from a planning standpoint, from a preparation standpoint. If you have a pretty good understanding about who someone is going to cover, then you of course know who they're not going to cover.

Q. Who has the authority call timeouts during a game?

A. Usually, I call the timeouts. Of course, Ben calls timeouts from time to time because of information that he has that I don't, such as lack of communication in the huddle, maybe not getting enough time to execute a call that has come in from the sideline a little late. Primarily, it's me and Ben.

Q. When it comes to the clock management area of using timeouts, is there some system you use, or are you guided by feel?

A. Often, we use them as needed, with the understanding that we want to preserve as many of them as we can. I don't try to put too many parameters on it, because each and every game and game circumstance is different.

Q. Generally, do you prefer to use your timeouts only when you're on offense?

A. Preferably, I like to save them all for offense and the only time I use them on defense or special teams is if I think that something potentially catastrophic is going to happen.

Q. When it comes to timeouts, is it more of a sin to go into halftime or finish a game with timeouts remaining, or to run out of them?

A. It doesn't really matter to me. There are many instances when we don't utilize our timeouts and we don't need them. If we need them, I want to have them. That's generally been my approach to timeouts, and that has been the case for us since I've been here. Very rarely have we been in a situation where we needed timeouts and didn't have them.

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Q. Do you ever consider timeouts when you're deciding whether to utilize one of your instant replay challenges?

A. No. Usually, I use the red flag in an effort to save points.

Q. In this Steelers locker room, you have a remarkably few guys who could be described as jerks. Does that mean anything?

A. In the big scheme of things, no. This is a business. Everybody is pretty clear about what's required to be a success in this business. People have to put their best foot forward and be respectful of others, what they need to do to be prepared and then ultimately to play. I think more than anything, it's about mutual respect. And respect has very little to do with personality and personality types and quirks.

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Q. So when you talk about these players' willingness to put their hands in the pile to contribute to the success of the team, that has nothing to do with whether people are selfish in the way they see things away from football?

A. No. It really doesn't. It's really more about respect, respect for what we're doing and how we all fit into the big scheme of things and that it's bigger than all of us. If you're respectful of what we're doing here and you act in a professional manner, some of the other personal things are really irrelevant. You can be extremely successful without having warm and fuzzy relationships.

Q. So then, being successful and having those close relationships among players do not necessarily go together?

A. Not necessarily. Usually, but not necessarily.

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