Throughout the 2009 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. Is the difference between home and away that great in the NFL?
A. It is. It makes situational football increasingly difficult on the road. Communication and things like that, when there's a sense of urgency either in the red zone or on get-off-the-field downs like third downs, it definitely makes it different in how you operate.
Q. Did the no-whistle on Stefan Logan's fumble that was returned for a touchdown against San Diego bother you?
A. It did, to be quite honest with you, but those things tend to happen in football, whether created by plays of your opponents or calls you may not agree with from the officials. The big thing is how you respond to it. That's the nature of the game. He's got to hold onto the football. We've had four games, and he's had the ball on the ground two times – one in Chicago on the last play of the game and that one against San Diego. That has my attention, and in turn it has his attention.
Q. You have said on a couple of occasions that it's easier to say whoa than sic'em. What do you mean by that?
A. I mean, never let anyone dictate tempo to you. Assume it's always full speed, going hard, minute details. It's a lot easier for me as a coach to make corrections off that than it is to tell people to turn the volume up. That's my preference.
Q. That attitude, going hard all the time, is that how you manage games as well?
A. It is. I'm aggressive by nature, I recognize that aggression is part of this game from a playing standpoint. I like to mirror that in how I manage a game. I want my guys to know I have a great deal of belief in their ability to win and to deliver in key moments. So in key times, I am going to make aggressive decisions.
Q. Dean Smith, the North Carolina basketball coach, once said that at some point in every game, the clock becomes your opponent. Do you believe in that?
A. I don't know that I necessarily do. I think all these games unfold differently, and so I'd hate to say that's a hard-and-fast rule for every football game. At times, it is, and I think how a game unfolds and the plays that occur as it winds down dictate that.
Q. So the idea of "taking the air out of the ball" is something in which you're not interested?
A. I think it's prudent to shorten the game when opportunity presents itself, but at times these games don't necessarily come down to that. It takes unique circumstances to take the air out of the ball, if you will. I don't follow any formula. It's a feel principle.
Q. Is there a real inequity in the way the rules designed to protect quarterbacks are enforced?
A. I'm sure that there is, but that's human nature. To take the humanistic element out of anything is somewhat naïve. I understand that. All I'm saying is my quarterback is pretty good, too.
Q. Is the selective enforcement of the rules more about style of the quarterback's play, or his reputation?
A. I don't have the answer to that. That's why it's speculation to a degree. However you slice it, I want my quarterback to be afforded the same protection that some others are.