Tomlin Takes

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'Tomlin's Takes' on LBs, Bell & McCrane

Coach Mike Tomlin’s season ending press conference on Wednesday was a far cry from the normal ones he has held in the past.

“This is not our usual business,” said Tomlin. “Definitely didn’t anticipate standing here and having an end of season press conference here this week. There are reasons for that. There is big disappointment that comes with this.”

First, it was done at the end of the regular season, not after a postseason run which has become the norm.

Second, it’s focus was almost solely on one subject, the Antonio Brown situation (Read: Tomlin addresses Brown issue, promises change).

But he did hit on a few other topics, even though his main focus was on addressing the Brown situation, and here is a glance at what else he had to say.

Not yet: The inside linebacker spot is one that had a lot of eyes on it before the season, and at the end of the season the eyes were still on it for the way they performed.

Vince Williams was second on the team in tackles with 76, with four and a half sacks, while Jon Bostic was tied for third with 73.

And while Tomlin was pleased with the job that they did, his season-ending press conference wasn’t the time for him to evaluate the individual on-field performance of players.

“I love what they were willing to do,” said Tomlin. “The way that they approached it. But I am not ready to assess or evaluate any element of play in a significant way in this setting today. We are just beginning the process of evaluating and assessing. I can give you a canned answer, but legitimately assessing it and framing it in the ways in which it needs to be framed, I am not going to get into that today. I am looking at a thorough review of all components of our team and inside linebacker is a part of it. I appreciate the contributions of those men. They had their moments. They stepped up and delivered in a lot of ways. I am not ready to assess, and particularly assess in a way that would lay a foundation for ‘19 and talking about needs and things of that nature. We’re just not there. We’re not going to be there because of the things I have outlined because of where we are and how we have to look at time, especially in the short term.”

Time to pause: One of the biggest stories in the early part of the season was the status of Le’Veon Bell, who never signed his franchise tender and didn’t report. Tomlin was asked if there were any plans to negotiate further with Bell, or if the relationship was over.

“Like I outlined, we’re in the process of assessing and reviewing what happened in 2018 and appropriately so,” said Tomlin. “And we’re going to pause before we start talking about the development of ‘19 and that includes all of the potential free agents and things of that nature, from a personnel standpoint, from a coaching standpoint. I just don’t have a lot of those answers as I stand here today and really don’t want to speculate a lot because if you’re legitimately open to doing what’s necessary, that we’re not here next year at this time, then you better leave it open-ended and we intend to do that.”

Getting his kicks: The team signed rookie kicker Matt McCrane last Friday, two days before he was asked to kick against the Cincinnati Bengals in the season finale. McCrane was signed when Chris Boswell was placed on injured reserve and he delivered in a manner that earned him the game ball. McCrane hit three field goals, including the game-winner from 35 yards out in the fourth quarter. 

“I can’t say enough about Matt, the kicker we acquired last week,” said Tomlin. “He came up big. We awarded him the game ball and appropriately so, contributing to our efforts in the way that he did.”

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