Tomlin Takes

Presented by

'Tomlin's Takes' on Najee, Ben and more

Another option: Running back Najee Harris had 14 receptions for 102 yards against the Bengals, the most in franchise history by a running back. But it wasn't all by design. Many of the plays were a result of checkdowns, with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger going to the rookie when nothing else developed downfield with his receivers for multiple reasons, according to Coach Mike Tomlin.

"It might not have anything to do with what's going on downfield," said Tomlin. "It might have to do with the game circumstances or maybe what goes on up front. Nothing happens in a vacuum on a football field when you're talking about 11 moving parts in each unit and planning and schematics.

"That was a function of the day. It won't necessarily represent the functions of us moving forward. But it did transpire in that game and he was a good resource to us, and it was productive."

There were some circumstances with the receivers that limited the options for Roethlisberger, including Diontae Johnson inactive with a knee injury and JuJu Smith-Schuster leaving the game early with a rib injury.

"You don't like to use utilize it as much as we did. but it's obvious things," said Tomlin. "We were playing with backups in certain instances. We went into the game without Diontae. JuJu went down in game. We had Cody White playing, who was playing in his first NFL action. The quality of execution and cohesion in that area of the field just probably didn't lend itself to going down the field as much as we would like and so some of those passes ended up in the hands of Najee, which is not a bad place for some of those passes they end up."

Ben's day: After a subpar performance all around against the Bengals, Tomlin was asked almost every question about how to turn things around, including having Roethlisberger practice and take snaps with the first team on Wednesdays, which is normally a day off for him to recover.

Tomlin, who said he didn't consider making a change at quarterback on Sunday, also has no problem with giving Roethlisberger the day off.

"This guy has a body of work over the course of not only this, what we've done in preparation this season, but over the course of 18 years that has us taking that approach," said Tomlin. "And that is a global approach. It rests him and rightfully so. He's an older guy and the wear and tear of play affects him differently than younger guys. Also, he's an older guy and he has a volume of plays that most guys can't pull from that probably requires more physical work in an effort to be ready to play.

"You've got to look at the totality of the journey. We're going into game four. We have many games that lie ahead. And I don't want to be fielding questions late in the year about the quality of his throwing arm for example. It also provides an opportunity for things that have nothing to do with Ben. We've got two quality young quarterbacks that we feel good about in (Mason) Rudolph and (Dwayne) Haskins. Days that he doesn't work allows them an opportunity to work with the first unit and grow and develop, which is something that they need as well.

"We serve a lot of things with that approach and very rarely is that approach, or decision to that approach, made in a vacuum or made on a singular set of circumstances."

Take a closer look at scenes from the Steelers' Week 3 game against the Cincinnati Bengals

Maximizing strengths: Tomlin spoke about the importance of maximizing their strengths in all phases of the game, and on offense he feels those strengths are plentiful. It's just a matter of getting everything to flow.

"We've got a quality set of eligible. Those guys are somewhat young, but they're not young in football experience," said Tomlin. "Guys like JuJu, (Chase) Claypool, Diontae and James Washington have made a lot of plays for us. We have good quality talent and a variety of talent in the tight end position and different skill sets. Pat (Freiermuth), although new, has added to that. You've seen evidence of that over the course of the first couple of weeks.

"Although he lacks experience, Najee's shown in a very short period of time that he is getting capable of doing what's required in terms of being a featured runner."

While the offensive line is young and still gelling, Tomlin likes what eight-year veteran Trai Turner brings to the group.

"I like Trai Turner and the veteran experience and expertise that he brings, but he's a member of a unit," said Tomlin. "Many of those guys don't have experience that he has, so it's cool to watch him mentor and share that experience with others. But he can't do it fast enough. We can't do it fast enough."

Related Content