Tomlin Takes

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'Tomlin's Takes' on no-huddle, fans & more

Will no-huddle work?: The Eagles come into Heinz Field on Sunday with a 1-2-1 record but boast a defensive front that has them sitting at the top of the NFC East with that record.

"The catalyst for that is their defensive front and the pressure they put on opposing quarterbacks," said Coach Mike Tomlin. "If we want to have the type of rhythm we need to have to have a winning performance we've got to neutralize that front, not only in terms of blocking what they are capable of from a pass rush standpoint, but also in the run game. They are penetrators, they are disrupters."

Tomlin was asked if using the no-huddle can help slow down the front seven and while he said it can, it's also how you do it.

"It is if you are doing it efficiently," said Tomlin. "And by efficiently, I mean you are minimizing negative plays and you are completing the ball at a decent completion percentage. Those are two factors that weigh into our judgements about whether or not we have a desire to utilize that package week in and week out.

"Those decisions (to use the no-huddle) don't happen in a vacuum. There is more than just the matchup of our offense vs. their defense. There is a global perspective in teams of how the units or the teams matchup, and what our defense might need from a support standpoint in an effort to have a winning performance. All of those things are interrelated in terms of the decision making of when and how much to employ systems of offensive football."

The Steelers will welcome fans back to Heinz Field on Sunday. It will be the first time in the 2020 season the team will have fans in the stands, with 5,500 permitted in the lower bowl based on the new statewide regulations.

For Tomlin, having the fans back is something he said the team will be 'excited' about.

"I know that as a football team, we'll be excited if we have an opportunity to perform in front of fans in our home venue," said Tomlin prior to the announcement that fans would be at the game. "They inspire us, and we look forward to entertaining them."

Using his versatility: Vance McDonald got into the groove against the Texans two weeks ago with three catches for 35 yards, after having just one reception for three yards in each of the first two games of the season.

But what McDonald brings to the offense goes beyond what he does in the passing game and his value is sometimes quite honestly, undervalued.

"Vance is a very versatile player for us," said Tomlin. "He is the type of guy that can be impactful in the running game and the passing game. He has already displayed that to this point this year. We expect it to continue. He is a guy that is a willing point of attack blocker, he is also a capable puller in the run game.

"He is really a team first guy. I think his attitude permeates not only to the tight end position but through our offensive unit."

Not where they want to be: The Steelers released punter Jordan Berry before the start of the 2020 season and signed veteran Dustin Colquitt, who came to the black and gold with a Super Bowl ring from his time with the Kansas City Chiefs.

But the Steelers punting game has gotten off to a shaky start. Colquitt is ranked 15th in the AFC and 25th in the NFL with average yards per punt at 43.8 yards and 14th in the AFC and 28th in the NFL in net average at 36.8.

Tomlin weighed in on the punting game and said overall it needed to improve.

"Not where we want to be," said Tomlin. "Not only with Dustin but with the group. The collective work has to improve. We're simply concerned about raw numbers, net punting, and where we are right now is not where we would like to be."

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