Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tuesday's Tomlinisms

Mike Tomlin on the sideline vs. the Seattle Seahawks. (photo credit: Pittsburgh Steelers, www.Steelers.com)
Comments from Mike Tomlin's news conference today:

"I believe it is very black and white.  I believe you step into stadiums, and you play, or you don’t.  Or you make plays, or you don’t.  We aren’t in the business of excuse making."

On Indianapolis quarterback Kerry Collins:  "We imagine he'll be better than what they've shown on tape."

Regarding the Colts defense:  "They play a defense predicated on speed.  They trample the run on the way to the pass."

On playing a 4-3 defense such as Indianapolis's:  "I don't care what our opponents do.  They need to be nameless faces to us."

On reading too much into either of the first two games:  “Each playing opportunity stands on its own. It is what it is. We accept it and take responsibility for it, for our first performance just like we do our second and ultimately all of them. It’s important. I think that’s what is so special about this game and this league. You only get so many opportunities to state a case. Each and every one of them are very important and they don’t go anywhere."

Grape Squashers? Pedigree? Two Trains on a Track??

It's pretty clear who did the grape-squashing Sunday at Heinz Field.

If any doubt remains, we should receive a definitive answer today during Mike Tomlin's noontime press conference.  Last Tuesday, you will recall, Tomlin had this to say about the Steelers' opening-season debacle in Baltimore:

"There's a fine line between drinking wine and squashing grapes. Obviously, last week, we were grape squashers. ... We got beat convincingly by a good team. However tough the meat is, we'll chew on it."

Hmmm ... well, the Steelers chewed up the Seahawks, that's for sure.

This week, the Steelers travel to Indianapolis for a Sunday night game (8:20 p.m., ET) against the 0-2 Colts, who are floundering without Peyton Manning.

Actually, it's worth noting the Colts have been struggling for a while now:  They are 5-7 in their last 12 games, dating back to last year's Nov. 7 loss at Philadelphia and including their playoff loss to the New York Jets.

This season Manning has been replaced succeeded by ancient rusty ineffective grizzled veteran Kerry Collins, who at least has a "pedigree" (one of Mike Tomlin's favorite words):  Collins has thrown for more than 40,000 yards in his career, more than Joe Montana, and 10th on the NFL's all-time list.

Already on the hot seat and facing criticism in Indianapolis, Collins appeared to be grasping at straws Monday following the Colts' 27-19 loss to Cleveland on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.

“I thought we ran the ball great,” said Collins, as quoted on the Colts' own rah-rah Web site.  “I thought we did that really well.  Joe’s (Addai) been running great.  Delone (Carter) comes in and gives us a little punch there.  It’s hard to think the world’s going to come to and end when it’s not.  There’s a lot of good things that happened.  I always go back to the old adage, ‘You’re never as bad as you think you are when you lose, and you’re never as good as you think you are when you win.’  As long as we take that attitude and keep trying to go in the right direction, it gives us a chance.

Well, keep telling yourself that, Kerry, and good luck with all of that -- especially running the ball against the Steelers, who set an NFL record last season for fewest rushing yards allowed.  Oh, the Steelers can be run on (see, for example, "Rice, Ray"), but if the Steelers' defense doesn't respect the quarterback pass, it will stack up against the run.

Kerry Collins getting sacked by Cleveland
To counter that, Collins suggested fans will see more no-huddle offense.  Good luck with that, too, and also with converting third-down conversions; and with improving a tepid red-zone offense (if they even get to the red zone).  The Colts' offense has struggled in all those facets of the game, although Collins continues to see improvement.

“I thought we were better at putting ourselves in more manageable third-down situations, which is a positive from the week before," Collins said.  "There’s definitely some good things that happened.  It’s tough to think about that when you lose but at the same time, I really believe we took a step in the right direction in a lot of areas yesterday.  I thought we were efficient at times yesterday, we just didn’t capitalize when we had opportunities in the red zone.”

Uh-huh.  To say the least.  The Colts rank among the NFL's worst (No. 29) in red zone efficiency (21.7 percent), and Collins is No. 28 in quarterback rating (71.4).  Well, at least Collins is a "legit tough guy; a quality dude; a competitor," which are the words Coach Tomlin used in last week's press conference to describe Seattle QB Tarvaris Jackson.

It should be interesting to hear what Mike Tomlin has to say about Collins and the Colts, a franchise that already looks like a train wreck.  Somehow we doubt Tomlin will call this matchup "two trains on a track."

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