ShareThis Page
Tim Benz: For Mike Tomlin, it’s not about New Year’s resolutions, it’s about next year’s resolutions |

Tim Benz: For Mike Tomlin, it’s not about New Year’s resolutions, it’s about next year’s resolutions

Tim Benz
Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin during the first half of an NFL football game against the New England Patriots in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Dec. 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

It’s New Year’s resolution season. Unfortunately or Mike Tomlin and his Pittsburgh Steelers, that means Next Year’s resolution season.

With Sunday’s elimination of the Black and Gold — barring a nearly inconceivable tie between the Colts and Titans tonight — this year’s campaign finished about a month earlier than what the Steelers wanted.

It’s time for Tomlin to pledge some resolutions toward making 2019 better.

Yes. Tomlin will be back to do precisely that, whether an increasingly vocal and steadily growing portion of the fanbase thinks that’s a good idea or not.

So here are some things Tomlin should vow to do this offseason:

Get a replay guy

Other teams have one. The Penguins won two Stanley Cups in part because of their guy , Andy Saucier.

Whatever Tomlin is doing on his own just isn’t working. Ever since we made it known how much Tomlin struggled with challenges — a streak that has reached 10 failures in a row — he’s gotten gun-shy.

To a degree, I don’t blame him. We’ve seen some baffling decisions go against the Steelers via replay.

Because of Tomlin’s lack of faith in the process — an irony given his seat on the NFL Competition Committee — he appears unwilling to challenge plays he should. For instance, flashback to the Sean Davis hit on Michael Thomas in New Orleans.

It was ruled an incompletion. It looked like a fumble to me. It was at least worthy of risking a timeout to take a second look.

Speaking of timeouts …

Start using timeouts on defense late in close games

It’s better to control the clock when you don’t have the ball than when you do have it. Because, on offense, you are in greater control of the clock in the first place.

Tomlin got away with holding his timeouts in Jacksonville . That didn’t work in Oakland .

One of Tomlin’s major credos is coaching by his gut and not coaching by some sort of “book.”

I get that. It sounds very rah-rah “football coachy” to say something like that. And it’s a good idea to avoid living your football existence by stats in a binder.

I’ve gotta ask, though: Is “I’m not coaching by the book” code for “I’m coaching by my own book?”

Certain circumstances dictate past results can’t be guaranteed to work out again.

You know, like trusting a defense, which had been playing well against a bad quarterback in Blake Bortles on a bad day, not to crack against a decent quarterback in Derek Carr on a good day.

Oh, and speaking of that …

Drop “we don’t live in our fears”

At least when it comes to talking about the defense. We all know those words aren’t worth the ink used on the quote sheet.

Tomlin is afraid of his defense and, obviously, has coached that way at times.

Feeling the need to extend that possession in New Orleans with the fake punt is an example. Tomlin did that so he wouldn’t give the ball back to the Saints, or, if the play didn’t work, it would — in his logic — at least give them less room on the field and less time to possess the ball on their way to the next score. That way, the Steelers would have enough time for a game-ending sequence to re-tie the score.

Such an approach indicates a lack of faith in the defense.

As did the onside kick against Jacksonville in the playoffs last year .

Find some playmakers on defense

Tomlin griped endlessly about the team’s turnover ratio this year. He should have. At minus-10, it was 28th in the NFL to start the weekend.

So if he can’t tell his quarterback to take fewer risks and cut down on the interceptions — which he can’t, and won’t, do — then his defensive players need to get a few more back on their own.

Tomlin and Kevin Colbert have invested a lot of money, draft stock, coaching equity and free agency efforts in the likes of Artie Burns, Bud Dupree, Stephon Tuitt, Vince Williams, Jon Bostic and Morgan Burnett. If they don’t make enough “splash plays” on defense, it’s time to swap them out for a few more players who can.

Stop losing to lesser teams on the road

Tomlin defenders love to pretend this hallmark of his teams is a nonissue. A fluke. An exaggeration of typical difficulties most teams have playing away from home.

They’d be better off trying to deny the earth is round or that dinosaurs existed.

If this year’s defeats at Oakland and Denver — and the season-opening tie at Cleveland before the Browns changed the coach and QB — didn’t prove Tomlin’s teams play down to the level of competition on the road, I don’t know what will.

Last year one of my resolutions was to avoid writing a New Year’s resolution column . I broke it. Much as I expect Tomlin break all of these.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.