Its been said that Mike Tomlin is a mix of Bill Cowher and Chuck Noll.
Noll, for all his well earned reputation as a demanding, hard-driving coach, could be an old softy when it came to benching or cutting his veterans. (See the Dwaine Board story that Ed Bouchette trots out each and every time the Steelers cut a young defender).
Cowher, on the other hand, could sometimes be callous. Levon Kirkland’s departure was common knowledge to many in the Steelers organization long before it happened, and Kirkland himself discovered the news from Ed Bouchette of the Post-Gazette.
On this front, Tomlin it appears is indeed a mix of the two. During the 2009 mid-season meltdown Tomlin promised/threatened all important roster changes.
Steel Curtain Rising even reflected on how this meant so much more than would were it to occur in an organization like the Washington Redskins.
Then his changes amounted to playing Joe Burnette a few extra snaps in an awful loss at the Mistake by the Lake.
Two years later, Tomlin is taking a decidely different approach. He’s not mentioning much about personnel changes to the press, but he certainly isn’t shy about making them.
Heads are Rolling
Bryant McFadden started the year at corner, went out due to injury, and now plays special teams. Chris Hoke played quite well in relief of Casey Hampton until he too got hurt. Enter Steve McLendon, and Hoke no longer dresses.
And of course, as we know, Hines Ward now finds himself deep inside the Steelers depth chart.
After starting the year as a glaring liability, the return of Max Starks and a break in the constant stream of injuries, the offensive line has seen some stability and some improvement.
However, stability alone is not what interests Mike Tomlin. Tomlin apparently isn’t satisfied with the line’s over all play, and has made another change, as Doug Legursky returns from injury and claims Chris Kemoeatu’s left guard spot as a consequence.
Legursky started the season at right guard and struggled at times (as did every member of the unit.) But injuries forced him into the left guard spot and he played well.
Kemoeatu’s play has always been inconsistent, and his penchant for idiotic penalties has hurt the team on a number of occaisions.
Mike Tomlin has apparently seen enough. He’s dead serious about trying to put together another Super Bowl run, and he’s showing he’s not afraid to upset the apple cart, ruffle a few feathers, or relegate the offensive line’s highest paid player to the bench in his quest to bring home Lombardi Number Seven.
Good for him.