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Subtle Tomlin sets record straight


We have been interested in Mike Tomlin’s side of the story when it comes to the firing of Bruce Arians and the subsequent hiring of Todd Haley – both which appear from the outside to have Art Rooney’s fingerprints all over them.

In a 255-word, 2-minute opening statement introducing Haley as the team’s offensive coordinator on Thursday, Tomlin addressed the ever-growing sentiment that he had little to do with the hiring of Haley.

Oh, it was subtle, but it was there.

First, Tomlin introducing the hiring of a coach with a press conference is unusual; Rooney not being present for the news conference even though he was in building is also unusual; and Tomlin standing off in the corner smiling like a proud papa while Haley addressed questions was also unusual.

But make no mistake about it, Tomlin’s opening remarks were very contrived.

Maybe he took a page out of Wes Welker’s book from last year when the New England receiver made something like 11 subtle foot reference in light of Jets coach Rex Ryan’s foot fetish viral video?

Tomlin wanted to make it known (believable or not) that he hired the offensive coordinator and not the owner.

He chose subtlety over directness.

I announce …”
I thought …”
“… Intangibles that I really value.”
“When I started this process …”
I talked to a lot of people …”
I was really impressed …”
“… I have been attracted to in the past.”
I will always be interested …”

Eight times in the first 131 words out of Tomlin’s mouth was “I”.

You think he was trying to make a point?

But again, what did we expect him to say?

Even if Haley was pushed on Tomlin, it doesn’t really matter now.

What matters for the Steelers is that they find a way for everybody to co-exist, and Tomlin took that first step on Thursday with his words.

Too bad nobody was listening.

* There is no way that anybody can speak intelligently about what kind of affect Haley will have on the Steelers’ offense.

If the organization isn’t sure what the playbook is going to look like right now, how can anybody else pretend that they do?

What we do know about Todd Haley is that he plays to his personnel. And the Steelers current personnel say they throw first and pass second.

* So Haley is a no nonsense type of coach?

OK, and Sean Kugler isn’t? John Mitchell isn’t? Keith Butler isn’t? Mike Tomlin isn’t?

Didn’t Dick LeBeau go after Anthony Smith in Carolina a few years back?

There is fear that out there that Haley and Ben Roethlisberger will get into shouting matches on the sidelines during games.

Maybe they will, maybe they won’t. Time will tell.

Roethlisberger isn’t someone who should be worried about. He will be good and Haley will make him better.

Haley’s biggest impact, or who his no-nonsense approach is really going to benefit, are the Steelers young and impressionable wide receivers.

You have three young kids – Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders — who had success early in their careers, and they just might need a good rubberneck or two to keep them in line.

 Mark Kaboly
2/10/2012 at 12:46 p.m.


Author: Mark Kaboly

Mark Kaboly is the Pittburgh Steelers beat writer for the Tribune-Review. Mark has covered more than 300 NFL football games in all 32 NFL cities as well as three Super Bowls -- XL in Detroit, XLIII in Tampa and XLV in Dallas. A Belle Vernon Area graduate, Mark earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English with a specialization in journalism from California University of Pennsylvania. Mark lives in Port Vue with his wife, Jennifer; daughter Briella; and boys Rocco and Bugsley Pug


  1. Randol says:

    Peter King wrote an article for Sports Illustrated in 2009 commenting on how impressed the Steelers were with Haley’s gameplanning after watching tape going into the Super Bowl. Tomlin has been aware of Haley for awhile. People need to give up the conspiracy theories.

  2. Chris Hills says:

    Mark, I appreciate this article. I was thinking the exact same thing and was surprised nobody said it.

    Also I presume you mean “throw first and RUN second…”

  3. Stephen in New York says:

    @ Chris Hills
    Unless he DID mean “throw first and pass second” Maybe run third (and very short)
    None of us know what’s going to happen, and I can’t wait to find out!

  4. Rob says:

    I caught that too, Chris. Throwing first, passing second, getting sacked third and punting fourth was the Arians way. ;)

  5. Bon says:

    Conspiracy theories aside, Tomlin indeed made this pick. The national media however has jumped on the Tomlin overruled by Rooney II mentality.

    Rooney botched the Arians dismissal

    The Steelers need to communicate better.

    Ben and Todd should have met

    This reminds me of the Oakland Raiders

    Roony II was not in the building for Todd press conf

  6. Scott P says:

    Emasculating your Head Coach and trying to dress a firing up in retirement clothes are never a good thing. Rooney, however, made the right decision getting rid of Arians. If Tomlin didn’t have the nads to do it, somebody had to step in and get it done.

  7. Bob Temp says:

    Is Tomlin thinking Haley is being groomed for his job???
    Watch out Mike. It could happen

  8. Edgybear says:

    Just win baby. If you do, all is well.

  9. John says:

    The Rooneys have a lot of money invested in this team. If they step in and make a decision, they have a right to do so. They are the bank! Maybe if Ben has a boss instead of a BFF he will rise to the next level. As far as Coach Tomlin, this is a decision he should have made rather than it being made for him. The Rooneys have been in this business a lot longer than any of these players or coaches. I am looking forward to the next season. I believe Coach Haley will do an awsome job!

  10. Clarence says:

    Groomed for his job? Seriously? Ok, enough with that stupidity and the other conspiracy theorists. I think Tomlin was looking for another QB friendly OC. Now, Haley may not be anything friendly, but he does seem to know how to work with QBs and his work proved it.

    As for Mr. Kabloy’s fetish with the pass, our personnel also says run the ball. Specifically, our linemen. Forget on the Mendy, but Ired does have a bright future in this league and that as a Steeler. I know you’d love to forget that and focus on our 4K yd passer & 2 1k yd receivers, but I have a feeling Haley’s passing will not call for Ben risking his body every play for sake of his own heroism.

    Haley revitalized Warner through the quick short pass and the deep pattern at the right time… ala the SB vs… US! Could THAT have anything to do with this pick also? If Haley has the stuff we need at OC, he will throw, sure, but after he’s established the tone of the game with the RUN… Either Johnson lines up with the RBs at FB or I see a true FB among our RBs this season.

  11. commoncencoz says:

    @Bob Temp … sorry bud, wish as you might, Tomlin isn’t going anywhere. Better chance that Tomlin AND Art II saw the chance to get a good coordinator who was humbled a little bit during his time as a head coach and tweak the offense while giving a returning son a chance to rehabilitate his image. Tomlin is as secure in his job as Cowher was during his “off years”.

  12. Clarence says:

    Oh yeah… Kabloy must have a crystal ball, or God like senses to know whether or not any one was listening to Tomlin… you would have to read people’s mind to know what they were listening to… or may be you missed a good press conference cuz you were paying so much attention to the other people in the room.

    I have disagreed with you before, but at least I appreciated your writing. Now, your just… well, you kinda stink right now.

    …from this insatiable man crush you have on BA to your addiction to the Brees like passing game that you want the Steelers to run so badly, you’re really starting to write stuff beneath your station dude. I don’t know…

    You’re floundering, dude… your starting to drown in your own noise.

  13. Imp'n'Arn says:

    Todd Haley is a patch until Kirby Wilson is recovered and able to take over the reins.
    That is why Fichtner was not hired; the Seelers intend to keep Fichtner, and promote Wilson. Noone will be surprised or upset when Haley is let go…

    …unless he makes a really good offense out the Arians mess.

  14. Van Man says:

    If Wilson becomes the o-coordinator, then Haley is the head coach.

  15. Dick says:

    I cannot understand tthis fascination with Kirby Wilson. I really feel sorry for the guy and wish him a speedy and successful recovery. However, the Steelers have their OC now and I don’t see him leaving unless someone offers a head coaching position. Management is happy with the choice of Haley and most everyone is looking forward to next season. I’m getting tired of the Kirby Wilson talk.

  16. SteelHeart says:

    For all those of you feeling bad for Tomlin being “emasculated”, then they don’t know how the Rooney’s play football ! Tomlin never should have spoke out !

    Just like Tomlin (& Cowher before him) has an “end of season” meeting with each player, the Rooneys have one with their coaches. Tomlin shouldn’t have promised anything before he talked to HIS BOSS ! …then he wouldn’t have had to eat crow.

    I don’t know about all this conspiracy crap, but I’m sure Rooney evaluated Tomlin on well he did with the talent that Rooney supplied him. A 12-4 record doesn’t mean much when your team gets beat by Denver and your QB still thinks that the path to the Superbowl is him playing school-yard football…

    I don’t know how well Haley will do, but you can bet we will see a lot less of BB free-wheeling. That is why there are 10 other guys !

    Go Steelers !!!

  17. Van Man says:

    Unless we upgrade the o-line and add a quality power back, don’t expect miracles.

  18. Steelfan says:

    Kirby Wilson just needs to concentrate on returning to a normal life, any fan who thinks he will be an OC anywhere anytime soon is ridiculous. Recovery is going to be a long process. Welcome and good luck Coach Haley. GO STEELERS!

  19. rich says:

    This is a a great hire,
    I expect to see an pffense this season that will score more points as the season progresses. It will be less predictable, attack other teams weaknesses with rhyme and reason and I think we will see less sandlot football by Ben.

  20. John says:

    The Steelers always seem to get it right. When announced, I thought the Tomlin hiring was the wrong move, and that one of their assistants should have been offered the job. Tomlin turned out to be a great hire. I am a Steeler fan and want them to always do well, so I wish the new oc best of luck. The OL has to pass block better. Yes, Ben extends plays. That’s part of his excellence. But part of his extending plays is that he is runnung from defenses who seem to cut through the line like a hot knife through butter. He rarely has enough time to set up to pass.

  21. Lou says:

    It’s been about “money ball” counter- balancing stats to predict furture performanace but I have trouble believing that Rooney is capable of a statistical appraisal of Arians or for that matter any team development effort. He is old school. Rooney probably made a personal reprisal for Bruce threatening to retire. Tomlin may be the statistic prognosticator that pulled Haley out of the hat.

  22. Bon says:

    The difference between Cowher and Tomlin is stark. Cowher was much more involved in what his coordinators did, He change plays regularly.Tomlin lets them do what they want and never interferes. Some say he has never changed a play that was called.

    He has had success but you have to wonder if Arians dismissal could have been prevented. Obviously Rooney had it in for Ariens. To suggest that Tomlin would be replaced by Haley is crazy. Haley will be here for a short time, if he does well he will get a head coaching job, if he doesn’t get the Steelers to the top of the AFCN, he’ll be fired. After all Arians was good until the Ravens finished first.

  23. rick riley says:

    I excited and ready to see where the offense goes now, nothing irritated me more than settling for field goals last year, especially after first and goal from inside the ten, many times. As far as Ben not being a playground qb, get him a line that can block, or this won’t change. Defense could use a little “tweaking” too, after all, it wasn’t the offense that gave up a 80 yard play in O.T., however, they put us in the O.T., should’ve never gone to that. Go Steelers

  24. Uncle Rico says:

    If it’s ‘unusual’ for Tomlin to call a PC to announce a new hire, how can it be ‘unusual’ for him to stand off to the side smiling? This is all a stretch. This is Tomlin’s first really big hire since he put his original staff together. Arians and LeBeau were inhouse guys. They don’t exactly need introductions to the media. As chatty as Arians was, he certainly didn’t. I don’t recall Cowher holding PCs for Mularkey or Whiz, but I do remember him holding court for Gilbride. You’re seeing/hearing what you want to see/hear.

  25. Bsteel says:

    Look for Belechick to can Osostinko and ink Hines Ward.

  26. Jay Walker says:

    I’ve had enough of Ward’s drops and fumbles. It’s time to move forward with the over-the-hill gang.

  27. Eddie says:

    In defense of Haley’s abrupt coaching style, has everyone forgotten about Bill Cowher???? He certainly wasn’t afraid to get in a player’s face on the sidelines if that player screwed up in a game. Since when did coaches have to start walking on eggshells with these prima donnas? The media is in a feeding frenzy over this hire and personally, I think it’s unwarranted. And, Tomlin never said that Arians would be back. I listened carefully to his final presser. When he was asked if he thought his staff would remain in tact, he SAID, “I ANTICIPATE it, but changes occur after every season in the NFL. Players move. Coaches move. We’ll see.” To me, that’s not a YES answer, so where did all this hoopla come from? As far as Rooney goes, he MAYBE could have handled the Arians situation differently. In my opinion, I think he was trying to be gracious and help Arians “save face” by saying he retired rather than saying we opted not to renew his contract (in other words, we fired him). Why don’t you beat writers try to write something positive instead of always trying to stir the pot with negativity? From now on, I think I’ll stick to the Steelers official website for all my information. They seem to be the only source that actually KNOWS what’s going on.

  28. Mark Kugler says:

    I’m sure Rooney saw the horrific play calling. Sure. Ariens drew up nice plays. But. He couldn’t call a good game. Outside of the 2012 New England game. We never had a good game plan. Poor play calling and clock management has been mediocre at best. And I am sure Bruce Arins past “Bret-Favre-esque “I might retire” drama also had something to do with this year’s decision.
    But. The facts are. Our O-line was previously built to move forward. And a change in philosophy (pass first to set up the run) exposed weaknesses of a run oriented push-forward, trap and block schemed offense. Our O-coordinaterwas inserting round pegs in square holes. Ben made things happen in a no-huddle. Extend the play. Against all odds. With his unrivaled and uncomparable play making abilities. But, you live by the sword. You die by the sword. Our O-Line has been decimated by injuries because these extended plays. As have having a rushing-strength o-line, being subjected to do what isn’t a strength of theirs and asking them to do it longer.
    Ariens had to go. It should have been done sooner.

  29. David says:

    Haley is NOT a great hire, this will be seen in the win/loss column, you know the main stat, and only stat that gets your tems in the playoffs, short of having to have outside help to get the back door open, his teams in Arizona were mediocre at best and at worst!, I kid you not, the offenses he managed we dismal, Arizona is a below the standard team as were the Cheifs under his coaching so called greatness, we will struggle in the north in 2012 as i see us finishing just above Cleveland….. to boot Arians is the same as booting Shottenheimer after 14-2 SEASON…. Really!

  30. Broncdad says:

    The Steelers don’t make many big mistakes when it come to player/coaching personal. I like the Haley hire. There’s no substitute for talent. Tod Haley is not who theeler nation needs to be concerned about. Fix the porous secondary

  31. Jim M says:

    I’m getting a bad feeling about Art Rooney II. He should leave football operations to the people in charge. It is very questionable premise that he can improve things by giving input on issues like run vs. pass in the play calling, or whether the quarterback need to “tweak” his gave. If he must speak to these things, do it in private. Let the coaches, coach.
    The trash heap of NFL history is filled with activist owners. The owner should be addressing league issues. They could start wit the hyper-active Competition Committee.
    Next they might address the paradox of a multi-billion dollar business whose product is controlled by part time officials.
    Tomlin is quite capable of dealing with the X’s and O’s. The assistants should all be his people.

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