PITTSBURGH (93-7 The FAN) — Mike Tomlin chose “multiple” as the word of the week in his weekly press conference Tuesday afternoon at the Steelers Southside practice facility.
Mutiple, because he said New England (5-1) can line up and present a different look on offense each week. He said it will be up to his defense to have a good, comprehensive plan to stop the Patriots and quarterback Tom Brady.
“It just depends on how they choose to attack us,” Tomlin said. “If they’re throwing the ball vertically down field then we better pressure the quarterback and sacks better be an element of the equation. If they’re in (an) empty (set) and they’re spreading the football with short passes then that’s something that’s not an element of the equation.”
Brady has the Patriots passing attack at the top of the NFL, averaging over 350 yards per game. The Pats have been efficient on the ground as well, averaging 124 yards a game (10th in NFL).
Tomlin said that’s the Patriots being the same old Patriots — producing well in many aspects of their offense.
“They can attack you in a variety of ways,” Tomlin said. “They can line up and play empty (set), no-huddle football, they can put two and three tight end-like bodies on the field and pound you. They’re very multiple.
“…It just depends on what personality they choose to be this week.”
More on the Pats
On the Patriots, Tomlin said “they’re doing what they usually do,” which is sit atop the AFC. Tomlin said it’s not all about Brady as many might suggest, as they have a stable of running backs that are utilized well.
Tomlin gave praise to the entire Patriots passing game and said Brady spreads the ball around to all eligible receivers. He said he wouldn’t be surprised if former Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco gets more involved this week, as he’s had a bye week to get more familiar with the offense.
On the defensive side of the ball, Tomlin said the Patriots are good at situational football despite giving up a lot of yards so far this season.
“If you come out and think they’re the 32nd best defense in football you’re kidding yourself,” Tomlin said.
On special teams, Tomlin said “they’re their usual selves,” meaning they are solid and don’t hurt the team’s chances of winning football games.
Looking back at Arizona
Tomlin said the coaching staff was pleased with some things on tape in Arizona. He said the team had a sense of urgency and it was “closer than any of our other performances” to a complete 60-minute effort.
Answering Arizona’s surge in the second half was big, and holding on to the football late in the game was a positive as well, Tomlin said, as it allowed the Steelers to eat clock and slow the Cardinals’ momentum to eventually win.
On defense, Tomlin was happy with the first half and the performance of Lamarr Woodley. Tomlin also mentioned the positive performance of Steve McLendon, who filled in for injured nose tackles Casey Hampton and Chris Hoke.
“There were a lot of positives to build upon,” Tomlin said.
Importance of first place
When asked about how important being in first place in the AFC North is and how important Sunday’s game against New England is for playoff seeding down the road, Tomlin made it clear that it’s too early to be looking at the standings.
“We’re just trying to win week to week and keep pace with the elite, put ourself in position to be considered in that conversation,” Tomlin said. “Those things will sort themselves out.”