As the Steelers prepare to face the Bengals tonight and as quarterback Ben Roethlisberger tries to win the mob pre-emptively by periodically nudging offensive coordinator Todd Haley toward the undercarriage of the bus, coach Mike Tomlin concedes that an incident between the two men is inevitable.
“You made a transition this year from Bruce Arians to Todd Haley,” Bob Costas asks in an interview to be aired on NBC’s Football Night in America (7:00 p.m. ET). “Ben Roethlisberger told me before the first game against Denver, ‘Every coach, at some point, their temper starts to come out. But when it comes to that time, we’ll be able to deal with it and move on.’ Has that time come yet?”
“I don’t know,” Tomlin said. “I’m usually pretty busy when they get a little down time. I’ve always got guys on the grass, as we say in this business. I’m not worried about those interactions. If it hadn’t happened already, I’m sure at some point it will and it won’t be catastrophic. I’m sure we’ll all move on.”
Tomlin seems to endorse the philosophical shift that has resulted in Roethlisberger periodically grumbling about things like the “dink-and-dunk” nature of the offense. Asked by Costas whether the new offense is successfully reining in Roethlisberger, Tomlin said, “I think we’re doing a nice job, even in the midst of running the ball as poorly as we are, because we’re minimizing negative plays. And if you minimize the negative plays, that means your quarterback is upright. That’s one of the goals that we had here for this season, along with winning more games than we have to this point.”
The bigger goal (slightly) is winning games. And with the weapons that the Steelers have, they should be playing to their strengths. Since they’re not and the Steelers aren’t winning, Roethlisberger will continue to agitate until Haley blows his stack.