Mike Tomlin: I don’t fear being young on defense

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The book on the Steelers heading into the 2015 season is that they should very tough to stop on offense and that they could have a hard time stopping other teams on defense.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin doesn’t disagree with the first half of that take. During an interview with WAVY in Hampton Roads, Virginia while Tomlin was in his hometown for a football camp, Tomlin said the Steelers “feel good” about an offense that he thinks should be the high-performing unit that it was in 2014.

Tomlin didn’t have any predictions about how a defense filled with young players will fare under new defensive coordinator Keith Butler in the coming season, but did say that he wasn’t scared about the prospect of going into the season with new faces

“Young and defense are two things that I like,” Tomlin said. “That’s not a change that you fear. We’ve got some guys that are working really hard and are really talented. Unproven, yes, but that’s why we play the game. I’ve been excited about watching them work and I look forward to watching them grow and grow together.”

With so many young players in key roles, the Steelers are going to have to expect some breakdowns over the course of the season. If those lapses get less frequent as the season progresses, it will be a good sign for the rebuilding process on that side of the ball in Pittsburgh.

53 responses to “Mike Tomlin: I don’t fear being young on defense

  1. Twelve days until camp. Back to back division titles. 5-1 in the AFCN division this year.

  2. And if the defense is really bad, Tomlin is there for assists on sideline tackles.

  3. Even though most of my fellow Steelers fans didn’t want to hear it… Warren Sapp was right (yuck) when he said the Steelers D was “old and slow.”

    The past couple of years the defense had some smart players, but players like Polamalu, Keisel, Ike, etc. just didn’t have the legs to make plays anymore.

    With youth the Steelers’ D will definitely have mental lapses, but at least now there’s some teeth there to make some splash plays, and with their offense that may be enough.

    I see some reason for optimism…

    • Mike Mitchell was one of the worst safeties last season. However, he was playing w/ 2 bad groin injuries. He’ll be healthy and should benefit from being in the system for a 2nd year. I’m not expecting good, but he couldn’t be much worse.

    • Jarvis Jones showed some flashes before getting hurt last year. In year 3 he finally looks physically ready, and should start playing on instinct vs. analyzing.

    • Ryan Shazier & Stephon Tuitt have had a year to learn the playbook.

    • McLendon being healthy will improve the run defense, which will improve the D as a whole (more long 3rd downs).

  4. The Steelers are too old on defense. – 2012
    The Steelers are too old on defense. – 2013
    The Steelers are too old on defense. – 2014
    The Steelers are too young on defense. – 2015

    …What do you people want!?!

  5. Young and unproven can’t be any worse than old, slow and injury prone….which is what our defense has been the last few years. Just gotta keep your fingers crossed some of these new guys develop.

  6. There is no question that the 11 guys that wind up starting can play football as there is talent there. The problem is that with such a young defense, there will be growing pains and miscommunication. The steelers offense, while potentially explosive, tends to fall asleep during games and it is uncertain if this defense can cover for that consistently over the season.

  7. sbchampsagain says:
    Jul 13, 2015 1:06 PM
    The defense can’t be worse, can it?!

    Well, the defense won them a couple of games late last year so yes, the defense can be worse.

  8. I think Steeler fans need to be patient this year as the schedule is much tougher last year. The offense will have a harder time”protecting” the young defense because of better opponents. Their is room for optimism, but temper it with caution as a 9-7 record could easily win the North. If the offense gets better I think they will be able to mask some of the inexperience early in the season. I have faith….go Steelers.

  9. nonetruerthanblue says:
    Jul 13, 2015 1:15 PM
    This is crazy. Just a few years ago, they were called incredibly aging on defense. Let he Steelers just play ball and forget about the distinctions.

    And if the Steelers were balanced on defense as to age, they would be called “middle of the road” or “average”.

  10. New defensive scheme, the 4-3-4 +10 1/2.

    This is where you force all runners to the Pittsburgh side of the field where a coach just sticks out his foot

  11. Mike Tomlin: I don’t fear being young on defense . . . as I can always stand in the running lane to help out.

  12. Too bad Jarvis Jones has turned out to be such a bust. When you whiff on a first-rounder, it really sets you back as an organization.

  13. First the Steelers’ fans talk about how the young players need years of experience before they can start. Now they are saying let’s start all the rookies right away. In the meantime, the No. 1 picks for the last two years have been LOL jokes.

  14. First the Steelers’ fans talk about how the young players need years of experience before they can start. Now they are saying let’s start all the rookies right away. In the meantime, the No. 1 picks for the last two years have been LOL jokes.

    I would like to know what Steeler fans you are quoting…..or are you just fabricating as usual for attention? I think you need to worry more about your criminals than the Steelers draft picks. By the way I am talking about the criminals on the field not the ones taking over your city. Talking about jokes?

  15. As I’m a Ravens fan I’m worried the defense will improve with Tomlin taking on more control of it.

    Dick LeBeau was a genius but at the same time he kept running the same scheme without the personnel for it. vanilla on the first two downs and blitz on third. Without Polamalu able to make instinct plays outside the defense it didnt work the same. The Ravens and Patriots pretty much had it down cold. stay out of third down and you’re good

  16. They’ll be much younger and a lot faster.
    They may make some mistakes early, but
    so long as they keep improving, they’ll be
    ready to make a run in the playoffs.

    Really tough schedule this year, but it should
    only help to make them a battle hardened team –
    just like they came together in 2008, to win it all.

  17. Their defense is going to depend on those young linebackers.The secondary is younger but still very weak.I think the D-line will be solid.The LB`s have the physical qualities to be great.J.Jones,Shazier & Dupree are as fast and athletic as any team has.
    They need to get a lot pressure on the QB to help the secondary out but my concern would be in the run game.
    They lack gap integrity and physicality with Jones & Shazier.Dupree should help there but it`s hard to expect too much right away from him.
    I`m a Steeler hater so i hope they don`t workout but they will be scary in a couple seasons if they do.

  18. Don’t be surprised if the defense has a big year. Yes it is full of young players but they are in a new simpler scheme. Butler is going to feature the D-line more with Heyward & Tuitt rushing the passer. The defense became predictable the last few add that to aging players thats why the struggled.

  19. surfinbird1 says: Tomlin is a real trip.

    = = =

    Nicely played, and the thumbs up indicate the steeler fans don;t get the joke.

  20. Tomlin, we arent worried about the performance of the defense because of its age. We are worried about the entire team underperforming against bottom feeders, which is a hallmark of Tomlin’s Steelers.

  21. bigbenschancre says:
    Jul 13, 2015 3:46 PM
    surfinbird1 says: Tomlin is a real trip.

    = = =

    Nicely played, and the thumbs up indicate the steeler fans don;t get the joke.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    I get the joke. I thumbed up because I have a sense of humor. In fact, the season it happened a special teamer dropped out of the Pro Bowl and I suggested on the site that Tomlin was robbed because he didn’t get the slot.

    We’re not all like Patriots fans.

  22. Not fearful, perhaps, but Tomlin was obviously concerned about the direction of the defense or he wouldn’t have forced LeBeau out when LeBeau wanted to return. I expect that Tomlin will assert more direct control over the defensive scheme and play-calling than he has in the past. Whether that is a good thing remains to be seen.

    The Steelers will open with six new (or unproven) defensive starters this season. If these guys can stay healthy and play up to their pedigrees then the defense will be much improved and the Steelers become legitimate SB contenders. However, it’s a lot of youth to integrate at one time. I expect some growing pains.

  23. Shamarko Thomas is a huge unknown. He’s a great story if anyone would like to tell it rather than if Brady gets snubbed by a country club….
    This dude raised his siblings while in college, lost his mom, and was a taken under the wing of the great Troy. He’s trying to make a name for himself while achieving a lifelong dream. He is the American dream. His story is what is wonderful about the NFL, tell it.

  24. Tomlin needs to win another SB before I’m convinced he should be coaching nfl’s most decorated team.

    However, Tomlin is better than every other coach in the afcn, so all’s good for now.

  25. Steelers are still a 4th place team here, everyone in that division got better and I think the steeler offense is way overrated thanks to their maybe average offensive line. Expect big ben to take more big shots and I expect to see him on the IR this year because of it

  26. The Steelers D was 18th last year. Granted not stellar or what we are use to but it is transitional and the offense helped them out. Many games lost to bad teams but there were some games where they won and nobody had them to win (Indy,Carolina,sweeping Cincy). Losing to Tampa and Cleveland shows they have defensive rebuilding going on but winning a division is a nice sign.

  27. “theenforcer1976 says:
    Jul 13, 2015 7:31 PM

    Steelers are still a 4th place team here, everyone in that division got better and I think the steeler offense is way overrated thanks to their maybe average offensive line. Expect big ben to take more big shots and I expect to see him on the IR this year because of it.”

    According to Pro Football Focus, the Steelers had the third-best pass blocking line in the league last year. Also, Todd Haley’s offensive scheme revolves around getting rid of the ball quickly in order to avoid taking big hits. Maurkice Pouncey is a perennial Pro Bowler. Apparently it’s been three or four years since you’ve watched the Steelers play.

  28. What else is he supposed to say?? He’s basically a rah rah type of coach anyway. He should fear not winning a playoff game for the 5th year in a row however. And a young, inexperienced defense with a rookie defensive coordinator makes that a distinct possibility. The biggest problem with starting a lot of players that are unproven is that there is no quality depth so every injury will be disasterous.
    Pinning all your hopes on offense is a questionable course of action, as the Steelers were made painfully aware in last years playoffs. A good defense will shut down a good offense every time in December and January. See Seattle vs. Denver in the 2013 Super Bowl. And despite Tomlin’s great optimism for his offense he is overlooking one fact also made very clear in last year’s playoff loss: Pittsburgh’s offensive line is average at best. They were manhandled by the Raven’s front seven resulting in 5 QB sacks and no appreciable ability to run the ball. So much for a great offense. Heinz field was half empty midway through the 4th quarter when Ben was knocked unconscious.
    Pittsburgh is in the beginning of a long rebuilding process. Unfortunately the same people that orchestrated the current mess are now trying to fix it. The inability to judge talent by the front office has been crippling to the overall talent level on the Steelers. For example, there is not a single Steeler that would start on the Ravens defense. That’s really startling. This disparity in overall team talent is why the Steelers are 3-6 against the Ravens in the last 4 years.
    So Tomlin’s lack of fear may make sense. He knows it will be years before they become relevant in the post season anyway.

  29. The most awesome play I ever saw was in Super Bowl XLV when Clay Matthews and Ryan Pickett forced a fumble on Mendenhall, whose eyes were about to pop out of their sockets as he returned to the bench.

  30. Steelers are still a 4th place team here, everyone in that division got better and I think the steeler offense is way overrated thanks to their maybe average offensive line. Expect big ben to take more big shots and I expect to see him on the IR this year because of it

    Still a 4th place team? They have not finished 4th place in the division since 1999 and the time before that was 1988.

  31. 3yardsndust says:
    Jul 13, 2015 2:00 PM
    Too bad Jarvis Jones has turned out to be such a bust. When you whiff on a first-rounder, it really sets you back as an organization.

    Barely started in his rookie year due to the learning curve in a lebeau system and missing 10 games with a broken wrist in his second season qualifies as a bust?

  32. I hope McCullers comes into camp like a beast and wins that spot in the middle. I think he has the potential to be something special and a fixture at the nose. If that happens, watch out AFC North!

  33. Shamarko Thomas is a huge unknown. He’s a great story if anyone would like to tell it rather than if Brady gets snubbed by a country club….
    This dude raised his siblings while in college, lost his mom, and was a taken under the wing of the great Troy. He’s trying to make a name for himself while achieving a lifelong dream. He is the American dream. His story is what is wonderful about the NFL, tell it.
    _________________
    Great post! Florio?

  34. mshawn75 says:
    Jul 13, 2015 2:06 PM
    Most over-rated coach in the NFL.

    I don’t really see any praise that he gets to qualify him as overrated. In any event, he does have an 82-46 record, 2 afc championships, 1 super bowl championship and has never had a losing season. There are at least 28 other coaches out there that wish they had that resume.

  35. Steelers won the division but lost the WC to the Ravens in an embarrassing homefield beatdown. The defense was powerless to stop Joe Flacco. Since January 2011, no playoff wins whatsoever. I guess the fans will keep saying they’re rebuilding. Hahahahaha.

  36. I’m starting to think that last year’s WC game was Tebowed’s Super Bowl. Congrats.

  37. The steelers defense is going to be better then people think and the offense will be top five again.
    If they Stay healthy and the steelers will be hard to beat every week.

  38. The Steelers will struggle to beat any team with a defense. Unfortunately, this is the majority of the teams they face….6 games off the rip in the AFC North. They will be lucky to go 2-4 in the division if they can beat Cleveland and Cinn at home. Forget about beating the Ravens, they are loaded and will produce repeats of the playoff game. They may overachieve and go 5-5 for the rest of their schedule. That’s still 7-9. If they go 8-8 I would consider that a great year considering the lack of team talent and depth.
    Ben can only do so much.

  39. The Pittsburgh Field Goals will need a perfect defense is they can go over .500 for the second time in four years. Forgot about the playoffs, though. The Pittsburgh Field Goals are still rebuilding. Hahahahaha.

  40. Its so funny that steelers haters say the same thing year after year about how awful they will be. The steelers then win the division and go to the playoffs. I look forward to seeing the same laughable comments next year. Thanks.

  41. Jarvis had 2 sacks, and a FF in 2 games before going down for the year. Too early to be labeled a bust. I expect him to be the player they drafted out of Georgia. A playmaker that can get after the QB.

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