Mike Tomlin can’t be happy with Ben Roethlisberger right now.
On Wednesday, Roethlisberger justified his absence from Organized Team Activities by explaining, “If coach asked me to be here every day, I would be here every day but they haven’t asked me to do that.” From Tomlin’s perspective, that’s a problematic statement, on several levels.
First, it potentially implies that Roethlisberger and Tomlin have communicated regarding whether the quarterback should participate in voluntary offseason workouts, which in turn potentially implies that Tomlin has had those communications with other players. Which suggests that Tomlin has privately said things to players indicating that the voluntary workouts aren’t voluntary.
Second, if Tomlin never engages in such communications because of the rules and realities of voluntary workouts, it represents an unfair characterization of Tomlin’s wishes. Most coaches want all players to be present for all workouts, voluntary or not. Tomlin may not say it because he knows he can’t.
Third, regardless of whether Tomlin and Roethlisberger did or didn’t have the conversation about the quarterback’s participation, the explanation bolsters the perception that Tomlin isn’t as buttoned up as he should be. Given the team’s clumsy, unprepared approach at the end of last season’s critical Week 15 loss to the Patriots, Tomlin already seems like a guy who maybe isn’t as obsessed with details as he should be, and as other coaches are. By painting a picture of nonchalance in Tomlin, Roethlisberger’s comments do nothing to counter that dynamic.
So Tomlin may not be thrilled with this development — unless of course he didn’t want Roethlisberger at the OTA sessions so that the reps could be used to help develop Roethlisberger’s potential long-term replacement. Even so, Roethlisberger’s candor creates unfortunate optics for his coach.