Friday, January 26, 2007

Making the Right Pick the Wrong Way
First of all, I couldn't be more excited that Mike Tomlin is the third Steelers coach of my lifetime. He is dynamic, young, energetic and brings a fresh perspective to a team that sorely needs one. I like that the Steelers now have elements of the Cowher regime (LeBeau and Arians) and some new elements.
It's like I've always felt about the U.S. Government--despite my own political biases, it is almost always better that one party not sweep the Presidency, House and Congress. The Black and Gold checks and balances are in place.
For instance, I don't know how sentimental Dick LeBeau or Kevin Colbert is about Joey Porter, but I'm glad that Tomlin will be judging him soley on game film. When a guy is about to demand Top 5 linebacker money, it's best to judge with your brain and not with your heart.
And while I think the Rooney's made the right decision, I have to question the way they went about it.
First of all, I don't understand why money had so much to do with the decision. Art Rooney II told the Post-Gazette early this week that part of the confusion with Russ Grimm was that the Steelers talked money with both Grimm and Tomlin and that Grimm may have had the wrong idea.
Fine. Even if that seems a bit unordthodox, misunderstandings happen.
But something else bugs me. Tomlin got a reported $10 million over 4 years--a figure that isn't overwhelming, but certainly fair for a first-time head coach. Grimm couldn't have commanded much more money. He's been passed over by other teams in the past. It's unimaginable that he would have demanded more than $12 million over those four years.
So were Tomlin and Grimm so even in the eyes of the Steelers brass that they were willing to play Let's Make A Deal with their decision? Sure, I might grab a $1 Bacon Cheeseburger at Wendy's for lunch because I only have a buck. But if I can afford the double with cheese, I'm paying. No sense in being hungry all day.
It's the coach of one of the most stories franchises in sports. Not lunch. Why are you counting pennies right until the end?
Which leads me to the biggest problem: Why rush the decision?
Grimm and Tomlin weren't going anywhere. By last weekend, they were already passed over by the Dolphins (Tomlin) and the Cardinals (Grimm). If the Steelers were a.) so unsure about their choice that money was still an issue and b.) so unsure of Grimm that Tomlin could bowl them over and get the job, then why not wait a few more weeks to talk to Ron Rivera too?
I know the Senior Bowl was this week. But don't tell me that sending Colbert and Lebeau is a worse than risking a less-than-thorough coaching search. Why rush your biggest decision in 15 years and end up looking unprofessional in the process?
The Rooneys are untouchable in Pittsburgh. They have done so much good for the city that they probably deserve some slack.
With my limited knowlege of their candidates, I would have chosen Tomlin too. I think it's better to grab a talented guy a year or two early than miss out on him.
But if he isn't ready and he doesn't work out, there will be a lot of criticism. And, if so, I think it should fall on the front office, for conducting an odd and unneccessarily hurried decision.


Anonymous Signor said...

I don't really know that much about the coaching search since it pretty much occurred simultaneously to my moving to New York and I was without internet access for a few weeks. I do however, doubt that the Rooneys looked upon their top 2 candidates like Bacon Double Cheeseburgers. If anything, I would bet that they were talking salaries to both so that they would be a lot closer to finalizing a deal once they selected their candidate, avoiding losing their top guy to a different job offer that paid more. Their was speculation that the league put pressure on them to hire a minority, but I sincerely doubt that since they made their decision before they could even interview Rivera again. Ultimately they choose Tomlin, no doubt because of the youthful energy that he brings to the organization as well as getting some new blood pumping through the veins of the organization. I think that they realized that bringing in someone from outside the organization with no loyalties or working relationships would benefit the team. Already it has paid off in 2 key decisions. 1.) Bringing in a new Secondary coach. I loved Darren Perry as a player, but the seconday (corners in particular) has been sub par for years now. 2.) Gutting the offensive playbook. So much focus gets put on the QB learning the playbook and the system, but there are also 10 other guys who need to know what to do after the snap. I think that this will make a huge difference next year. Really, most teams don't shake up their offense from week to week. They line up and say this is what we do, can you stop it? Having a streamlined playbook can simplify things and let the offence focus on doing ewhat they do well instead of trying to master 15 years worth of offensive strategy.

7:59 PM  

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