PITTSBURGH — The Steelers have been a pitiful team on fourth-down thus far on the season. There have been three bad attempts that have been thrown short of the sticks. Ben Roethlisberger has received criticism for his decision-making, but Matt Canada has also received criticism for his play-calling. Does the real question then become who is to blame for the mess?
During his usual Tuesday press conference, Mike Tomlin discussed some of these calls. However, he did not defer blame away from his quarterback, but rather away from Canada himself. That makes the comments even more interesting.
“There were other eligibles beyond the line of gain, so yes, I had a great deal of confidence in the plays that were called,” Tomlin said. “Obviously, we’d like the outcome to be different. I’d be remiss if I didn’t compliment Green Bay and Joe Barry, their coordinator, in particular. They did a few things differently in those circumstances and created issues for us, so kudos to them. But yes, I felt good about them. No, I didn’t feel good about the result of them, and so we’ll roll the ball out and work again for preparation in those moments this week.”
Tomlin was also asked about Roethlisberger’s ability to call audibles and potentially change plays at the line of scrimmage. While it certainly appears he has freedom in most situations, those critical fourth-down situations would not be one of those moments where he can audible a play call.
“He has a lot of freedom in that regard, but maybe not in those moments,” Tomlin said. “Those moments are so weighty and there’s so much preparation in those moments, oftentimes, those decisions are had and thought through and discussed prior to being in them. There’s more fluidity in that decision-making and more certainty in terms of the play selection.”
Even still, Tomlin sees lots of fixable things in the offense, specifically with Roethlisberger’s game. While he knows Roethlisberger’s mobility will never come back, there are other details he hopes can improve.
Everything [is fixable] except mobility,” Tomlin said. “I don’t have an answer for that, or lack thereof. Ben used to be able to run really well when he was young. Those days are behind him. Other than that, I don’t see much that’s not a discussion in terms of technical alterations or quality of play that can be improved.”
Tomlin certainly seems to like Canada’s play calls and deferred it more to a personnel standpoint that they have to prepare for in the coming week. It is not all Roethlisberger, either. JuJu Smith-Schuster and Eric Ebron ran into each other when Roethlisberger threw the ball into the flat to Najee Harris. There is plenty to work on from a detail standpoint.