Friday, January 27, 2017

Steelers and Patriots, amateurs and professionals

End of a season and maybe the end of an era as Ben Roethlisberger talks retirement.

Joe Starkey: Tomlin, Butler should be embarrassed after latest Brady beating

Last year, with an entire offseason to prepare, the Steelers were disorganized and literally did not cover the Patriots’ top weapon (Rob Gronkowski) on several plays. In this game, Brady sat back there like he always does against the Steelers and lit them up for a franchise postseason record 384 yards. He completed 32 of 42 passes for three touchdowns and no interceptions.

His numbers in Foxborough against the Steelers really do seem like fake news. In six games dating to 2002, Brady has completed 171 of 239 passes for 2,147 yards, 21 touchdowns and no interceptions.

Against Mike Tomlin teams, Brady now has 22 touchdowns and no interceptions.

I am defender of Tomlin, and Ben Roethlisberger is a Hall of Famer. But it’s hard to win when the other coach and other quarterback are so clearly superior.

Paul Zeise: Patriots outplayed and out-coached the Steelers yet again

The definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over and expecting different results.

If that is truly the definition, then my diagnosis for the Steelers today is that they are officially certifiably insane. …
The Patriots don’t beat the Steelers every time because they have better players or more talent; they beat the Steelers because they are much smarter, much more disciplined, tougher and far better coached.

“We do what we do” is silly it worked against the Dolphins and Chiefs because the Steelers are better than those teams, but against the Patriots, you better have more than just empty cliches and chest-pounding nonsense.
What if “empty clichés and chest-pounding nonsense” is the best this coach has to offer?

When Joe Green was asked what made Chuck Noll a great coach he responded that Noll “knew what he wanted and he knew how to get it.” Noll explained the “how to get it” to Rocky Blier once on the sidelines:

When you are out there on the field the thing that gets you through are the habits you create. It's what you do in practice that carries on to the field. All that rah-rah stuff doesn't win ball games.
As a coach Tomlin reminds me of South Park’s Underpants Gnomes. Instead of “???” as step 2 of his plan, he offers portentously delivered clichés about “next man up”, “rise to the occasion”, “unleashing Hell in December”, and “the standard is the standard”.

The special operations world has a saying that applies here:

Amateurs practice until they get it right, professionals practice until they cannot get it wrong.
On Sunday there was no doubt who were the amateurs and who were the professionals in Foxborough. The gap between the two teams starts with coaching.

Big Ben’s Real Message

I think, particularly in his post-Kansas City criticism last week of the selfish Antonio Brown, and this week of the team’s lack of maturity and readiness for the game, that Roethlisberger was focusing his frustration on three people: Brown (to be sure), coach Mike Tomlin and offensive coordinator Todd Haley.

The dissing of Brown is easy. He’s too often this year been immature, and if Roethlisberger had to settle him down on the sidelines at Foxborowhich has been reportedit’s an Odell Beckham-like bout of baby behavior that simply has to stop. Brown’s too great a player to be sulking. He’s the major reason why the Steelers won the division in the first place, after his reach over the goal line resulted in the AFC North-winning touchdown on Christmas against Baltimore.

I got the sense, regarding the Roethlisberger/Tomlin situation, that the quarterback is frustrated that Brown is acting up over and over again, and the coach hasn’t stopped it. Good on Tomlin for forcefully going after Brown after the Facebook incident last week, but little things have flared up often this year. I cannot imagine Tom Brady issuing a read-between-the-lines call-out of an offensive teammate; he’d never question how Bill Belichick was handling a player. Maybe Roethlisberger isn’t. But two weeks in a row, when he questions things like players’ maturity and attentiveness, what really is he talking about? Players, yes. But alsoright or wrongthe control of them by the head coach.

Ben Roethlisberger critical of young receivers after AFC title loss

A drop by Cobi Hamilton in the end zone a few plays earlier on the same drive also was costly. Roethlisberger did not refer to Hamilton’s drop specifically, but he alluded to the young players not coming through in big moments throughout the game.

“I don’t know if that’s the one thing, but you have to score when they’re down there,” Roethlisberger said. “There were missed opportunities whether we didn’t execute well enough, whether plays weren’t made by me or other guys. At times it felt like maybe it was too big for some of the young guys.”


“It’s a little frustrating,” Roethlisberger said. “We talk about how sometimes it’s just one play here, one play there. Tonight we didn’t make those plays. Was [the moment] too big? I don’t know. We need to make every single play in a game like this, in a moment like this.
Another relevant lesson from the world of combat training: In critical moments, "you don't rise to the occasion; you default to your training."

And one from Chuck Noll: "You only feel pressure when you don't know what you're doing."

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