Contrary to earlier reports that Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin is on the hot seat, he isn't, per The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Mike Tomlin is not on the coaching hot seat.
"Mike Tomlin pulled into Saint Vincent College in a new black vehicle, something different, a unique mode of travel for a Steelers head coach and something perhaps symbolic.
"He rumbled onto campus driving a Ford F-150. The coach is ready for the big construction job ahead of him after consecutive 8-8 seasons.
"'I'm excited about getting things started,' Tomlin said after putting his players through a run test on the eve of their first practice in Latrobe.
"The next question might be, does his new pickup truck come with a hot seat?
"That seems to be a popular topic around the NFL lately. One website had Tomlin as the coach with only the 22nd-best job security in the NFL, placing him below two former Steelers assistants, Bruce Arians with Arizona and Ken Whisenhunt with Tennessee.
"The reality is, there is no hot seat. Tomlin's record is 71-41, tying him with Bill Cowher for the best coaching record with the Steelers after seven seasons. The Steelers under Tomlin are 1-1 in Super Bowls, and they have not had a losing season.
"They have gone without a winning season in the past two, but Art Rooney II, the team's president, and Dan Rooney, who preceded him and reigns as team chairman, have a long history of patience with coaches.
"Like Tomlin, after some early success, Cowher's teams ran into trouble as they charged to a new era with new players. They missed the playoffs three consecutive years from 1998 through 2000 by going 7-9, 6-10 and 9-7. The Rooneys reacted to those seasons by signing Cowher to a contract extension before the 2001 season. Tomlin, who signed a three-year extension in 2012 that carries through the 2016 season, is due another extension next year.
"Is there pressure to win? Absolutely -- at all levels in all pro sports -- but Tomlin said he feels no more this year than in any other season. In fact, he laughed at the question Friday before issuing a flat,'No.'
"Consecutive 8-8 seasons also have not prompted him to approach this training camp differently, he insisted.
"'Not for me. We're here to build our team for 2014. What we've done in the past is in the past. To be quite honest with you, a lot of those guys are going to be significant components of what we do this year were not a part of some of those teams you mentioned.
"'I'm singularly focused on the now. I'm going to sell that to the football team. We don't need to carry last year's baggage. I say that every year regardless of what transpired last year. I just think that's an appropriate mentality for individuals and for football teams, one that I hope this group buys into.'"
Regarding the Steelers' plans on defense in 2014, Tomlin told ESPN's Scott Brown on July 26 efficiency always trumps speed:
"But speed can be overvalued in football, even when it comes to the defensive side of the ball.
"'Good defense is really predicated on being where it is you're supposed to be and good tackling,' Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. 'Speed is an awesome asset but it's not going to be the defining asset for us. It's going to be our ability to play smart collectively and be a good tackling group. It's football. It's not a track meet'.
"The Steelers' improved speed on defense emerged as one of the early themes of training camp as several players, including veteran cornerback Ike Taylor, talked about it after reporting to St. Vincent College.
"Taylor said the Steeler's speed on defense reminds him of the 2004 and 2005 teams. Defensive end Cameron Heyward said the speed that the Steelers have added through the draft and free agency stood out during offseason practices.
"'I think that's the one thing you can take from OTAs and minicamp,' Heyward said, 'but I think you want to see the speed with the physicality of it and see how the wear and tear goes being in pads full-time now.'
"The Steelers will see plenty of that.
"Tomlin has already said that it will be a physical camp and he hinted that there could be tackling as early as Monday -- the first day that the Steelers are allowed to hit.
"As for all of that speed on defense, Tomlin said, 'Obviously, we've got some young people that are capable of infusing some speed into the unit, but we're not going to be talking too much about it. It seems like too much has been talked about it already.'"