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Despite the offensive struggles, hiring Todd Haley was the right move.
Tomlin made a lot of mistakes in 2012, but there are a few that shouldn’t be considered mistakes, or at worst just be considered to be concerns.
Hiring Todd Haley
In hindsight, hiring Todd Haley may not have been the best move, but in reality it was a pretty good move at the time.
The Steelers needed a change on offense and Haley was a coordinator who adjusted his scheme to fit his offensive talent. While he didn’t exactly do that, he did adjust his scheme to fit what the Steelers wanted to do this season—implement a short passing game and establish running the ball.
Say what you want about Haley’s offense now, but in the middle of the season Pittsburgh’s offense was hitting its stride and the team was one of the hottest in the NFL.
Before criticizing the hiring in Haley, keep in mind why he was hired and what he did to meet the goals of the team. It was the right move even though things did not work out to perfection.
Not Upgrading at Backup Quarterback
Which veteran free-agent quarterback should the Steelers have signed in the offseason? Which quarterback should they have taken in the draft?
It’s easy to look back and say that Tomlin should have upgraded at backup quarterback, but the Steelers appeared to be in a pretty good situation.
When he was healthy, Tomlin believed—for good reason—that Byron Leftwich was a quality backup and that Charlie Batch provided solid depth at third string. Even Jerrod Johnson provided an intriguing developmental quarterback.
The quarterbacks had a very good showing in the preseason and no one could have predicted how poorly things turned out when Ben Roethlisberger went down against Kansas City.
Should there be some concern that Tomlin didn’t anticipate Roethlisberger getting injured—and for that matter, Leftwich as well—and the backups struggle to step in and succeed? There could be, but it was not one of his biggest mistakes.
Tomlin’s decision-making continued to struggle in 2012, particularly with his time management at the end of halves and challenges.
Too often the Steelers had to use timeouts early in the game and thus struggled with time management near the end of the half and the end of the game.
Tomlin’s questionable use of the challenge flag continues to plague him as well.
For example, Tomlin challenged a first-down ruling against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 16. While he won the challenge, the ball was inches away from a first down, which the Bengals would pick up on the next play following a defensive offside penalty.
Yes, Tomlin won the challenge, but considering all of the mistakes that the officials make on a weekly basis, it was not worth potentially losing a challenge.
There is no single biggest mistake by Tomlin for either of these areas, but they continue to be a concern.