Jason Whitlock wonders what it will take to silence Mike Tomlin’s critics

Colin Cowherd and Jason Whitlock welcome in Mark Schlereth and Eric Dickerson to discuss Pittsburgh Steelers' head coach Mike Tomlin and what will it take to silence his critics?

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- Whitlock, would a victory over New England quiet Mike's critics?

- Well you have-- that's a backhanded compliment. Good at the podium. And you and I both have been critical of Mike Tomlin. And they're 11 and two, with a chance to knock off the Patriots and really kind of wrap up home field advantage. I-- Jacksonville's a possibility and things could go crazy. But if they win this game, they probably locked up home field advantage. And that's a great advantage if they happen to see New England, or anybody again if it comes through Pittsburgh. And so I just think for me and for you if he gets it done this Sunday, and somehow they get home field advantage, and they take advantage of this big game, we got to tone down our criticism a little bit. He's does more than just be good at the podium.

- I didn't say he was just good at it the podium. He is the best in the league ever at the podium. I think New England and Pittsburgh, the ultimate compliment I can give them, they're the Yankees, they're the Red Sox. We don't judge this history on regular season stuff. These are empirical, and empires. The Patriots in Pittsburgh. 50 years from now you're not going to judge John Elway in week 11. You're judging Elway in the playoffs. You're going to look at Brady Belichick, Tomlin, and you're going to put 'em in this big mountaintop and say they were good then, good then, good then. Nobody's going to remember this game. Nobody's going to remember this game by January.

- If it locks up home field advantage--

- OK and then--

- And that leads to Pittsburgh getting to the Super Bowl.

- OK well that's different.

- It's significant.

- That means they are two and 0 against him. But if it locks up home field and Belichick beats him and Hines, this game means nothing.

- There's a problem.

- Yeah. It's, just where I'm at. Will it shut up his critics? No. Because critics will say, Yeah it's a regular season game. What's going to happen when they meet in the playoffs? That's what it's going to come down to. To shut up the critics, you know what you're going to have to do?

- Quiet.

- You're going to have to win an AFC-- was it quiet the critics?

- Quiet. Oh Just tone it-- tone it down.

- OK. No. It won't. Because the critics will still be yeah, regular season game, does it matter. Let's see what happens in the AFC championship. That's what they'll be. You know how critics are. Critics just want an excuse to be critical. That's, you know-- hey the game-- like opinions are easy, right? Opinions are-- that's a cakewalk. Decisions are hard. Right? Going out and doing it, that's hard. Critics are just, that's easy. There'll be critics. They won't shut up.

- You're right and I think then they'll say, well, they didn't-- if they didn't play in New England. So that's why they won, you know.

- Let me give you a tougher question. Let's turn the would. Should it quiet the critics?

- Like you say, it's a regular season game. So it's either you like Mike Tomlin or you don't. That's what it really comes down to. Critics going to be critical no matter what. You know, and I give you credit. You just said that we need to tone it down. 'Cause you two guys were critical.

- I'm critical.

- You were, and I give you credit for that. Especially you. And I like him because, what did I say? He wins. They win. They've had a winning season. People are all like, ah, I don't like the way they play. You know ah, they had a 7-2 but they don't play like I like. They win. That's all. That's all it comes down to. Now can they go and win the big one? And the big one is getting to the playoffs and winning the Super Bowl.

- I'm critical of Mike because I think he's a lot like Pete Carroll. Pete Carroll is heavy on emotion. That's why I Tomlin, Pete's teams are so great at home, average on the road, because you unplug the emotion. I like Dungy. I like Belichick. I like, I like Gibbs. Quieter, a more academic approach. More schematic driven. Mike's not that. Pete's not that. But the one thing I have to say about Tomlin. Those two separate cultures, Seattle and Pittsburgh, win their division, win games, and win Super Bowls. It's not what I prefer. And I always try to preface my criticism of Tomlin. Listen, there's more than one way to win. One way to win. Tony Dungy had the interview three times for the Buccaneers job. I was working in the area, and Richard McKay said you go to dinner with him you have to lean in because he's so quiet. And he goes, I agree because I grew up on Parcells and coaches yell. He goes, we interviewed Tony three times. He was the most qualified candidate. So I like Tony Dungy, Belichick, Andy Reid. Pete drives me nuts. Tomlin drives me nuts. That's more on me than them.

- I want to see, though. What I want to see is, I want to see you change up what you do. And there's this, you know, philosophy and I played on a lot of teams that said we're going to dictate to you guys, we do what we do, we'll run six plays, we'll run different personnel groups, we'll run some different motions, we'll disguise it, throw some window dressing on there, but we're going to do what we do. Well, the last four games. That's Pittsburgh's approach to New England. And they've been eviscerated by Tom Brady in that offense. They sit back in zone, almost 100% of the time. And then he finds the voids in that zone and he just rips 'em apart. So you're going to have to basically, in my mind, to really get the credit you deserve, to go off script, and to do something you've never done before. And I'll go back to 2015 because you look at Wade Phillips as a defensive coordinator, the criticism away, he's going to line up and just base, going to play man throughout the whole entirety of the game, and he's going to say this is good enough to beat you. In that 2000-- 2015 championship game between Denver and between New England, he completely went off script. And they attacked Tom Brady, they hit him 24 times I believe, four sacks. And they end up winning the game, they probably shouldn't have won. 20-18. And that's what Tomlin's going to have to do--

- That's-- that's such a dangerous scenario. I've seen coaches try to win the game from the sidelines, and it can blow up in your face. You know I can't remember if-- Did Sean Payton do the onside get?

- Yeah.

- First out of the halftime.

- Right.

- It, and I'm just, I hate it when coaches try to do too much. I agree with you. We all, when it works we love it.

- Right.

- But sometimes, if I'm Mike Tomlin, I'm saying like, man, I'm 11 and 2 I got a big beer. I got the best wide receiver in football. I'm going to do what we do. If he goes out that way, I don't know if I'm going to beat him up for it.

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