Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin, who was the Vikings defensive coordinator for one season (2006) before his hire in Pittsburgh, told Twin Cities media members this week how his time in Minnesota helped him in his first opportunity as a head coach.
"I had the awesome opportunity to work for Coach [Brad] Childress," Tomlin said. "He provided me insight in terms of some of the things he was dealing with as a coach over the course of that year, and I think it was really helpful for me in terms of transitioning when I got my opportunity."
Tomlin said his hire in Pittsburgh "just evolved" quicker than maybe he envisioned.
"I had been dreaming about the opportunity to run a defense and was excited about the work we were in the process of laying down," Tomlin said. "That was kind of my focus, to be honest with you. The head coaching opportunity was something that just kind of developed."
Here are highlights of what the Steelers discussed this week:
Tomlin on defensive ends
Tomlin revisited past challenges with Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer during Zimmer's time as Cincinnati's defensive coordinator (2008-13).
"The defensive end play [is] a parallel that we can draw from Minnesota relative to his time in Cincinnati," Tomlin said. "When he was in Cincinnati, they had [Carlos] Dunlap and [Michael] Johnson, and they were a formidable tandem. He's got a formidable tandem and then some in Minnesota. Their defensive end play is really exceptional and is going to be a real issue for us."
Roethlisberger on expected looks
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger also discussed viewing the Vikings defense with a little bit of past Bengals perspective.
"A lot of similarities. They do sort of the same fronts and coverages," Roethlisberger said in a media session in Pittsburgh. "That's what we talked about … when you think of these guys, think of Cincinnati."
Roethlisberger said he watched some of Minnesota's 29-19 win over New Orleans on Monday Night Football in addition to other prep work.
"They've got some personnel they move around," Roethlisberger said. "It didn't seem, at least on the Monday night game, that they did as much double barrel (double A-gap blitz look), but it's early in the years, so we're never quite sure exactly what we're going to see."
Tomlin on Sam Bradford's* MNF *game
Tomlin said he wasn't surprised by the 27-of-32 passing, 346-yard, three-touchdown performance of Sam Bradford on Monday that yielded the highest passer rating of his career (143.0).
"He needs no endorsement from me. His resume speaks for itself, and I just thought Monday night's performance was an indication of what he's capable of," Tomlin said. "He completed 84 percent of his passes and was very efficient and made all of the necessary plays on Monday night. That's really in line with how he's played, what he completed 70 percent (71.6 to set an NFL record) of his balls a year ago."
Tomlin on Terence Newman
Sunday's game will feature a pair of 39-year-old defenders: Steelers linebacker James Harrison is slightly older than Terence Newman.
Harrison was born May 4, 1978, and Newman was born Sept. 4, 1978.
Tomlin said he is not surprised by what Newman continues to accomplish because he has such an up-close view of Harrison.
"He's probably got a unique approach to his business," Tomlin said. "You don't end up at 39 and doing that for a living by circumstance. I've got a lot of respect for him. He's been a quality player over the course of his career, and the fact that the passion still burns is remarkable."