Talkin' the Talk

Mike Tomlin continues to go through the hurdles to be named the next head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers. But, while the Steelers may have to overhaul a defense that has remained the same for almost 25 years, Tomlin remains in the hunt to join the NFL head coaching fraternity.

Vikings defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin had his second interview with the Pittsburgh Steelers Tuesday, one of three finalists for the position vacated when Steelers coach Bill Cowher stepped down earlier this month.

Tomlin, who was also considered for coaching positions with the Dolphins and Falcons, said Tuesday that the attention he has received from the Steelers has meant a lot to him.

"It's humbling," Tomlin said in a statement released by, the league's official website. "These are great football people. I've got a great deal of respect for what they do and what they've done. It's just a very humbling experience to be involved in but, at the same time, professional football is what I do and I'm a competitor like everyone else."

While many consider Tomlin a longshot for the job – current defensive coordinator Russ Grimm is listed as the frontrunner for the position – it wouldn't be a shock if the Steelers went in Tomlin's direction. The team has had only two coaches since 1969 – Chuck Noll and Cowher. At the time, both of them were in their 30s, the youngest coaches in the league at the time and neither had any previous head coaching experience.

Tomlin's interview Tuesday lasted three-and-a-half hours and covered everything from his credentials to his intentions if hired. If the Steelers were to bring on Tomlin, it would likely mean the end of the 3-4 defense in Pittsburgh, since Tomlin is a devotee of the Cover-2 defense that uses a four-man defensive front. That would be a huge change in Pittsburgh, which has run the 3-4 defense since 1983 when Noll dismantled what remained of the Steel Curtain defense.

If the Steelers decide on either Grimm or Tomlin, expect them to make their final announcement as early as this week so the new coach can begin assembling a coaching staff.

* If Tomlin is hired, the Vikings would not have to release any assistant coaches that he might want to bring with him to the Steelers. All of the Vikings assistant are under contract through the 2007 season.
* There have been five head coaches fired since the end of the season and two of them have been filled. Neither job went to a coach with previous NFL experience – the Cardinals signing Ken Whisenhunt and the Falcons hiring Bobby Petrino. The Steelers look to be the third team to tab a first-time NFL head coach when their final decision comes down.
* The other finalist for the Steelers head coaching position is Ron Rivera, who the Steelers can't talk to again until the Bears are eliminated, which could be as early as this week or as late as three weeks following the Super Bowl.
* Former Vikings head coach Dennis Green was interviewing for the Raiders head coaching position Tuesday. It is thought that one of Green's strongest selling points is his past relationship with Randy Moss, who reiterated his desire to be traded at a weekend college all-star game.
* From the rich get richer department comes this: thanks to the Seahawks' loss in the playoffs last weekend, the Patriots will receive the 24th pick in the first round of April's college draft. The Pats acquired the pick late in the preseason when they traded disgruntled wide receiver Deion Branch to the Seahawks. The Vikings may look to ship off a second- or third-round pick for a veteran wide receiver if the offer is right after free agency begins.
* The Pheasant Ridge development, a 640-acre empty parcel of land in Blaine that was until a couple of months ago expected to be the Vikings new home when and if a stadium proposal could make it through the State Legislature, is back in the news. The city is still planning to have the area developed, but as of now there are no plans to include a Vikings stadium. While the situation could still change, the city appears to be moving on without the Vikings.

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