Woodson: Ben Needs To Lead; Tomlin Needs To Discipline

The Steelers can return to the playoffs, Rod Woodson says, but they need their quarterback and head coach to change their approach

Zach Gelb
August 19, 2019 - 12:35 pm
Ben Roethlisberger Mike Tomlin Steelers

USA Today Images


After missing the playoffs for the first time since 2013, the Pittsburgh Steelers hope to make amends for a disappointing 2018 season. If they succeed in that endeavor, it will be because of two individuals: Ben Roethlisberger and Mike Tomlin.

“I would like to see (Ben) be a leader of Ben first,” Pro Football Hall of Famer Rod Woodson said on The Zach Gelb Show. “Great leaders normally take the responsibility when things go wrong, even if it’s not their fault. Once you do that, everybody else falls in line. I’d like to see him do that more often.”

Tomlin, meanwhile, needs to be more of a disciplinarian.

“The one thing I can say about Mike: He’s a good coach,” said Woodson, who played for the Steelers from 1987-96. “The only thing I would like to see him do more is have a little more thumbs-down on his players. It’s like having 53 teenagers. If you’ve got 53 teenagers, you’re not going to let your teenagers just run the roost in your house. If they do something wrong, you have to discipline them in some type of manner to catch their attention. I think the same thing has to happen in the locker room. If he does that, he’s going to be fine. I think the football team is in a good position.”

But is it difficult to find a balance between being a “players’ coach,” yet giving tough love?

Woodson says no.

“Players want the discipline. Players want to be challenged. But you have to do it in the right manner,” he said. “Every player can’t be spoken to the same way. As we said in Oakland, you always have to learn your learners. Bill Belichick is a no-nonsense guy – and the players now it. They know what they can and cannot do around Bill. I think they have that same mindset with Mike. I would just like to see Mike (discipline more). When Antonio did his Instagram live feed in the locker room several years ago, the next week he would have been suspended for me if I was the coach.”

Even in the playoffs. Even in the AFC Championship.

“That would have sent the message to everybody else in the locker room,” Woodson said. “You have to send a statement to the players. If you let them start feeling that they can do whatever and there’s no consequences, there’s no disciplinary action at the end of it, it’s just going to escalate. It did escalate for AB. I know AB has more issues outside of that, but I would like to have seen Mike be a little bit tighter, just a little bit tighter with his disciplinary actions with AB and the leaders of the football team. When you start disciplining your leaders, everybody else will start falling in line.”

Click below to listen to Woodson’s interview in its entirety.