At a time during the year in which there will soon be over 1000 unemployed professional football players, Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin came away from his team’s last performance profoundly disappointed in the level of tenacity shown by many of the fringe players on his roster.
Following the game, Tomlin did not mince words about what they might mean for those fringe competitors who lacked the requisite competition in their game necessary to play football at the professional level, sharing the following thoughts:
Some of our young guys who pushed through this game, who are quite frankly fighting for jobs, did not execute with enough detail to be in consideration. And that’s disappointing. As we push towards the end of this thing, I’d like to see guys with their arrows pointed up; fighting for jobs. Some of those guys looked like they were just walking dead. We’ve got to analyze that, and keep those committed to fighting.
The implication is clear. Those who were given an extended opportunity to showcase themselves against Buffalo on Saturday and who failed to do so adequately, and with a sufficient level of competitiveness, will likely be among those no longer on the team come tomorrow at 4 PM.
This is not synonymous with cutting the 15 most expendable players from the 90-man roster in order to finish out the final preseason game with enough healthy bodies to insulate the team from injury to key players. That would be easy enough to accomplish just by looking at positional numbers.
Tomlin’s comments go beyond that, and touch on something deeper. His comments suggest that he is looking to identify a lack of will on the part of his fringe players, pinpointing that as an undesirable trait to be eliminated from the roster at the earliest convenience.
It might indeed be a natural reaction to a 43-19 thrashing, which occurred mostly during the second half. The Steelers, in fact, failed to score a single point on offense in all of the second half, meanwhile relinquishing a small lead late in the second and allowing it to bloom into a full-fledged blowout.
Perhaps this will not necessarily translate into any surprise cuts, per se. To be a bit blunt, it would be fair to say that this roster is not talented enough to merit many cuts that could even be deemed very much of a surprise.
It is possible, however, to see some of the less likely fringe players stay on the roster for the final preseason game at the expense of some of those just slightly higher on the pecking order who lacked the proper competitiveness in the game.
Not that it will ultimately mean much, however, as the reality is that there are very few spots on the 53-man roster that are legitimately up for grabs. Whether a player is released now or by the end of the week will be immaterial later on down the line. But it’s certainly not a good resume to have that type of play on your resume as you seek another opportunity elsewhere.