The bye week could not have come at a better time for Mike Tomlin and his Pittsburgh Steelers who have lost two in a row and have many areas needing improvement. The team is in dire needs of regrouping and starting fresh and luckily this is not a problem for Tomlin as history shows his Steelers are strongest following a bye week.
A quick look shows that since Tomlin became head coach, the Steelers are 6-3 in games following a bye week. This record certainly shows that the Steelers come out firing after an extended break but one game marks may not resonate to much sustained success in a 16-week season. For that, we will look at how the Steelers under Tomlin perform in the month following a bye and then compare it to the rest of the conference.
In the AFC, only the New England Patriots at an astounding 28-8 have come out stronger after a bye than the Steelers since 2007. With a 23-13 record, the Steelers have shown that they have been able to correct their weaknesses during the week off and there are many examples to prove this.
Starting with last season, the Steelers stormed to a 3-1 stretch after the bye, scoring 30 or more points in all four games. This stretch could be perhaps the peak of the offense considering in the other 12 games of the season, the Steelers only managed 30 or more points three times.
A look back to when the 2012 Steelers went 3-1 after the bye shows another improvement, this one coming in the team’s running game. The 2012 team contained the infamous trio of backs such as Jonathan Dwyer, Isaac Redman and the declining Rashard Mendenhall. Despite being a very lackluster group of backs, they were able to turn it on in those four games as the Steelers averaged 121.5 rushing yards per game. This would-be miles ahead of the 87.5 rushing yards per game average posted in the other 12 games.
Perhaps the most interesting thing in regards for the 2016 Steelers are the 2011 Steelers following their bye. Like the 2016 Steelers, the 2011 Steelers struggled with forcing turnovers on defense except during the 4-game stretch following their bye where they had 8 of them. The 2011 Steelers managed just 7 turnovers in their other 12 games, finishing the season with just 15 total. While turnovers include a big aspect of luck as well, perhaps the 2016 Steelers will be able to get their hands on a few more following the bye week.
So, where can improvement be expected for the 2016 Steelers following their bye week? An improvement on their pass rush and turnover department is the first that comes to mind. A look into the crystal ball shows that these good fortunes may already be hinted at with the heating up of linebacker Jarvis Jones. Jones disrupted the backfield constantly and forced a fumble against the Patriots. If Jones carries his recent play he could be a major reason why history may repeat itself again with the Steelers post-bye week success.