It was just a couple of seasons ago when so many people were complimentary of the wonderful job that Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin was doing in leading the team through a season of great adversity. There were many who believed that he was even deserving of coach of the year consideration.
The Steelers are certainly facing yet another season of enormous adversity coming from many different avenues, some of it random, some of it self-inflicted, and some of it stemming from outside of the walls of the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex. It’s now time for Tomlin the marshal his troops together and work them up into a united force to finish out this season strong.
Adversity has not been in short supply this year, and losing players has been a recurring theme going well back into the offseason. Wide receiver Martavis Bryant was suspended for the entire season back in the spring. Running back Le’Veon Bell was also hit with a four-game suspension that was reduced to three. They actually weathered that storm going 2-1 in their first three games.
But injuries have been frequent this year, and yesterday struck the biggest blow of all when defensive captain and team sack leader Cameron Heyward revealed that he suffered what proved to be a season-ending pectoral injury in the Steelers’ loss to the Cowboys on Sunday.
With Ben Roethlisberger still working his way back from a torn meniscus and Ladarius Green having finally gotten on the field, and Bud Dupree still working his way forward—not to mention the loss of Senquez Golson—the Steelers have been without some pieces that were meant to play crucial roles this year, or have or will continue to have them at less than full capacity.
Adversity has come in many other forms over the course of the regular season as well, to be sure, which helps to explain how a team that was among the top Super Bowl favorites heading into the year could be sitting just barely in second place in their division with a 4-5 record.
But this is not to wallow in misery and throw a pity party for Tomlin’s crew. This is a time for Tomlin to invoke every ounce of leadership that he has in him to circle the wagons, rally the troops, and throw out any other cliché that will work in bringing this group together and transforming them into a weekly competitor.
In other words, it’s time once again for Tomlin to step up and prove why the Steelers ownership places so much trust and confidence in his abilities as a leader of men to get the most out of them. realistically, this is still a talented roster at the top end with several All-Pros.
Even with everything that this team has gone through, there is no good reason that they should finish this season below anything but a winning record. But it will take calling upon great leadership in order to turn things around, and to do so before it’s too late—unlike in 2009 and 2013.