If there is one single topic that Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin is probably most tired of addressing already this offseason, it is about how they are building up to the 2017 season based on how the 2016 season ended. The Steelers, of course, lost in the AFC Championship game to the New England Patriots, so it goes without saying that they have to go into this season virtually singularly focused on being able to beat the Patriots this time around. Or so the line of thinking goes.
Naturally, Tomlin was forced to address that philosophy while wrapping up the final practice of their three-day mandatory minicamp as the Steelers how head into a five-week break before reconvening at St. Vincent College in Latrobe to kick off training camp.
One reporter asked the head coach if he expects to see, or to instigate, a greater sense of urgency in his team as a response to the fact that the team was able to advance to the doorstep of the Super Bowl, only to come up a game short courtesy of New England.
“I don’t think there’s an increased sense of urgency in terms of response to anything. 2017, man”, Tomlin began in his response. “There’s enough challenges and opportunities that lie for this group”.
After all, it’s not as though every member of the Steelers that is going to make the 53-man roster will be coming form the same group of 53 players that finished the 2016 season.
“Some guys are new to us, [so] they don’t tote the bags of years past”, Tomlin pointed out. “We don’t even approach it in that mentality. There will be urgency in Latrobe because 2017 tells us that it should be”, simply based on the fact that they are preparing to begin a season in which they intend to win the Super Bowl—the same as every other year.
Another reporter followed up with the next question, once again going back to the fact that they were able to reach the AFC Championship game, and Tomlin responded with one of his Tomlinisms, telling the reporter that “you guys can write and talk about that, but the reality is that we aren’t anointed in any way based on what’s transpired”.
“Just like everybody else we competed against”, he added. “Everybody’s undefeated right now, and I just have that level of respect for this process, and I want our football team to as well”. And I do think that it would be fair to say that Tomlin seems to enjoy the offseason practice portion of the football calendar about as much as any other head coach out there.
But the bottom line is that he is not hanging up a Bill Belichick piñata in the Steelers’ locker room to motivate his players to beat him and his team down this year because they came up short last season. Each year brings its own unique challenges that will be addressed in a unique way, not in response to the past.