2018 Training Camp Questions: Why A Less Physical Camp?

The offseason is over. Football is back. The Pittsburgh Steelers are back in Latrobe at Saint Vincent College and training camp is underway. As we are every year, we will be right there providing live feedback and updates, and will be supplementing ourselves throughout the day, every day.

The Steelers are coming off a frustrating season to say the least, posting a 13-3 record with a first-round bye only to be dumped in the Divisional Round by a team that beat them twice, even though they hadn’t even been to the playoffs in a decade.

They’ve added the ingredients that they think they need to fix what ails them, adding new players and coaches, while getting rid of others. Now is when they start mixing up those ingredients and trying to create something powerful.

We still have a lot of questions about this team, and we’ll be monitoring the practices and preseason games looking for answers. As we always do.

Question: Why has Mike Tomlin chosen to have a less physical training camp in 2018?

The Steelers over the past several years under Mike Tomlin earned the reputation of having the most physical training camp in the entire league, routinely maximizing the number of days in which they were allowed to practice in pads and regularly incorporating live tackling sessions, which not every team does.

This year, apparently, he has thought differently. He has had the players out of pads more than is required, and even the tackling sessions have seemed to be less intense, or of shorter duration. Is there a strategy behind this decision, and if not, how did it end up this way? Is it good or bad?

One thing that I will say is that it’s hard to argue that the physicality has produced a correlation with improved tackling, because as any regular follower of this site is aware, the Steelers have been among the worst tackling defenses in the league for several years running, last season being a crowning achievement in that regard.

So that does call into question how valuable those physical practices really are a bit in my mind, even though prior to the current Collective Bargaining Agreement they not only practiced more frequently but also more intensely and physically.

Anyway, what is behind the less physical training camp this time around? Is Tomlin being his usual thoughtfully non-rhythmic self? Does it have something to do with the number of changes on the coaching staff, which requires a greater focus on hands-on, instructional work rather than scrimmage-type settings?

More importantly, how will it affect the team in the long run, or will it at all?

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