Popcorn is a great complement when you’re watching movies. Apparently, however, it’s like gravy on popcorn when you pair it with football. There’s just about nothing that Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin hates more than popcorn in football, except perhaps questions about things that are related to social media.
And unfortunately for the 12th-year commander, his team is drowning in popcorn right now. In case you need a refresher as to what the analogy is meant to represent—one that he has been using for at least a couple of seasons now—it’s a means of describing the fact that the problem with the team, or a game, is a number of small issues rather than one large one. Like corn kernels popping when you cook them.
“We’re a team that’s trying to grow and be consistent in terms of varsity-level consistency in all areas, and at this juncture of the season, I think that’s probably what describes us if you’re looking for a cumulative representation of where we are. We haven’t won a game yet”, Tomlin said earlier today in his pre-game press conference.
“We’re looking for consistency in all three areas of our team. It’s popcorn. And usually that’s the case when you’re developing and trying to find traction. It’s not one constant area that’s below the line. It’s usually popping up in a variety of areas”.
Tomlin identified one primary kernel to explain the team’s loss in the season opener, that being turnovers. Though he didn’t mention Ben Roethlisberger directly—he wouldn’t—the quarterback produced all but one of the team’s six turnovers in the game.
“Last week I thought that field positioning and chunk plays” were the reasons for losing to the Kansas City Chiefs, he went on. “Field positioning in the form of special teams, net punting specifically, and chunk plays that were produced against us in a variety of ways defensively. If you look specifically at the chunk plays, it was a variety of people and concepts”.
Sunday’s loss was certainly multifaceted, with all three phases contributing to the loss. While the offense did not turn the ball over and ultimately scored 35 points, they got off to a slow start that resulted in them digging a 21-0 hole.
The defense was obviously a major problem, given that they allowed the Chiefs to score six times, but poor punting—outside of one punt—partially contributed to their ability to do that. Tack on a field goal miss, and an extra point as well, plus key penalties, and you have the special teams component of the popcorn mélange.