It’s been five years since the Pittsburgh Steelers have been in a situation similar to this one, going through the first two weeks of the regular season without a win. That’s not to say that they never lose two games in a row—they lost three in a row in 2016 and still reached the AFC Championship Game—but it’s harder to stomach when you have a zero in the win column and you’re heading into Week Three.
Head Coach Mike Tomlin isn’t any happier about it than any of us are. But he doesn’t have the luxury to respond to the adversity the Steelers are facing from an emotional place. Instead, he has to put a plan in place to make things right.
“We’ve just got to keep working. We can’t blink in the face of adversity”, he told reporters earlier today during his pre-game press conference. “There’s always going to be adversity in these journeys. We’re starting in the face of some. You don’t get to pick and choose oftentimes the adversity that you face and when you face it”.
While you don’t know what obstacles are going to come your way or when, though, Tomlin said that “you better respond to it appropriately, and added, “that’s some of the things that we’ve been talking about as we prepare for this next game, is the response, not the reaction”.
He went on to make a distinction between a response and a reaction, calling the latter “without thought” and emotional”. In contrast, he wants to ”proceed with thought, we want to put together a good plan, we want to utilize guys in the right ways in an effort to increase our chance of victory”.
Tomlin also highlighted the fact that the Steelers’ next game is back on the road, against a hot offense, in primetime. It’s also in Tampa, where he came up in the NFL, and the Buccaneers are going to be honoring Tony Dungy during the game, under whom he coached.
“You can anticipate the type of environment that our football team is going into, one that we can’t shy away from”, he admitted, but also called it “one that I’m excited about, to be quite honest with you”.
In fact, he said that he believes “all of us that are competitors in this business, you get fired up about staring adversity in the face. And particularly adversity that you create coupled with the natural adversity that the game of football provides all of us over the course of these journeys that we’re on”.
I don’t think there’s any doubt that the vast majority of the adversity the Steelers have faced so far this year has been of the self-inflicted variety, both on and off the field. the first step of overcoming it is recognizing it, then addressing it.