The question that I posed earlier today was whether or not Mike Tomlin would make any changes following the Pittsburgh Steelers’ three-game losing streak, which has put the future of their season beyond the regular season very much in jeopardy.
He answered that question today during his pre-game press conference, but gave only vague answers. The most substantial change that we could potentially see is a new kicker, acknowledging that the team will hold tryouts, but Tomlin also stressed that Chris Boswell is still in the running to retain his job after missing four field goals in the past three weeks.
The head coach was asked to try to pinpoint the reason for the Steelers’ failures over the last three weeks, and Tomlin was naturally hesitant to get into specifics. “It’s all of us. You don’t fail and then conveniently pinpoint one particular area”, he said. “This is a very complex game. Because it’s a complex game, because of the number of people involved, and whenever you’re talking about particularly consistent failures like we’ve had in recent weeks, it’s usually a multitude of things”.
“We’d better look at the schematics, we’d better look at who we’re asking to do what, and we’d better look at the detail in which they’re doing it”, he went on, indicating the ‘popcorn’ nature of their failures. “And so it’s all of the above, and that’s our intentions”.
Even still, while he essentially committed to making a deep exploration of possible changes over the course of the week, he stressed that it may not be apparent on the field. “We’re open to change, we’re going to make discussions regarding change, but I don’t want to lead you to believe that these changes are going to be dramatic and maybe even noticeable to the naked eye”, he told reporters.
More obvious changes that he has made in recent years following extended losing streaks would include inserting Cameron Heyward and Kelvin Beachum into the starting lineup over Ziggy Hood and Mike Adams back in 2013. Don’t expect to see any moves like that this week, except perhaps for a new kicker.
“In our world”, Tomlin went on, such smaller changes are “very much necessary and very much significant. Oftentimes you make very subtle changes and they have very significant outcomes. And so we’re going to look at all the things that I mentioned”.
The Steelers’ next opponent is the New England Patriots, and they are a team against whom Tomlin has been more willing to make significant changes to how they typically operate in order to attempt to achieve victory.
Arguably their most pressing task will be to try to limit tight end Rob Gronkowski, who has dominated the Steelers over the years. In six career games against the Steelers, the tight end has caught 40 passes for 664 yards and eight touchdowns.