While the Pittsburgh Steelers have a strong overall record under Mike Tomlin coming off of the bye week, they also have a history of getting back into the groove slowly. Sometimes it might take them down to the final snap to come through, as was the case against the Indianapolis Colts in 2017.
This year, they are coming off of their bye at 2-4, and facing a winless Miami Dolphins team, at home, on Monday night, wearing their Color Rush jerseys. Though it’s almost entirely coincidental, they have played well every time they’ve worn those jerseys.
Earlier this week, during his pre-game press conference, Tomlin warned of the need to avoid getting off to a slow start coming off the bye, which, as discussed, has been easier said than done. One of his offensive veterans, All-Pro guard David DeCastro, sent out the same message yesterday.
“We’ve got to start fast. The bye week can be tough sometimes, but there’s no excuses”, he said, for a slow start.
Not that there aren’t ready-made excuses that others on the outside could choose to make for them. After all, they’ve already lost their starting quarterback for the season, and their backup is just returning from suffering a concussion. But their expectation, as always, is to win, no matter the situation. The bye week certainly makes no difference.
“It’s been good the first couple days knocking some rust off, but once you’re back into it, you’re back into it, and your mind is there and you’re going”, he said of having the opportunity to go through the bye. He added that getting back into the season is “no different than beforehand, it really doesn’t change much. It’s kind of just a week off, time off, but we’ve done it many times before and you just get back into it”.
The Steelers are in a position in which they can’t afford to give any ground. They already lost their first three games, and four of their first five. While they are coming off a road victory over the Los Angeles Chargers, that’s not going to help them win on Monday night.
So how do they go about starting fast? Well, if their last outing is any model, it will be up to the defense to set a tone for the rest of the team to follow. The offense was able to capitalize on turnovers, and the special teams stepped up when necessary as well.
But the offensive line is always an important tone-setter, both in pass protection and run-blocking. The group hasn’t been having its best season in the past half a decade, but they seem to be finding themselves as the year goes on. DeCastro has been one of the consistent presences on and off the field.