It’s never easy to move on so soon when a significant chapter in your life comes to a close. And for an athlete or coach, or anybody involved in annual competitive sports, every season is a significant chapter. And every season in which you don’t finish on top, especially for an organization like the Pittsburgh Steelers, is deemed at least in part to be a failure.
It’s even more stark when you fail to qualify for the postseason, which was the case for Pittsburgh this year. Even with the built-in excuse of losing their most important player just six quarters into the season, the fact remains that they were in position to reach the playoffs with three games left to go. They lost all three.
The way the season ended was simply the exclamation point on a crazy year that is difficult to digest in full, especially when you were the one who lived through it. And that was reflected in the remarks made by Mike Tomlin in the opening statement of his press conference yesterday.
“I am still a little bit numb, to be quite honest with you”, he said of the sudden ending of their season. “You fight over the course of what is half a calendar year to put yourself in the position to be a team in the tournament and it comes to a screeching halt”.
“I have been in the business long enough to understand that, what it means and to understand the significance of it”, he added. “but it doesn’t lessen the disappointment that I have standing here today. But at the same time, it doesn’t lessen the resolve that I have as I stand here today as well”.
Tomlin just completed his 13th season as the head coach of the Steelers. It was his 14th consecutive in which he avoided posting a losing record; however, it was also the third season in which he finished at .500, after also doing so in both 2012 and 2013. It is the second consecutive season in which his team missed the postseason, which, again, last occurred in 2012 and 2013.
“We endured a lot of adversity throughout the course of the season”, he continued. “In a lot of ways, some of it created by the game itself, natural attrition associated with play. Some of it was our doing. It always is. We fall short of perfection like everyone. And hopefully we have learned from it in some way”.
The best lesson to learn from this season is to not have your franchise quarterback get injured, because nobody is going to convince me otherwise that the Steelers wouldn’t have been one of the best teams in the league in 2019 had Roethlisberger remained healthy.