The NFL has released its schedule for both the regular season and the preseason. Whether or not the games will be capable of being played when scheduled, as scheduled, and where scheduled, is something that remains to be seen.
But the Pittsburgh Steelers and Mike Tomlin are comfortable within the circumstances in which everyone must operate, precisely because everybody is in the same boat—or at least the same model. All they must do is navigate these waters better than their opponents.
That’s the approach he espoused while speaking to fans during a Steelers Nation Unite teleconference last week, fielding questions from members, one of whom asked about preparing for a season while weathering the reality of a pandemic that has team facilities shut down.
“There was some angst before the schedule came out in terms of what the calendar looks like”, he said, as Teresa Varley transcribed for the Steelers’ website. “Every year I build my calendar backwards from opening day. As long as I have an opening date, I have a framework in which to begin some planning. I just need to be light on my feet and understand some adjustments will be involved from there”.
The Steelers know their opening-day opponent and when they will play them. They will plan accordingly in reverse-engineering and offseason platform that will enable themselves to be prepared for that date, and for that opponent.
“We have a point from which to begin”, he said. “We build our calendar back from that. We are excited about doing it. It’s going to look different for us this year logistically in a lot of ways I am sure. That could be said for all of us. We are just ready to do it better than those we compete against”.
This is yet another advantage of having a veteran head coach with an experienced and largely stable staff underneath him. While none of them may have gone specifically through this circumstance before, they have had to make adjustments for other reasons in the past, and they will be able to apply those lessons in the past to prepare for the immediate future.
Of course, it’s the players who actually have to get on the field, and it’s an especially large burden on the young players, most of all the rookies, to try to prepare for an NFL season without the benefit of on-field work until at least, most likely, late July when training camps should begin opening up.
All the coaching staff can do is put their young players in the best position to hit the ground running, whenever the opportunity should come that allows them to do so.