The Pittsburgh Steelers had a more ‘productive’ bye week than is normally allowed this year, since they were already halfway through their preparations for an upcoming opponent last week before the game was rescheduled for later on in the year.
Head coach Mike Tomlin acknowledged as much yesterday when speaking in his pre-game press conference, in fact calling it “a really productive one”, and noting that it was “largely because we didn’t know it was a bye week”. They were able to get a lot of schematic work done that will prove useful when they do face the Tennessee Titans later this year.
But because of the particular nature of the bye week, which included that game-planning element, it was actually deficient in other areas—such as a focus on the fundamentals and the development of the young players. Pittsburgh operated until Thursday as though it would be playing the Titans, and they did not get back in the building until yesterday.
When he was asked about whether or not he was able to use the bye week to accelerate the learning curve of the young players, he said, “no, not really because when we were working last week, we were preparing as if it was a normal game week”.
“We didn’t take that step back, if you will, and worry about development and macro things if you will”, he added, and you know he means business when he drops two ‘if you will’s in one sentence. “We were singularly focused on preparing for the Tennessee Titans and formulating a plan that allowed us to do that”.
This is just another downside to the cancelation, another negative consequence the Steelers have to bear through know fault of their own. From the game being moved, to being forced into an early bye, and setting up a showdown with the Baltimore Ravens for which they now get a bye week right before, these are all negative side effects of the Titans’ Covid-19 outbreak.
Short of the league ruling that the Titans’ outbreak was due purely to negligence and that, as such, they will be required to forfeit the game, however, there is no recourse for any of these consequences thrust upon them. This is purely a ‘grin and bear it’ situation.
The Steelers have been disserved by this situation, without question, and the reality that they lost full functionality of their by week, including the usual focus on rookie development that takes places, is a part of that, a loss that they cannot regain.
But the rookies that have gotten on the field have already been performing well enough as it is, fortunately enough. The Steelers are in a good position, regardless of what minor obstacle might have been thrown in their way. And for that they, and we, should be grateful.