Mike Tomlin was short, sweet, and to the point. And oh so abundantly clear. Despite the unfairness of the Pittsburgh Steelers having their schedule changed due to the COVID outbreak in Tennessee, potentially forcing Pittsburgh to play 13 straight games, the black and gold are marching forward. Led by Tomlin.
“We do not care,” Tomlin told reporters when asked about the potential long road ahead following the team’s sudden Week 4 “bye.”
Tomlin on the idea of playing 13 straight weeks.
"We do not care."
— Will Graves (@WillGravesAP) October 1, 2020
Though the NFL hasn’t officially announced when they’ll reschedule the Steelers/Titans game, one solution is to push the contest to Week 7. Tennessee has a scheduled bye that week. Pittsburgh and Baltimore are slated to play Week 7 but both have byes in Week 8, meaning the game could get pushed back to accommodate Steelers/Titans. If that’s the league’s solution, Pittsburgh would play 13 straight games from Week 5 to Week 17 plus any potential playoff run they seem poised to embark.
No question such a scenario would be unfortunate, not to mention unfair, to the Steelers. But the league’s goal is to complete the season so if Pittsburgh has to fall on the sword, so be it. Tomlin made it clear he was disappointed by the news.
“I’m disappointed because we were preparing to play. We worked extremely hard for what we thought was a game against an undefeated team in their venue. We’re getting a bye week, so we’re going to make the best of that.”
Mike Tomlin: “I’m disappointed because we were preparing to play (this week). We worked extremely hard for what we thought was a game against an undefeated team in their venue. We’re getting a bye week, so we’re going to make the best of that.” #Steelers
— Steelers Depot 🏆👑 (@Steelersdepot) October 1, 2020
There are upsides to the Steelers having an earlier than anticipated off week. They’ll have a chance to get healthier. FB Derek Watt was going to miss this game with a hamstring injury while WR Diontae Johnson has a much higher chance of passing through concussion protocol without sitting out a game. The Steelers won’t be playing on a short week when they face Philadelphia October 11th like they would’ve been had the game gone on Monday or even Tuesday night.
Tomlin and the Steelers focus now shifts to the Eagles.
“We have every intention of getting appropriate rest and taking care of those that need to be mended in any way. More than anything just kicking back and gaining a little bit of perspective in terms of watching others work and we’ll come in at the beginning of next week and lean in on Philadelphia.”
And Pittsburgh’s won in the face of long seasons before. In their 2005 Super Bowl winning season, they had a Week Four bye, playing 17 straight to win one for the thumb. In 2008, they had a Week 6 bye. In 2010, it was Week 5. Not to mention the fact for most of NFL history, there was no such thing as a “bye week.” Those didn’t become a fixture of the league until 1990.
Different circumstances, of course. Those were scheduled of weeks not played in the middle of a pandemic. But Tomlin is the ultimate make-no-excuses coach. He sure isn’t starting now.