There are few in the league like Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin equally capable of stating bluntly that his team sucks and, alternatively, taking a very long-winded, scenic path toward saying the same thing. He took the former approach several games ago when he chalked up the team’ issues to “us sucking”. Yesterday’s pre-game press conference coming off of a third consecutive loss called for the flowery version, with the addition of ‘keep on keepin’ on, but keep it on better’.
“We have a body of work in recent weeks that has not been up to our standards”, he told reporters. “We acknowledge that. We’re not seeking comfort. Part of us working our way out of this is acknowledging that”.
“We believe in our formula of preparation. We just simply have to do it better”, he continued. “Week-in and week-out, we need to singularly focus on the people at our disposal in the formulation of the plan to highlight their talents, to minimize their collective weakness and then the guys work it. Then, we go into a stadium and perform. We haven’t been doing those things—when I say us, I mean all of us. We haven’t been doing those things well enough”.
Certainly, in a situation like this, there is really not reason nor need to be selective in your finger pointing. There has hardly been a single aspect of the team that couldn’t be better, from the passing, the running, the catching, the blocking, the tackling, the coverage, the play-calling, the communication, etc.
“We understand that, but there won’t be sweeping changes in terms of our approach and what we do. We just simply have to do it better”, Tomlin went on to say. “We have to have more thoughtful and creative ideas. We have to have better performances. I’m still extremely confident in that formula, in the men we work with, but confidence is one thing. Doing it is another. We will shut our mouths and go to work and wait for our next opportunity”.
Obviously, the Steelers’ formula is one that works. It had been tried and tested for many years and the fruits of that labor is one of the best performances over the course of the past decade and a half. The blueprint is sound, but can they execute that blueprint in a winning way?
Many have understandably lost faith over the course of the past month about that very question, and at this point it’s hard to question anybody for being doubtful. The Steelers were one of the first teams to secure a playoff berth, but they don’t look like a team that can win in the postseason right now.