Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin has a tendency to try to explain things in simple concepts, although they might not necessarily always sound simple on the surface. ‘Arrow pointing up’ is one of his go-to phrases to describe a player, generally a young player, who is improving, and usually in the process earning greater opportunities.
Of course, you don’t want your arrow to be pointing down. And you certainly don’t want to be on a downward trend as a team. Losing games is a pretty simple way of getting yourself down such a path, and the Steelers just so happen to be riding a two-game losing streak, even if they managed to win the 11 games before it.
“I’ll leave the commentary to you guys. I know that we have lost two games in a row”, Tomlin said yesterday during his pre-game press conference when he was asked if he feels his team is trending upward or downward.
“I know that we have an AFC North game waiting for us this week. That is what we are preparing for, and that is what our focus is”, he added. “I care less about the commentary and trends and things of that nature. I will acknowledge what has transpired. We’ve lost two games in a row and they haven’t been good performances and we are looking to rectify that”.
Of course, being a head football coach isn’t about constructing narratives and telling stories to yourself and your team. In fact, perhaps, part of the job is making sure that your players avoid exposure to said narratives, or at least from buying into them.
You certainly don’t want to be buying into your own hype, nor do you want to consistently read about how the sky is falling. It’s the job of the various media outlets that cover the teams to tell those stories on behalf of the public.
And it’s the job of the head coach and his players to prepare for games and to do their best to win them. It doesn’t matter in which direction you’re trending before kickoff. The other team doesn’t care how you were doing before you played them. Or at least, they shouldn’t.
As for the Steelers, they are on a two-game slide and have revealed a number of warts in their performance. They are preparing to be hosted by a team that has an awful lot more problems than they do in the Cincinnati Bengals, starting with having lost their starting quarterback to a torn ACL.