For a game that deals with so many real and violent tangible aspects, conversations around football certainly tend to invoke a lot of intangibles as a away of explaining trends and patterns—or perhaps, at least on occasion, in lieu of explaining them.
One of the many intangibles that gets invoked a lot is the idea of a team having a ‘personality’, which in and of itself is a pretty ephemeral concept. Are the Pittsburgh Steelers a ‘smashmouth football’ team? Are they ‘blue collar’? What is their identity, and does it matter?
Head coach Mike Tomlin talked about team personality during his post-season press conference last week, and I think that it’s relevant in regards to the 2020 Steelers, and well as perhaps the team that they are preparing for 2021.
“I think the personality is reflective of the makeup of the group. That is subject to change year in and year out”, he said. “So, we will be working to establish what that’s going to be in 2021 in an effort to have a consistent level of play, to be a consistent winner, to highlight our strengths and to minimize our weaknesses. That’s what that is all about”.
It stands to reason that you build your personality around your personnel, though more organically, your personnel should forge your personality all by itself as a manifestation of their playing style. But of course, you either have to create the identity with the pieces that you put together, or find the pieces that fit the personality you want to create.
“In regards to were we able to attain that this year? I would have to say no”, Tomlin conceded. “Just the overall trajectory of our group was not trending in the right direction over the second half of the season. Obviously, we weren’t able to establish the things that we value in that regard in an effort to produce consistent wins and particularly consistent wins in the significant moments”.
He didn’t go into detail about what he felt his team’s personality should be, or should have been, but he has spoken about it on a number of occasions, often through ‘Tomlinisms’. You know, being light on your feet, being able to throw it when you have to throw it, to run it when you have to run it, to get a yard when you need a yard, etc.
Basically, his personality that he is looking to foster is simply winning, of being successful. It matters less how you accomplish your goal than it does that you actually accomplish it. As for what the Steelers’ personality will be in 2021—we’ll have to wait and see, especially on offense, depending on who is a part of it.