Mike Tomlin prides himself on coaching a disciplined group on the field. Things don’t always manifest that way, however. In recent seasons, in particular, his units have started out being highly penalized, in what he would describe as ‘Steelers beating Steelers.’
This being the ‘tune-up game,’ and considering their issues with penalties last time out, he is putting a real emphasis on this aspect of the game as the Steelers prepare to face the Detroit Lions. In particular, he has stressed coaching up his players on the points of emphasis going into the season.
“We’re continuing to work to gain an understanding of the points of emphasis from an officiating standpoint in 2021”, he told reporters on Thursday. “In order to be a tough team to beat you, can’t beat yourselves, so we’re working to play penalty free and, and that starts also not only with understanding the game, but just how the game’s officiated at this level, and in this year, so the points of emphasis have been big for us”.
As mentioned, they were slow out of the gate last time out, with each of Mason Rudolph’s drives being bogged down by penalties, whether it was a hold that negated a good run and set them back 10 yards or a false start on third and two that pushed them back. While you have to overcome adversity whether it’s self-inflicted or not, you can control those situations.
“We were off to a slow start in our last performance because we had holding penalties on early drives and they’re drive killers”, Tomlin mentioned. “Working to play penalty-free is something that we’ve been focused on this week, because we realize that that slows progress, and it and it did to us in our last outing.
“So, looking to be better in those areas and others”, he continued during his introductory remarks, “but largely just excited about watching the collective growth and development that the process provides and stepping into stadiums versus opponents provides”.
It’s worth noting that the Steelers will have a lot of young and inexperienced playing big roles this year, who in particular have to be on guard against drawing unnecessary penalties, especially the offensive linemen. Kendrick Green looks like he’s going to start at center as a rookie, for example. Someone like Cameron Sutton on defense, entering a full-time starting role, must be diligent to play clean football as well.