Pittsburgh Steelers’ head coach Mike Tomlin often likes to cite the need to “adapt or die” in the NFL, and to his credit, the longtime NFL head coach has adapted way more often than died in the industry, consistently changing with the times to remain competitive and successful.
Adapting has led to Tomlin and the Steelers trading away draft picks for key players, none other than star safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, who the Steelers traded a first-round draft pick just two years ago Thursday for. So far, Fitzpatrick has paid off in a big way with two All-Pro seasons.
Appearing on The Pat McAfee Show Thursday, Fitzpatrick was the one handing out praise for Tomlin, stating that the veteran head coach has done a great job adapting to his players recently, rather than trying to fit them into his scheme and what he likes to do on both sides of the ball.
“Yeah, I think one is adaptability. You know, he doesn’t get stuck just doing one thing,” Fitzpatrick said. “I think week to week our game plan – if you look at it offensively and defensively, special teams, the way that it changes to who we’re playing against — he’s mature enough, and he’s been through enough to realize that this is a league that changes week to week. It’s a different team that you’re gonna see week to week and we got to adapt to it. You know what I’m saying? We are going to stick to our fundamentals. What are we going to adapt to what we’re going to see? And also just his love for the game. Like it’s, it’s unmatched. Like, he’s always watching football. He has sons now that are play college football and as a result, he’s always watching that.
“And like, anything that happened in the last like 20, 30 years of football would be in the NFL and college, so he knows about it,” Fitzpatrick said. “You know what I’m saying? So he’s always watching film preparing, you know what I’m saying? Just making sure that we’re in the best possible position to win. And that’s the thing that I really respect the most is that he’s never gonna put his ego or his pride before his player, you know, he’s gonna say, ‘look, we got guys that can do XYZ. So that’s what we’re going to do. You know what I’m saying? We’re not going to try and force on that. I’m going to use my personnel in my arsenal and go in and attack their best quality.’ So that’s something that I like a lot about Coach Tomlin.”
One would think that what Fitzpatrick said about Tomlin Thursday would be a common practice around the NFL and the game of football in general, but too often the thought around a head coach or a coordinator doesn’t line up with with Fitzpatrick said as many coaches and coordinators are rather stubborn and want to incorporate players into their scheme, rather than their scheme centered around the type of talent one has at his or her disposal.
While Tomlin gets a lot of grief from the fanbase and the local media for his lack of success in recent seasons in the playoffs, there’s no denying players love to play for him and that he’s had a ton of success working that way in his Hall of Fame career.