The Pittsburgh Steelers are sitting at 1-3 on the season four games in, with Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback, which is the worst start that they have had under such circumstances since the 2013 season.
Things were looking up when they were able to take down a very good Buffalo Bills team in Week 1, on the road, but it’s been a steady slide downhill since then, already two games back in the division—for third place. So what is the coaching staff communicating to the players right now?
“We say appropriate things, things that would not surprise you or be interesting to you in any way”, head coach Mike Tomlin said yesterday during his pre-game press conference. “It’s more important what I do than what I say: the attitude, the energy that I bring to these work days; the attitude and energy that I bring to preparation. I want them to mirror that behavior in their preparation”.
Basically, he wants to project a certain image in his actions and his demeanor that communicates non-verbally what his words say, to strengthen the overall message. And he understands that it has to go beyond just himself.
“I talked to the leaders, the experienced guys, about that”, Tomlin said. “It’s less about what we say. It’s more about what we do and our approach to our circumstances, particularly when you’re dealing with young guys, and we’ve got some young guys”.
“Forget what comes out of my mouth. They’re studying how I move”, he added, “they’re studying the spirit in which I move, the attitude and energy that I bring to the opportunity. The can-do approach is extremely helpful when you face the adversity that this game presents”.
Considering this is a team that is starting six rookies, and another three or four second-year players, it’s pretty important that you do everything that you can to help them keep their focus. We saw first-round running back Najee Harris emotional on Sunday midway through the fourth quarter, for example.
He hasn’t experienced anything like this in his football career for a long time, if ever. He is used to success, and to his own natural abilities being enough to carry the day. Now he’s playing against a bunch of people who are similarly talented.
He was aware of this. But maybe he didn’t expect it to be this difficult, this early. Nobody expects to be 1-3 through four games. The best thing you can do to ensure that you get to 1-4 is wallowing in your own misfortune and convincing yourself that you can’t win.