One of the central topics of conversation within the Pittsburgh Steelers’ sphere in recent days has been their practices, and the manner in which they’re conducted. This has been spurred on largely by player comments, going back to the Lions game, that have been read as, if not outright stated, concerns about how things were being executed.
Now, ‘we need to practice better’ is boilerplate stuff that we always hear from every team in the league when they lose a bad game, or they play poorly against a bad team. It’s the obvious go-to whenever you underperform, since practice is, in theory, how you get better. So if you don’t do what you thought you should be able to do, then the obvious solution is doing better in practice, right?
Well, with each passing comment, it does start to feel that it’s a little more than the generic post-game cliché. And reporters are certainly going to keep hammering away at it, at least for the rest of this week. Naturally, we did get head coach Mike Tomlin’s take on it yesterday, as he discussed possible changes. His comments on what has to change in practice:
“We just have to continue to focus on the things that we value, the fundamental things”, he said. “We have a limited number of padded opportunities. Everybody does based on rule, where we are in the season. We’ve been thoughtful about the utilization of those, but given our current circumstance, attire is something that could change this week in an effort to position us to play a better brand of football. I’m open to all of those things”.
So basically, the takeaway is padded practices. The thing is, Tomlin preached an intense work of fundamentals just recently, after they tied with Detroit, and we obviously did not see sound fundamental football the following week, nor this past game.
At a certain point, there’s only so much that a coaching staff can do to train their players. It’s ultimately up to them, and the game plan, and the plays run. No doubt, execution has been poor frequently throughout this season, particularly on defense lately.
But we are also seeing those continued fundamental failings. Some of that, yes, has to do with availability and injury, but some of it, there really isn’t a justifiable excuse for, even for those who seek justification rather than explanation.
So what will we see change in practice this week? Well, there probably won’t be music being added. I think we can bet on that. The truth is we probably won’t get many answers, unless reporters ask players late in the week and on Sunday about what might have been different during the week.