That he has become synonymous with various aphorisms has served as a double-edged sword for Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin. While he certainly gets plenty of credit for his ability to motivate, at the same time, he is also judged by the standard of his own phrases, and it provides easy ammunition when his team is not succeeding for accusing him of being full of empty rhetoric.
Still, he knows his way around an effective zinger. And I’m not quite sure I’ve ever heard this one that the recently retired Joe Haden shared while appearing on the Rich Eisen Show yesterday.
In talking about what the Steelers’ team film sessions were like and how Tomlin will not hesitate to call out anybody on the roster, he said that if a player doesn’t take to that kind of coaching and keeps repeating a mistake on take, you might hear Tomlin say, “If you don’t fix that, we’re going shopping”.
Now, I’m sure you know what that means. If you keep making the same mistake, we’re going to go out and find somebody who won’t and he’ll take your job, your roster spot. As you might expect, it drew the appropriate laughter and admiration from Eisen and the crew. It’s an objectively effective and pointed line that gets the message across.
But there’s a broader point about Tomlin’s film room. It’s a place of honesty and transparency. Nobody is coddled in there. Cameron Heyward recently talked about it as well and how being shown up on the screen made him never want to be in that situation again. Haden has found himself there as well.
“Yes, and I’m taking it just because you have to. It’s like, I didn’t make the tackle. I missed it, so you gotta be able to literally, you sit there and it’s ‘You know, bet, for sure. That’s on me’”, he told Eisen. “You gotta take it on the chest and make sure you know Coach T’s watching, so do your job and you’ll be fine. If you don’t, he’ll call you out”.
“When he says things like that, he’s gonna go in there and he’s gonna talk to Trubisky, like, literally in front of the entire team”, Haden added. “He’s gonna talk to any offensive lineman, and defensive lineman that’s not in their gap. Each person he’s gonna be able to talk to you as a man because he’s not lying to you. He’s telling you what he wants and what needs to be done”.
You might expect that this is standard practice throughout the league, and certainly it is in individual position rooms, but it’s not every head coach that conducts such an open and honest film room with the entire roster present.
Unfortunately, he’s going to be busy with his laser pointer this week after a rough couple of games, on both sides of the football. I’m not sure many players would be entirely safe from finding their way up on the board.