One of the favorite criticisms for every fanbase when their team loses a game is that their team was outcoached, failed to make adjustments, and similar claims of that ilk that are often very difficult to actually substantiate but feel as though they must be true based on the on-field evidence.
With that being said, it’s not necessarily much more compelling when a losing head coach says it, either, because head coaches are going to be inclined to put the blame on themselves. But in this case, I think Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Todd Bowles is justified in owning his coaching loss, particularly in terms of how they were unprepared for what the Steelers did in the secondary.
“They did a good job mixing it up. They protected them over the top for the most part”, he said after the game via the team’s website. “We got outcoached and we got outplayed. We had injuries last year and we had more guys go down. We didn’t worry about that. We knew it was gonna be a tough ball game and they did a good job beating us”.
Bowles is referring, of course, to the Steelers’ secondary, which featured backups nearly up and down the aisle, with only starting safety Terrell Edmunds and nickel cornerback Arthur Maulet a regular part of the rotation.
Starting next to Edmunds in Minkah Fitzpatrick’s free safety spot was Tre Norwood, typically their dime defender. James Pierre started at one cornerback spot, by far his most extensive playing time since being benched as a backup last year. Josh Jackson was at the other outside corner spot, having been elevated from the practice squad. The team also mixed in Quincy Wilson, who was just promoted to the 53-man roster as well.
“We didn’t take them lightly”, Bowles stressed when sizing up his team’s loss to a 1-4 Steelers team floundering and coming off of their worst loss in decades a week earlier. “They did a good job schematically of disguising and getting us into things and coming up and making plays and showing us something else. We gotta do a better job of coaching it”.
That prior loss was at the hands of the Buffalo Bills, whose head coach acknowledged last year following an upset in the opener that he, too, was outcoached by Mike Tomlin and company. “Mike Tomlin and his team came in here and outcoached us and outplayed us, and I give them credit”, he said.
Of course, every other week, Steelers fans insist that Tomlin is the one being outcoached. But at least he has these two games in his 16-year career in which he can take comfort in knowing that he did a good job and that his team did not win in spite of his supposed incompetence.