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‘We’ve Created This Ditch:’ Heyward On Tomlin’s Big Picture Mentality

The Pittsburgh Steelers are 1-4, and coming off a crushing 38-3 loss to the Buffalo Bills. This is one of the team’s worst starts in head coach Mike Tomlin’s 16-year tenure, and it will take one of his best coaching efforts to date to turn it around. In preparing for the heavily favored Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Steelers will have their first chance to turn things around. In a Tuesday press conference, Tomlin stated that the team will need a lot of time to fix their flaws, stressing the big picture. When asked about this Tomlin comment, the team’s All-Pro veteran defensive end Cameron Heyward concurred with the sentiment.

“Just own where we’re at right now,” Heyward said when asked about Tomlin telling the team to see the bigger picture on a Monday press conference according to the team’s website. “Understand that we’ve created this ditch and to quit digging. There’s not a lot to point fingers elsewhere and say, this could have happened where we’re at. We’ll see where we’re at the end of this, but we need to stay together and continue to keep battling.”

Indeed, fixing the many fundamental issues that have led the team to their 1-4 start will not happen overnight. For starters, the team is still figuring out the best way to replace linebacker T.J. Watt in any meaningful approximation, and have seen their pass rush and run defense struggle immensely as a result. For a defense that led the league in sacks for the past five seasons and built its identity on pass rushing, replacing Watt certainly proved to be something that cannot be done over night.

On the other side of the ball, the Steelers’ offense is about as stagnant as ever. Albeit, the team is coming off a road game in Buffalo with rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett making his first start. However, from inconsistent play from skill players and the offensive line to questionable play-calling, the offensive struggles are all-around.

After facing Tampa Bay on Sunday, the Steelers will face the Miami Dolphins and the Philadelphia Eagles before their bye week, which is when they are reportedly expecting Watt to return. If the team can somehow manage to win two of these three games, they would enter the bye at 3-5, with a chance to turn things around with a Watt return and extended rest. This speaks to Tomlin’s stressing of the bigger picture, as the NFL season is not even a third of the way through yet, and there is time for improvement. However, this is by far and away far easier said than done.

As the old saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Turning a team with this degree of struggles is not an easy task. However, for the Steelers to have a chance at making anything out of this season, they will need to improve sooner than later starting Sunday.

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