On Tuesday, HC Mike Tomlin spoke to the media in his weekly press conference where he talked about the team’s win Sunday on the road against the Atlanta Falcons and previewed the team’s upcoming Week 14 matchup at home against the Baltimore Ravens this upcoming Sunday.
When Tomlin was asked about the development of the younger players on his football team and how winning games contributes to that development, Tomlin answered that the young players’ efforts are a key component in terms of obtaining victory, meaning development and winning go hand-in-hand.
“Their development also produces the wins, and so it’s the chicken or the egg,” Tomlin said to the media Tuesday on video from the team’s YouTube channel. “We don’t grade on the curve. Oftentimes when I’m asked about Kenny [Pickett], I talk about his progression and the rate of his progression, but always including that statement we’re not grating on the curve. We expect him to produce wins while this development is happening. And it’s the same thing for all those guys. They’re growing and growing in the right ways because of the victories. Their play is producing the victories and so, let’s keep it going.”
The Pittsburgh Steelers have undergone an overhaul of the roster in recent seasons, seeing a mass exodus of talent and experience on both sides of the football. Over the last two seasons, Pittsburgh has seen the likes of Ben Roethlisberger, James Conner, Maurkice Pouncey, JuJu Smith-Schuster, David DeCastro, Ramon Foster, Alejandro Villanueva, Stephon Tuitt, Joe Haden, Vince Williams, Bud Dupree, Mike Hilton, and others leave the team via retirement, free agency, or release.
This has caused Pittsburgh to go through an extreme makeover of the roster, particularly on the offensive side of the ball with a new rookie QB in Kenny Pickett along with RB Najee Harris, WR George Pickens, TE Pat Freiermuth, and LT Dan Moore Jr. all within their first two seasons in the league. Things started out rocky for the Steelers at the beginning of the 2022, especially for the offense who had to gel together and go through some major growing pains including Pickett’s late INTs against the Dolphins which effectively lost the game on Sunday Night Football along with other learning moments by Pittsburgh’s youth.
However, it looks as if the team’s younger players are starting to find their groove down the stretch as the team goes through a natural maturation process in terms of gaining more playing experience. Since the bye, Pittsburgh is 3-1 and has seen notable contributions from several members of its young core including Pickett who has displayed better decision making as well as Harris and Freiermuth who both made key plays last week in Atlanta to help secure victory against the Falcons.
Pittsburgh has a young, relatively inexperienced team this season after the departure of 18-year veteran and future first-ballot HOF Ben Roethlisberger, meaning that it would take some time for the younger guys to make good on their potential and talent and convert those traits into wins. It appears like the team is doing just that down the stretch and with five games left to go and a soft remaining schedule, this team has the chance to continue this run and avoid Mike Tomlin having his first losing season as the team’s head coach.