Mike Tomlin Did ‘What Was Required To Engineer Victory’ Down The Stretch

On Monday, HC Mike Tomlin spoke to the media in his weekly press conference where he talked about the team’s victory at home against the Cleveland Browns and gave some of his thoughts on the season as a whole as the Steelers’ 2022 season comes to a close with Pittsburgh being eliminated from playoff contention.

Tomlin was asked about if his run-heavy, conservative offense in the second half of the season was by design given the personnel he had on the roster and what the team may do heading into next season to generate more splash on offense. Tomlin acknowledged that Pittsburgh used what was at its disposal to stack wins and get back to relevancy after a slow start to the year.

“Succinctly, yes,” Tomlin said to the media Monday on video from the team’s YouTube channel. “You guys know that I’m a fundamentalist. I got red paint; I’m going to paint my barn red as a coaching cliché. What you saw from us was appropriate, particularly over the second half of the year in an effort to engineer victory. As we move forward, we’re continually trying to get better and get better in all areas… and how does that shape and affect your personality? It does. It does in all three phases. It does individually and in totality. But it’s our job as coaches to do what is required to engineer victory, particularly over the latter half of the year, and we did what we did to engineer victory.”

Pittsburgh went 7-2 down the stretch after starting 2-6 before their bye week. After the bye, we saw the Steelers adopt a more run-heavy approach on the offensive side of the football, limiting the amount of pass attempts by Kenny Pickett as the offensive line started to gel on the back half of the season and RB Najee Harris hit his stride after a shaky start to the year. Pittsburgh rushed for over 100 yards in all but one game in the second half of the year as Harris, Jaylen Warren, and even Benny Snell Jr. for a game served as the focal point of the offense on the ground, bludgeoning teams like the Saints, Colts, Falcons, Ravens, and Browns in the regular season finale.

Pittsburgh’s focus on the running game and relying on its defense to keep them in close games came at the expense of the passing game as the Steelers failed to post a 300-yard passing game in the last 12 games of the year. Pittsburgh finished 24th in the league in total passing yards but dead-last in TDs, throwing 12 scores all year between Kenny Pickett and Mitch Trubisky. The strategy worked out in Pittsburgh’s favor as Pickett displayed better ball security than in the first half of the season, taking care of the football while doing just enough to move the offense into scoring position.

While this strategy worked well for Pittsburgh to have success down the stretch this season, Tomlin acknowledged that he is open to changing the team’s personality offensively, given how difficult consistently winning the way Pittsburgh did this season can be when having to play dynamic offenses like the Bills, Bengals, and Chiefs in the AFC.

For Pittsburgh to become a legit playoff contender, more splash plays on offense will be needed along with Pickett taking a notable step forward in his second season to make this offense a more well-rounded attack. We shall see soon enough what these changes may look like scheme or personnel-wise but give Tomlin credit for finding a way to stack victories together down the stretch to avoid his first losing season and almost get Pittsburgh into the postseason.

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