One of the defining qualities of Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin is his consistency. For better or worse, he is more or less the same guy year in and year out, conveying the same messages. You will always know where you stand with him.
This is what we hear from players time and time again. ‘Tomlinisms’ are ubiquitous and often imitated. But they are there because there is truth in them, and perhaps the one that he holds most dear is the core principle of worth. It’s a message that resonates with players like cornerback Arthur Maulet, especially those who might have come in from the outside.
“When I first signed with Pittsburgh, I was like, ‘Man, he’s a legitimate guy’”, he said of his first impression of Tomlin when he signed with the Steelers in 2021, during an interview with Ron Cook and Joe Starkey on 93.7 The Fan on Wednesday. “He just was telling us about he don’t care how you got here, when you got here. If you can play, you can play”.
“In my career, when I signed with Pittsburgh at the time, I needed to find a niche in the league. I needed to find a way to survive in this league, and honestly, he was a man of his word”, he went on. “A lot of teams say that. I’ve been on four teams in the league, and he stood on his word. If you can play, you’re gonna play. He gave me the opportunity to show what I can do”.
A 2017 college free agent out of Memphis, Maulet first signed with the New Orleans Saints, with whom he had 14 transactions—whether cut or re-signed—from May 8, 2017 to September 24, 2018. He lasted one full season there before finding his way to the Indianapolis Colts during the 2018 season, then spent two years with the New York Jets, where he began to find more of a defensive role.
But it was in Pittsburgh after he signed with the Steelers in 2021 where he finally began to have a greater sense of clarity about who he is as a player, what he would be asked to do, and perhaps most importantly of all, what his value was.
Over the course of the 2021 season, he began to inherit the slot nickel defender role, and that wasn’t by happenstance. He has told the story before of how Tomlin told him when they brought him in to watch the film of former Steelers slot corner Mike Hilton. “I think you can do what he did”, Tomlin told him.
Another common theme from the Tomlin-led Steelers and front office and scouting staff is simple: focus on what players can do, and let them do it. When you emphasize a player’s strengths, you get their strengths. They’ve gotten that out of Maulet over the past two seasons as he prepares for his third season in the black and gold, his niche secure for now.