clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

When it comes to the 2019 Pittsburgh Steelers, actions speak louder than words

Mike Tomlin utilized a whole lot of words to say a whole lot of nothing at the owners meeting this week in Phoenix, Arizona. There really wasn't much else that needed to be said.

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Pittsburgh Steelers
Nov 26, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin yells as his defense leaves the field after a Green Bay Packers touchdown during the first quarter at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

There is an old saying that goes something like this, "Each of us preach our own funeral with evidence garnered from the life we lived." It can be worded a little differently, but the meaning stays the same. We can proclaim to be anything we want to be, but our actions perfectly describe who we really are. Therefore actions speak louder than words.

Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin spoke to the media basically for the first time since the end of the season this week at the NFL owner's meetings in Phoenix, Arizona. The national media, still infatuated with a couple of high profile departures from the roster and the corresponding feeding frenzy created by their own fraternity, peppered Tomlin with questions relating to the tandem lost. Tomlin is the master of coach speak, which is the ability to say a whole lot without ever really saying anything. The Pittsburgh media are all too aware of this ability, and have grown accustomed to his Tomlinisms. The national media still hang on every word, waiting for a great enlightenment. In the end, they are left with a notepad or recording device full of something but still with nothing worth actually reporting.

There really wasn't much for Tomlin to say at this time. It really is a no win situation to waste time talking about individuals who are no longer part of the organization, whether it be players or coaches. Why waste time defending yourself or your remaining players when the national media has already talked at great length giving their unsubstantiated opinions about your situation, and fans of the Steelers and the NFL in general have already generated their conclusions?

I am aware that some Steelers fans wished Tomlin would have spoken up and told it like it is, and pointed out the hypocrisy of the agenda biased attacks on himself, the organization, and Ben Roethlisberger by some self-serving individuals. But to what end? Many of the same individuals who presently want Tomlin to be more transparent were also the ones calling for his head a couple of seasons back for apparently looking ahead to a potential showdown with the Patriots and then having the audacity to say as much during an interview with an old friend. Tomlin has learned his lesson; he won't be making that mistake again anytime soon. So get ready for plenty of coach speak, because Mike being Mike isn't doing anybody any good.

The damage has been done, so to speak - if there really was any - and it is only superficial. So what if some people want to believe the Steelers, Mike Tomlin, and Ben Roethlisberger are not perfect? Guess what, they aren't. Nobody is. Not even Tom Terrific and the New England Patriots. Not everyone's new favorite team, the Cleveland Browns. Certainly not media darling and perpetual victim Antonio Brown, even if he will forever blame his shortcomings on someone else. The Steelers are fallible, and we all should be able to relate.

It really doesn't matter what Tomlin does or doesn't say right now. The only thing that really matters is what he does as head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers moving forward. Mike has proven to be a master juggler lately, at least when it comes to difficult personalities. He has been forced to wear many hats over the past few seasons, unbeknownst to the majority of Steelers Nation. He has been a psychiatrist, counselor, and a go between. The problem is, these roles resulted in him becoming an enabler. That was never his intention.

Mike Tomlin is no dummy. Every coach wants talented players and the Steelers have had one of the most talented teams in the league over the past few seasons, especially on offense. One potential problem that accompanies talented individuals is their personal agendas. That is human nature and it really isn't anyone's fault. Players can prioritize their personal goals or put them on the back burner to focus on the greater good, team success. Some players are simply incapable of personal sacrifice.

That was Tomlin's dilemma. He tried his best to hold the pieces together for as long as he could, hoping for a chance to play for a Super Bowl championship with that talented group of players. His collective efforts, though admirable, were all for naught and actually opened him up to ridicule. Many of the disappointing results achieved by Mike's teams in recent seasons suddenly make more sense knowing what we know now.

All of Steeler Nation are praying for the upcoming season to be a case of addition by subtraction. We can only hope for a more balanced offense, starting with a rejuvenated QB spreading the wealth around to a group of offensive personnel playing with huge chips on their shoulders. Hopefully the free agent and defensive draft additions will result in a new and improved turnover-causing machine. As long as I am dreaming, maybe the Steelers could find a reliable kicker this season. A punter obviously is out of the question.

Finally, Mike Tomlin can trade in his multitude of hats for the one he is paid to wear, Head Coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Mike Tomlin is a players coach, and that is okay. It is fine to treat players like men, you just have to be sure you have players who want to act like one.