Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin was back in his hometown of Hampton, Virginia this week for the annual Hampton Roads Youth Foundation Football camp. And as he has done at this event he has hosted for the past 11 years, he also took some time to talk with the local media.
Speaking to Bruce Rader of WAVY TV 10, Tomlin discussed the pressures that comes with his job when asked about the expectations associated with being the head coach of the Steelers.
“I love that. To be honest with you, that’s what I love most about the job. I embrace the high expectations associated with the job. I like the fact that Steeler Nation is pissed off, you know, as am I and we are. And so we’re excited about meeting the challenges of 2019 and answering some of those questions that are out there about us.”
Acknowledging there might be less drama in the locker room following the loss of Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell, Tomlin was also quick to point out the production the team would miss, while also noting the opportunities their departure would create for the younger players on the roster.
“There’s going to be plays that need to be made as well and those two guys that you mentioned made a lot of plays. But also, we had a couple of Pro Bowlers at that position a year ago that are still on our team, guys like JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Conner. So, there’ll be opportunities for young emerging stars to continue to do that - emerge and star and wear the responsibility of that. Really excited about the questions surrounding us.”
And with his veteran quarterback set to return for his 16th season, Tomlin is already looking forward to the upcoming season.
“Man, he’s unbelievable player. He needs no endorsement from me. I’ve enjoyed his talents for 13 years and I look forward to enjoying them in 2019. He’s wired much like I’m wired. We’re excited about meeting the challenges of 2019 and answering some of those questions about us”.
Perhaps the most noticeable remarks from Tomlin during this interview were his continual references to the questions that surround his team. For someone who claims not to pay much attention to the noise outside of the building, it is clear that the coach has heard what the so-called “experts” have been saying about Pittsburgh as of late.
For a team that has often appeared to play better when they are seen as the underdogs, it will be interesting to note how Tomlin harnesses this negativity to inspire the Steelers to greater heights in 2019.