Once again, it doesn’t seem like a Tuesday unless we are graced with words from Steelers’ head coach Mike Tomlin from his weekly press conference. Since it is unlikely we will hear from coach Tomlin again until the draft, let’s take a look at some of the most interesting quotes Tomlin has given us this past season.
After last week experiencing a “Throwback Tomlin Tuesday” where he compared playing nose guard to Blockbuster video, let’s go back to the post-game comments from Week 1 of the 2019 season following the Steelers loss in Foxborough. Coach Tomlin opened up his time with the media with the following statement:
“I’m not going to sugarcoat it. We weren’t ready for prime time tonight.”
With the Steelers opening the 2019 season on Sunday Night Football as they took on the New England Patriots who were raising their Super Bowl banner, Coach Tomlin implied the stage was too big for his players at that early in the season. Tomlin took responsibility as a whole with coaches and players while also giving credit to their opponents.
“All of us, not a good enough plan, not a good enough execution of that plan. You’ve got to tip your hat to those guys. We accept responsibility for that. That’s the nature of this thing. It’s humbling. It sucks. But that’s the National Football League. It won’t define us if we won’t let it.”
Coach Tomlin hit the nail on the head in saying “it sucks.” That was true for players, coaches, front office personnel, and definitely the fans. It was a horrible start to the season before things even began to fall apart on the injury front.
“But part of that is just acknowledging what I said when I opened: We weren’t ready for prime time tonight,” Tomlin reiterated. “We’ve got to get back to the drawing board. We won’t go undefeated; we’re 0-1.”
So not only did Coach Tomlin say his team was not ready for the big stage, he thought it was important enough to repeat the statement. Because it was such a point of emphasis, his first question was asked why he thought his team wasn’t ready for prime time.
“It doesn’t matter,” Tomlin answered. “We can seek comfort, we can rationalize it, but the bottom line is we didn’t do the things we needed to do tonight and the things we desired to do tonight. So forget the opponent. A lot of times when you’re stepping out and playing for the first time it’s about what you do and what you choose to do and the quality in which you do it. We didn’t get enough of those things done tonight to be competitive.”
At the time, I thought the biggest thing keeping the Steelers from being ready was their lack of playing time together in the preseason. I was confused by Ben Roethlisberger already taking off so many days early on in camp and even the first week leading up to the season opener. Having a very young group of wide receivers, I thought it made sense for Roethlisberger to spend more time developing a rapport with his teammates.
Little did most of us know the Steelers were protecting Ben Roethlisberger‘s arm. Seven days later, #7 would be done for the season as his elbow would not allow him to take another NFL pass in 2019 beyond Week 2. Following the Patriots game, there was a little comfort in knowing the team wasn’t ready with Roethlisberger seeing very limited action through training camp. But in hindsight, the Steelers were doing all they could for Roethlisberger to last as far in 2019 as he could. Unfortunately, it didn’t pay off.
So the Steelers weren’t ready for prime time in Week 1 of 2019. It was a very low feeling for all of Steelers’ Nation at that particular point of the season, but what was even worse was everyone was about see what life would be like without Ben Roethlisberger the very next week. It seemed to be appropriate that Tomlin said the Steelers weren’t ready as the team’s readiness to deal with a variety of tough situations was an ongoing theme for the 2019 season.