Over the weekend, Steelers’ Head Coach Mike Tomlin answered question from the Pittsburgh media on a phone conference call. The interview was not made available on Steelers.com, but is on the Pittsburgh Steelers YouTube channel strictly for those who have subscribed.
Taking place during rookie mini camp, Coach Tomlin was asked if it was a challenge having to view his players on a computer screen rather than be able to look them in the eye.
“I’ve gotten quite comfortable with it to be honest with you,” Tomlin confessed. “Over the course of the time that we’ve been in shelter in place I’ve gotten quite comfortable with utilizing the technology and getting some things done in a normal way even under these circumstances. That hasn’t slowed down this weekend at all.”
Although Coach Tomlin has become more familiar with attending meetings as of late over the Internet, the ultimate goal is to eventually meet with players in person. Tomlin was asked about being able to move forward in order to meet with his players person-to-person.
“I’d imagine that day is coming – when it’s coming I do not know,” Tomlin confessed. “There ‘s a couple of things that we’re committed to adhering to and that’s the global approach of the National Football League in regards to football operations and how important competitive fairness is in our game. So we’ve all got to get started on the same footing in that regard.”
With the first step of being all teams being available to progress in the same manner, Coach Tomlin also addressed what it takes specifically for each team to be able to open their facility.
“Also, respecting our local governments and the guidelines of what they prescribe individually in terms of workplace safety. Those are the two key components for us. We are in a wait-and-see mindset, but will be ready to go when both boxes are checked. Until that time, we’re going to focus our energies on what is available to us and take advantage of that.”
Until that time, the Steelers and all other NFL franchises are dealing with virtual meetings. When it come specifically to dealing with their rookies, there are specific challenges which are present in the given circumstances. When asked about if the amount of information given to the rookies has been adjusted, Tomlin explained the bigger issue other than the amount of information thrown at the newest Steelers’ players.
“The evaluation of their ability to absorb the information— the retention of the information— is probably the most significant difference when working in this setting,” Tomlin admitted. “It’s much more difficult to get the feedback, to get the feel of somebody receiving the information when you’re working remotely than it is when you’re dealing with someone in an intimate space. So it’s probably not about the material or the amount of material that we could give, it’s about the tools of evaluating what they learned, how they learned, and the reinforcement of what we give them is probably the most challenging element of the circumstances.”
To follow up on the previous question, Tomlin was asked about how the coaches have to adjust to the evaluation of players in a virtual setting.
“We are in a teaching and instruction phase right now and we will be in that until we get into a football environment and a training camp-like setting and we’re playing the game. All the things that we’re doing for them right now is preparing them for that. There’s very little evaluation per se in these circumstances, and that would be the same even if we were working together. The only thing that we evaluate is how they learn.”
Although rookie mini camp had to be conducted virtually, the success of the acclamation time for the Steelers’ newest members will not be fully known until the team can gather in person and get onto the playing field. Exactly when that time will be is anyone’s guess, so until then the Steelers need to get as much accomplished as possible in this manner in order to hit the ground running once the time comes.