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Mike Tomlin defends Kenny Pickett, Steelers offense after brutal Week 11 loss to Browns

Head coach Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks on in the first quarter against the Cleveland Browns at Cleveland Browns Stadium on November 19, 2023 in Cleveland, Ohio. Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers notched their fourth loss of the season in Week 11 in a crucial intradivisional matchup against the Cleveland Browns. The offensive struggles were pronounced early on in this game, unable to get absolutely anything going in the passing game as second-year quarterback Kenny Pickett looked absolutely lost at times, totaling just 106 passing yards, 0 touchdowns and 0 interceptions on the day.

In his post-game presser, HC Mike Tomlin gave his kudos to the Browns defense, noting that, “We just came up a play or two short. But that happens, man; that’s what happens when you compete in this league on days like today. We own that. We compliment them for doing enough to win. We’ll go back to the lab and continue to work, but really, I just thought that’s how the game unfolded. They had a real good feel of it; we had a real good feel of it. We knew what had to happen — just not enough of it for us.”

Once they opened up the room for questions, Tomlin continued to defend his offensive unit.

When asked about the failure to run down the clock at all with under two minutes left in the game thanks to three straight incompletions, Tomlin said, “We stand by what we did.”

When asked what the Steelers need to get the offense going, Tomlin pointed back to the strength of the Browns defense. “They make a lot of offenses look like that,” Tomlin said.

Tomlin was asked if Pickett was missing some confidence right now, quickly replying, “No.”

“What do you see that just doesn’t seem to be clicking for Kenny [Pickett]?” Tomlin was asked. He replied, “I think the Cleveland Browns had a lot to do with that. I’d be disingenuous if I didn’t compliment them on their players, their schematics, how they played today, the venue component of it... from an offensive perspective, there was a lot of things that were challenging today.”

“Do you look at this and think you should have gotten Jaylen [Warren] more than 9 carries?” Tomlin was asked. “I don’t. When you’re unsuccessful, you can look back and make a lot of those types of judgments, and we don’t live like that. We don’t live in our fears. We don’t second-guess. We live. And so, I stand by whatever decisions, or play selections or ball distributions we had today.”

When asked about the difficulties the passing game has had getting going in the past month, Tomlin said, “I don’t know if you could describe it as having a tough time getting going. Maybe we’ve just run it really effectively for the past few weeks.”

It’s not surprising to see Tomlin defending his offense. After all, Tomlin is a man of loyalty coaching a franchise that has staked its reputation on just that. The lack of public acknowledgment that the play the offense exhibited outside of running back Jaylen Warren is abysmal, however, feels somewhat inexcusable.