Anyone who has played any sport at a relatively high level has heard this age old saying:
“You play the way you practice.”
Doesn’t matter the sport, and likely doesn’t even matter the level of play, coaches could be heard telling their players these words of wisdom for decades. To be honest, there is certainly some credence to the rule, and largely why it has stuck around so long.
Football players used to be told to head butt walls, and ram into each other to “toughen up”. Those have since gone by the way side due to the many throngs of doctors, parents and players who have all realized this practice is not conducive to anything productive.
Nonetheless, “You play the way you practice” has lasted the test of time, and this very basic philosophy could also be one of the guiding lights to why the Pittsburgh Steelers have been so consistently bad over the last month of football.
Monday during media availability, Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette spoke with Le’Veon Bell about the team’s issues, and Bell’s response was more than just telling.
Le'Veon Bell on the penalties and overall sloppy play: “I think we have to practice better. Even at practice we have mistakes like that."— Ray Fittipaldo (@rayfitt1) November 7, 2016
One word came to mind when I read that quote — WOW.
Not only was Le’Veon Bell taking a cut at the coaching staff and how they handle practice, but also the players on the football team. No, I’m not suggesting Bell is going rogue and undercutting those who are in charge from both a leadership and coaching standpoint, rather he is shining a light on one of the main issues, he feels, surrounding the team as they hit the midway point of the season.
When I thought about it more, I realized this is the second player to criticize Mike Tomlin’s practices in the past month, after Ben Roethlisberger claimed the team was having too many physical practices, and Ben Roethlisberger and Le’Veon Bell making these claims is far from Cobi Hamilton and L.T. Walton, if you know what I mean.
The Steelers have a dilemma on their hands. There is clearly a disconnect between the players and coaches, both from a practice and game level, and it is up to the group as a whole to find some middle ground.
What is working, what isn’t working.
This could be spoken about how the team practices, the plans which are being put into place and how the game plan is executed on game days. The ability to change is vital to success, and if this organization is too prideful to make those necessary changes, then they will see the same results they’ve seen the last three weeks.