When you hear current and former players discuss the things they love about Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, the words transparent and straightforward are used often. Tomlin consistently lets players know where they stand, is open and honest and doesn’t mince words.
That’s something he prides himself on, and in large part that’s his focus throughout training camp this summer at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe as he finds himself overseeing a three-way quarterback competition to anoint a new starting quarterback in the Steel City for the first time in 18 seasons.
Tomlin has been pretty transparent overall when it comes to the quarterback competition featuring Mitch Trubisky, Mason Rudolph and Kenny Pickett under center. He’s stated repeatedly that he doesn’t want too much weighing on every throw throughout training camp, and wants the players to simply be themselves and let their talents shine.
Appearing on SiriusXM’s Movin The Chains with hosts Pat Kirwan, Jim Miller and Paul Alexander Friday, Tomlin talked about how much he prides himself on being transparent, and how much he’s enjoyed working with the quarterbacks throughout OTAs, minicamp and now training camp in the midst of a position battle.
“I’ve really enjoyed this group and the work they’ve done, and getting to know them and just talking to them about the elephant in the room, which is the competition,” Tomlin stated to Kirwan, Miller and Alexander, according to audio via SiriusXM. “I pride myself in being really transparent. I think the more we can do that, it steadies the waters and allows them to be themselves in the midst of all of this. And so that’s where my focus has been. …The depth chart is not riding on each and every throw. I just don’t believe you develop men and teams that way. I think it circumvents their leadership.
“I think there’s certain natural leadership that comes with the position and I’m evaluating that component of it too,” Tomlin added, according to audio via SiriusXM. “The ability to interact with their teammates and direct them formally and informally, and do the things that come with the position, it’s been fun. …It’s cool to watch them be themselves while openly competing. I just don’t want ’em to feel in any way uncomfortable about going hard after what it is they desire, so it requires some discussion, some transparency and daily maintenance and, you know, I’m interested in that.”
If that doesn’t quite sum up Tomlin’s leadership and overall coaching style, than I’m not sure what does.
In a cutthroat league where quarterback is the most important position in the league, not to mention in all of sports, Tomlin is taking a transparent, laidback approach, being up from and honest about what he’s looking for, while trying to take the pressure off of the battle itself, letting all three showcase their leadership abilities and their overall talents on the field.
Is that the correct approach, especially with so much riding on the competition? Who knows unless you’re truly inside those meetings. That said, on the outside it certainly looks like it’s working for the Steelers as all three have flashed in training camp and are clearly getting along well and pushing each other to greater heights.