The Pittsburgh Steelers locker room has been, perhaps, somewhat uncharacteristically candid over the past 24 hours following the Sunday afternoon loss to the New England Patriots. Players talking about not having an identity, hints at questioning different aspects of the offense.
One interesting comment that quarterback Mitch Trubisky made in the locker room after the game was that there were players in the huddle who were trying to tell him what plays to run. I’m sure that’s not an incredibly unique situation, but it was notable enough from the media’s perspective to ask head coach Mike Tomlin about it.
“I hadn’t talked to Mitch, so I don’t know what you’re referring to, but largely, that’s a good battle to fight usually”, he said, via the team’s website. “We’ve got playmakers, young playmakers, guys with a lot of talent, guys that want to be the reasons why we’re successful”.
He broke out the “rather say ‘whoa’ than ‘sic ‘em’” line that he usually uses when it comes to pass rushers when referring to the attitude of playmakers wanting to make plays. “I think that’s just a general attitude that we as competitors in a competitive football team in a competitive organization have. We’re not going to make a problem out of guys wanting to be the reason why we’re successful”.
Center Mason Cole was asked about the same thing and he unsurprisingly gave a similar answer, chalking it up to competitiveness. I mean, Keyshawn Johnson felt so strongly about the topic that he literally wrote the book on it.
So who is it in the huddle saying he should be getting the ball? We know it’s not Antonio Brown, since he’s not here, but it certainly would be him if he were. Even Heath Miller had to tell him to shut up every once in a while.
If anybody has an argument to make, of course, it’s rookie wide receiver George Pickens, who has seen few targets despite being on the field almost as much as anybody else—and it’s not for a lack of being able to get open. And the targets he has gotten typically have not been of high quality.
One thing that’s really evident is that this offense doesn’t know what it is yet. They certainly don’t know what works, because they haven’t had much that has worked up to this point. They’re going to have to find a few staple concepts that they can run consistently with success and start building around them, and then they can worry about appeasing the playmakers and making sure they get their touches.
Besides, people tend to feel more content when they’re on the right side of the scoreboard.