Fandom wouldn’t be fandom without fanatics, so overreaction just tends to come with the territory. And for the most part, when it’s well-meaning, it’s fine—even a good thing, and a healthy part of the discussion. Not that it doesn’t sometimes go wrong, or too far, and I think that’s when we get into the realm of character assassination and things like that.
I think we have an inclination to draw connections between poor performance and low degrees of effort or investment, and that’s an often inaccurate association. By and large, you can probably guarantee that the guys in the locker room are more upset about the results of games than the fans are. And that’s what we heard yesterday, in a way, including from head coach Mike Tomlin.
“I’m not happy with much of anything when we just lost a game, but I’m also experienced enough to see the big picture, that we are still very much in development”, he told reporters yesterday when he was asked if he was happy with the play-calling thus far and play designs, via the team’s website. While he talked about exercising patience, he also said, “I think that if anyone is sitting here on Monday in Week 2 of this thing feeling happy, they’re probably wrong or misinformed”.
Wanting to win and being able to win unfortunately don’t always go hand in hand, but typically, losing and being pissed about losing do. You tend to see a much more somber locker room after losses, and the sentiment is genuine. I imagine anybody who’s played organized sports has experienced that. All of these guys have been through that locker room environment at every level.
Said Mason Cole when he was asked if he was surprised by the ‘sky is falling’ rhetoric out there after two games, he said that overreaction is a part of the game, but so is underreaction. “I appreciate that they’re passionate, and I appreciate that they want us to be good, but they need to know that we want to be good, too. We’re doing everything we can to be successful”.
The Steelers as an organization from the top level down build a culture that is rooted in winning. You don’t come in here and not see that; it’s not like there’s any question that there is an indifference to what the scoreboard says. Losing is not tolerated; but that doesn’t make it any easier to actually win.
The bottom line is, the locker room is just as unhappy with where things are as we are right now, and I think this is usually the case whenever things aren’t going well. They may have more confidence in their ability to turn things around internally—after all, who doesn’t think they’re part of the solution—but it’s not like they can’t see when things aren’t working or that they just decide that it’s okay.