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Former NFL safety John Lynch, who played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers when Mike Tomlin was their secondary coach, was at the Steelers facility doing a feature for the FOX pregame show.
Lynch looks at the Steelers as a team that continues to overcome injuries, not letting them become a problem.
"What I really see, even in a place like Pittsburgh where there is so much sustained success and excellence, is each team is different,” said Lynch. “The story of this year’s team is resiliency. This team has been injured a lot more than people realize. There have been nine different starting offensive line combinations, the linebackers playing together only five games and we see the quarterback limping around. It’s kind of typical for what has gone on this season.
“In the face of that here we are 12-4 and in the playoffs. That is what sticks out about the story of this year’s team.”
Lynch credits Tomlin for being the glue that has held the team together when injuries might have torn others apart.
“I think it’s the way you project yourself, conduct yourself and not go into panic mode if a player is not going to be available,” said Lynch. “It’s no disrespect to a great player. I have been to places where everybody is shaking in their boots if that player is not playing. How do you think that backup feels? Here it’s an expectation that whoever goes in there is going to play. The next man up mentality, a lot of people talk about it, they live it here.”
That next man up mentality is being brought into play again this week, with Tomlin not allowing
“When I think about (Tomlin), I think the best leaders have the answers at the right time,” said Lynch. “They do and say the right things. Every time you see something you think that is how it should be handled. He has a great pulse of leadership and effective ways to lead. That is why I knew and other people knew even when he was a young, young coach he was going to be a special one someday.”
And it’s the putting the player’s well-being first approach that has helped make Tomlin successful, with players wanting to go the extra mile for him.
“That is not why he did it (with the Clark decision), but I think things like that pay dividends for years to come,” said Lynch. “You don’t think players want to play here after seeing that. All of the players want to play, but for the coach to go out in the face of this – and Ryan is an excellent player, Mike knows that. To not think twice about it, to do it because his health is more important than a win or loss, that speaks volumes to players about how their coach cares about him.”