Reason for optimism: The Steelers finished 8-8 for the second straight season, but there is a different attitude this year after the team closed out the season strong with a 6-2 record.
“There is a lot of reason to be optimistic about what transpired when you look at it over the course of the season,” said Coach Mike Tomlin. “It speaks to the men we work with. I learned a lot about them, and sometimes you learn a lot about yourself and the people you work with in the midst of adversity. We had enough adversity starting 0-4, being 2-6 at the turn. It’s encouraging to know the type of men you work with that are capable of staying together and continuing to work in the midst of negativity. All of those things are encouraging. There is a lot of reason for optimism and a great deal of pride in this group of men that I work with.”
- Thanks for your support: Tomlin doesn’t take for granted for one second the support the team gets from their fans that turn out to cheer the team whether it’s at Heinz Field, New York, London or anywhere the team plays. He especially appreciated their support during a season when the team had its ups and downs.
“I believe we have the very best fans in the world,” said Tomlin. “I would like to thank them for sticking with us throughout what was a trying journey this year. There were many moments during the course of the year where it became evident to me how special Steelers Nation is. I think about the way our fans rallied and supported us down the stretch here with a stretch of home games that were significant in our efforts to stay alive. I don’t take it for granted, it doesn’t get old and I want to thank them for riding with us.”
- No changes yet: The one question everyone was looking for an answer to was one Tomlin was not ready to address yet – the future of his coaching staff and players. Tomlin said he hadn’t even met with the team prior to his press conference, and it would be unfair to comment on any potential moves at this point. Tomlin will meet with the players individually over the next few days, and evaluations will soon take place.
“I am at the beginning of that,” said Tomlin. “I don’t have any strong statements or anything in that regard. Any personnel issues, any staffing issue is inappropriate. I acknowledge change is a part of football as far as staff and players.”
Big praise for Big Ben: Tomlin said that
Ben Roethlisberger’s input in the offense is similar to what it has been over the past few years, something he said should be the case for a veteran quarterback. But Tomlin did praise the way that Roethlisberger handled things during the season.
“He did a great job of it this year, not only in terms of his input, but his leadership,” said Tomlin. “We have a bunch of young guys. I thought he answered the bell for us in a big way in that regard.”
Healthy outlook: The Steelers came out of the final game of the season with only a few minor injuries, including wide receiver
Jerricho Cotcherysuffering a rib injury and nose tackle Steve McLendonaggravating his high ankle sprain. Linebacker LaMarr Woodleywon’t require surgery for his calf injuries, instead rehab will be the course of action. Cornerback Curtis Brown, who was previously placed on injured reserve with an ACL and MCL injury, will undergo surgery this Friday for the ACL.
“All of the surgeries that needed to transpire to this point have transpired, minus Curtis Brown,” said Tomlin. “The MCL had to heal before the surgery, it has. Other than him all of the other surgeries have transpired. There may be some things that come up at the end of the year physicals and we aren’t going to rush that.”