Attacking the offseason

Even if Mike Tomlin felt inclined to lament the Steelers' season-ending, 23-16 playoff loss in Denver, it's not an option.

Not now that this season has become last season and the focus has shifted to next season.

"There are a lot of lines in the water this time of year," Tomlin said. "There isn't a lot of time to feel sorry for yourself."

There's talent to evaluate and acquire and there are decisions to be made and there are miles to cover along the way.

The East-West Shrine Game is set for Saturday, in St. Petersburg, Fla.

The Senior Bowl will be played on Jan. 30, in Mobile, Ala.

The NFL Scouting Combine will be staged Feb. 23-29, in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Regional combines will be held on Feb. 13 (Houston), Feb. 20 (Phoenix), Feb. 27 (Owings Mills, Md.), March 5 (Eden Prairie, Minn.) and March 12 (Metairie, La.).

The deadline for Franchise and Transition Player designations is March 1.

Free agency commences at 4 p.m. on March 9.

And the NFL Draft will be conducted April 28-20 in Chicago.

"(General Manager) Kevin Colbert and myself are making plans regarding our travel to the Senior Bowl, reviewing draft-eligible players and looking at free agency," Tomlin said. "Kevin and I, right about now, start spending a lot of time together."

The Steelers will attack the offseason and the initial preparations for 2016 as they always have, Tomlin said.

But he and Colbert will remain as flexible as necessary throughout the process.

"We have a hardcore plan," Tomlin said. "We're always open to doing things better. It starts, I think, first and foremost with our time together and communicating, whether it's here in town or traveling (to pro days and other scouting opportunities). We enjoy that because this is our job and our hobby.

"The acquisition of talent, the evaluation of talent, it's the lifeblood of what we do. We happen to enjoy it and so we start the process of building. But it's ever-changing because we're always trying to figure out how to do it better, more efficiently, cleaner, more predictably.

"So this year will be no different, I'm sure."

The process of "assessing and evaluating all elements of our 2015 journey" that started this week will include Tomlin evaluating his performance based on the assessment and evaluation of everything else.

"It usually happens in the midst of looking at all that is us, because my job is to create an environment where we can be successful individually and collectively," he said. "When we're not, then I have to assess how I create that environment. I don't have a list of things that I need to do on a day-to-day basis and things that I check off. I approach my job in that I'm going to create an environment that everybody else can check their list off, and that they can be and do everything that they dream of being and doing.

"I've always approached it that way. I'm going to be unchanged in that area. In the midst of looking at all that we do and all that everybody does within it, I am evaluating what it is that I do, because that's how I view my job."

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