Hearing from Coach Mike Tomlin


On frustration, relationships, preparation Throughout the 2009 NFL season, Coach Mike Tomlin will provide his insight and observations to Steelers.com on a variety of topics pertaining to the team and the National Football League.
Q. Did the first third down situation of the game in Cleveland – the third-and-1 – set a negative tone, and do you second-guess the play call?
A. You can't second-guess yourself, but I agree that it did set a negative tone. But tones don't define the outcome of games. We've had shaky starts in the past and gone on to have good performances. That was not going to define us, but it's definitely not the way you want to start the football game.
Q. During that losing streak, who was more frustrated and angry – the players or the coaches?
A. It's tough to quantify. I think we all have a decent amount of anger or frustration, but that comes with what we're doing at this point.
Q. Do you have to try to channel it?
A. Absolutely you do. There's going to be ups and downs in this business. Adversity, and how you deal with it defines you professionally, both players and coaches.
Q. People in other professions can consult books or other resource materials when they get in tough spots at work. In your business do you have any resource materials to consult when you're looking for answers?
A. I think you do (have a resource), and I think that it's history. History of teams, history of individuals. I think you can learn about what's going on in the present based on what has happened in the past. At the same time, every situation is different. This is an organic business – it is time-specific, it is group-specific. In terms of hard and fast answers that you might find in other industries like law and so forth, I think this business is different.
Q. And because of the competitive nature of the business, is there even anyone you could call for advice, because he and his team might be looking to beat you and your team?
A. I wouldn't be interested in calling anybody. This is what we do. This is how we're wired. When it's bad, you bathe in it, and that's just part of it. When it's great, you appreciate it.
Q. But is there ever a bouncing of ideas off others in the profession who might have been in a similar situation previously?
A. Oh sure. But those are relationships that go beyond business. Those are friendships. We're not islands from that standpoint.
Q. After the loss to the Browns, you mentioned in a news conference that you believed the team had to prepare better. What did you mean by that?
A. I'm a result-oriented guy. I analyze my preparation, based on performance, and I've always approached it that way. You want to know how you prepared, then you look at the performance, because this is such a black-and-white business to me, such a bottom line industry. So when a performance is subpar, I look to the preparation.
Q. When you were preparing, you thought it was being done properly?
A. Certainly.
Q. So then how do you go about knowing how to prepare better?
A. Specifically, in this instance I let the tape talk to me. On that Thursday night against the Cleveland Browns, in my opinion, we were out-tempoed by that football team. They had better pad level, they hustled better, they finished better. And that's a tough thing to swallow, but that's a reality of what I saw on tape. So for the preparation for the Packers, we went back to fundamentals. We put our helmets and shoulder pads on for Wednesday and Thursday, and that's something that a lot of teams don't do at this time of year, it's something we generally don't do at this time of year. But when it's broken, that's how you fix it.

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