By Teresa Varley
Coach Mike Tomlin didn't beat around the bush. He didn't wait for questions. Instead he got right to the point on Tuesday at his weekly press conference, giving his "state of the union" address for the Steelers.
"We're 10 games into this thing; we're a 6-4 football team," said Tomlin. "Definitely not where we anticipated being or want to be, but definitely where we are. I'd probably be saying similar things if we were 8-2, but that's just the nature of this thing. I think when you drop a couple of games like we've dropped a couple of games here of late, you need to assess where you are as we push forward here over these last six games."
Where the Steelers are right now is ranked number one in the NFL in total defense and third in the AFC and sixth in the NFL in total offense. Not bad rankings at all.
But it's other numbers that concern Tomlin. The team is ranked 25th overall in takeaway/giveaway ratio, a number he wants to see change.
"We have (created) 14 turnovers defensively in 10 games, not enough," said Tomlin. "We've got 19 turnovers on offense in 10 games, too many. We'll let that guide our approach in terms of how we prepare for this game and those that follow.
"Also, we've given up five touchdowns on special teams. Giving up touchdowns while your defense is on the sideline is unacceptable, not a good thing. We've given up four on kickoff coverage; we've also had a punt return taken from us and returned, Five touchdowns on special teams coupled with 25th in the league in turnover ratio will make a team that's capable of moving the ball and stopping people 6-4. That provides great clarity for me, I think it's going to provide great clarity for our football team as we work and prepare for this week, but also the weeks that follow."
The first step, though, is addressing the issues that are keeping the Steelers from winning and that begins on Sunday night in Baltimore, against a Ravens team that always provides a physical battle.
"This is a competitors business and we're competitors, but redemption Sunday is coming for us in the form of the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday Night Football," said Tomlin. "We're excited about that. That medicine is kind of just what the doctor ordered when you look at where we are, having the opportunity to play our rival at their place on prime time television."
With the Steelers sitting at 6-4 and the Ravens at 5-5, the game carries big implications in the playoff hunt in the AFC North. And that is why there is no time like the present to turn things around.
"If we address our ills and really don't blink in the face of adversity, and really let that guide our energy and decision making and continue to do the things well that we're doing well, we should be fine and should be able to correct these issues," said Tomlin.