No fear: The NFL Owners Meetings got off to an early start on Monday morning in West Palm Beach, Florida, with the AFC coaches all addressing the media.
And with the new overtime proposals one of the main topics on tap for this year's meeting, Coach Mike Tomlin fielded his share of questions regarding potential changes, especially as a member of the Competition Committee.
"I assume it's going to be today," said Tomlin. "I think the largest component of the discussion is searching to be traditional and not alter the structure of it in any way, but at the same time make the circumstances competitively fair for both teams. That's where discussions are going to be. We've got a couple of proposals on the floor. And I'm sure we're going to talk about them in great detail today and into tomorrow.
"When you're talking about 24 of 32 (team votes) on any subject, particularly when we're talking about rule changes as pertains to weighty moments like overtime, I think there's going to be some discussion. I certainly think there's a desire to do something, whether or not we can land the plane remains to be seen."
The Indianapolis Colts, Philadelphia Eagles and Tennessee Titans all presented Rule Change Proposals, with a slight variation. The Colts and Eagles proposal allows both teams to possess the ball in overtime. The Titans allows both teams to possess the ball in overtime, unless the team with the opening possession scores a touchdown and a successful two-point conversion.
In Tomlin's mind, keeping things traditional might just be the way to go, even though he knows it's not likely the popular decision.
"To be quite honest with you, I'm a sudden death advocate. I'm a traditionalist," said Tomlin. "I don't fear sudden death and I never have, but obviously I lost that battle a decade ago. But my position remains unchanged. I am one of the few sudden death advocates I would imagine.
"I just think 60 minutes everybody has had a fair opportunity to win the game. When you're talking about changes as it pertains to competitive fairness, I speak to the first 60 minutes that we all had. So, win the game. I don't fear sudden death."
Tomlin said one thing he wants is it to be the same across the board. If it changes for the regular season, it should change for the postseason, and keep it all the same.
"I don't want to have to stand in front of my team at the most significant moment in the game and explain to them how and why it's different or to remind those guys of the rules," said Tomlin. "I don't want to be standing in front of my group, explaining to them in one instance why the circumstances are different than another instance."
Liking Mitch's upside: At the start of free agency, the Steelers signed quarterback Mitch Trubisky to a two-year contract. Trubisky brings with him plenty of experience, starting 50 of the 57 games he has played in during his five-year career.
He spent the first four seasons of his career with the Chicago Bears, who selected him in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft, the second player taken overall. He played for the Buffalo Bills in 2021, where he backed-up Josh Allen, playing in only six games with eight pass attempts.
Tomlin said they were attracted to Trubisky for multiple reasons, most importantly the potential he brings to the offense.
"We really were attracted to his upside," said Tomlin. "He is young and experienced. He's won to be quite honest with you. He's probably won more than anybody else that was in the field. He didn't cost us any draft capital. It allowed us to maintain all our picks, and you guys know how we feel about building our team through the draft. There's a lot of things about him that was attractive to us."
This will be the first time since the 2004 season that the Steelers will head into a season without Ben Roethlisberger. On the roster the Steelers have Trubisky, Dwayne Haskins and Mason Rudolph, with the potential of still adding more.
Tomlin said he feels good about the talent the team has, and also doesn't mind heading into a year without his future Hall of Fame quarterback on the roster.
"I'm probably energized in a real positive way," said Tomlin. "I like the anxiety associated with professional uncertainty and we've got to acknowledge that we're in a different space. Hopefully that brings the best out in all of us. I know that's what I anticipate happening.
"I'm comfortable with the talent that we have at the position now. And that's not saying that I'm not open to add to it as we move forward."
Tomlin said it is important to give the team as much of a heads up as to who the starter will be ahead of the season, but he didn't put a timetable on making the decision.
"We will know when we are there," said Tomlin.
More than capable: One of the topics Tomlin has been asked about the last two days is his decision to hire Brian Flores as the team's Senior Defensive Assistant/Linebackers Coach. Tomlin said it began with a conversation after Flores didn't get one of the NFL head coaching positions that were available.
"Without question it's going to be a benefit to us. I feel that already in a short period of time, in the early stages of schematic development and so forth, but that's not the only space he's going to help us," said Tomlin. "His resume and experience, he brings a wealth of knowledge and I'm excited about drawing from that.
"I really enjoyed getting to know him and working alongside him. It's been better than you could have expected. He's all in. He's bright. He's insightful. He has an opinion he is not afraid to express. All the things that I value in an assistant. He is a more than capable football coach."
More from Tomlin:
On Najee Harris getting stronger as the 2021 season wore on:
"He loves the competition. As it got thicker, he loved it more. I like guys, I'm attracted to guys that are competition junkies and he is one."
On re-signing Chukwuma Okorafor:
"He's youthful and experienced. That's what's exciting. This is a guy that's a multiple year starter for us. He's only 24 years old. I think it's reasonable to expect him to continue to grow and get better. I know he brings that business approach. And those are some of the reasons why we're excited about continuing to do business with him."
On signing cornerback Levi Wallace:
"This is a guy that has been battle tested in every stage of life. He was a walk-on at Alabama and earned his way. He was undrafted at Buffalo and earned his way. I'm just really excited about having an opportunity to work with a guy who has overcome adversity and smiled in the face of it in a manner which he has throughout every level of play."
On re-signing Montravius Adams and Ahkello Witherspoon:
"It's an interesting discussion because it's two guys that got on a moving train a year ago. I'm just really excited about continuing to do work with them, to have them for the totality of the journey. Both guys gave us admirable contributions in the manner in which they came to us and so it's reasonable to expect those contributions to be more significant and more fluid having an opportunity to be a part of us from day zero."