Football as it's played on the professional level is a today and tomorrow business. Spend too much time on too many yesterdays, and a coach can find himself having to spend time looking for a new job. Mike Tomlin understands that, and at his news conference today at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex he said he already has begun the process of pointing toward 2016, while admitting he has found himself thinking about 2015.
"It's an opportunity for me to be reflective and thankful for a lot of things, our players," said Tomlin. "They aren't a perfect group. None of us are perfect. But we have a good group of men. They are good men first, who happen to be able to play football. I thought they just displayed that in so many ways over the course of the journey. The journey that is the season will stress you in a lot of ways both individually and collectively. I just thought at about every turn, I was proud of the manner in which our guys dealt with whatever adversity we faced or created. We acknowledge some of the adversity that you face you create (for yourself) over the course of the football journey. I really enjoyed the men, their professionalism, the selflessness, their willingness and their ability to put what we were doing ahead of and in front of maybe what they wanted to do. You don't take that for granted."
It was also evident that Tomlin doesn't take the Steelers' fan support for granted. There typically are several instances over the course of a season in which he addresses some specific example of Steelers Nation making its presence felt, but today in Pittsburgh Tomlin was moved – without being prompted by a question – to cite an example of something that happened in San Diego last October.
"There are moments where you sit back and think about elements of the journey," said Tomlin. "Some of them are seemingly significant. Some of them, maybe they are only significant to you. But there were a lot of elements of this journey where you think about the support we have from our unique fan base and the level of appreciation we have for them. It was on display in so many instances. Who could forget that San Diego trip? That seems like years ago as I sit here today. But it will be probably one of those things that I remember most about this past season, the type of support that we had from Steelers Nation in San Diego was amazing. And boy, did we need it. We went the length of the field at the end with Landry Jones, who was our third or fourth quarterback at that point, and to do it in that environment with the presence of Steelers Nation in that environment. That had a lot to do with some of the things we were able to do, not only that night, and I cite that night as an example, but we don't take that for granted. We appreciate it. It inspires us."
Tomlin also addressed a variety of other issues:
On whether Antonio Brown still has to go through the concussion protocol even though the season is over:
"I'm sure he does, but I'm sure that the sand in the hour glass is less of an issue."
On if Le'Veon Bell needs surgery:
"He does not."
On if he's confident Cortez Allen can still be an impact player:
"I'm not. We'll see."
On how he feels about the 2015 season:
"I'm disappointed and that's just an honest answer. I think we all are. We appreciate the support that we get from others, the acknowledgment of the fight and all of that. But, we go into the journey with that understanding, that it's going to be difficult, that's it's going to be a fight, that a fight is going to be required. We appreciate the support but at the same time we set out to be world champion. That was our goal. We meant it. It's not us this year, so there's disappointment associated with that."
TOMLIN'S INJURY UPDATE
"Guys with existing health issues, I have a brief synopsis on some of those guys. Maurkice Pouncey is doing great. All of the guys who have had surgeries, whether major or minor over the course of the season, appear to be progressing well. There's no negative news in regards to their potential availability whenever that might be at the start of 2016.
"Le'Veon Bell is doing well. I saw him yesterday. Senquez Golson, Cortez Allen, Chris Boswell, Kelvin Beachum, Mike Adams, Roosevelt Nix have all gotten good and positive reports. We do have some surgeries on the horizon. I will outline some of those, the ones we are certain of as we sit here today. Mike Mitchell has to get his left shoulder cleaned up. He will do so the first of next week. We are looking at probably four months there. Jordan Berry, same thing with his right shoulder. He is getting that done on Friday. He is looking at four months. Ryan Shazier and Martavis Bryant are both getting their knees scoped. We are talking about weeks, potentially. David DeCastro and Marcus Gilbert are both getting their ankles scoped, talking about weeks there. We have a few mangled fingers and so forth that need to be fixed, Terence Garvin and a few others. I am not getting into those details. Those are the guys with the surgeries that are scheduled as we sit here today. There are still more MRIs and medical evaluations that need to be done. Maybe that list grows, but that's a pretty comprehensive list."