Mike Tomlin fails to address the Steelers main problem in post-game press conference

Steelers, Mike Tomlin
Steelers, Mike Tomlin / Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

In Mike Tomlin’s post-game interview after their home loss to the 49ers in the season opener, he accurately noted the Steelers had to do better in every aspect of the game, from coaching to playing. That’s an example of stating the obvious. However, like a broken record, he kept coming to the Steelers failure of winning the weighted downs, such as your 3rd down conversions.

If you are going to win football games, then every team must convert 3rd downs into 1st downs if you want to extend drives and get into scoring position in the red zone. The 49ers did an excellent job of making those plays to reset to first down; the Steelers did not. However, when you watch the game, Tomlins's perception of losing those weighted downs was never the problem, despite what he said. So, what was the problem? 

Why losing weighted downs was not the Steelers problem

In football, one basic concept has remained a constant from high school through the NFL. Your primary goal on every play is to gain about 4.5 yards. If that occurs, you either extend your drive beyond four plays or if you have to make a 3rd down conversion, you only have to gain 1 yard in order to convert to a fresh set of downs. Thus, except for the Steelers lone scoring drive late in the 2nd quarter, the only time they were in a 3rd and one was in the mid-3rd quarter.

Thus, what Tomlin glossed over in his post-game interview was the Steelers inability to place them in a position to make a 3rd down conversion. When the best your team can do in much of the game is only gain 5 yards, and all of your 3rd-down plays need five plus yards to convert, your odds of extending your drives are going to go way down. The Steelers needed to do a better job of calling plays that would have netted approximately 4 yards. The Steelers failed miserably.

Hence, this circles back to the Steelers lingering problem from 2022, and that is the play calling of Matt Canada and his failure to call plays that produced any results except on one drive. In fairness to Matt Canada, when Kenny Pickett is throwing behind his receivers, your offensive line gets blown off the ball, and your running backs can't net more than ten yards on nine of their ten carries; that is poor playing.

Matt Canada aside, the 49ers converted the weighted downs with ease. So was that poor decision-making on the part of the Steelers defensive coordinator Teryl Austin? It's hard to say if he had culpability or if again it was sloppy defensive play, but perhaps it's possible each played a role in the defensive failures that allowed Christian McCaffrey and Brandon Aiyuk to make plays gaining an insane amount of yards. Both players gained a combined 281 yards.

When your players are sloppy in their performance on the field and not executing the play as it needs to be, it really doesn't matter what play coaches call; sloppy play will kill you every time. However, what does messy play circle back to? Poor coaching or poor coaching decisions at the least. If the Steelers loss in week one is an isolated incident, we won't care much about the Steelers season-opening performance. Somehow, you get the feeling that might not be the case.


If so, you can begin questioning coaching or even the Steelers draft decisions. Some of the questions include: Should Brodrick Jones have won the starting left tackle job? Has Matt Canada improved? Did the Steelers cut some players they should have kept? Should the Steelers part ways with Mike Tomlin? These are only examples, but if poor play continues, it will be a replay of the 2022 season, at least until the Steelers put their mini-winning streak together after their 2022 bye week.

In the end, though, it would be nice if Mike Tomlin, when he has a post-game press conference he, at least addresses the root cause of the Steelers problems accurately instead of sugarcoating the problem by blaming their failures on something that had very little to do with the real reason they lost.

Next. The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of Steelers embarrassing Week 1 loss vs. 49ers. The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of Steelers embarrassing Week 1 loss vs. 49ers. dark