Steelers’ Mike Tomlin Puts Offense on Notice With ‘Blunt’ Message

Mike Tomlin

Getty Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin had a message for his offense on September 19.

The Pittsburgh Steelers escaped with a 26-22 victory against the Cleveland Browns on Monday Night Football.

But Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin made it clear in his press conference the morning after the game that the team’s offensive performance hasn’t been nearly good enough to begin the season.

With that in mind, Tomlin called for his offense to return to its preseason form.

“Offensively, we have to get our mojo back. We’ve got to get that mojo that we had in the preseason where we were playing fast and fluid, with confidence, individually and collectively,” Tomlin told reporters. “We’ve lost that, to be blunt, in the last several weeks.

“We’re not getting the type of fluidity that we want in our starts. We’re not teeing up possession down play, not being in advantageous possession down circumstances, and really it’s making it challenging to sustain drives and score points.”

During the preseason, the Steelers first-team offense played five possessions and scored five touchdowns. Quarterback Kenny Pickett recorded a perfect passer rating.

But instead of riding that mojo into the regular season, the Steelers have scored just two offensive touchdowns through two games.

That’s the same number of touchdowns the Pittsburgh defense tallied in the first two weeks.

‘Two is a Pattern’ But No ‘Wholesale Changes’ Coming for Steelers Offense

Tomlin’s message was in line with what Steelers fans probably wanted to hear the day after accumulating under 260 offensive yards for the second week to open the season.

But while the head coach put his offensive players and coaches on notice, he also added that there aren’t going to be any major alterations to the unit ahead of Week 3.

“We’re not going to have knee-jerk reactions in terms of trying to make wholesale changes in an effort to change that outcome,” Tomlin told reporters. “But we do acknowledge that two is a pattern. We’ve had two outings that are not up to snuff in that regard, and so it has our attention as we are preparing for this next one.”

Tomlin stressed that first, the team’s coaching must be better. But again, fans shouldn’t expect changes with the coaching staff.

Steelers fans chanted to fire offensive coordinator Matt Canada during the second half of the Week 2 matchup. But Tomlin took the chant more as a challenge than a major criticism.

“We love our fans. They inspire us, they challenge us. It’s an awesome relationship. We don’t run from challenges, we run to challenges,” Tomlin said. “This is the sport entertainment business. It is our job to win and thus entertain them. And so, we don’t begrudge them for that.

“We we want them be fat and sassy and spoiled. It is our job.”

No ‘Second-Year Jump’ Coming for QB Kenny Pickett

Regardless of the analysis, the statistics say the Steelers offense has been bad to begin 2023. In two games, the Steelers have  just 24 first downs and have yet to reach 100 rushing yards.

They have also scored 19 points and turned the ball over 4 times. Pickett has more interceptions than touchdowns.

With 15 games left, there’s plenty of time for the Steelers offense to turn things around this season. But The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly argued he has seen enough to claim that Pittsburgh’s offensive performance during the preseason was a mirage.

“There is no big second-year jump from Kenny Pickett and George Pickens ready to happen,” Kaboly wrote. “The offensive line isn’t going to be markedly better, and offensive coordinator Matt Canada isn’t going to learn how to come up with a game plan all of a sudden.

“At best, this unit will be a click better than it was a year ago, when it was at its best as a run-heavy team down the stretch, as the Steelers won seven of nine games to get within an eyelash of the playoffs.”

Kaboly also argued that Pittsburgh’s offensive output in the preseason actually did the team a disservice.

“They have nobody to blame but themselves,” he wrote. “They set such a high bar in the preseason that it is now the gauge of what this offense is capable of.”

Maybe the current bar is too high for the Steelers offense. But not only are the fans holding the unit to its preseason standard, Tomlin is too.

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