Dunlap: Reggie Bush Put Steelers On Blast

Former RB says Tomlin's group hasn't learned lesson

Colin Dunlap
June 04, 2018 - 1:34 pm

© Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Reggie Bush had something to say about the Pittsburgh Steelers. And more pointedly Mike Tomlin.

And it wasn't nice. 

"I feel like the Pittsburgh Steelers haven’t learned their lesson," the former NFL running back said on NFL Network's Good Morning Football. 

"When you look at the Jacksonville Jaguars last year, everybody in the world knew Pittsburgh was heavily favored to win the game and had way more talent and a bye week, and at home. Jacksonville had already beaten them once that season. Leading up to that game, what did we hear? Guys looking forward, already talking about the Patriots game. They’re looking past Jacksonville like this is gonna be a walk in the park. And what happened? They got punched in the mouth, they were down 21-0 in the first half. Seems like this happens year in and year out." 

Mr. Bush wasn't done.

"At what point do you start to say maybe the players aren’t responding to the coach," he continued. "Or maybe there needs to be some form of a culture shift there."

Well, I got news for Reggie Bush. If his idea of a culture shift is firing Mike Tomlin, it isn't happening. Not in the town. Not with this franchise. Not with anyone with the surname Rooney employed in the highest reaches of the organization. It just simply is not how the Steelers have ever operated. 

That all said, however, does Reggie Bush have a point? Well, I can listen to his point as it pertains to this group of Steelers --- who have seemingly underachieved --- acting as if they are on par with the New England Patriots and Tomlin harboring such an atmosphere. To be quick and blunt, maybe things need to be tightened up a bit as a mechanism for the Steelers to get to the point where they truly are a Super Bowl team again. 

I don't know (and I know it isn't mandatory) but perhaps it would have been nice for the star quarterback and receiver to show up at mini-camp for more than just a day or two. Especially for those guys to show up at a mini-camp in which, in the opening days of camp, the quarterback wondered aloud why the franchise drafted a different quarterback and the wide receiver scolded a teammate --- the star running back --- for not being in camp. Do I think Ben Roethlisberger or Antonio Brown will see their play suffer because they aren't at mini-camp? No, not in the least. However it does feel like a form of protest that the quarterback isn't there and a further form of individualization that the receiver isn't there. Those guys are making statements. In both cases, it doesn't scream like star players want to, or need to, buy into what Tomlin is selling. Instead, they just do their own thing. And that says nothing of the running back, who you won't see until the week of the first game. 

Another thing --- and this is squarely on Tomlin and not the players. Perhaps this season, as Bush spoke of in his comments, there won't be the braggadocios way that the head coach carries himself when he speaks of a potential playoff matchup. Certainly there is a place you want to take your team (as Tomlin often does) to let them know you have great confidence in them. Certainly you also want to have a bit of a swagger, too --- and Tomlin possesses that. I like that in Tomlin; it is one of his most endearing qualities. But even if he felt the Steelers were going to see New England again, it might not have been the best decision to verbalize as much. In a sense, it provided fodder for a Jacksonville team looking for anything to grab in order to play the "no one gives us any respect" card. And they did. 

So while I can't fully get on board with Bush's comments, I can't fully dismiss them either. I think there is some truth to what he is saying, albeit he is taking things too far. What I do think, however, is that heading into the 2018 season it would be wise for Mike Tomlin to run a little bit of a tighter ship.