Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Mack: Tomlin "Not Ready For Primetime"

Belichick, Brady and Pats Prepared... Steelers? Not So Much

Chris Mack
September 09, 2019 - 9:03 am

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For the better part of the last two decades, the Pittsburgh Steelers have been going to New England and getting punished for not doing their homework. After a 33-3 drubbing at the hands of the Patriots on Sunday night in Foxboro, there's no shortage of blame to go around. Especially after the way the Steelers were bent over Tom Brady's knee and spanked for a sixth time in six meetings in Foxboro.

The play-calling - especially in short yardage situations - was infuriating. The quarterback was off target often and when he did get it to his #2 wide receiver, the ball was dropped faster than you could mutter "Good grief, (Donte) Moncrief." Kameron Kelly looked every bit the part of a defensive back who was in the Alliance of American Football five months ago. The two biggest additions to the defense's supposed speed improvement, Mark Barron and Devin Bush, looked old & slow and young & inexperienced, respectively.

Not to mention that even a near-perfect effort may not have been enough given the surgical precision Brady and the New England offense showed in exploiting Pittsburgh's deficiencies and mistakes.

“We weren’t ready for prime time,” said Head Coach Mike Tomlin.

Here's the problem: Tomlin was speaking as much about himself and his staff as he was the 45 men he put out on the field.

And that is at the crux of the matter for anyone concerned that this wasn't just one game against the defending champs, and that it's a sign of more to come.

Unfortunately, we should have seen it coming. Tomlin spent most of his weekly press conference last Tuesday harping on the concept that that Week One would be part of a continued evaluation of his team, and that they couldn't concern themselves with what New England may do.

Does someone want to be the bearer of bad news and tell him that the preseason ended back in August? I'm too astonished to form words that aren't of a vulgar, four-letter variety.

Then, rather than adjusting at any point, as Brady and Patriots' Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels did upon seeing their first six plays scratch out just 15 yards, Tomlin sat back and watched Brady pick apart the man coverage his defense was attempting to use underneath. Asked by NBC's Michele Tafoya at halftime when his team's lead had swollen to 20-0, New England Head Coach Bill Belichick said he expected Pittsburgh to make adjustments.

Tomlin, on the other hand, told Tafoya there was no reason to make any "dramatic schematic changes."

Again, perhaps it's better that someone else mention to Coach T that the games in September count, because my rage may lead to nothing but angry, red-faced noises.

With the better part of four months to prepare, Belichick and the Patriots fashioned a game plan for every eventuality, and therefore were able to quickly adjust when it was called for. Tomlin sat around and tried to figure out what he had but never bothered to figure out what may be thrown at him.

To go into a chess match with Belichick with a bag of checkers is one thing. But to go into a chess match with Belichick without acknowledging that it's a chess match is another thing altogether.

And it's downright inexcusable.