By Christina Rivers

The Pittsburgh Steelers are in their practice period between a team they should have won against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and a team they can’t afford to lose to in the Jacksonville Jaguars. Following the game, head coach Mike Tomlin put the blame on a lack of consistency by the team for their fall to 2-2 on the 2014 NFL season. Unfortunately, the Steelers have more issues that need to be addressed this week.

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On Tuesday, Tomlin said the team’s 2-2 record after the first quarter of the season mirrors the team’s performance. “We won a close game we could have easily lost; we lost a close game we easily could have won; we won a game definitively; we lost a game definitively. The bottom line is we haven’t been overly consistent in performance, and that’s probably appropriate in being 2-2.”

Tomlin’s words are echoing hollow in the ears of Steelers fans. The words of several players after poor play are simply making them question the level of discipline coach Tomlin is expecting from his squad and how he is enforcing it.

Following the 15-yard penalty against receiver Antonio Brown for unsportsmanlike conduct due to excessive celebration after a touchdown, Brown said he wasn’t aware that laying down in the end zone wasn’t allowed. That brought up the question as to whether the players are paying attention to the rule book, and led coach Tomlin to say,“We are all responsible for knowledge of the rule.” Tomlin then went on to say he couldn’t “comment specifically on what (Brown) did” because he “didn’t see it in the stadium”. Fans understand he can’t control excitement, but they want Tomlin to keep his word when he says he will “ask (players) to (celebrate) within the guidelines of the rules prescribed,” and then take action on players who ignore his mandate.

Fans were vocal on the Steelers’ official website, calling many player statements nothing short of lip service, especially in relation to penalties. Cornerback Cortez Allen said of penalties during the loss to Tampa Bay, “A lot of times it’s not intentional. I have to be mindful of my hand placement. I have to practice that more. I will work on it more this week and the weeks after and get better at it.” That incensed one fan who commented, “Win or lose, the game would be hard fought with OR without penalties…But for some reason, instead of a team of responsibility takers we got a team full of talkers.” The fan appeared to feel that interviews of players following the loss reflected lack of commitment and were ingenuine. “Save your ‘I should have played better’ speech for when your (expletive) gets traded somewhere else. Not in this house. Stop freakin’ talking and start freakin’ playing. Steeler fan out.”

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Defensive end Brett Keisel said, “We’ll go look at this thing together, come together as a team and do what’s best to move forward. We have a lot of work to do. If we are all accountable, if we all can get up in the meeting room and look at each other and look at where we all need to get better, hopefully we can move forward.”

 The Steelers are a team under scrutiny. This week the big story may be how the team stops offering platitudes and puts into motion the things they’ve been preaching they bought into before the season began – improving and winning. Hopefully, they can move forward. A positive exit from their current state would be welcomed by all of ‘Steelers Nation’.

 

For more Steelers news and updates, visit Steelers Central.

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Christina Rivers has covered the Pittsburgh Steelers and National Football League professionally as a reporter and photographer for over a decade. Rivers studied exercise physiology and sports psychology at Brigham Young University as a student-athlete. Christina is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. Her work can be found on
Examiner.com.