“We are going to remain focused on the minute details of our assignments, we are going to try to play within the scheme, we are going to play real hard.” (Mike Tomlin)
The Steelers are sitting at 4-2, with a defense that has created just two takeaways. One fumble recovery, one interception. Not exactly where you want to be in the plus/minus ratio, defensively speaking. After posting 35 takeaways last year the Steelers are on pace to rack up just 5. That’s a drought of famine-like proportions.
The question posed to Coach Mike was about the takeaways, and how or what he intended to do to reverse that trend. The underlying question is the presumption that you have to change things up. It takes internal gullet strength to be the head honcho and not to “change things for the sake of change,” which was another Chuck Noll no-no. Changing something just to change made no sense to Chuck.
What Mike Tomlin said in the above quote is exactly what Chuck Noll would have said in another time, another place.
1. Stay focused on the minute details; everything from technique to film review to physical preparation (on and off the field) during the week is to be reviewed and ratcheted up if necessary. But the bottom line is that you don’t want to move away from the basic essentials of what has made you successful in the past.
2. Play within the scheme. Again, no cowboys need apply. The schematics are fine, just do the job. No more, no less.
3. Play hard. Win your one on ones. All the skullduggery in the world ain’t gonna help if you can’t win your one on one matchups. Playing hard means playing to the whistle which includes running to the ball at all times. Good things happen to those who hustle.
When you do those things takeaways tend to come. And when they come, they generally come in “bunches.”