Mike Tomlin has delivered on his assurance that changes were coming following the Steelers' 30-6 loss to the Houston Texans this past Sunday. The changes, however, are probably not what Steelers fans were expecting or had hoped for.
Upon reviewing the film of Sunday's game, Tomlin said that the Texans were more physical and played harder than the Steelers. He attributed the physicality issue partly to the recent lack of padded practices due to shortened weeks. Moving forward, Tomlin alluded to having more padded practices in an effort to resolve the issue.
"In the midst of (Sunday's) game, I'm saying to myself, 'We're practicing in pads next Wednesday,'" Tomlin said. "That's something that's got to change immediately."
Tomlin also made changes to the depth chart. Calvin Austin III is now listed as a top wide receiver ahead of Gunner Olszewski. Defensive tackles Keeanu Benton and DeMarvin Leal are both listed as starters, along with slot corners Desmond King and Chandon Sullivan.
No changes, however, will be made to the coaching staff despite Pittsburgh's ongoing issues on offense. Offensive coordinator Matt Canada will continue to call plays for a Steelers offense that is currently just 25th in the NFL in scoring and passing, 29th in rushing, 22nd in third-down efficiency and 28th in the red zone.
"Not at this juncture, no," Tomlin said when asked about possible changes to the play-calling responsibilities.
Tomlin did acknowledge that the offense's coaching and production has not been up to snuff.
"Not good enough," Tomlin said. "Whenever we don't play well -- forget win or lose -- as a coach, you start there. In particularly in the early portions of the season ... there's a get better component of this process and it has a lot to do with coach's decision-making. ... I'm always looking at that, but obviously, as the result of that last game, certainly."
Tomlin specifically addressed Pittsburgh's fourth-down play call late in the third quarter. The play resulted in a sack and subsequent injury of quarterback Kenny Pickett. The play call has been criticized by many .
"The bottom line is it wasn't a good call because it wasn't productive," Tomlin said. "To be completely transparent with you, we lost a lot of short yardage personality because of Dan Moore and Pat Freiermuth. We lost all our big packages. Broderick Jones was already on the field. And so we probably had to get out of our intended box, if you will, in that circumstance because of lack of player availability at that point in the game.
"But such is life. This is the National Football League. There's not 100 guys standing on the sideline. There's an attrition component to play and it's born out in matchups, it's born out in decision making, and that's one instance where we were in less than ideal circumstances because of lack of player availability."
Canada will remain the Steelers play-caller, but based on Tomlin's comments, the structure of which the players receive and practice plays may change in the coming weeks. Whether or not that will lead to significant improvements regarding the offense will be determined in the weeks ahead.
Offensive issues aside, Tomlin's primary focus is making sure that his team returns to the style of physicality that has become synonymous with the franchise.
"The physicality component of it needs to be non-negotiable," Tomlin said. "That's just how we function. That's Pittsburgh Steelers football."