Phoenix — Rarely do coaches look back.
That’s especially true when the recent past is kind of ugly.
So Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin isn’t spending a lot of time reflecting on losing star running back Le’Veon Bell to the Jets in free-agency, or standout wide receiver Antonio Brown in a trade to Oakland that Brown basically forced.
But he admits to being disappointed they no longer are Steelers.
“But that’s life and that’s business,” Tomlin said. “I think we as an organization have moved on. I think they as professionals have moved on. And so we’re excited about the formulation of our team for '19. Obviously, we appreciate the contributions that they gave us when they were a part of us. But the reality is that they’re no longer that. And so we’re focused on the guys that we work with.”
Tomlin didn’t flinch when asked if this was a case of addition by subtraction. Brown, a former Central Michigan standout, had become a distraction, to put it mildly, in the locker room, and his unhappiness affected the Steelers’ performances. Bell, who played collegiately at Michigan State, sat out the entire 2018 season after being given the franchise tag for a second straight year.
“We’ll see,” Tomlin said of the effect of losing two stars from the offense. “I know that we’ve got some plays that need to be made. And so somebody’s got to make them. I know that we had a Pro Bowl wide receiver that was on our team last year that’s still on our team (JuJu Smith-Schuster). And we have a Pro Bowl running back that was on our team last year that’s still on our team (James Conner). They’d better make plays. And we’d better acquire and develop people to a system into making plays.”