Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin believes playing without fans will change the mechanics and atmosphere of the NFL game.
Joining University of Kentucky men’s basketball coach John Calipari on his Facebook Live series “Coffee with Cal,” Tomlin said that he and his staff are exploring how playing games in empty stadium will affect communication.
“I think the thing that I’m interested in is how it changes the game maybe mechanically in some ways,” Tomlin said. “Communication, the ability too hear communication. Whether it’s player to player within the team, or the opposing team.”
Tomlin noted that empty stadiums will also influence on-field strategy, such as audibles, while potentially making communication on the road easier.
“If we are making audibles offensively, and the defense is capable of hearing those audibles, what does that mean?” Tomlin said. “Or, you’re an offense, and you’re in hostile environments, and often times you can’t communicate. And in this environment you might have an opportunity to.”
Tomlin also said that he is unsure of what to expect from that atmosphere at Heinz Field if there are no fans in attendance.
“In our game, they’re so integrated into the moments,” he added. “You got third down and goal on the three-yard line, in a significant moment. Part of that moment is everybody on their feet leaning in, and the atmosphere that it creates. So, that’s going to be interesting. I don’t have a sense of kind of what that’s going to feel like, or how that’s going to change those moments.”
While the NFL has not yet announced restrictions on fans attending games this upcoming season, the Steelers did limit their ticket allotment when they went on sale last week in anticipation of potential social distancing guidelines at Heinz Field this fall.
You can watch the entire interview Tomlin below.