PITTSBURGH — After their 21-18 loss at home to the New England Patriots, the Steelers must look in the mirror at what is going wrong. For one, the group seems to become lackadaisical to the details with each game, even failing to line up properly throughout the course of the season. It all came to a head last Sunday against Arizona when Jaylen Warren said the team took the Cardinals too lightly. But then Minkah Fitzpatrick returned to the locker room on Thursday after the loss and called out his teammates and the culture, too.
“I think too many people don’t want to toil for it. They just want to walk out here and think that they’re going to make plays and think that they’re going to perform at a high level. I think we need to have more people who want to work for it, not expect it to be handed to them,” Fitzpatrick told ESPN. “This is the NFL. Nothing’s handed to you. You got to earn everything. I think that dudes just think that because they’re wearing the black and gold, that they’re going to win games, and I think we need to check that mentality and make people realize that they got to earn that mentality.”
That’s a mentality shift. So, it’s a culture thing. Either the head coach is allowing that or the players themselves are not taking it seriously. But either way, it’s a huge issue. That reflects directly back on Mike Tomlin and his staff. If the players are not working hard enough to improve and fix issues, it’s hard to build a winning program consistently. But this goes back to last year when now Ravens cornerback Arthur Maulet went on a postgame tirade in front of the media at his teammates following their 38-3 loss to the Bills.
“You’ve got to love this shit, bro,” Maulet said. “Real shit, you’re on the sideline and you’ve got guys that are laughing and smiling on the sidelines? We’ve got guys acting like they don’t give a fuck. It’s 38-3 and people are laughing on the bench. You have to love this game to play this shit.”
It was a speech that caused everyone’s ears to perk up, and everyone saw it. Maulet was cut eight times in his NFL career, and has earned his way to this point as much as anyone in the NFL
Looking back on that, it could just have been an impassioned moment, and maybe it was, but with recent events, it gets put into a new light. Allen Robinson II talked on Friday, and he believes the team’s mental stamina is not there from play to play throughout the season.
“You know, the thing I always lea on, is the mental stamina,” Robinson said. “That’s being able to take each play and have it be its own entity. You can’t let plays overflow into other plays and snowball. Whether that comes from negativity or whatever that may be, we have to have that every time we line up. It’s falling short right now. We have to have that.”
Pittsburgh has to figure out a way to come together and find ways to get those details in check throughout the week. If they are not there on Sunday, something is going wrong throughout the week. It’s up to the Steelers to figure out what that is, but first, they need buy-in and work ethic from all of those around to get there.