The Pittsburgh Steelers aren't used to looking up from the bottom of the AFC North, but three games into the season, that's where a 1-2 record has landed them after the Cincinnati Bengals dumped them, 24-10, in the first divisional game for both teams.
But Mike Tomlin has seen a few things as the NFL's third-longest tenured coach, and he's not losing perspective for the slow start.
"We're not going to push the panic button. We're not going to dramatically change who and what we are," Tomlin said, per Jenna Harner of WPXI. "We're not resistant to change for the purposes of getting better, but we're not going to be so unsteady we move away from the identity we work hard to develop."
There were all sorts of issues Sunday for Pittsburgh's coaching staff to correct, from dropped passes, to a lethargic rushing attack, to a pass rush that couldn't notch a single sack. Offensively, however, the play of aging veteran Ben Roethlisberger will command the most attention throughout the season. Roethlisberger was sacked four times and threw two interceptions against the Bengals, and questions about his ability to succeed at age 39 might only get louder. To help ensure his availability, he's not been practicing on Wednesdays.
"He has a body of work over 18 years that has us taking a global approach," Tomlin said when asked if Big Ben could start seeing Wednesday practice work, per Christopher Carter of DK Pittsburgh Sports. "We rest him and rightfully so. The wear and tear of plays wears on him differently."
Pittsburgh can even its record Sunday at Green Bay in a matchup of two of the NFL's most experienced passers in Roethlisberger and Aaron Rodgers. As for Bengals wideout Tyler Boyd suggesting the Steelers showed some quit toward the end in Sunday's loss – the Bengals led 24-7 entering the fourth quarter – Tomlin brushed off the remark.
"I don't care about Tyler Boyd's opinion about what transpired at any point in that game," Tomlin added. "He's entitled to his opinion, but I don't have to respond to it."
No, he doesn't. But his team will need to respond on the field quickly if it hopes to reach the postseason for the sixth time in the last eight years.