The preseason may be unpopular among fans who have to pay full-fare for games played by future car salesmen, and even commissioner Roger Goodell.
But Steelers coach Mike Tomlin has never been afraid to stand against the tide.
Via Chris Adamski of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Tomline defended having four games to evaluate and develop players.
“I like the preseason, personally,” Tomlin said. “I think it aids in the development of young players, specifically those in certain positions, like the quarterback position. Having a rookie quarterback but also having an obligation to get guys like Ben [Roethlisberger] ready, I like what the four games provides us from that perspective.”
Granted, the Steelers are in the position of acknowledging they’re thinking about a post-Roethlisberger future, so perhaps reps for rookie Josh Dobbs are more valuable for them than for others. But Tomlin’s defense was wide-ranging.
“I’ve had an appreciation for the preseason going all the way back to my position coach days,” Tomlin said. “I’m just a lover of football. I believe all of these [young players] here working have a legitimate chance, and I think the preseason games give the guys an opportunity to put their skills on display — not only for [the Steelers] but for the other 31 teams. This process that is team development and division of labor and team building, I just have a lot of respect for it and appreciation for it. And I think the preseason games are a big part of it.”
Of course, Goodell’s recent remarks have more to do with expanding the regular season than specifically cutting the preseason (ask owners if they’d be interested in losing a gate to play 16 and two), but few will acknowledge what Tomlin will.