It seems that once you earn Mike Tomlin's trust, it's pretty hard to lose it. To my memory, Tomlin has yet to utter a single bad word about either Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Matt Canada or quarterback Kenny Pickett, despite there being plenty of evidence for critiques.
Who knows what goes on behind closed doors, and maybe Tomlin gives out his fair share of lashing in his private office, choosing to be more complimentary with the media to protect team culture. That's, to some degree, good coaching and leadership.
But when your team scores just 10 points in an extremely winnable game (where only 23 points were scored in total, I might add), it's hard to ignore offensive woes. At some point, it just looks like ignorance to not address some burden of responsibility for the players on the field who are supposed to make things happen.
Mike Tomlin provides more excuses for Kenny Pickett after 10-point showing
Kenny Pickett's offense generated 10 points in Week 11 (technically some of that was special teams, too, but we'll credit all 10 to the offense). He went 15-of-28 for 106 yards passing, his second-lowest amount of the year thus far, and his second-worst completion percentage. He was also sacked three times for a loss of 29 yards, not all his fault, but yes, sacks are a quarterback stat.
In all objectivity, Pickett played a terrible game.
But listen to what Tomlin had to say in his postgame presser:
"I think the Cleveland Browns had a lot to do with that. I'd be disingenuine [sic], man if I didn't compliment them on their players, their schematics, how they played today... From an offensive perspective, there's a lot of things that were challenging today."
First, let's be completely honest: The Browns have a really good defense. Mike Tomlin is absolutely right that the Browns deserve credit, and this is not the first game they've won this year largely propelled by the defensive side of the ball. They hold opponents to a league-leading 151.1 passing yards per game, so struggling to move the ball is not all that shocking. They've also held opponents to 14 points or fewer three other times this year.
That said, two things can be true. The Browns defense is excellent, but the assignment is still to go out and find a way to perform for the Steelers offense. Pickett did not do that, and his low ceiling continues to expose itself, particularly in games such as this one.
If his head coach is going to rely on how good the other team was as an explainer for poor performance, we may never see him get much better than he is right now.
End of the day, Tomlin is most familiar with Pickett and what will motivate him best. Clearly, he doesn't think press conference critiques will be what helps him dig deep. Hopefully, he's right, for the sake of Steelers' fans sanity. They remain in the hunt for a playoff spot, and would sneak into a Wild Card slot if the season were to end today.