History Suggests Strong Second Half For Tomlin, Steelers

History is just that. History. But if it’s any indication, the Pittsburgh Steelers are sitting pretty. The narrative on Mike Tomlin and the Steelers, definitely rooted in some truth, is that they’re a slow-starting team. But come the back half of the year, they find their groove and make a run.

This year could be the best of both worlds. Pittsburgh is 6-2 after eight weeks for the first time since 2011. The more relevant figure is what’s happened the second half of the season the last four years. Over that span, Tomlin’s Steelers haven’t finished any worse than 6-2, including a 7-1 streak to close out 2016.

Even 2013, an 8-8 season and arguably Tomlin’s worst, ended in a 6-2 finish and an Antonio Brown footprint away from bettering that to 7-1. Obviously, the quick math suggests the Steelers finish the year 12-4, a mark they haven’t reached in six seasons (the last time they started a year 6-2, if you’re keeping score).

I don’t think the second half success is a coincidence either. Tomlin’s biggest talking point, the one he harps on the roster from the day they start a new year, is conditioning. Be the most conditioned team. That closes out games, closes out seasons. You hear it from players, you hear it from Tomlin himself.

I remember what former Steelers’ receiver Issac Blakeney told me two summers ago.

“Coach Tomlin’s number one thing is to be the best physically conditioned team every time we step out on the field. He feels like that wins a lot of games.”

Here’s what Tomlin said two years ago, quotes you’ll usually see up sprinkle in come training camp.

“It’s going to be required. Every great player I’ve ever been around has been highly conditioned. Physical conditioning precedes everything else.”

That’s most true of the Steelers two best players: Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell. Brown’s remarkably durable for a thin-looking frame and talk to anyone who has played alongside him and they’ll marvel at his work ethic.

Bell plays at a snap count unrivaled by any other back in the league and is the type of guy who can run through half a defense on a 42 yard gain and stay in for the next three snaps. They lead and the rest of the roster follows.

If the Steelers finish on the same note they have for the last four years, there’s an excellent chance they sit atop the AFC when the dust settles.

About the Author

Alex Kozora
Full-time blogger from mom's basement. Marrying tape and statistics. Chidi Iwuoma is my favorite Steeler of all-time.
  • Steel-on-Target

    As long as we aren’t “unleashing hell”, count me in 🙂

  • JT

    I was at that damn Miami game and refused to leave before it was over. What a painful rollercoaster that last play was.

  • 太阳三联

    Let’s gooooooooooooooo

  • John

    History can say whatever. Fact is our schedule is now much easier than ever originally believed. Colts without Luck; Packers without Rodgers; Texans without Watson; Titans with whatever health status of Mariotta; Ravens; Bengals; Browns; and the Patriot game.

    It is all about our own club if we don’t post a good record.

  • AndreH

    The only thing that can derail the Steelers hopes of another deep playoff run is injuries and the Patriots. If we can avoid both of them we should be okay.

  • tcirish53@gmail.com

    I know that one can NEVER truly predict the NFL – injuries, rivalries, and increasingly (sigh) suspensions, make it nigh on impossible.
    But IMO I think we HAVE TO go 7-1 in order to get home field throughout the playoffs.
    Why, you may ask!?
    Because the Pats play in the friggin’ AFC East.
    Looked at their schedule and it’s as close to a walk in the park as you can ask for (ESPECIALLY for a division winner!) – the sinking Dolphins 2x, the Traitors (Raiders), the J E T S, the Bills (who I thought were unmasked last night as NOT a serious contender), and DEN. Forget the last game but needless to say it was a laugher.
    We currently have a tie breaker vs the Cheatriots (though I don’t remember why), I believe.
    So we have our work cut out for us to say the least.
    Besides the ever-present ***s that will in my mind forever shade the Pats SB Championships, a major factor had to be the division they play in, which has only seriously challenged them like three times in the last dozen years or so. 😑
    But, hey, we got the horses and IMO this is our year!!!

  • tcirish53@gmail.com

    But Pats have their usual cakewalk – check out my rundown of THEIR schedule above.

  • tcirish53@gmail.com

    Well we can’t avoid them – we play them week 15!!!

  • ayub

    Considering how the Steelers allowed the Lions to hang around, previous steeler teams (2012-2016) would have found a way to lose a game like that. To win on the road is what good/great teams do. I like the steelers chances in the second half.

  • NCSteel

    I think I just saw Ben conditioning himself at Hoss’.
    He clearing plates like a hurdler !!

  • pittfan

    I knew I was gonna see that! lol.

  • dany

    Harrison and Bryant contributing will do wonders to make history happen again

  • pittfan

    I think we could well go 7-1, if not run the table.
    I watched NE and the Jets and they got out by the skin of their teeth. The Jets get another try later in the season. The Bills did get spanked, especially on D, however, they have Kelvin Benjamin to incorporate into their offense, so they could be strong against NE, especially at home. Each of those teams could hang an L on NE.
    Denver struggles on O but their D gives Brady fits..again, we’ll see.
    Lastly, we play NE here with a better team (thus far if we stay injury free) then we brought last year and arguably NE looks more vulnerable this year.
    My midseason prediction is we go 7-1 and NE goes 6-2.
    #1 AFC seed is ours!

  • pittfan


  • ThatGuy

    I am going with 7-1 the 2nd half of the season with the lone loss being CLE in week 17 because we’re sitting everyone with that #1 seed

  • ThatGuy

    5 out of the last 8 in Heinz. I like that.

  • pittfan

    Knowing this about the character of this team and how Tomlin approaches the season, it’s been hilarious watching all the “we’re an 8-8 team” “this team will never makes the playoffs”, “one and done” hysteria.

  • Ichabod

    Sounds like a plan!

  • Brandon Watson

    he sucks. arrggghhh .. *sarcasm*

  • Brandon Watson

    Glad you (somebody) mentioned that b/c that fact can’t be overstated, which makes the 6-2 start that much more impressive as well (highlighted by the win in Baltimore)

  • Brandon Watson

    Yea, bu they have most of their games on the road and 3 road games in a row …

    Post-edit comment —- This was meant to be a reply to your comment to John about the cake schedule … 🙂

  • Brandon Watson

    unless it is the kind of ‘hell’ we unleashed. lol

  • Ralph Wagner

    History Suggests Strong Second Half For Tomlin, Steelers. Also would history suggest a loss to the Patriots in week 15? After all the Patriots own the Steelers. This is why the past should not influence the future or the present. Just play to win the game one game at a time.

    Go Steelers

  • Brandon Watson

    Valid argument brother, but I say this about all this nonsense (my take on it) with regards to teams ‘owning’ one another … there is something to say about that, but I just do not subscribe to that theory b/c even if you want to say it’s schematics things (Brady vs zone or Brady vs Steelers D) … so much has changed even in the last 5 years with personnel … like, Tuitt and Heyward and Shazier and Sean Davis and Burns Jr. and so on … these guys don’t have some mental block … like, they aren’t thinking they can’t beat Brady or Brady has their # b/c they are just starting their careers, really (Heyward isn’t). But that’s my point … these are neat story lines for the media and all that and for fans to obsess over but these players (granted they feel the pressure but I argue it’s no more than normal) aren’t thinking of insecurities.

    I tell my one buddy (who is a NE fan, and likes subscribing to this b/c of the obvious) … they said the same about Peyton … until one day it wasn’t true (2006 AFCC game) and Peyton actually beat NE like 4 of 5 (including 2006) and never lost to NE again in the playoffs (winning last 2 playoff meetings as a Bronco) so … these little streaks are neat and all but only until the inevitable happens … which is the streak ends

  • Don

    I think current tie breaker with NE is conference record

  • tcirish53@gmail.com

    Thank you, sir!!

  • tcirish53@gmail.com

    I LOVE your optimism, brother!!! 😎

  • Mark

    This season is lost if we can’t play man to man and get heat on Patriots. Also run the football down their throats and beat them with the TE’s. Must get over the Cheatriots hump!

  • Mark

    No avoiding them, the great teams beat their antagonist at some point. If we can’t play man to man against their WRs/TEs then we lose period.
    Davis on Gronk w/help from extra CB (Gay or Sutton)
    Artie on B Cooks
    Haden on Hogan
    Hilton on Amendola
    Mitchell playing deep.

    Shazier on RB
    4 down linemen must get to Brady quickly

    I remember when Brady would go open backfield and 4 WR and 1 TE. The Broncos would put a rusher in all gaps (A-C) and confuse the linemen on who was coming, they never brought more than 4 but it confused the ish out of Brady. Brady couldn’t hold the ball and they would tackle the catch for 2 or 3 yards. They didn’t allow any player to get to middle of field

  • Danielsteelstrong81

    Hogan is hurt isn’t he.. Might not even play

  • Charles Haines

    These TE’s you speak of, where are they?

  • Cwallace

    Lol. Ben aint fat he just doesn’t look like he works on his body..at all. But i guess Ben decided to let the extra cushion protect him better.

  • Brenton deed

    If everything keeps going the way it is now then the Pats game will tell the tale of this season. Of course it is possible to lose that game and win every other and still have home field in the playoffs but you’re probably going to face the Pats again. Have to beat them once and for all!

  • Mark

    We can get something out of Vance and Grimble. I have little faith in Jesse, but I remember Heath abusing them over the middle of the field.

  • pittfan

    Daddy taught me,”if you’re gonna be a bear, be a grizzly bear”!!

  • Charles Haines

    I don’t know, of the two seems like Vance.M is more complete but how much does Ben trust him when drops balls all the time. What a shame L.Greene got hurt, that would be a sight to see with this WR corps.

  • NCSteel

    Lol I missed this reply.

    I just read Tom Brady’s TB12 book on total life fitness.
    I don’t know Ben personally but I’m tellin’ you, he ain’t doin’ this stuff brother !
    I can hear him now, Bedtime at 9 ?
    Get into my recuperative sleepwear ?
    Raw Vegetables ????
    “Avocado ice cream ???
    Are you insane ?
    Get me another pint of Ben and Jerry’s chuncky monkey !! I’ll eat it in my underwear while I watch the tonight show!!!”

  • Cwallace

    Lol. Man NCSteel i needed a laugh right then. What’s funny is i believe Ben does that ….hell i do when i can which isnt often with a 9yr old daughter who can smell sugars a room away in her sleep. .. I can hear BB saying to his wife ” don’t worry about my diet…my arm’s in shape ..now get me another pint,. I have practice in a few hours.” I hope nobody on this site thinks im/we’re calling BB fat or out of shape. Heck i cant talk ..ive been a chef for over 25 yrs and ive been close to 300 at only 6ft tall. Im 215 now. Comn Ben…call your buddy Brady and get some advice instead of his jersey. And Ive seen a few fat qbs in my life..Billy Kilmer ,Stan Humphries come to mind.