Mike Tomlin is taking the Steelers' impromptu bye week in stride, but he did not offer his opinion as to whether or not he feels the NFL made the right decision to postpone the Week 4 game against the Titans after 11 members of Tennessee's organization -- including five players -- testing positive for COVID-19. Tomlin was willing to admit that he and his players were experiencing a feeling of letdown after spending countless hours preparing for a game that won't take place, at least for the time being. The Steelers, following the news of the postponement, practiced Thursday before getting the rest of the week off.
"I think we're all understanding of the situation," Tomlin told reporters on Thursday. "There's not a lack of understanding. We live in these seven-day cycles, if you will. We had a game scheduled, and so, we were going through a process. Not only is that physical work, that's mental work. We were readying ourselves for the opportunity, and we're not getting it. So, it is a letdown."
The most likely scenario is that the Steelers and Titans will play each other in Week 7, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. The Titans currently have a bye slated for that weekend, while the Steelers, in order to make that scenario happen, would have to swap their current Week 7 matchup, which is against the Ravens. That means that the Steelers may have to play 13 consecutive games without a weekend off. While that is certainly not ideal, the 2005 Steelers won the Super Bowl after having a Week 4 bye, becoming the first sixth seed to win the Super Bowl in the process.
Instead of trying to figure out when his team will face the Titans, Tomlin said that his focus will begin shifting towards the Eagles, Pittsburgh's Week 5 opponent. Philadelphia, 0-2-1 through three games, will face the 49ers on Sunday in a game that the Steelers will surely be keeping an eye on. Along with getting a better perspective on the rest of the league, Tomlin said that his players will be able to rest and recover from any injuries sustained during the first three games. Tomlin added that due to the league's current COVID-19 protocol, Steelers players will remain local during their pseudo bye week.
When asked about the possibility of having teams not complete their 16-game schedules, Tomlin said that a contingency plan was discussed over the summer within the league about how that would impact the postseason. And while the league is prepared for less than ideal circumstances, Tomlin believes that it is everyone's hope that the league's contingency plan "does not come into fruition."
As it relates to the Steelers, Tomlin, whose team is off to their first 3-0 start since 2010, didn't blink when asked the physical challenges associated with playing 13 straight games, a road Tomlin's team may have to take.
"We do not care."