“We were doing things that we weren’t used to doing,” Townsend said, “and that led to some complaining about how we were practicing and some of the stuff that was going on during practice.”
They eventually put it all together enough to start out 9-3. But they stumbled down the stretch, going 1-4 including a 31-29 home wild-card playoff loss to Jacksonville. To date, that is Tomlin’s lone postseason defeat.
After that first season, though, Tomlin became kinder and gentler. He pulled back the reins in training camp. And he often gives veteran players weekly days off from practice during the season.
“The great thing about Coach Tomlin is he learned us very quickly,” said Townsend, now a talk show host in Pittsburgh. “Once he saw how hard we worked at everything else, he knew to back off in some of the other areas. That’s a great trait for a young coach. Some coaches aren’t willing to listen to their players.
“He was willing to adjust to us, but also keep his own spin on it.”
He’s spinning it all the way to Dallas.
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