Tomlin tends to finish season strong following bye week

A few days ago i wrote an article about Tomlin’s success in games following the bye week. I decided to continue that train of thought and take a look at the Steelers overall record in the games following the bye week.

Bill Belichick, regardless of how you feel about him, said a very intriguing comment early on in the season about comparing a team’s performance early in the season to later in the season.

“I don’t think you really know your team until the middle of October… every team has the same opportunities. I think you’ll see a lot of movement, a lot of adjustments in the first third of the season.” – Bill Belichick

What he said seems to be true. Teams have a tendency to experience growing pains early in the season as rookies, new players, and even new coaches learn from game experience.

Most Steeler fans are aware that it is not uncommon for the team to start the season slow. While it’s easy to say the Steelers tend to experience these growing pains and improve as the season goes on, let’s look at the data to really see how they have fared.

Year Steelers record before bye Steelers record after bye
2015 6-4 4-2
2014 7-4 4-1
2013 0-4 8-4
2012 1-2 7-6
2011 7-3 5-1
2010 3-1 9-3
2009 5-2 4-5
2008 4-1 8-3
2007 4-1 6-5

By examining the table you can see that the Steelers have been very successful in their games following the bye. Over 9 seasons, only once have they had a losing record following the bye. They’ve never even went .500 during these games, the closest being 2007 and 2012 when the records were 6-5 and 7-6.

We can see Tomlin has been mostly successful in games following the bye week, but we can dig even deeper and compare his overall success in games before the bye to his overall success in games following the bye. My method for this table was calculating the percentage of wins both before and after the bye week and finding the difference.

Year Win percentage before bye Win percentage after bye Difference
2015 60% 67% 7%
2014 64% 80% 16%
2013 0% 67% 67%
2012 33% 54% 21%
2011 70% 83% 13%
2010 75% 75% 0%
2009 71% 44% (27%)
2008 80% 73% (7%)
2007 80% 55% (25%)

Comparing the win percentages adds more weight to the figures and shows if these teams actually improved following the bye.

As a whole the Steelers have only improved their win percentage following the bye in 5/9 seasons. It is significant though that those 4 seasons came during the first 4 seasons of Tomlin’s career with the Steelers, one of them being a change of 0%. During the past 5 years the Steelers have managed to improve their win percentage following the bye week.

I believe we can expect a similar trend this season. The main reason the Steelers seem likely to improve their win percentage is simple: health.

Just look at this list of starters that have missed time due to injury this season: Ben Roethlisberger, DeAngelo Williams, Roosevelt Nix, Ladarius Green, Ramon Foster, Marcus Gilbert, Cam Heyward, Ryan Shazier, Bud Dupree, Robert Golden.

That is a very large amount of players that play a significant role on this team. This bye week came at a perfect time because our players need time to rest. Thankfully most of the players listed should be ready for our week 9 matchup versus the Baltimore Ravens. Ben, Green, and Dupree are the only question marks. Dupree has went on record saying he likely won’t practice until week 10, while Ben and Green are both recovering from their own respective injuries and are questionable for week 9.

Once our players are healthy are team will be able to become much more dynamic on both sides of the ball. Many have criticized the Steelers defense recently, but during the past few weeks they have been without some of their best players: Ryan Shazier and Cam Heyward.  The difference these players make is clear when looking at some the stats.

I anticipate our defense to greatly improve once our key players return to the field.

It’s been a rough couple of weeks for Steeler fans, but based on all of the data presented here and in the previous article, we should all enter the second half of the season with confidence and swagger. The Steelers have shown a clear trend of success in games following the bye week. Over the next few weeks the Steelers’ injury report will thin out, and as our key players return to the field our team will begin to look more like the squad that had people ranking them as a a unanimous top 5 team in the beginning of the season.

Things are looking up in Pittsburgh, and the data shows that this team is far from done.

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