PITTSBURGH -- Bill Belichick might not be on Mike Tomlin's Christmas card list after Tomlin's Pittsburgh Steelers dealt with headset interference in last year's Week 1 matchup with the New England Patriots. Tomlin even appeared to throw some shade the Patriots' way this week.
But two of the league's successful coaches are linked by slogans that dominate their respective locker rooms.
Belichick: Do your job.
Tomlin: The standard is the standard.
Saying these NFL head coaches are conveying an idea or purpose through repetitive expression might be too complex an explanation, given the simplicity of their words.
"They are both pretty much saying the same thing," Steelers cornerback Ross Cockrell said. "When you're out there, you have to step up and do what you're supposed to do."
Both teams enter Sunday's matchup in Pittsburgh with plenty of star power on the field, but the success of both franchises stems from a culture that instills belief in all players, from the Gronks to the gunners.
Tomlin, in his 10th year in Pittsburgh, started using his slogan early on the job, and it soon was displayed on a wall of the Heinz Field home locker room.
Backups and third-stringers are expected to play like starters. No drop-off. That's an arduous task for a Steelers defense missing three former first-round picks to injury. But backups Jordan Dangerfield and Vince Williams just helped the Steelers win back-to-back road games, lending merit to the "next man up" philosophy.
"We really don't think about who we don't have; we think about who we do have, and we are going to go out there to war with those guys," wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey said.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady casually dropped a "do your job" during this week's conference call with Steelers media. When asked how many times he's heard the phrase from Belichick's mouth over the last 15 years, Brady chuckled and said, "Multiple, multiple times a day."
Ask Brady to explain it, and the pride oozes out of his Ugg boots.
"Having a good teammate is being able to trust the guy next to you, that he’s going to be able to do his job," Brady said. "When you know a teammate’s going to be able to do his job, it frees you up 100 percent to do what you need to do. If you’re worried about whether you're going to get this picked-up protection or you’re worried about whether or not the receiver is going to run the right route, that takes away from your thing, to do what you need to do. Having great teammates are guys that you never have to worry about what they are going to do. They are consistent and dependable every single week.
"No one else can do your job for you. You have to be accountable to your teammates and accountable to your coaches. They expect us to go out there and do it as well as you can every week."
For the Steelers, their phrase transcends locker room talk. Cockrell considers "the standard" a way of carrying yourself, an excellence to exemplify on and off the field.
Injured quarterback Ben Roethlisberger often uses the words when addressing the team in the tunnel before the game.
So why do professional athletes need to be told something that should come with the job description?
"At the end of the day, we're all people," Cockrell said. "We're going to have our good and bad days. It's good to have that daily reminder."