Last Sunday night, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin made waves by deviating from the coachspeak playbook and talking openly about not one but two upcoming showdowns against the Patriots. The potential consequences of Tomlin’s decision to discuss the proverbial “elephant in the room” could arise both in December, and again in January.

I know, I know. We in the media abhor coachspeak. It’s predictable, it’s boring, it’s useless. But does that mean we should blindly praise an excursion into non-coachspeak that could create real problems for the coach who decided to speak that way?

For Tomlin, the problem arises from the fact that the Steelers play the Bengals and Ravens before facing the Patriots the first time. And, surely, the Bengals and Ravens will be using his words to provide the players with extra motivation to humble the Steelers before their definite date with the Patriots.

A separate problem arises in January, as the Steelers (if they secure a bye) prepare to face an opponent in the divisional round, with a return match against the Patriots on the line. Surely, whichever team has the task of traveling to Pittsburgh will be playing Tomlin’s words, over and over again, pointing out that he chose to look past that team before even knowing who that team would be.

But don’t take my word for it, as if you ever would. Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette explains how bulletin board material once bit Bill Cowher in the butt, specifically as it relates to an AFC title game against the Patriots from nearly 16 years ago.