The Pittsburgh Steelers have had three coaches since the 1969 season. Each has won at least one Super Bowl. Yet, many fans want the latest coach, Mike Tomlin, gone as soon as possible.
Over the last 50 years, the Steelers have prided themselves on little turnover at the head coach position having just three in that span. Each coach is sustaining the overall success his predecessor had, and each is taking the team to the promised land at least once in his tenure.
Though each has had their share of bad seasons, each coach, year in and year out, has consistently been competitive year in and year out throughout their tenures as a coach. Mike Tomlin, despite his flaws, has continued that tradition; Chuck Knoll passed the coaching reigns to Bill Cowher in 1992, with Tomlin then taking over for Cowher in 2007.
Tomlin has been to three AFC championships, winning two of them. The loss was to the New England team that would go on to win the Super Bowl over Atlanta. He has also been to two super bowls, winning one of the two. The loss featured Ben Roethlisberger trying to engineer a game-winning drive against Green Bay to end a valiant second-half comeback, but a fourth-down incompletion to Mike Wallace ended those dreams.
Many say this was done with Cowher’s team; however, he was two years removed from Cowher’s championship team before he won his. One could also argue that Tomlin took the Steelers to new heights that Cowher had struggled to in his final year. Bill Cowher went 8-8 in 2006, the year after Pittsburgh won SB XL over Seattle. Since 1998, the Steelers had missed the playoffs (5 times) more than they made them (4 times).
In 2007, Mike Tomlin took the reins, coming over from his defensive coordinator position in Minnesota to replace Cowher. In his first season, Tomlin took the team back to the playoffs but lost in the wildcard round to the Jaguars.
The next year, Tomlin turned the team around to lead them to a thrilling victory over the Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII, highlighted by Roethlisberger’s game-winning TD pass to Santonio Holmes. This marked Pittsburgh’s then record sixth Super Bowl championship.
Tomlin then took that team back to Super Bowl XLV, now five years removed from Bill Cowher’s team, coming just a few plays away from winning his second championship in four seasons. The roster was indeed built well, but this should be seen as a testament to the ability of Pittsburgh’s organization, not a reason to discredit Tomlin.
Now, fast forward to 2019, where the Steelers are 4-4 after eight games on the season. Tomlin could easily have thrown in the towel and quit on the season losing Ben Roethlisberger for the year seemed to spell doom for Pittsburgh, especially after losing superstar RB Le’Veon Bell and WR Antonio Brown in the off-season.
However, Tomlin and the team did not falter. Tomlin now has this team at .500 following a 1-4 start, where things were looking bleak for the season. This is an impressive feat, given the injuries and an awful start.
He has endured being knocked down to what was essentially his fourth-string quarterback. Devlin Hodges, who did not make the 53-man initially, had to start his first career game in Los Angeles in prime time. He endured season-ending injuries to two of the team’s best players, Roethlisberger and Stephon Tuitt, who was having an excellent 2019 campaign, to get this team back to .500 on the season.
Tomlin has this team believing in itself, challenging them each week to come out and show the world they haven’t given up on this season despite the adversity they have faced. He has stuck with them each week, battling vigorously to claw back to even being shown in playoff pictures.
With a couple of bounces in the opposite direction, they could be sitting at 6-2, but the Steelers are 4-4 on the season. They have been in every game since week one, with chances to win every game following the week one beat down from New England.
The comments wanting Tomlin fired, or for him to quit re baffling and a case of “you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone.”
Mike Tomlin stands behind just Bill Belichick in win percentage among active coaches in the NFL with at least 100 games coached.
Mike Tomlin is not perfect; none of us are. However, quite a few teams would line up at his doorstep were he to leave or be fired.
Mike Tomlin is a lot of things, but a bad coach is far from one of them. Does he have flaws? Yes, absolutely. But what coach doesn’t? For the job he has done so far in 2019, I leave with a round of applause for the Steelers head coach.