Pittsburgh Steelers head coaches: Mike Tomlin vs. Bill Cowher

Mike Tomlin Pittsburgh Steelers(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Mike Tomlin Pittsburgh Steelers(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

Mike Tomlin and Bill Cowher are two of the best coaches in Steelers history, but which one has been better for Pittsburgh?

The Pittsburgh Steelers are one of the few NFL teams that have been fortunate to go from one great head coach to the next. When Bill Cowher retired from coaching in 2006, Mike Tomlin took the reigns and never looked back.

Many have criticized Mike Tomlin and his inability to get the Pittsburgh Steelers to the Super Bowl since 2011. In fact, some have gone so far as to say that he will not win a championship with the Steelers again because the only championship he won was with Bill Cowher’s team. Is this really the case? Let’s compare the coaching careers of Tomlin and Cowher to this point.

Getting to the Postseason

First and foremost, before the Pittsburgh Steelers can even get to a Super Bowl, they have to make their way to the playoffs. The only way to make it to the playoffs is to win regular-season games. That is something that Mike Tomlin has been able to do slightly better than Bill Cowher.

Per ProFootballReference Bill Cowher posted a record of 149-90-1 giving him a regular-season winning percentage of 62.3% of his games through 15 seasons as the head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Again per ProFootballReference, Mike Tomlin has posted a record of 133-74-1 giving him a regular-season winning percentage of 64.2% of his games through 13 seasons as the head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The fact the Bill Cowher was just inducted into the Hall of Fame with a slightly worse regular season record speaks volumes to Tomlin’s ability to remain competitive while completely rebuilding one of the best defenses in NFL history.

Postseason Success

While both coaches have missed the playoffs an equal amount of times, five seasons each, Bill Cowher holds a slightly better postseason record at 12-9 which comes to 57.1%. Mike Tomlin’s postseason record is 8-7 giving him 53.3%. In six more games, Bill Cowher was able to gain 4 more wins and only 2 more losses in the postseason.

That being said, even with a worse playoff record Mike Tomlin already has the same amount of Super Bowl wins and appearances. If he happens to make a good playoff run this year or next year, he will have already placed more on his resume than Bill Cowher had in his hall of fame career as a head coach.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have had two of the best

Tomlin could very well end up with a better career than Cowher. Many are quick to say that Tomlin should have gotten more out of the Killer B’s. But when comparing the rosters of both of these defensive-minded coaches, the same argument could easily be made with the team Cowher was working within the ’90s. This roster held the likes of Kevin Greene, Greg Lloyd, Rod Woodson, and Jerome Bettis. We shouldn’t forget Dermontti Dawson either, the great Mike Webster’s replacement from 1988-2000 made 7 pro bowls along with 6 all-pro selections. That being said,

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the Steelers have only had 3 losing seasons since Chuck Noll retired(1998, 1999, and 2003). The culture that these two coaches have upheld since Bill Cowher took over in 1992 has been an amazing experience that as a sports fan I can really appreciate. One can only assume that with a resume as similar as his predecessor’s before his career is even finished, Mike Tomlin is bound for the Hall of Fame in the future.