How much longer does Mike Tomlin have with the Steelers?

Head coach Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
Head coach Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) /

Other than a record-setting ring from Super Bowl XLIII, Mike Tomlin has brought little to the table for the Pittsburgh Steelers franchise.

It is no debate that Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin has solidified himself as being darn good at what he does. If he had his current resume coaching for a historically average team, such as the Philadelphia Eagles, he would be sitting on the coldest seat in America. However, Pittsburgh is not your everyday team – at least not perennially. The Steel City is used to media hype, dominance, and Lombardi Trophies.

But can we as Steelers fans confidently say that we have experienced these things on a consistent basis within the last eight years or so? No, we cannot.

The crowning moment of the Mike Tomlin era in Pittsburgh was at the end of the 2008-09 NFL season when the Steelers won Super Bowl XLIII over the Arizona Cardinals. That was twelve years ago. Twelve. Since then, Pittsburgh has gone to Super Bowl XLV–ten years ago–just to get manhandled by the Green Bay Packers, and after that? Well, there’s not too much after that.

As a matter of fact, the only notable appearance that has followed 2011 was one measly AFC Championship Game, which resulted in a murderous 36-17 beatdown dealt by the New England Patriots. So besides merely picking up where former Steelers head coach Bill Cowher left off (with one of the most powerful NFL rosters of the 21st century), what impactful contributions has Tomlin made to helping Pittsburgh climb back to the top?

Has Tomlin done enough to stick around as Steelers head coach?

I will give him credit for one thing, and that is his ability to keep the Steelers from having a losing record – something that they have not endured since 2003. But other than that impressive statistic, the black and gold have been simply overlooked in the AFC this last decade, predominantly by Tom Brady’s aforementioned Patriots, followed by Peyton Manning’s Denver Broncos. And Peyton has been retired since early 2016.

This is no new topic. On social media, I have seen fans and critics alike pick apart the questionable stability of Tomlin’s gig in Pittsburgh. An observation often made at the Steelers’ expense is that the offense once consisted of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, running back Le’Veon Bell, and wide receiver Antonio Brown. The only one still with the franchise is Big Ben, as the other two left the team with a seemingly sour taste in their mouths. Bell is now with the Kansas City Chiefs, and Brown is kicking it down south in Tampa Bay.

The Buccaneers will host KC for Super Bowl LV. So a couple of outstanding talents battling to win a ring – something that they did not do even once together while in Pittsburgh – is not a good look for the state of the Steelers relevance in their conference. Meanwhile, a Canton-bound player like Ben getting older and worse, with what is likely only one season left in the chamber, is not a step in the right direction. So Coach Tomlin needs to pull something together before his superiors remember that their team can do better.

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Now to clarify, I do feel that the Pittsburgh Steelers are in a good place right now. They just ripped off a playoff season, achieving a 12-5 final record, with 11 of those 12 wins being consecutive. That is a situation that many other teams would kill for. The issue comes in when the thought of that being the peak of your potential becomes more and more realistic. If any organization is going to grow impatient waiting for greatness, it is going to be the Steelers. Greatness is what they are used to, after all.