Steelers fans were not pleased with Mike Tomlin’s worth being questioned, but that doesn’t mean that doing so is any less necessary.
The other day I questioned whether or not Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin should be fired with a losing season, as I feel that veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has been the reason as to why he is yet to suffer one. And boy, was I pulled through the wringer for that.
Steelers fans came right at me, declaring that hitting the mayday button so prematurely would be ridiculous, as just one hypothetical losing season shouldn’t get a head coach fired. However, just exactly how prematurely are we talking?
Many Pittsburgh folks out there are acting as if their Steelers are just now beginning to have problems when that could not be further from the truth. As previously established in the original piece, the franchise has had one AFC title game appearance in the last decade; it has also struggled to maintain its status as a playoff power in recent seasons.
Oh, but that doesn’t matter, because it is a Steelers “tradition” to not fire coaches (yes, I was actually told that on multiple occasions). There is another Steelers tradition that I like more, though, and that is actually winning.
Steelers fans need to admit Tomlin’s shortcomings
In regards to winning, Tomlin actually has a higher career winning percentage (.643) than both Chuck Noll (.566) and Bill Cowher (.623), so congrats to him for that. However, when it comes to postseason winning percentages (where winning is, obviously, the most important), Tomlin has the lowest of the three.
Along with that, he also easily has the least amount of playoff appearances. His amount of time with the organization cannot be used as an excuse, as this year is Tomlin’s 14th in Pittsburgh (which matches the number of years Cowher was there).
The real legacy-tarnishing fact for me, though, is that Mike Tomlin has never won with stars that he acquired.
While Noll and Cowher both took over for losing teams with noticeably-less talent, Tomlin inherited a squad that had just won Super Bowl XL less than two years prior.
Some notable players on the Super Bowl XLIII roster (the only roster that Tomlin has ever won with) include Ben Roethlisberger, Santonio Holmes, Hines Ward, Heath Miller, James Harrison, Troy Polamalu, and Ike Taylor. What do all of those guys (and more) have in common? They were all acquired by Bill Cowher.
Of the three aforementioned Steelers coaches, Tomlin is the only one that was victorious with stars he did not acquire. That does not look good at all.
This, of course, does not mean that Tomlin is incapable of spotting stars, as he has snatched guys like Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell, Cameron Heyward, T.J. Watt, Joe Haden, Minkah Fitzpatrick, and so on. But how much does that mean on one’s legacy when he still fails to get over the hump? All of this is without mentioning his problems with getting some of his players under control.
I take no joy in being this critical of Mike Tomlin; the guy has been both a loyal and likable coach. But as time has gone on, his legacy has appeared to be more and more reliant on players that he didn’t even pick up. And to all of the denial-riddled Steelers fans, there is neither bias nor ignorance in that statement.