Was Steelers Mike Tomlin disrespected in 2022 head coach rankings?

Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

There is a mixed bag of opinions when it comes to Mike Tomlin, but here’s why the Steelers head coach might have been disrespected in recent head coach rankings.

We all know how proud the Rooney family is when it comes to their head coaching history. Over the past 53 years (dating back to just before the NFL merger) the Pittsburgh Steelers have had just three head coaches: Chuck Noll, Bill Cowher, and Mike Tomlin.

Each of these coaches earned at least one Super Bowl victory and the first two are members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. When it’s all said and done, Tomlin seems very likely to join them. But where does he rank among NFL coaches right now?

This becomes a little bit tricky to assess, as there are so many factors that come into play here. After rallying in 2021, Tomlin kept his streak alive of never having a losing-record season as an NFL head coach for the 14th straight year. However, his recent lack of success in the post-season is an entirely different story.

As a result, Tomlin finished just 13th in the Pro Football Focus’s recent 2022 NFL head coach rankings. Here’s what PFF’s Conor McQuiston had to say:

"13. MIKE TOMLIN, PITTSBURGH STEELERS (9.3 – 7.7 RECORD WITH AVERAGE ROSTER)Offensive Rank: 13/26 (+25 points scored a season)Defensive Rank: 5/26 (-10 points allowed a season)If this list were to consider how well a coach manages a team off the gridiron, Tomlin would undoubtedly be in the top tier. His defenses have been consistently strong, but he suffers in these rankings due to having one of the highest-paid quarterbacks in the NFL throughout his head coach tenure lead his offense without consistently elite results."

McQuiston ranked Tomlin 13th when it comes to offensive success and 5th defensively. While many fans would agree that he belongs somewhere in this range, others no doubt believe that he should be higher. So where should Mike Tomlin rank among NFL head coaches?

Where does Steelers head coach rank?

The top of the list unsurprisingly includes names like Bill Belichick, John Harbaugh, and Andy Reid. However, I think there’s an argument to be made for where some of these coaches were slotted.

Despite his recent lack of success, Seattle’s Pete Carroll was listed in tier two as the 5th-best head coach entering 2022.  Tomlin was ranked just below Mike McCarthy, Sean McVay, and Brandon Staley. Rightfully so, the Steelers head coach was slotted ahead of names like Nick Sirianni, Doug Pederson, and Lovie Smith.

Personally, I think it’s hard to make too big of a fuss about Mike Tomlin’s positioning on this list — especially considering a recently successful coach like Bills’ Sean McDermott was ranked below him at 16th. Still, I think you could make the case for Tomlin being a bit higher.

Factored into these rankings was the talent that each of these coaches has had to work with recently. Admittedly, it hasn’t been great for Tomlin. His team has struggled with an aging quarterback at the helm as well as a bad offensive line.

At the same time, Tomlin essentially put his team into that position — ignoring the offensive line for years in the NFL Draft and giving Ben Roethlisberger a lofty contract extension in 2019 knowing that his play would likely falter as he approached 40 years old.

Still, I think you could make a case that Tomlin should be above names like Mike McCarthey, Brandon Staley, and Frank Reich.

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Regardless of where you slot him, all fans can agree that the Steelers head coach does indeed need to start producing more success in the post-season — something that has been vacant for too long. The AFC is looking brutal, so we will see if Mike Tomlin is up for another challenge in 2022.