Extending Mike Tomlin is the unpopular but correct move for the Steelers

Steelers fans may not like to hear it, but extending Mike Tomlin is the right move for the franchise going forward.
Mike Tomlin at OTA's
Mike Tomlin at OTA's / Joe Sargent/GettyImages

Mike Tomlin's tenure as Steelers head coach has always been divisive among Steelers fans. On one hand, Tomlin has won a Super Bowl and hasn't had a losing season since being hired. On the other hand, the Steelers haven't won a playoff game since 2016 and underperformed with great talent.

With Tomlin's recent three-year contract extension being announced, many Steelers fans took the opportunity to bash on the Steelers for the move. Fans called the move a mistake, criticizing the organization for rewarding Tomlin with an extension following a lack of recent playoff success.

While this news has been received poorly by most Steelers fans, I believe this extension is the right move for the team going forward despite the unpopularity of the news right now.

Why Mike Tomlin deserves to remain the Steelers head coach

You can't deny Tomlin's lack of playoff success recently. That needs to change and change quickly for the sake of the organization in the future.

But I still believe that Tomlin is a very good coach in this league. It's evident that players like playing for Tomlin. Look no further than this offseason, where Russell Wilson, Justin Fields, and Patrick Queen all cited playing for Tomlin as a significant reason for wanting to come to Pittsburgh. Tomlin's ability to attract good football players to Pittsburgh is a big deal and is unquantifiable.

Tomlin is also a great defensive mind and his defenses seem to always rise to the occasion, even when they're missing key players. Take last year for example. Cam Heyward, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Cole Holcomb, and Damontae Kazee all missed multiple games throughout the season and the Steelers still only gave up 32 touchdowns, tied for the 2nd fewest in the NFL.

Mike Tomlin's teams do more with less a lot. In 2019, the Steelers somehow went 8-8 with second-year Mason Rudolph and rookie Devlin "Duck" Hodges starting 13 of the 16 games. In 2021, the Steelers won 9 games and made the playoffs despite Ben Roethlisberger really showing his age that season. And last season the Steelers won 10 games with Kenny Pickett and Mitch Trubisky starting a majority of those games.

I'm not saying Tomlin is a perfect coach, far from it. He hasn't succeeded in the playoffs recently, takes too long to make coordinator moves, and sometimes shows a lack of progressiveness when it comes to implementing an offense in this day and age of football. But his positives outweigh the negatives in my opinion.

To the fans dunking on the Steelers for extending Tomlin, I ask this question: Who would you hire instead?

It's really easy to say "Fire Tomlin", but it's a lot harder to pick out a realistic candidate who would take his spot. And Tomlin would get a new job 15 minutes after being fired if that were the case. The Steelers are in win-now mode and can't afford to wait while a new coach takes multiple years to implement their system and get adjusted to being a head coach in the NFL.

The Steelers are competitive in the regular season and good players want to play in the Steel City. The playoff success will come around and I believe Tomlin will be at the head of it. For now, I tell Steelers fans to calm down and get behind Tomlin and this Steelers team for what will hopefully be a fun and successful 2024 season.