Grading the Steelers head coaching options who could have replaced Mike Tomlin

Mike Tomlin will remain with the Pittsburgh Steelers for at least three more years. Were there better options out their to replace him?
Cleveland Browns OTA Offseason Workouts
Cleveland Browns OTA Offseason Workouts / Nick Cammett/GettyImages

For those Steelers fans who believe it would have been better off with not renewing Mike Tomlin's contract, who would you have wanted instead?

There are only a select few who are currently available who could make sense after the season. Some might get fired from their Head coaching gigs, but do you want someone else's tarnished employee? Mike Tomlin is here to stay so this is all hypothetical. This does beg to question if Tomlin wasn't brought back, who could've replaced him, and would they have been any better?

Sometimes the correct choice stares right at you, and the right thing to do here was to extend Tomlin. He has been the Steelers coach since 2007 and has not had a losing season yet. He deserves plenty of scrutiny since he has not won a playoff game since 2017 and has not reached a Super Bowl since 2011. He deserves the questioning that fans give him, but he also deserves some praise.

Those who question Tomlin always say he needs to go, but the grass is not always greener with a new head coach.

Hiring Mike Vrabel to replace Tomlin would have made a lot of sense

Current Browns Coaching and Personnel Consultant. . Mike Vrabel. Vrabel. B

One name would've stood out among possible candidates to replace Tomlin. Mike Vrabel played with the Steelers as a linebacker before finishing his career with a couple of other teams. He had a strong coaching stint as the Tennessee Titans Head coach. He was fired this past offseason and was overlooked for many jobs.

Vrabel's Pittsburgh connections would have made him a reasonable replacement for Tomlin.

Many speak fondly of Vrabel as a coach in the NFL, and he seems primed as a top candidate next offseason for some top jobs. Even though Vrabel has done some good things as a coach, he has not done anything better than Tomlin. Hiring someone like him would only provide some immediate juice to a team like the Steelers. The smart choice would be keeping Tomlin in this instance.

Decision: Mike Tomlin over Mike Vrabel

Replacing Tomlin with Arthur Smith would have led to bad things

Smith. D-. Current Steelers Offensive coordinator . . Arthur Smith

Perhaps one of the worst outcomes would have seen Tomlin depart the Steelers and have Arthur Smith take over. He was just hired as their offensive coordinator, and it is not crazy to imagine the Rooney's potentially looking at an internal hire. If Smith was able to lead a quality offense this season, then maybe it wouldn't have been as crazy to imagine.

It is an offense-driven league, but Smith failed in his last stint as a Head coach.

Tomlin is far and away a better coach than Smith. They do see eye-to-eye on offensive philosophies of winning games in the trenches. That might get the attention of the owners. Overall, this would be a bad hire, just look how the Atlanta Falcons did under Smith as their Head coach. If Tomlin was no longer the top guy, Pittsburgh would've been forced to search outside the organization for an upgrade.

Decision: Mike Tomlin over Arthur Smith

Mike McCarthy's ties to Pittsburgh would have made him an option

McCarthy. C. Current Cowboys Head coach. . Mike McCarthy

Adding in the fact that Mike McCarthy is from Pittsburgh, and this could have been a match.

Right now, McCarthy is the Head coach of the Dallas Cowboys. He has been at the helm there for four years. It has been a stint of ups and downs. The Cowboys have seen quality success in the regular season only to be disappointed in the playoffs. Much like Tomlin, McCarthy has not been able to win big games. That is why his job is on the hot seat coming into the season.

Hiring someone like McCarthy would not be the worst move ever, but Tomlin is still by far the better coach. Even though McCarthy beat the Steelers, led by Tomlin in their last Super Bowl appearance, Tomlin remains better. It would be a nice headline of having a local Pittsburgh guy replace Tomlin if that split happened, but fans should be happy it didn't.

Decision: Mike Tomlin over Mike McCarthy

The Steelers could have replaced Tomlin with Sirianni if he got let go

Sirianni. C+. Current Eagles Head coach. . Nick Sirianni

We reach into another bag of possible Head coaches who could be available next offseason. Nick Sirianni remains on the hot seat in Philadelphia heading into next season. He is a young coach who leans towards the defensive side of the ball. Sirianni is also a local Pittsburgh guy, so his connection to the Steelers would make sense.

Tomlin remains a much better option as Head coach than Sirianni. Other than his magical season where he helped the Eagles reach the Super Bowl, he has floundered some quality football teams. For one reason or other things have started to turn stale in Philadelphia for this coach, and he could be out of a job if he can't find success this year.

Sirianni would be ok, but Tomlin remains a much better option for the Steelers.

Decision: Mike Tomlin over Nick Sirianni

Perhaps the team could have gone outside the box with an offensive mind

B-. Current Lions Offensive coordinator. . Ben Johnson. Johnson

No name has been hotter around the hiring cycle over the past two years than Ben Johnson. He has done terrific things with the Detroit Lions offense, and many have labeled him as the next great offensive wizard of the NFL. It is only a matter of when, not if when it comes to Johnson getting a top job in the NFL. Maybe next year will finally be the time.

Johnson would provide a fresh start for the Steelers in a new type of football.

Tomlin very much tries to hang onto the old style of football that the NFL is trying to stay away from. Maybe that approach is his secret to never having a losing season. Johnson would be a decent hire to replace Tomlin, but he has been picky with where he takes a top job. One would have to imagine the Steelers would have been an attractive landing spot. Nonetheless, hiring someone like Johnson would be a gamble as it would be his first job as an NFL Head coach.

Decision: Mike Tomlin over Ben Johnson

Tomlin and Flores could have connected a new era of the Steelers

Current Vikings Defensive coordinator. . Brian Flores. Flores. B+

The connection between Tomlin and Brian Flores could have made a smooth transition.

No one was willing to give Flores a job in the NFL after he was fired from the Dolphins until Tomlin approached him. He was given a small role on the Steelers during his lone season with the team, but it is someone who Tomlin respects. If Tomlin was out as Head coach, Rooney would have likely shown interest in Flores for the top job.

The parallels are there as Flores is the Vikings' defensive coordinator, which is the same role Tomlin held before gaining the Steeler's job.

Flores has a militaristic approach to his coaching, which could make some fans happy as the distractions around certain players would likely stop. He showed he could be a quality coach in the NFL during his time with the Dolphins before he was surprisingly fired. Tomlin remains the better option, but Flores could have been a quality guy.

Decision: It's getting closer, but Mike Tomlin over Brian Flores

It would have been difficult to bypass Belichick as the next Head coach

Currently in the Media. . Bill Belichick. Belichick. A-

No escaping this one as the rumors would have probably been rampant about fans wanting Bill Belichick to join the Steelers if they needed to replace Tomlin.

It would have remained a controversial hire if this did happen especially as Belichick showed he was not able to match his success post-Tom Brady. He is still a quality coach who knows how to deploy his players to find the best success possible. He wants to remain in control of everything, including the role of General manager, which caused him to miss out on jobs this past offseason.

Omar Khan would have stayed, so Belichick replacing Tomlin probably wouldn't be a realistic possibility.

Since he would want all the power, Belichick would have to accept his coaching role only. Tomlin has a ton of power within the organization, but Khan and others can keep him in check to a certain degree. Hiring a Hall of Fame coach to replace another would be a solid bet. It could create a power struggle that could have caused problems.

Decision: Bill Belichick over Mike Tomlin

Next. So much for Mike Tomlin needing to 'prove' himself as HC. So much for Mike Tomlin needing to 'prove' himself as HC. dark