The Steelers standard is no longer what it was
This is my biggest complaint with Tomlin as a coach. For the longest time, this team was always building with a Super Bowl in mind. Chuck Noll did that for the longest time, and when the game passed by him, the team turned to Bill Cower. In a similar vein, this team eventually turned to Tomlin.
Initially, the fit was good. This team won a Super Bowl and was among the league's best units. As time went on, it seemed like the league had passed by Tomlin. While tenured coaches can adjust to the game (just look at Andy Reid), sometimes you have to move on. We may be getting to that point with Tomlin.
As the league was shifting to a more offensive and pass-happy unit, the Steelers stood pat. While some of that was due to still having Roethlisberger around, we got to see this team get built how Tomlin wanted in recent years. The offense was supposed to be a low-scoring, grinding unit that would slowly win games. That in comparison to the high-scoring offenses of the Chiefs, Bills, and Bengals always seemed like a mistake.
Coaching was a similar conservative story. Relatively no names were promoted from within, and while this is good for the majority of the staff, it doesn’t make sense when coaches aren’t growing. We see a slew of coordinators become coveted assets each offseason, but the Steelers neither have those assets to give away nor pursue any of those bigger coaching options when needed.
To me, that is where the standard has fallen. While the team will claim to be a Super Bowl competitor each season, that isn’t always the case, and it is easy to see through. What this team is every season is the face of mediocrity. The Steelers are sitting in mellow water. While that doesn’t yield the low of waves, it also doesn’t yield the highs.
I feel like the standard of this team has shifted to winning seasons and not Super Bowls. The playoff success has been stifled in recent years, and now defenders of Tomlin are quick to point out that he hasn’t had a losing season.
While that is a successful stat, it doesn’t mean much if this team isn’t succeeding beyond that. I will happily take a losing season or two if it also yielded some playoff or Super Bowl success. Consistently shooting for average is maddening.
Look at how this team acts in any given week. Blowout losses to teams are met with the same response as when the unit wins. Gameplans are consistent and rarely change even when they aren’t working. Look at the offense and defense. Despite constant struggles, nothing ever really changes. It has been like this for years.
This offseason will be very telling for the Steelers. No, they don’t need to fire Tomlin or move on from Pickett necessarily, but something needs to give. Let’s lock up a top-tier offensive coordinator to start and maybe even build out the coaching staff. Let's add talent at important positions as opposed to devalued ones.
This will inherently mean risks, especially if a new quarterback is added to the mix. That risk could lead to some early lackluster results, but it is all about the end game here. I’m doubtful that changes though. As this season wraps up, I’m really struggling to see the defense of why the Steelers are keeping Tomlin.