As a die hard Pittsburgh fan, I was ticked off Sunday afternoon just like every other member of Steelers Nation.
When all your boys are roasting you but you don’t have a comeback.
We did exactly what the Steelers Radio Network team warned against, which was get behind early and have to play catch-up against a ferocious Jaguars defense. While Ben Roethlisberger and company made the game close and lured most of us into having some hope for a miracle with under a minute to play, it was the reflection upon the missed opportunities, inability to secure key stops and poor coaching decisions during the entire game that smacked the reality back into our faces.
Why didn’t they let Ben run for the yard on 4th and 1? Why try the onside kick before the two minute warning? Why not blitz more? How could they give up so many crucial third and long plays? The list of questions go on and on.
But one question never entered my mind, and that was whether they should fire Mike Tomlin. As mad as I was at their performance, letting go of Tomlin was never even a remote thought.
But then came the report of some minority owners in the organization calling for his job, and that’s the moment when the Terrible Towels should have started waving again, this time right in the faces of these voices.
According to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, “some of the team’s limited partners intend to lobby owner Art Rooney to fire of Tomlin and to hire a new coach.”
Whoever these voices are need to take a step back and then apologize for starting this foolish drama.
Fire Tomlin? Really?
Since he was hired in 2007, Tomlin has been one of the best coaches in the league, yet doesn’t seem to be appreciated the way he should.
As only the third coach in Steelers’ history since 1969, he has produced a coaching stat line many others wished they had – a regular season record of 116-60 (.659), a post-season record of 8-7 (.533) and an overall record of 124-67 (.640). He has never had a losing season, his worst two seasons coming in 2012 and 2013 when the Steelers went 8-8 both times. He has captured six AFC North titles, two AFC Championships and led the team to two Super Bowl appearances, winning it all in Super Bowl XLIII in the 2008 season.
Tomlin is the youngest coach to both lead his team to and win the Super Bowl, when he did it at the age of 36. He’s also the third African American head coach to lead a team to the Super Bowl (behind Tony Dungy and Lovie Smith) and this season he became only the third coach in NFL history to finish with a .500 or better record in the first ten seasons with one team, following behind legendary coaches John Madden (Raiders) and Curly Lambeau (Packers). In case you’re wondering, Bill Belichick went 5-11 in his first season as head coach of the Patriots.
But let’s go a step past his coaching resume and look at his personnel, especially those who came through the draft. His ability to pick in the first round is pretty good, with Pro Bowl names like Maurkice Pouncey (#18 in 2010), Cameron Heyward (#31 in 2011), David DeCastro (#24 in 2012), Ryan Shazier (#15 in 2014) and future Pro Bowler TJ Watt (#30 in 2017). But his ability to work with his staff to find the stars in lower rounds is amazing, with All World players such as Antonio Brown (6th round in 2010) and Le’Veon Bell (2nd round in 2013) becoming the faces of the franchise. He found them and then gave them the opportunity to showcase their talents, with both players having a claim to League MVP. That’s coaching.
Antonio Brown, with the ABSURD catch! #JAXvsPIT https://t.co/c35OTdAeiK
WATCH-“Driven: Le’Veon Bell”
Driven: Le’Veon Bell
Yes, Tomlin has had some questionable decisions and moments during his career, many on display during the team’s loss to the Jaguars on Sunday. But are they serious enough to call for his firing?
He’s the second greatest coach in team history, right behind the legendary Chuck Noll. Many might raise their eyebrows at this and put him behind Bill Cowher, but his performance speaks for itself.
Consider this. According to Mike DeCourcy of Sporting News, “Chuck Noll won four Super Bowls from 1974 through 1979. Then he missed the playoffs eight times in the next dozen years. Bill Cowher coached the Steelers to six consecutive playoff appearances, including one Super Bowl trip, after taking over the team in 1992. Then he went 7-9, 6-10 and 9-7, all three teams missing the playoffs. No one got fired.”
To reiterate, Tomlin has NEVER had a losing season in his ten years as the head coach for the Steelers.
He’s paid his dues in the coaching game, working his way up over 11 years before becoming the Vikings Defensive Coordinator in 2006 and ultimately the Steelers’ Head Coach a year later.
The team has some work to do for next season. Holes need to be addressed and adjustments need to be made, particularly on the defensive side, where they seemed to give up the big play in key situations during the season (the number of crucial, drive extending third-and-longs they allowed to the Jags was infuriating). But to call for Tomlin’s job after what he and his team has done during his tenure is absurd.
So instead of calling for the ridiculous, why not appreciate the greatness of Coach Tomlin and show him some love as he gears up for another winning season and yet another Super Bowl run in 2018.