Sunday Was Supposed To Be Mike Tomlin’s Funeral, But The Legendary Head Coach Proved Why Pittsburgh Steelers Should Offer Him A Lifetime Contract

(Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

The fire Mike Tomlin complaints from ungrateful Pittsburgh Steelers fans flooded social media as the Steelers started the season in an unfamiliar position, dropping four of their first five game to start the season. To say that everyone in Steelers Nation was panicking and ready to jump off the top of Acrisure Stadium would be downplaying the situation.

There was a collective effort by the sports world and beyond, to get Tomlin to bench starter Mitch Trubisky and start rookie Kenny Pickett. Ever the cool customer under pressure, Tomlin resisted at first. He let it be known that he wouldn’t succumb to public pressure but would remain true to the business plan that has made the Steelers a model NFL franchise for decades.

The rookie was game but didn’t fare much better than Trubisky as far as moving the ball. The fans, however, were satisfied for the moment. And then they weren’t again because the losses kept coming.

Another Signature Win 

With all of the experts predicting a blowout, Pittsburgh’s 20-18 victory over Tampa on Sunday not only saved the season, but the significance of the win was even more satisfying for Tomlin because the rookie that everyone clamored for left the game with a concussion and the quarterback who he believed in and everyone else discarded as worthless goods led the Steelers to the one of the most important victories in Tomlin’s tenure as coach.

The Steelers were 10-point underdogs ahead of Sunday’s non-conference matchup that turned a potential nightmare into another notch on Tomlin’s illustrious résumé.

The bearded maestro silenced the crowd as he has continuously done when it seemed like his season was on the brink of disaster. The major victory was shared by Trubisky, who was much maligned by every media outlet imaginable. The No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft had a moment that can transform a career. Both he and Tomlin were on the brink of news lows. The Steelers head coach has never had a losing season in 15 years at the helm. To start the season 1-5 would almost guaranteed that this year would be the first. The difference in odds between a 1-5 team and a 2-4 team still having a winning season, or even making the playoffs is significant.

Tomlin might very well still have a losing season, because the AFC is tougher than a leather belt and the quarterback situation is by no means settled. Pickett will probably miss a couple of games with the concussion, which impedes his development. In Trubisky’s case, one game doesn’t mean he’s finally figured it out. So, the most important position on the field is still lacking until further notice.

At the same time, you can’t ever underestimate Money Mike, Last year everyone thought Pittsburgh was dead in the waters and Tomlin led them to an improbable playoff appearance.

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The Steelers’ grit is not smoke and mirrors. Trubisky’s ability to come off the bench and lead the Steelers to as clutch a victory as a franchise could have, further solidifies the head coach’s decision-making and ability to thrive under pressure and inspire his team to fight when the situation is at its gravest. Just two weeks ago, Trubisky was standing in that same stadium, rocking a baseball cap, staring at the sky and contemplating his future in the league.

How things have changed.

Trubisky In The Clutch 

Check out sideline Tomlin’s swag, Brady’s sourpuss face and the roar of the stadium crowd, when Trubisky makes this Aaron Rodgers-esque touch throw to Chase Claypool. Claypool has blossomed into a reliable and dynamic target for Trubisky, who connected on 9 of 12 passes for 1 TD. His passer rating (142.4) and QBR (91.2) blew Brady’s modest stats out of the water.

 

All is quiet on the Pittsburgh front for now. Tomlin has temporarily survived another call for his head and proven why he doesn’t know what a nine-loss season looks like.  The savvy vet never panics, he stays within the “business plan” and culture of the Steelers. And while some people understandably want to see change for change’s sake, the Rooney’s are smart enough to know that 15 years of consistent winning beats emotional decisions based on fan pressure and other factors unrelated to performance.

Tomlin’s toughness, class and strength in moments of adversity, unwavering character and dedication to the Steelers’ business culture embodies everything the Steelers are about. It’s clear that he understands the moment, and if those adversaries coach of Tomlin are waiting for him to fail so they can turn up the pressure on discrediting his incomparable legacy, then all indications say those Opps will be waiting a long time. He’s built for this.


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JR Gamble joined The Shadow League in 2012. The General Manager of Content & Social Media is in his 25th year of covering sports and culture professionally. He has covered a wide variety of major sports and entertainment topics across different mediums, including radio, newspapers, magazines and national TV. His passion is baseball, the culturing of baseball and preserving and documenting the historically-impactful accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in baseball.