Top 5 Head Coaches: No. 3, Mike Tomlin

Mike Tomlin added some new décor to the Pittsburgh Steelers’ locker room at Heinz Field this offseason. Posted at the entrance is a motto that reads “The Standard… Is The Standard,” and it’s a little fitting that Tomlin had it put up now.

The Ravens’ Super Bowl confetti and the Bengals’ Hard Knocks pub have clouded any buzz coming out of Pittsburgh this summer. Injuries at the tight end spot, along with the departure of James Harrison and Mike Wallace, have led to questions regarding how well the team will do this year. Despite this, Tomlin expects to maintain Pittsburgh’s winning culture — it’s the standard he sets for his team.

“The reality is we’re an 8-8 team, and that’s probably more acceptable in some places than it is in our place,” Tomlin explained to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “We’ve got to be better in ’13 … and I think we’ll have a group that can do that.”

Sure, you will probably hear the same statement from most coaches in the NFL, but Tomlin’s words hold the most weight. He has unwavering confidence in the players that he has, as exhibited when he put his trust in then-special teamer James Harrison as the starting linebacker after cutting Joey Porter in 2007. A season later, Harrison would become the Defensive Player of the Year and score the pick six that helped Tomlin become the youngest head coach to win a Super Bowl.

The Steelers will be in the conversation for the AFC North title this season, and Tomlin will be a big reason why. He’s found a delicate balance as a leader, being able to challenge his players to step up and succeed, while not overwhelming them with an aggressive demeanor. Tomlin won’t lambaste his players in the media, but when they step into their locker room this season and see the team’s mantra on the wall, they will know what time it is.