After the Steelers won their sixth Super Bowl, the front office went all in for one more run, to get a seventh Lombardi. They did this by signing quite a few of their older defensive stars to long term deals for big money. It almost paid off, as the Steelers returned to play in Super Bowl XLV, where they lost to the Green Bay Packers. The Steelers are still feeling the financial ramifications of those deals today, as they have had to rebuild the defense while barely remaining cap compliant. They have had to let younger talent leave because it was too expensive to cut the older, declining veterans with those big contracts. Through it all, Mike Tomlin has kept the Steelers relevant and competitive. For someone who hasn’t had a losing season in his nine years with the Steelers, it’s absolutely amazing how often people call for Mike Tomlin to be fired. It’s even more baffling what he gets criticized for.
These criticisms, and calls for Mike Tomlin to be fired, are why there are only 32 NFL General Managers and Head Coaches in the world. Unlike fans, these individuals usually remove their emotions from the decision making process and base their decisions on logic and common sense. In many cases, when you’re tight up against the salary cap, decisions are based on financial factors as well. According to many fans, Tomlin needs to be fired for every missed tackle or blown coverage. He is blamed, it seems, for any general lack of execution on any play that’s called, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Considering all the player injuries he’s had to coach around this season, and the lack of finances to address the needs of the secondary due to cap constraints, Mike Tomlin has done a heck of a job keeping the team focused and in contention. With Kelvin Beachum, Maurkice Pouncey and LeVeon Bell lost to IR, and through the loss Ben Roethlisberger, Will Allen and Ryan Shazier to multiple games, the players have succeeded because they have bought into Tomlin’s next man up philosophy. At 7-5, the Steelers still control their own postseason destiny. How many other teams could have survived what the Steelers have gone through this season and remained in contention?
For those who are determined to see Tomlin removed, who is out there that’s available, wants to coach, and would be an improvement? Of the coaches that are going to be fired at the end of this season, do you honestly think any one of them would be better suited than Tomlin to lead the Steelers? The worst thing about what the NFL has become is that it’s evolved into a ‘what have you done for me lately’ league. It’s all about instant gratification. Fans are forsaking the patience necessary to build a long term sustainable winner because they want one now. Not even through nine complete seasons yet as a head coach, Mike Tomlin has led the Steelers into two Super Bowl appearances, winning one of them. Here’s the list of teams since Tomlin’s debut season in 2007 that have appeared in at least two Super Bowls:
- Seattle Seahawks (2)
- New York Giants (2)
- New England Patriots (3)
That’s it. Only 7 other franchises have appeared in the Super Bowl once during the same timeframe of 2007-2014. Steelers fans are very demanding of this franchise, for good reason as it is arguably the most successful NFL franchise, but there is an alarming lack of big picture awareness by the fanbase.
Tomlin has a career record of 89-51, good for 46th place all-time. His career winning percentage of .636 is the highest in franchise history and 21st-highest of all time, 16th all-time for all coaches with at least 50 wins. As a result of his next man up philosophy, Mike Tomlin just might be pulling off the best coaching job of his career.