Say what you will about Mike Tomlin. All the dude does in win. In fact, in his ten seasons as the head coach in the organization, Tomlin has never had a losing season. He has had two 8-8 seasons and one 9-7 season. All seven others have been 10 or more. That is the definition of success.
Personally, I can say that I have stood by Tomlin for as long as he has been here. I did, however, turn against him during the losing skid last year. I had wanted him fired for the sole reason that, in a year where the Steelers were built to contend, they had fallen to 4-5 and seemingly had their playoff hopes crushed. Obviously, they did not lose a game the rest of the way.
Friday afternoon, the Steelers announced that they had given Tomlin an extension through the 2020 season.
As the news emerged, fans began voicing their opinion on the move throughout the social media waves. Many were in favor of the move. Others were mildly disgusted.
Tomlin can easily be ranked as one of the top five most polarizing figures in Pittsburgh sports today. Not that that’s something sports figures enjoy, but Tomlin isn’t one to listen to the outside noise. That is something that separates Tomlin from other coaches and players around the league.
Tomlin was well aware of his team’s first half underachieving in 2016. He didn’t need to check his Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook to know it. He surely wasn’t going to take it from the media members.
He had lost Cameron Heyward very early on due to injury. He was without Ben Roethlisberger for one of the most important regular season games of the year against New England. He had to take a 4-5 team and right the ship and somehow carry his team to the playoffs. He had to trust his quarterback to find the right player to stretch a touchdown across the goal line in some crazy Christmas miracle.
He took this 4-5 team and turned it into a team that headed back to New England for the AFC Championship and simply got outcoached by one of the best to ever wear a headset.
Despite this, people forget that Tomlin was not only the youngest head coach to reach the Super Bowl, but also the youngest to win it. He is also only the eighth head coach to reach 100 wins in his first ten seasons. That means only seven other coaches in NFL history had averaged 10 wins in their first ten seasons. The Steelers are the only franchise to have three.
But people still want more, right?
One argument I’ve seen used over the years is that Tomlin has underachieved. He’s always had a Hall of Fame quarterback. He’s always had a very good running game to complement. While the defense hasn’t always been spectacular, the offense could’ve made up for it. So, is that on Tomlin?
I’ve always thought that Tomlin was good at in-game adjustments and had always risen to the occasion when the Steelers needed a big win. Whether regular season or a long playoff run, the Steelers’ head coach since 2007 has always stepped up.
Another knock on Tomlin, though, are his unimpressive numbers against sub-.500 opponents. He is well below the .500 mark in those. It’s said that he doesn’t get his team up for these games and always overlooks opponents.
Last season, they were shredded by a rookie quarterback, Carson Wentz, against Philadelphia in week three. He put up 34 points. They lost to the Miami Dolphins in week six by a 30-15 score. They allowed 422 yards, including an ungodly 204 yards to running back Jay Ajayi, which were the highest numbers allowed all season in both overall and rushing yards allowed.
How did Tomlin respond to his critics? By burying the Dolphins in the AFC Wild Card round. By beating the Kansas City Chiefs relying on Chris Boswell to nail six field goals in an 18-16 victory and losing to Bill Belichick and Tom Brady in the AFC Championship game like previously mentioned.
Which brings me to my next point.
Belichick and Brady might be the league’s best quarterback-coach tandem in NFL history. Both have won five Super Bowl’s in their Patriots tenure. How can one possibly argue against someone who has constantly fallen to the two guys who make a case to be the best EVER at their respective jobs?
The Steelers are the best franchise in NFL history and that is backed up by the fact that they have won more Super Bowls than any other franchise in league history while putting themselves in a position to win another every year. They didn’t do it by hiring bad head coaches. Ask the Steelers what they thought about Chuck Noll (four Super Bowl’s) and Bill Cowher (one Super Bowl) and compare Tomlin likewise. It’s not even close. Mike Tomlin is an elite active NFL coach.