The Pittsburgh Steelers don’t hire head coaches very often. In fact, there have only been 16 head coaches in the Steelers’ franchise history, dating back to 1933. There have been just three head coaches since 1969. Those three coaches are Chuck Noll (1969-1991), Bill Cowher (1992-2006) and the current head coach Mike Tomlin, who has been the coach since 2007. Each of these coaches have brought Super Bowls to the Steel City, with Noll winning the most with four in the 1970s. Cowher won in 2005, a year before stepping away from the sidelines. Tomlin won one in his second season and was also named Motorola Coach of the Year that same season. The Steelers entered the playoffs as the 6 seed when Tomlin led the team to a Super Bowl victory over the Arizona Cardinals.
Mike Tomlin has a 92-52 record since taking over the reins of this Steelers’ team. He has not had a losing season in his tenure thus far and has won at least nine games in all but two seasons. Those two seasons the Steelers didn’t finish with nine or more wins; they were 8-8. The Steelers have won four AFC North titles under Tomlin and have never finished last in the division. In the nine years as the head coach, Tomlin has failed to make the playoffs three times.
Fans of the Steelers are accustomed to winning and contending for Super Bowls. Some fans feel that Tomlin is the coach for this team for however long the Steelers wish to have him. Others feel it is time for Tomlin to go, despite the success he has brought. A coach that hasn’t had a losing season and won a Super Bowl in his second season as head coach and some fans want him out of town? That doesn’t seem right. Before Cowher led the team to a Super Bowl XL victory, the team had not won a Super Bowl since 1979. Sure, Cowher and company made it to six AFC Championship games, but only came away with one Lombardi Trophy. In the National Football League, winning matters. Many teams around the league would love to have the stability at the head coaching position that the Steelers possess, but it just doesn’t work like that. Owners are looking for coaches who can win football games and put the team in a position to make a Super Bowl run. Tomlin has been a winner ever since coming to Pittsburgh and had his team with a chance to advance to the AFC title game, despite dealing with a number of key victories.
The Steelers entered the playoffs as the 6 seed yet again after finishing 10-6 and second in the AFC North. Pittsburgh would meet divisional rival Cincinnati in the wild card game, where the tensions ran extremely high. The Steelers were able to come away with the victory despite looking like all hope was lost before Bengals’ running back Jeremy Hill fumbled the ball giving new life to the Steelers. Pittsburgh would take advantage of that and bone-headed penalties by Cincinnati to come away with the win. The victory would not come without a cost as star wide receiver Antonio Brown got a concussion at the hands of Bengals’ linebacker Vontaze Burfict, ruling him out for the divisional round matchup with the Denver Broncos. Running back DeAngelo Williams was also ruled out due to injury. Ben Roethlisberger was banged up against the Bengals, but he was able to play against Denver. The Steelers were already hit by the injury bug earlier this season with running back Le’Veon Bell and center Maurkice Pouncey to injury.
To the Steelers credit, the injury bug didn’t let them think any differently and they gave Denver all they could handle. The Steelers played better than the Broncos for 57 minutes Sunday afternoon, but those last three minutes were crucial. Pittsburgh led 13-12 late in the fourth before running back Fitzgerald Toussaint fumbled the ball away and Denver took over. Peyton Manning led his team to the lone touchdown drive of the game. The two-point conversion was good giving Denver a 20-13 lead. After a sack on fourth and five on Roethlisberger, Denver would add a field goal. The Steelers still wouldn’t go down without a fight. They were down two scored and quickly got in field goal range to make it a one-possession game with an onside kick opportunity ahead. The Broncos would recover and put an end to the Steelers’ season.
Some fans were not pleased with the outcome of the game and some directed their anger towards Tomlin. They thought he was coaching “too conservative” or “coaching not to lose” but in reality, he rallied the troops despite facing what seemed like insurmountable odds and nearly made it to the AFC Championship game against the New England Patriots. If anything, Tomlin and the Steelers overachieved this season due to how many key injuries they suffered, including Roethlisberger missing five games with knee and ankle injuries. Pittsburgh had arguably the best offense in football this season and their defense improved over the course of the season.
While some fans may want Tomlin to be fired, that just isn’t going to happen anytime soon. Winning in the NFL is no easy task and Tomlin has proved year after year that he can lead his team to victories. When you play in a conference with the likes of Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, it is not exactly a cake walk to the Super Bowl. The NFL is all about winning so as long as Tomlin continues to find success with Pittsburgh, he will not be going anywhere. The Steelers would seem foolish for letting him go as many teams would jump on the opportunity to hire Tomlin.
The Pittsburgh Steelers will be in Super Bowl contention for the foreseeable future with all the play makers they have on offense and Mike Tomlin will be the head coach of said play makers.