Mike Tomlin: Auditioning for Coach of the Year amid potential disaster
Disgruntled players, contract disputes and lack of offensive star power are all components which have played a part against an often scrutinized Steelers team either this season or last season.
Just or the simple fact that Tomlin has never had a losing season speaks volumes, the fact that he’s on pace to continue his streak with his backup quarterback and offensive weapons not named Antonio Brown or LeVeon bell and his franchise quarterback is a testimony. A testimony in which highlights his ability to get players to buy in to the system, and brand of Steelers football.
From what seemed like a derailing season after starting the first quarter of the season off at 1- 4, a few wins against some beat up teams and a defensive dominant 17 – 12 win over the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday , the Steelers find themselves above .500 for the first time this season. More importantly, Mike Tomlin and the Steelers find themselves in the mix of the playoff hunt, with games against the winless Cincinnati Bengals, the disoriented Cleveland Browns and the disappointing New York Jets all left on their schedule. In total, the Steelers remaining opponents have a combined record of 21 – 33 – 1, which should make for a promising, but not guaranteed, winning and postseason propelling stretch of football.
A win over the Browns Thursday night will allow the Steelers to do TWO transformative things: one, dig the Browns into a season ending grave after they were America’s preseason Super Bowl champs, and two, put them one game closer to playoff contention.
As a Steelers fan myself, I understand there are two sides to the “We can’t get better than Tomlin conversation. On one side, many see his as a perfect fit for all the Rooney’s and Steelers stand for both culturally and physically, along with his consistency. On the other side, you have many who feel as if the almost decade absence from the Super Bowl is linked to lack of institutional control and inability to win the big games, urging many to push for a move on from his services.
In the hater’s defense, the Steelers missed the playoffs due to lack of preparation in some games, all while battling Bells contract and absence and Brown’s cancerous locker room presence (and privileges). However, this season it’s extremely hard to argue with the job Tomlin has done with his remodeled team.
Very few teams could absorb the loss of its best receiver, arguably the league’s most productive and unique running back and losing their franchise quarterback for the season and rally a team to four straight wins and in the playoff hunt.
You can credit the Steelers drastic turnaround to a handful of things, particularly on defense…the growth of rookie Devin Bush and the defense as a whole, the addition of safety Minkah Fitzpatrick or offensively, having the leagues number one o-line. While all things above deserve a slice of the pie, it is Mike Tomlin who deserves the biggest as he’s been able to gel his team week in and week out after the team had being written off evidently too early.