Mike Tomlin's doing yet another admirable job with the Steelers, even on the brink of his first losing record
The Pittsburgh Steelers haven’t exactly captured the eye of the NFL-watching public this year, and for good reason. They aren’t very good or very exciting to watch. However, it’s important to point this out: Mike Tomlin? He’s doing the thing again.
This team had questions surrounding a litany of positions on offense, including quarterback and offensive line, and the defense hasn’t been up to the Steelers' standard in recent seasons. Still, they sit at 6-8 fresh off a win against the Carolina Panthers and Tomlin has this team, once again, overperforming the sum of its parts. Tomlin isn’t a perfect coach, and his streak of 15 straight seasons without a losing record to start his head coaching career is probably going to end, but he’s showing again that he can get a solid season out of just about any group of players around him.
Mitchell Trubisky and Kenny Pickett were dueling for the starting quarterback position and it was reasonable to expect the Steelers to bottom out this season. Yet somehow, they're two games out from wild-card contention with three weeks left in the season. Getting there would be pretty difficult, considering they'd have to win out, but it’s worth marveling at the job Tomlin's done in objectively difficult circumstances. This is by no means a Super Bowl contender or even a particularly good team, but they have that Tomlin trademark of being able to scrape out enough wins to call it a quality season.
Outside of two blowout losses against the Bills and Eagles, the Steelers have been in every game they’ve played this year. That’s with a lot of moving pieces and roster management along the way. Pickett and Trubisky have played musical chairs at quarterback. Rookie wide receiver George Pickens has taken on a larger role following their trade of Chase Claypool to the Bears. Reigning defensive player of the year T.J. Watt missed a good chunk of the season recovering from a torn pec. There’s been a lot of adversity for this particular Steelers team to fight through, but they always fight. Tomlin has always been among the most respected coaches in the league and it’s seasons like this that continue to certify his legacy among the all-time greats.
Being able to get a productive season out of this group changes the scope of what this Steelers' rebuild might look like. It’s a brand new era of players as they continue to move on from the Ben Roethliserger years and forge a new version of the Steeler brand. Tomlin has continued to show his value and versatility as a coach by keeping this franchise competitive and relevant. In a league where offensive coaches tend to be the favored coaching prospects for young quarterbacks, the success of a guy with a defensive background like Tomlin will keep him employed for another year. There’s a value in strong stability from top to bottom in an organization, and that can be as beneficial to a quarterback as any hotshot offensive mind.
Tomlin has been Pittsburgh's head coach since 2007 and still hasn’t reached 100 career losses, with a 160-93-2 career record. The Steelers have flown under the radar this season, but their head man has the franchise pointing in the right direction once again.