Steelers ownership will never fire Mike Tomlin, and here’s why

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Allison Koehler
·3 min read
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The Steelers 2020 season was barely over when the “fire Tomlin” cries started on social media — there are select fans from whom it’s never-ending.

For years, I was in the camp of “The Steelers shouldn’t get rid of Mike Tomlin. Who are we gonna get to replace him?!” But I’m beginning to see that being in that camp is being satisfied with the Standard is the Standard. Season after disappointing season — for the last 10 years — the Steelers have standard regular seasons and flop in the postseason — if they make it there.

Perhaps the standard shouldn’t be the standard anymore. Perhaps the bar needs to be set higher. Is Tomlin capable of that? It seems only a fresh perspective from a new head coach could solve the Steelers’ run-of-the-mill seasons — where, if Pittsburgh even makes the playoffs, coaches and players are woefully unprepared, and they exit ungracefully with their heads down.

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A recent article from TribLive’s Tim Benz opened my mind about the Steelers ousting Tomlin. We shouldn’t wonder who is going to replace him. Just trust the process because ownership knows a thing or two.

Benz referenced Matt LaFleur (Packers), Sean McDermott (Bills) and Kevin Stefanski (Browns) to make his case for the caliber of coach the Steelers could get if they went in a different direction. All three are former coordinators who made a successful transition into the head coaching ranks.

Tried and true philosophy

While that’s all well and good, we know it’s not going to happen. At least not as long as Tomlin wants to coach. Anyone familiar with the history of the Steelers — and most of us are — know that the Rooney family isn’t going to stray from their head coaching philosophy. It’s one that’s tried and true; management values continuity and familiarity. Ownership isn’t going to fire Mike Tomlin. They haven’t fired a coach in 52 years and they aren’t going to now. The Rooneys will allow Tomlin to coach until he doesn’t want to coach anymore. Why? Because year after year, he’s put the Steelers in a position to win the division and make the playoffs. That’s more than a lot of teams can say.

The Rooneys have never given us a reason to doubt their process for hiring only the best.

Bill Cowher came from Kansas City, where he was the Chiefs defensive coordinator for three seasons. In his first season, the Steelers were 11-5. Chuck Noll was in charge of defensive backs with the Baltimore Colts. It took him three years to turn the Steelers around, but that was a different era, and the team had struggled for decades prior. Mike Tomlin was defensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings, and in his first season, Pittsburgh was 10-6 and first in the AFC North. Each one had been on NFL coaching staffs for seven to nine years before they were head coaches. These hires prove that the Rooney’s track record of hiring great, eventual Hall of Fame head coaches — they’ve never given us a reason to doubt that they can do it again.

Who knows how much longer Tomlin will reign in Pittsburgh. His current contract expires along with Ben Roethlisberger’s in 2021. Will they ride off into the sunset together?

If Tomlin retires after next season, he’ll be the same age (49) as Cowher was when he resigned and will have coached for the same span of time (15 years). Noll presided over Pittsburgh for 23 seasons.

Trust the Rooneys to scour the NFL landscape and bring on the right guy after Tomlin retires. As we know, whoever it is will be around for a long, long time.

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