Even though it’s way too early to start handing out awards for the 2015 season, the job that Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin has done so far this year has to have him atop the leaderboard for AP Head Coach of the Year. Peter Schrager of Fox Sports dedicated the first part of his weekly Cheat Sheet column to that very notion.
“Tomlin’s had better Steelers teams. There may be more coaches out there who are credited for their mastery of the X’s and O’s. But Tomlin wins. And with the obstacles thrown his way this year, he’s found a way to overcome perhaps better than any other coach in football could.”
As Schrager smartly points out, Tomlin and the Steelers have overcome quite a few obstacles so far this season and it’s not even halfway over.
For starters, running back Le’Veon Bell and wide receiver Martavis Bryant both missed games due to suspensions. In fact, this past Sunday marked the first time all season that both have been on the field together.
While every team around the league has been bitten by the injury bug this season, that bug has especially wreaked havoc on the Steelers as two of their five starting offensive lineman are now on the Reserve/Injured list to go along with their kicker and backup quarterback. While not out for the season, defensive starters Ryan Shazier, Cortez Allen, Jarvis Jones, and Will Allen have all missed games this season.
Oh yeah, some cat named Ben Roethlisberger hasn’t played in the last three and a half games, either.
The Steelers have won games with Mike Vick and Landry Jones at quarterback. In fact, if not for a missed field goal, the Steelers would be 3-0 in the games that Roethlisberger has missed.
Speaking of missed field goals, Tomlin wisely dumped expensive veteran Josh Scobee after his Week 4 debacle and signed a kicker that had yet to kick in a regular season game. How did that work out this past Sunday at Heinz Field?
Tomlin’s challenges this season have also included transitioning to a new defensive coordinator. Sure, Keith Butler has been in Pittsburgh for a long time already, but I don’t think anybody thought the Steelers defense would be as good as they’ve been so far this season and especially after their season-opening loss to the New England Patriots.
Does Tomlin have clock management issues? Yes. Does he appear to make decisions by the seat of his pants sometimes? Yes. He’s not perfect and I’m sure that he’ll tell you that. What Tomlin is, however, is consistent and you have to admire the job that he’s done so far this season.