It’s a new year, a new season, and a new start for all 32 NFL teams, but for as much optimism and ambition as there might be when no games are being played, some things often stay the same from one year to the next in the NFL for an extended period of time.
In a light-hearted article projecting future headlines over the course of the 2017 season, NFL.com writer Jeremy Bergman predicts that the Pittsburgh Steelers will have déjà vu by the end of it at the hands of Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.
In headline 44 of the article, he writes, “Tom Brady completes 37 passes in AFC title game romp over Steelers”. He already completed 32 passes in the 2016 season’s AFC title game romp over the Steelers, competing better than three quarters of his pass attempts, so it wouldn’t exactly be a stretch.
Why does he predict this outcome? “Because why not?”, he writes. “Ben Roethlisberger drops to 3-8 all-time against the big-brother Patriots”. Based on projections, it is quite reasonable to assume that there is a high probability of the Steelers and Patriots meeting again the AFC Championship game.
But after that is where Bergman’s projection gets a bit wonky.
“After a 12-4 season by the Steelers, Mike Tomlin‘s job security is suddenly in jeopardy”, he concludes his headline segment for the AFC Championship game beating. “Tommy Boy’ll do that to you”.
But the Steelers’ ownership won’t. Pittsburgh has not fired a coach since 1969. Nobody living has fired a coach in Pittsburgh, literally. Surely every owner is going to have a breaking point somewhere, but for the Steelers, it is not going to be “back-to-back appearances in the AFC Championship game”.
As much as many fans actually would like to see him go, Tomlin is not going to be in jeopardy of losing his job if he reaches the AFC Championship game again this season. If he were able to make it that far and still face the threat of unemployment, then he would already have to be regarded as concerned about his job security, and quite frankly, he isn’t.
Tomlin is probably more likely to retire after the 2017 season than he is to be fired if he reaches the Conference Finals again, and that is very unlikely to happen. He is still just 45 and his wife would get on him if he thinks he can retire at such a young age.
Aside from the idea that Tomlin’s job security will suddenly become an issue if he has a successful season, Bergman’s projection of a repeat showing in the AFC Championship game is unfortunately far from unreasonable. I do think the offense should be much better equipped to turn it into a shootout, but it would take a near-flawless performance to win, in my own projection.