October Has Historically Been Kinder To Tomlin’s Steelers

The bad news is that the Pittsburgh Steelers are off to a 1-2-1 start to their 2018 season. The good news is that, historically speaking, they have been much better during the second quarter of the season, in October, than they have been in the first month during Mike Tomlin’s tenure.

As Dom Rinelli pointed out, the Steelers have an overall 22-18-1 record in September during Tomlin’s 12 seasons in Pittsburgh, though that has generally been trending backwards lately. They have only posted a winning record through September twice beginning with the 2011 season, and lost every game of the month in 2013.

The news gets better as we hit Autumn weather, because the Steelers historically have gone 30-13 under Tomlin during the month of October, a winning percentage that comes just shy of .700. They went 4-1 in October last season, though only 2-2 in each of the previous two seasons, and 2-1 the year before that.

Where Tomlin’s teams have been at their best has been down the stretch, posting an exceptional record of 38-14 over the final quarter of the season in December, and the occasional late January game if the season bleeds into the following year. They have won at least four games in December and January (sometimes with five total games) in each of the past four seasons, and haven’t lost more than one game during that time period since 2012.

The problem with long-term statistics such as these is that they don’t mean a whole lot, necessarily. How many players from the 2012 roster are even still on the team, for example? The answer is, by the way, seven, and the majority of them are offensive starters, including four offensive linemen.

The best argument you can make regarding a correlation is quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and his seeming difficulty getting into ‘mid-season form’ at the start of the year. The slight dip in win-loss record through the third quarter of the season, in that regard, could also be partially explained by his injury history during that time of the year, as in 2012.

It wasn’t until the sixth game of the year last season—or really the second half of the season—that Roethlisberger’s performance really began to take off, but by then he was putting up MVP-caliber numbers and the team was winning.

Nobody was really expecting to see that based on what he showed through the first half of the year. Even I was questioning whether or not he had finally ‘lost it’. So I’m certainly not giving up hope of better things to come, even if his missed connections with Antonio Brown remain baffling.

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