There are many commonalities that tie the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Green Bay Packers—though many of those ties have been severed over the past year. Gone are Dom Capers and Darren Perry from their coaching staff, for example. Their shakeup of the front office would seem to indicate that they have the intention of using free agency more. Most recently, they did something the Steelers would never do: fire a head coach—a Super Bowl-winning head coach—in the middle of a season.
That coach was Mike McCarthy, an area native who was one of four head coaches owning a longer single-term tenure with his team than Mike Tomlin has with the Steelers. Their coaching careers followed many parallels, and their winning percentages remained aligned for quite a while.
So it’s not surprising that his dismissal in Green Bay drew the interest of many in Pittsburgh, which is why quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was asked about his own relationship with Tomlin yesterday. One of the reasons McCarthy was reportedly let go was because he and Aaron Rodgers had a less than ideal relationship. The Steelers let offensive coordinator Todd Haley go for similar reasons.
With McCarthy being fired mid-season after 12 and a half years, and evidently having not bought enough loyalty to be retained through the end of the season, Roethlisberger was asked what was the key to a good, healthy relationship.
Communication, just like any good relationship”, was his answer. “You’ve got to be able to communicate with each other, and I think that’s also what helps make a successful marriage”. Then he was asked what his day-to-day relationship was like with Tomlin. “I think we communicate well”, he said.
Unlike the sometimes public differences of opinion between Rodgers and McCarthy, we haven’t really seen that between Roethlisberger and Tomlin over the years, and I think we all know that Roethlisberger has been known to offer the passive-aggressive remark from time to time.
I do think it’s evident that the two have a good relationship in terms of communication. One issue Tomlin has never had has been in interpersonal relationships, which is why he has garnered a reputation as a player’s coach—to his detriment, as some would argue.
But the support of your franchise quarterback could certainly buy you a lot of leeway, not that Tomlin needs it. Though the Steelers are riding a two-game winning streak, they are still 7-4-1 on the season and on-pace for yet another division title.
In other words, I wouldn’t get my hopes up any time soon if you’re looking to see Tomlin get canned in the middle of a season—or at the end of one, for that matter. It would probably take at least a couple of bad seasons in a row for a team that hasn’t fired a head coach in about 50 years to raise an eyebrow.