The job of an NFL coach can be a thankless one at times. Few actually get praised when their team has a lot of success, but the criticism comes quickly and eagerly whenever they fail. In his 12th season leading the Pittsburgh Steelers, Head Coach Mike Tomlin is once again feeling the heat from outside the organization as his team weathers a three-game losing streak with two top teams up next on the docket.
Having previously been in position to secure a bye week for themselves, the Steelers are now simply trying to retain a meager edge in their own division race, failing which they could miss the postseason altogether, sitting now at 7-5-1.
While the fans and the pundits have suggested that Tomlin is or should be on the hot seat, I think logically most of us realize that that is not the case, even if they manage to go 8-7-1 and miss the playoffs.
Defensive coordinator Keith Butler, another frequent target for criticism, was asked on Thursday about how his boss deals with the outside criticism, answers courtesy of the team’s communications department.
“He’s been in heat before, this isn’t his first rodeo as you would say so all of us get bothered by losing”, Butler said of Tomlin. “Our jobs are depending on winning and losing and the more you lose the more of a chance of not keeping your job. Nobody likes that job so all of us are human. We are going to try as
hard as we can and do the best we can, but we aren’t going to change the successful things we’ve been
either. We are not going to go away from that, so we’ll see what happens”.
The Steelers currently rank fourth in the NFL in terms of points scored per game at 28.2. They are 16th in points allowed with 23.5 points against them per game. They have the second-most passing yards and the fifth-most passing touchdowns, allowing the 12th-fewest yards. They have the fourth-most rushing touchdowns and rank sixth in rushing yards allowed, giving up the eighth-fewest total yards. They have the most sacks but have among the worst turnover differentials.
“I don’t think he’s got time to change his attitude”, Butler said of whether or not Tomlin engages in or responds to the outside criticism. “If any of us start harping on stuff that’s kept us from being successful then it’s hard to get down the road and get to the next game because we do not have time to feel sorry for ourselves when we lost three in a row. Because no one is going to feel sorry for us, I can guarantee that”.
The Steelers have reached the postseason in four consecutive seasons, reaching the Divisional Round in each of the past three years and making it to the AFC Championship Game in 2016. Only themselves and the New England Patriots have advanced to the second round in each of the past three years.