When it comes to measuring the quality of a coach in Pittsburgh, there is only one standard, according to Pittsburgh Steelers President Art Rooney II, and that is wins. That might not necessarily be Super Bowl wins (after all, despite what most fans seem to think, that is a very difficult and rare achievement that 96.875 percent of the league fails to accomplish every year), but measurable, tangible success in victory totals is something the latest patriarch of the Rooney family pointed to recently when talking about the quality of the performance of current head coach Mike Tomlin.
“When you point to last year and everybody talking about all the drama, that was a team that won 13 games”, he said recently during one of his radio appearances. “So I think that the first test for me is the performance on the field. Were we winning games? Do we have a winning culture? And I think that the record speaks for itself”.
The Steelers did post a regular season record of 13-3 in 2017, earning their first postseason bye week since 2010, but they also squandered that luxury by failing to win their home Divisional Round matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars. They would finish 9-6-1 in 2018, which is not a bad record, but certainly not great either, and at least this year, not enough to make the playoffs.
“You know, our fans judge us primarily on wins and losses, and this team has won pretty consistently under Mike’s tenure here”, he told his hosts in a different interview. “When you look at this season, we’re disappointed we didn’t make the playoffs, obviously, but we finished a half-game out of winning our division and were in it down to the last plays of the season, and we played against a couple of the playoff teams that we’re gonna be watching this weekend in two of the last three weeks and played pretty well against them”.
Six of the Steelers’ 10 games this past season game against teams that made it to the postseason, and they went 2-4, including 1-2 against three of the four teams that will be playing today in the two conference championships games. The victory came over the New England Patriots. They also narrowly escaped victory against the New Orleans Saints the following week, on the road.
Tomlin, who is currently tied for the 27th-most wins in NFL history and will likely move up to at least 23rd in 2019, with a winning percentage of .654, has won the second-most games behind only Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots since arriving on the scene in 2007.
Over the past five seasons, he has posted a record of 55-24-1, a winning percentage of .694, reaching the postseason four times in that span with three total playoff victories, reaching the Divisional Round in three consecutive years and making it as far as the AFC Championship Game in 2016. It could be a lot worse.