Elliot Harrison of NFL.com released his annual NFL head coach power rankings on Tuesday and after having Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers rankled fourth overall the last two years, he has now dropped him five spots for 2019.
In this year’s NFL head coach power rankings, Harrison has Tomlin ranked 9th overall and behind Bill Belichick, Pete Carroll, Sean Payton, Andy Reid, Doug Pederson, Sean McVay, John Harbaugh, and Anthony Lynn. By the way, all eight of the head coaches ranked ahead of Tomlin this year had their respective teams in the playoffs last season.
Below is what Harrison wrote about ranking Tomlin 9th overall:
Tomlin is one of the more difficult coaches to rate. He won a title, lost a Super Bowl in a close game, and has led his team to the playoffs far more often than not. Last year was a “not” for Tomlin’s group, as it seemed internal feuding distracted the Steelers just enough to have them in the unusual position of sitting at home in January. It’s not hard to understand how the late-season implosion took place, given the considerable ego of Antonio Brown, as well as the personality of the team’s QB1. Then again, each are great players, and in previous years, Tomlin handled both en route to a Super Bowl appearance and multiple postseason entries. Maybe some fans would like to see Tomlin be more of a strict disciplinarian or an X’s-and-O’s wonk. Although, no one associated the latter with either Chuck Noll or Bill Cowher. Tomlin has reached two Super Bowls, like his predecessor, and while he hasn’t approached Noll’s success, it’s not like the legendary coach didn’t endure his down seasons.
In case you forgot, below is what Harrison wrote about Tomlin this same time last year when he ranked him fourth overall behind only Belichick, Carroll and Payton.
The Steelers are always in contention. And Tomlin has shepherded Pittsburgh to two Super Bowl appearances — and a total of eight postseasons — in 11 years on the job. The key to Tomlin’s success is not X’s-and-O’s handiwork — it’s getting his players to play for him. A testament to that ability is how his team has stayed viable even when key parts (like Ben Roethlisberger and Le’Veon Bell) haven’t been available.
Harrison also had Tomlin ranked fourth overall ahead of the 2017 season getting underway and here is what he wrote about the Steelers head coach that year.
Perhaps the AFC version of Pete Carroll … Like Carroll, Tomlin seems to have a way with his players that other teams can’t emulate. Like Carroll, he owns both a Super Bowl ring and a Super Bowl loss. And like Carroll’s Seahawks, Tomlin’s Steelers tend to drop some “gimme” road games people expect them to win. Thus, Tomlin isn’t always considered a top-shelf head coach. But that’s rubbish. His guys play for him, and at the end of the day, that’s what counts.
It’s hard to take issue with Tomlin being ranked 9th overall by Harrison this year. After all, at least all eight coaches ranked ahead of him this year had their respective teams in the playoffs last season. Should Tomlin be ranked lower than 9th overall? I don’t believe so.
Below are the career head coaching records of the top nine on Harrison’s list this year and they are sorted by win percentage. As you can see, Tomlin has the third-best win percentage of the nine.
Tomlin is currently expected to sign a contract extension in the next few weeks and assuming such a transaction does occur, you can count on the Steelers head coach being included in Harrison’s 2020 head coach power rankings regardless of the kind of season he has in 2019. I’m betting a year from now Tomlin will be ranked higher than 9th overall.