The offseason is inevitably a period of projection and speculation, which makes it the ideal time to ponder the hypotheticals that the Pittsburgh Steelers will face over the course of the next year, whether it is addressing free agency, the draft, performance on the field, or some more ephemeral topic.
That is what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
The range of topics will be intentionally wide, from the general to the specific, from the immediate to that in the far future. And as we all tend to have an opinion on just about everything, I invite you to share your own each morning on the topic statement of the day.
Topic Statement: Head coach Mike Tomlin will have a Hall of Fame resume by the time he retires.
Explanation: There may be those who argue that Mike Tomlin already has a Hall of Fame resume. I would not be one of them, at least if we go by the standards already set by those who are in. Jimmy Johnson and Bill Cowher had to wait to get in when there were 15 non-modern candidates going in. But Tomlin is only 13 years into his head coaching career, and could, in theory, have plenty of time to add to his legacy.
As we’ve already established, you don’t have to win multiple Super Bowls just to get into the Hall of Fame. Winning one is enough. But Tomlin has been to two. He’s been to three conference finals. He has six divisional titles, with eight playoff appearances, and only one coach has ever started a career eight more consecutive non-losing seasons.
The bulk of his bid is already in place. He really only needs another strong season or two, and with Ben Roethlisberger coming back, he shouldn’t have much trouble doing that, now that he has finally gotten the defense to where it needs to be. I would expect a few more division titles and maybe another conference final or two, perhaps even a Super Bowl appearance, or win, before he hangs things up.
We can argue that Bill Cowher might not have gotten in were it not for this Centennial Slate business, in which two coaches were guaranteed to get in. Ordinarily, no coach gets in during any given year, the two non-modern slots often reserved for senior players.
And you certainly can’t say that Tomlin’s resume is much better than Cowher’s. For one thing, he would need to win the division in each of the next two years to tie the former’s eight, and 10 playoff appearances.
Even if Roethlisberger returns, he’s not going to be the same player, the guy who can take them to the Super Bowl. And this defense is not even going to be the same as it was in 2019. Cameron Heyward only has so much left. Stephon Tuitt is perennially injured. Bud Dupree may well be gone. So much will fall on T.J. Watt, and he can’t do it alone, while Joe Haden is due to fall off the cliff any year now. Don’t be surprised if year 14 is his first losing season, and perhaps even his last, whether by his choice or not.