Ideally, there won’t be many more “list” articles for the offseason but it’s the middle of July so…here we are. USA Today’s Steven Ruiz ranked all the head coaches in the NFL and Mike Tomlin was shown a little more love than other rankings, cracking the top five at the five spot.
On Tomlin, Ruiz wrote:
“Tomlin has won a Super Bowl and been back to another and I still don’t think it’s crazy to suggest that the 2019 season was his best coaching job yet…Tomlin has been criticized for not keeping his locker room in line but knowing what we now know about Antonio Brown and everything we’ve known about Roethlisberger, who’s thrown four teammates under the bus in the time it’s taken you to read up until this point, it’s a minor miracle that locker room didn’t implode five years ago.”
Tomlin certainly turned out the 2019 Steelers in a way few – myself included – expected. They went from 0-3 and 1-4 to at their best, an 8-5 record before things fell apart the final three weeks, the weight of a miserable offense collapsing on itself. But keeping the room together and dealing with the many obstacles and controversies throughout the year was an immensely difficult task.
Still, Tomlin and the Steelers have missed the playoffs two years running, two straight years of home stretch collapses that have been deeply disappointing. And Ruiz’s comments about Roethlisberger throwing teammates under the bus is, at most charitable, painting with a broad brush (what AB’s done post-Pittsburgh shows Roethlisberger wasn’t exactly the villain of that saga). If Tomlin can’t break his playoff streak in 2020, barring some unforeseeable event, his public perception will change and rightfully so.
Ranking ahead of Tomlin are the names you’d expect to see: Sean Payton, John Harbaugh, Andy Reid, and Bill Belichick. Tomlin came in ahead of the coaches he’s most closely associated with in rankings – Seattle’s Pete Carroll and Philadelphia’s Doug Pederson.
Since being named head coach in 2007, Tomlin’s compiled a 133-74-1 record, a better winning percentage than Chuck Noll or Bill Cowher. Tomlin trails Cowher by just 16 wins for second most in team history behind Noll’s 193. Here’s to a 16-0 season or at this point, the league simply playing all 16 games.