Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin just wrapped up his 14th season as head coach of the team, and it ended as the previous three did, with zero victories in the postseason. He has only won three games in the playoffs since 2010, when he advanced to the Super Bowl, reaching the playoffs six times in total since then and winning at least one game in only two years in the interim.
This is, needless to say, not the sort of standard he intends to hold himself to, and he is no more comfortable with that his teams have achieved in recent years than the fans are. Nevertheless, he remains committed to the job and to the task of returning the Steelers to the Super Bowl.
That said, still just days after an embarrassing postseason loss that featured allowing the Cleveland Browns to build the largest first-quarter lead in NFL history, it still stings. “Hey, don’t ask me about my confidence level as I sit here today, man”, he earlier today during his end-of-season press conference. “I just got kicked out of the single-elimination tournament”.
“I probably can’t give you a legitimate answer in terms of that”, he said regarding his level of confidence in his ability to achieve the sort of success that he desires. “In terms of being all in”, he added, “you bet”.
Tomlin is under contract through the 2021 season, and the two sides hold a mutual option for the 2022 season beyond that. There is a possibility that the ownership could revisit his contract status this offseason and add another year to the deal. Or perhaps the 2022 option is due to be exercised this year. We don’t know those details.
Over the past decade, Tomlin has posted double-digit wins six times, including a high of 13 wins during the 2017 season. He also posted 12 wins in 2011 and in this most recent season. But the common thread in each of those years is that they were bounced out of the postseason in their first game.
While his teams have had a good deal of regular season success, the Steelers as an organization measure themselves by only one yardstick, and that is Lombardi Trophies. Tomlin does have one, all the way back in 2008, and he contended for another in 2010, but since then, he has only reached the conference finals one time, in 2016.