The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2020 season is now in the books, and it ended in spectacular fashion — though the wrong kind of spectacular — in a dismal postseason defeat at the hands of the Cleveland Browns, sending them into an early offseason mode after going 12-4 in the regular season and winning the AFC North for the first time in three years.
After setting a franchise record by opening the year on an 11-game winning streak, they followed that up by losing three games in a row. Pittsburgh went 1-4 in the final five, with only a 17-point comeback staving off a five-game slide. But all the issues they had in the regular season showed up in the postseason, resulting in their early exit.
The only thing facing them now as they head into 2021 is more questions. And right now, they lack answers. What will Ben Roethlisberger do, and what will they do with him? What will the salary cap look like? How many free agents are they going to lose? Who could they possibly afford to retain? Who might they part ways with—not just on the roster, but also on the coaching staff?
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football is a year-round pastime and there always questions to ask. Though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.
Question: How do you feel about the Steelers giving head coach Mike Tomlin a three-year contract extension?
While the 2021 NFL Draft is fast approaching, obviously the news of the day in Pittsburgh is the Penguins overcoming a six-goal third period by the New Jersey Devils to win 7-6. Just kidding. While that was interesting, the obvious headline was the Steelers signing head coach Mike Tomlin to a three-year contract extension that now locks him in through the 2024 season, perhaps his most robust extension in some time.
Tomlin will tie Bill Cowher for the second-longest reign as Steelers head coach upon the completion of the 2021 season, which will be his 15th. Assuming that he completes his current contract, he will have coached 18 seasons, behind only Chuck Noll, who coached five years beyond that for 23 years in total.
While he is coming off of a 12-4 season that saw the Steelers win the AFC North, Tomlin’s teams have not won a playoff game since the 2016 season’s divisional round. Of course it helps when you don’t qualify for the postseason in a couple of years.
He has the 11th-highest career winning percentage among qualifying head coaches in NFL history, north of Noll and Cowher. But he is only 8-8 in his career in the postseason, and has won little since last reaching the Super Bowl now more than a decade ago. The Steelers measure their success in terms of championships, not regular season record, and that’s where he’s come up short.