Any time a team makes a major commitment to an established figure, it’s going to create a wellspring of commentary on the subject. The Pittsburgh Steelers provided the fodder for the media cycle yesterday with their new three-year contract extension for head coach Mike Tomlin, which binds him to the team through the 2024 season.
Colin Cowherd provided one of the more robust takes on the subject of Tomlin as a head coach, and he came away with one conclusion, which you can read, at length, below:
Mike’s got a presence. It’s why he’s one of the few NFL coaches I think could coach at the college football level. He could be a great recruiter. But everybody in the NFL, even Bill Belichick, has losing streaks. What do you go to in the losing streak? What do you lean on in the losing streak, when players find you believable? They know you’re better at it than anybody else?
There’s a certain presence and believability in Mike Tomlin, and I think I really noticed it when Ben Roethlisberger didn’t play. He’s 18-15 without Big Ben, and that is something. Kyle Shanahan cannot win football games without Jimmy Garoppolo. How is Belichick without Brady? He is 18-15 without Big Ben. He has a winning record with Mason Rudolph. Landry Jones, Dennis Dixon.
A couple of years ago, you had a lot of drama, and Big Ben’s not playing well, and he’s aging, and they can’t run, and the wheels are coming off, and Mike Tomlin is the duct tape. This league is hard. Pete Carroll’s been fired twice, and he’s gonna be a Hall of Famer. Tom Coughlin, his last four years, couldn’t win any games with a Hall of Fame quarterback.
It’s a hard league to win. And when you go to those losing streaks, you could lose games; you can’t lose a locker room. Tomlin never loses a locker room. Sean Payton, Pete Carroll, never lose a locker room. You’ve got to have something about you, and players respect Tomlin.
He’s an alpha. He’s a presence. He believes in himself. And you could just feel it at the podium. He is blunt, he is brutal, he is honest, he holds himself accountable, and that believability, that bluntness, that presence, is why he’s 18-15 without a Hall of Fame quarterback.
Tomlin has often received, and at times fought off, the label of players’ coach. It can mean a lot of different things, but at a fundamental level, it means that he is a guy who commands the respect and attention of his players, being somebody whom they’re inspired to play for and to work their best for.
I think Tomlin by and large has proven himself to be that. Many have a laundry list of criticisms beyond that rubric, but even most of his most staunch critics typically are able to grant him the fact that he has demonstrated the ability to inspire and motivate — something like a cheerleader.
“Mike Tomlin never loses a locker room… He is blunt. He is brutal, honest & holds himself accountable.”
— Herd w/Colin Cowherd (@TheHerd) April 20, 2021