The Pittsburgh Steelers fan base has an ongoing internal debate over whether or not Mike Tomlin is a good head coach—or at least how good he is. There is a significant segment of the fan base that holds the belief that they can’t win another Super Bowl as long as he’s here, even if he is good enough to take him to the postseason.
After all, they have never had a losing record, and Tomlin has a career .650 winning percentage. Yet he is just 8-8 in the postseason over the course of his 14-year career, and his most recent playoff victory came all the way back in 2016, one of just three since 2010.
It doesn’t help that the Steelers went on a 1-4 skid at the end of the regular season last year, only for the Cleveland Browns to blow them out for Cleveland’s first and only postseason victory since 1994. The end result is that Tomlin has some reputation repairs to do.
He didn’t even make Pro Football Focus’ list of the top seven head coaches in the NFL entering the 2021 season, although I have no idea what their rational was behind limiting the list to seven, something they haven’t done for any other category. They even did a top 10 of the best slot defenders.
Nevertheless, it’s not as though their list is a bad one. It starts with Andy Reid at the top with the Kansas City Chiefs, who has had his team in the conference finals three years in a row, with two Super Bowl appearances and one victory.
John Harbaugh of the Baltimore Ravens ranks second, followed by Matt LaFleur of the Green Bay Packers, and Sean McDermott—Tomlin’s college teammate—of the Buffalo Bills ranked fourth. Rounding out the list is Sean Payton of the New Orleans Saints, Bill Belichick (all the way at six) of the New England Patriots, and finally, Kevin Stefanski, the reigning Coach of the Year, of the Cleveland Browns.
So if you’re keeping score, two of the best head coaches in the NFL reside in the AFC North, but neither is in Pittsburgh. Harbaugh and Stefanski did both take their teams further into the postseason last year than Tomlin did his, so there is that.
If this were to be a top 10 list, though, who would take the final three spots? Would Tomlin make the cut? He was recently ranked seventh by NBC Sports among head coaches in a list that otherwise included nearly the same top six, only with the Rams’ Sean McVay replacing LaFleur.