Dating back to 2007, the start of the Mike Tomlin era in Pittsburgh, few quarterback-head coach combinations can claim more success, longevity and franchise stability than Tomlin and Ben Roethlisberger.
When it comes to the number of quarterback-head coach combinations in the NFL today, Tomlin and Roethlisberger remain inside the top 10, according to CBS Sports’ Jeff Kerr, who slotted the Roethlisberger-Tomlin pairing at No. 8 overall in his top 10 coaching-QB duos for the second straight year.
Despite going 12-3 in 15 Roethlisberger starts and winning the AFC North division title for the first time since 2017, Tomlin and Roethlisberger did not move up in Kerr’s rankings, which was a bit curious despite some serious movement ahead of and behind the duo in the rankings.
The Roethlisberger-Tomlin duo edged out San Francisco’s Jimmy Garappolo-Kyle Shanahan pairing, and the Cleveland duo of Kevin Stefanski and Baker Mayfield to land at No. 8.
“Remember, Tomlin has never had a losing season since taking over in 2007 — tying Marty Schottenheimer for the most non-losing seasons to begin a career in league history. Tomlin has led Pittsburgh to a 145-78-1 (.650) record in the regular season since becoming the team’s head coach, the second-best record in the NFL behind the New England Patriots,” Kerr writes. “Tomlin and Roethlisberger have accomplished plenty in their 14 seasons together, compiling a 127-63-1 record (.665 winning percentage), which includes seven AFC North titles, two Super Bowl appearances (winning Super Bowl XLIII), and an 8-8 record in the postseason. In turn, Roethlisberger has earned six Pro Bowl appearances, led the NFL in passing yards per game three times, and finished with a passer rating over 100 three times.”
It’s startling to see those numbers Roethlisberger and Tomlin have compiled together in what will be 14 seasons together. We’ve known all along that the Steelers under Tomlin and Roethlisberger have been a strong, consistent contender year after year, but to see that winning percentage, division titles and Super Bowl appearances on paper is something to behold.
Have the Steelers underachieved slightly in the Tomlin-Roethlisberger era? That argument can be made, especially as of late in the playoffs coupled with the failure to get over the hump in the mid-2010s to reach the Super Bowl. But there’s no denying how good these guys have been together, pairing to be the faces of the franchise while providing stability long-term.
Elsewhere in the rankings, Baltimore’s pairing of Lamar Jackson and John Harbaugh slotted in at No. 5, dropping a spot from No. 4 in 2020, while the Week 1 opponent of Josh Allen, Sean McDermott and the Buffalo Bills slot in at No. 6.