The Pittsburgh Steelers’ lineage at head coach going back now over more than half a century is really quite remarkable. Without a labored recap, since the hiring of Chuck Noll in 1969, the team has had just three head coaches, all of whom have won the Super Bowl, and all of whom have won at least 149 games. The first two are in the Hall of Fame.
The current head coach, Mike Tomlin, now in his 15th season, may already be at a point in which it’s simply a matter of time. That he became just the 20th head coach in NFL history, and the fourth-fastest, to reach 150 career victories on Sunday didn’t hurt.
That victory broke a tie with his predecessor, Bill Cowher, for the second-most victories in franchise history, trailing only Noll, who won 193 games during his 23-year tenure as the Steelers’ head coach. Cowher gave him his blessing earlier this week—and encouraged him to keep pushing.
“Kudos”, he wrote on Twitter, to Tomlin, “well done! So proud of you my friend. Don’t stop now, Chuck can hear you coming!”.
— Bill Cowher (@CowherCBS) November 9, 2021
Cowher is, of course, referring to Tomlin passing him on the wins list, and suggesting that he can now chase down Noll, who has a 43-win advantage, currently. Realistically, that would probably take another four seasons to achieve. Tomlin is currently under contract through the next three seasons, through 2024.
He currently has the Steelers sitting at 5-3 on the season, riding a four-game winning streak after dropping three in a row. His team sits second in the division behind the 6-2 Baltimore Ravens, who have won three games this season in which they have trailed by double digits, something that quarterback Lamar Jackson had never done before this season (in six opportunities).
It’s worth reminding, in light of the ‘never had a losing season’ accolade that has turned into a pejorative for many, that Tomlin hasn’t simply won 150 games—he has won nearly 65 percent of his games in the regular season.
He has an overall 150-81-1 record, and only four of the 19 other head coaches with 150 wins have a better winning percentage. Only six of the other 42 head coaches with 100 wins have a better winning percentage. He’s a damn good coach who gets results.
But now we’ve reached the obligatory postseason portion of the story. Tomlin has just an 8-8 record in the playoffs now, having lost three in a row dating back to the AFC Championship game in 2016. His team is just 3-7 dating back to the Super Bowl XLV loss in 2010. He was 5-1 heading into that game.
In fact, Tomlin has only won a single postseason game four times out of the previous 14 seasons, and that frankly is not the standard. By comparison, Cowher, his predecessor, won at least one postseason game in eight of his 15 seasons. It’s past time to start making a playoff push. That’s where fans would really love to see him make ground against Noll and his 16-8 postseason record, including four titles.