Holding down a job at the NFL level for 15 years is always impressive under any circumstances. Retaining a head coaching position in this era of the game for that duration isn’t far from remarkable, however. Yet that’s where the Pittsburgh Steelers are with Mike Tomlin, who first took over the job in 2007, and has since then become one of the most successful head coaches of the era, with a robust winning percentage.
While he has long commanded the respect of his peers around the league, it’s still interesting to hear how Tomlin is perceived in other cities, particularly by other head coaches, and the Steelers’ upcoming opponent’s head coach, the Chicago Bears’ Matt Nagy, was recently asked his thoughts on the Super Bowl winner.
“I just have a ton of respect for him. One of the greatest coaches to ever coach in this league. I have a ton of respect”, he said of Tomlin. “More than anything it’s a respect factor I have. I like his style. Every head coach has a certain style, I think his style is really good. I like the way he coaches”.
He is certainly best known for his ability to be a motivator, and admittedly even his players talk about that. T.J. Watt recently discussed that on the Rich Eisen Show, saying that he knows exactly how to get the most out of everybody because he is able to find what motivates people.
But Tomlin never got his foot in the door because he’s a cheerleader, as perhaps a certain Hall of Fame quarterback might think. He cut his teeth in the film room, working his way from the ground up, converting from the offensive side of coaching to the defense, and presenting future Hall of Fame safety John Lynch with a laundry list of critiques as one of his first actions as defensive backs coach with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2001.
Evidently, he quickly found what motivated Lynch, who was by that point already an All-Pro. He is still an Xs and Os guy. But as a head coach, you have to have your finger in every pie.
“I think the way that he leads his organization is rare”, Nagy said. “The path he came through, the way he has done things, I really respect him. He is real with his coaches. He is real with his players. He is authentic. He is tough on them, but he loves them. And he wins. That is what he does, he wins”.
As Steelers fans absolutely love to hear, Tomlin has never had a losing season in 14 years coaching, which is unprecedented. But he’s far from a .500 coach, as his career winning percentage is .647, which compares favorably to…well, most.
Of course, the big blemish on his record is the lack of substantial postseason success over the course of the past decade. The Steelers have only won three games in the playoffs since 2010 when they lost in the Super Bowl. They have reached the conference finals once, which is the last time they’ve even advanced a round, their last postseason victory being in 2016. All the respect in the world still can’t buy you a win.