It wasn’t easy—it often doesn’t appear to be—but the Pittsburgh Steelers eked out yet another narrow victory for head coach Mike Tomlin in last night’s game, giving them four wins in a row and pushing them out to 5-3 on the season.
From a more historical perspective, it also gave the Steelers 150 career victories under Tomlin since he took over the head-coaching job in 2007. In so doing, he becomes just the 20th head coach in NFL history to reach 150 career victories, breaking a tie with former Steelers head coach Bill Cowher, who retired with 149 wins.
Not only that, he has reached 150 career wins fourth-fastest in NFL history, as I wrote about this morning, reaching the mark in his 232rd game, now with a career record of 150—81-1 and a career winning percentage of .649. That just so happens to be the fourth-best winning percentage of all 20 head coaches with 150 career wins.
“Man, I’m just appreciative of the standard that’s been set by those who have come before me”, he said after the night’s victory when he was asked about what 150 means for him. “All of us are here. That standard is inspirational for us. It inspires us. It challenges us. I’m just thankful to be a part of this thing that is the Pittsburgh Steelers, and I work to do my job to uphold the standard”.
We often like to joke about how the fact that Tomlin has never had a losing season gets thrown out there at the top of his resume, and yes, it was even mentioned during the broadcast in highlighting his track record as a head coach, but that leaves the very wrong impression that he is anywhere close to a .500 coach.
He is, of course, anything but that, currently sitting at a winning percentage of nearly .650 for his career. The only coaches with better records than his with as many wins are Don Shula, George Halas, Paul Brown, and Bill Belichick, and except for the latter, well, they coached in a different era in which it was easier to build dynasties.
By the way, if you take the threshold down to 100 career wins, you only pick up two more names of coaches with better winning percentages than Tomlin: Tony Dungy and John Madden. I’m hope you’re seeing a pattern here, and that’s a gold jacket. Belichick, of course, merely has to retire to get his.
Unfortunately, it can’t go without stating that, by his own standards and the standards of the organization of which he is so proud to be a part, he has not gotten the job done. One Super Bowl in 14 seasons is not great when they judge themselves, and Tomlin would be the first to say this. 8-8 in the postseason for his career is equally disappointing. His next postseason victory will be his first since 2016. Let’s hope it comes this year.