Throughout an offseason filled with change for the Pittsburgh Steelers, from the front office, to the roster itself, all the way down to the naming rights for the stadium on the North Shore, there has been one overall constant for the black and gold, that being the energy and passion resonating from 16th-year head coach Mike Tomlin.
The current version of the Steelers, especially moving forward into the future, is now Tomlin’s team, for better or worse. Players love him, respond to him, and go to bat for him at every instance they possibly can. He’s a great leader of men, is one of the best coaches in the NFL, and is ticketed for the Pro Football Hall of Fame when his career is all said and done.
Still, his energy has been much more noticeable this year than before, at least to outsiders. For current Steelers’ star outside linebacker and reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year T.J. Watt though, Tomlin is the same version of himself that he’s always been as the leader of the Steelers.
He’s as transparent a coach as they come in the NFL, is very clear and concise with his team, and knows how to push the right buttons to motivate his charges, Watt said to Football Morning in America columnist Peter King for NBC Sports.
“If you knew him as well as we know him, it’s not as surprising because that guy will motivate you and he’ll have you running into a brick wall with one conversation,” Watt said to King regarding Tomlin, according to video via NBCSports.com. “It’s incredible…he’s been super himself. Like, he’s never too high, he’s never too low. He’s always very transparent. He’s gonna tell you exactly how he feels, whether you like it or not. And some people don’t like that, but I’d rather know where I stand with him as opposed to him sugarcoating stuff and I get cut randomly. He’s gonna give you an opportunity to win the job.”
So far, that’s been the case with Tomlin this offseason, which has rubbed off on the rest of the team overall. Through four days of training camp at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe there has been a real palpable sense of excitement and energy radiating from Chuck Noll Field as the Steelers enter into a period of transition following the retirement of former GM Kevin Colbert and 18-year quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
One of those guys who will get a chance to benefit from the retirement of Roethlisberger is veteran free agent signee Mitch Trubisky, who was inked to a two-year deal on the first day of the legal tampering window in free agency. Getting his first exposure to Tomlin up close and in person, Trubisky has been rather impressed overall with Tomlin, stating that it’s not accident as to why he hasn’t had a losing season in his career as head coach to King.
“It’s not an accident. It’s his work ethic. It’s his attention to detail. It’s his knowledge of the game and it’s how he builds the team and how he leads the team. And he does it every single day. He brings the same energy,” Trubisky said to King regarding Tomlin, according to video via NBCSports.com. “And ever since I got here, it’s been really impressive to me, how he leads the team as a football coach. And he’ll even tell you it’s not an accident that he gets the results he does because he’s such a great leader. He’s a great football coach and I’ve learned so much in just my short time here with him. And I’m just trying to soak in all that knowledge so I can be the best player I can be and we can continue to go out and win games for the Steelers.”
It’s about time, especially this far into his career, that Tomlin starts to receive his flowers. It’s happened much more often with regularity this offseason as the Steelers fully morph into his team 15 years after taking over for Hall of Famer Bill Cowher.
While he still makes some questionable in-game decisions and seemingly doesn’t have the team ready to go for games on the schedule that appear at least lopsided on paper, there’s no denying Tomlin’s greatness overall. He’s easily inside the top 3-5 in the NFL as a head coach, and will one day be enshrined — rightfully — into the hallowed halls in Canton.
That energy will permeate, even from his bronzed bust, because that’s just who Tomlin is. He’s a great motivator of men, a terrific Xs and Os coach, and still carries that same fire and passion for the game all these years later.