Did you know that entering his 16th season as head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Mike Tomlin has never once won the NFL’s Coach of the Year award?
Despite being one of the most successful coaches of his era — and in NFL history — Tomlin has not once won the award. Really, he’s never even been truly considered for it. That includes the remarkable 8-8 season he got out of the Steelers in 2019 after losing Ben Roethlisberger to an elbow injury six quarters into the season, relying on Mason Rudolph and Duck Hodges to get through that year, in which the Steelers were 8-5 late in the season in a playoff spot before collapsing.
Now, ahead of the 2022 season, Tomlin is again without Roethlisberger — this time for good — though he does have a bit of an upgrade under center compared to 2019 with veteran Mitch Trubisky and rookie Kenny Pickett waiting in the wings.
The 2022 season will be challenging for the Steelers, who are breaking in a new quarterback, some new pieces on an offensive line, and still have a dominant defense. According to The Ringer writers Sheil Kapadia and Lindsay Jones, Tomlin should have the Steelers in contention once again, and will get the NFL’s COY award, based on their predictions ahead of the start of the season.
“Wait. He’s never won the award? How is that possible? I have the Steelers as a frisky, competitive eight-win team. But I’m not arrogant enough to think I have them pegged,” Kapadia writes regarding Tomlin and the Steelers for theringer.com. “Would it really surprise anyone if the Steelers win nine or 10 games and sneak into the playoffs? Of course not. If that happens, with this roster and the QB situation, Tomlin would be deserving.”
If Tomlin has this team as currently constructed with the offensive line the way it is and the quarterback position remaining a question mark, he should get serious consideration for Coach of the Year. It’s an award he definitely deserved in 2019 but stunningly didn’t get it. Sustained greatness hurt him that year though, at least in Jones’ eyes.
“We award voters don’t appreciate sustained greatness, but this will be the year that Tomlin finally gets recognized as the best coach in the NFL,” Jones writes regarding Tomlin as her choice for Coach of the Year for theringer.com. “And he’ll win it not because the Steelers win the division or are capable of a deep playoff run. He’ll win it because he’ll get a decent season out of Mitchell Trubisky, coach a top-five defense, and keep Pittsburgh relevant in a year when there would be plenty of valid excuses if they took a step back.”
Voters definitely don’t appreciate sustained greatness similar to what Tomlin has achieved throughout his career, at least for single-season awards. They’ll appreciate it come Hall of Fame induction time, but season to season it’s a stretch for Tomlin to get that recognition. That could — and should — all change this season.
Trubisky and/or Pickett will play well enough for the offense to be a decent bunch. The Steelers’ defense will again ascend to a top 5 unit, assuming health, and Pittsburgh will once again be relevant in the playoff picture into December. Book it.