Though the Pittsburgh Steelers are searching for their first playoff win since 2016, a drought that’s gone on far too long, head coach Mike Tomlin still has plenty of admiration from the national media. In Ross Tucker’s head coach power rankings for The 33rd Team, he places Tomlin third overall.
“Yes, Pittsburgh Steelers fans want more recent postseason success but 16 seasons without a losing record is crazy impressive, especially when you consider the manner in which they’ve done it the last few years.”
There’s no question Tomlin’s non-losing streak is impressive and rare. The Steelers somehow kept that streak going last season, winning their final four games to end the season one game above .500 at 9-8. Pittsburgh was one of the league’s worst teams entering its bye at 2-6 before going on a tear to end the year and nearly making the playoffs as the 7th seed. Had the New York Jets beaten the Miami Dolphins in the regular season finale, a game that went down to the wire, Pittsburgh would’ve gotten in.
Tomlin’s best trait is his ability to lead and get players to buy-in even during the most difficult and unlikely of circumstances. He’s never lost the locker room, connects with his players well, and is a better X’s and O’s tactician than given credit for.
Still, the league is a results-based business, and the Steelers are coming off a non-playoff year. Their last postseason win came in 2016, beating the Miami Dolphins and Kansas City Chiefs before falling to the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game. Since, they’ve lost their last three postseason battles with a struggling defense and sloppy offense that’s turned the ball over far too often. Two of those defeats were upsets as the Steelers were shocked by the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2017 and the Cleveland Browns in 2020. At some point sooner than later, Pittsburgh must get back to its winning ways and re-establish the team’s standard of success.
Sitting atop Tucker’s head coach list is the Chiefs’ Andy Reid. New England’s Bill Belichick grabs second place with Tomlin third, Denver’s Sean Payton fourth, and Philadelphia’s Nick Sirianni rounding out the top five. At the bottom of his list is Arizona’s Jonathan Gannon but of the non-newly hired coaches, it’s Las Vegas’ Josh McDaniels bringing up the rear.