Mike Tomlin Warrants Credit for What’s Happening in Pittsburgh
Being an armchair quarterback is one of the world's greatest jobs. We as football consumers get to sit in the comfort of our own homes and tweet away our opinions with no real-world consequences, with the world's greatest superpower: Hindsight.
Such a life fosters a mindset that coaching a professional football team is such an easy task, so much to the point that we freely and openly criticize the very men doing it.
I'm no exception to the rule.
In all reality, Steelers offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner likely forgets more football than I will ever learn.
The same sentiment could be applied towards Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh's third head coach since 1969. Following the acts of Chuck Noll and Bill Cowher presents unique challenges, challenges that involve yearly expectations of planning a Super Bowl parade.
Aside from a 2008 Lombardi and another Super Bowl appearance in 2010, expectations have simply not been met.
Every coach will see themselves painted as a villain at some point in their career. Tomlin has consistently been labeled as a "players coach", with his clock management, coach's challenge decisions and downplaying of inferior opponents coming into question throughout his career.
Perhaps his greatest failure rests in the inability to capture a championship with the "Killer B's" in their primes before the team eventually deteriorated. It's not an easy feat to win in the NFL, let alone on a consistent basis. Whether it be inheriting a Cowher-built team for his lone Lombardi or having premier skill position players in the last five seasons, fans are quick to point to other factors for Tomlin's success as a head coach.
That success? A .654 winning percentage as Pittsburgh's head coach, the second-highest among active coaches and behind the one and only Bill Belichick. Tomlin has yet to see a losing season with the Steelers during his twelve year tenure thus far, and one more win in 2019 will secure another year of not falling below 8-8.
When Ben Roethlisberger went down, many were quick to write off the Steelers for the rest of 2019. Me included, who predicted the team would finish 6-10 "at very best" following Roethlisberger's departure.
Fast-forward to present day, where the Steelers find themselves in playoff position with an undrafted rookie free agent as their starting quarterback among other key injuries across the depth chart. The job Tomlin has done with a team that quite frankly shouldn't be competitive is starting to garner the proper recognition.
Regardless of how this season finishes for Pittsburgh, Tomlin deserves respect for keeping the train on the tracks while the team had every reason to not believe. The team traded it's first-round pick for safety Minkah Fitzpatrick in what was then a controversial move. They've played musical chairs at the quarterback position. They've dealt with one of the more extensive injury reports in the league. Yet through all the dishes thrown in Tomlin's sink, one thing still stands the test of time:
The standard is the standard.