There are three things in life that are guaranteed, death, taxes, and those who want nothing more than to see Mike Tomlin fired as head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions,well, everyone except for maybe those who believe Bill Belichick lost a game on purpose, risking home field advantage, to keep a team he has already beaten, out of the playoffs. WOW!!! Now that’s another story for another day, but getting back to the fire Tomlin crowd, that kind of thinking is baffling. It’s obvious that a lot of these people calling for Mike Tomlin to be fired, just don’t like him, while other people appear to have at least put some thought behind their reasons. They blame Mike Tomlin for the Steelers not having won another Super Bowl, like it’s an entitlement. At the same time though, they refuse to give him any credit for leading the Steelers to winning Super Bowl XLIII. The problems since 2010 do not reside with Mike Tomlin, it is an organization issue, they need to bring in the talent necessary for the Steelers to be legitimate Super Bowl contenders.
When Tomlin took over for Bill Cowher, the defense was already aging, with most of the core players being around the age of 30. The organization gambled and resigned those older core players to big contracts, to make a run at one more title and ended up falling short in Super Bowl XLV. That gamble has left the franchise up against the salary cap on an annual basis. It is also the reason the defense is in the state it currently finds itself, a rebuilding phase since 2012. It’s not Tomlin’s fault that there is not enough money to buy help for the secondary, he didn’t sign those aging veterans to high dollar, long term deals. That blame rests with Kevin Colbert, the general manager. It’s also Colbert that plays the biggest role in supplying talent to Tomlin through the draft. Sure, Colbert gets input from each member of the coaching staff, but it is ultimately his decision on each draft pick that is selected. Somehow Tomlin gets blamed for bad draft choices as well, without anyone doing the accusing fully knowing the extent of his input.
Mike Tomlin can only coach the talent that he has available to him, and talent can only be coached up so much. Where the defense still suffers from a talent deficiency, and has for the last several years, is in the secondary. The Steelers have no true number one corners on the roster, so they are left with players masquerading as starters,whose normal roles should be as backups, or to provide quality depth in nickel and dime packages. While they played above their heads through the early part of the season, these guys are what they are, and now they are getting exposed. Between a porous secondary, and all of the injuries that the Steelers have had to play through, Mike Tomlin has done a tremendous job of coaching this season, surpassing all realistic expectations. Despite the fact that Mike Tomlin has won a Super Bowl in two trips the big game, that he has never had a losing season, and the fact that he has reached 90 wins quicker than his two predecessors, there are people who will always want him fired. It’s sad that just like society, the NFL has become a “What have you done for me lately?” league, where there is no loyalty or patience from the owners or the fans.
Loyalty and patience has been replaced with a sense of entitlement from a segment of Steelernation. Winning playoff games and Super Bowls is awesome, along with the bragging rights that come with it, but there is also something to be said for being in a position to contend almost every year as well. After 40 years and Six Super Bowl titles in eight trips, the Rooney’s understand this as well. That’s why they aren’t prone to knee-jerk reactions, and that’s why the Steelers are not the Cleveland Browns. Yes, losing to teams the Steelers should beat, during the Tomlin era, has been an issue, but that is a player issue much more so than a Tomlin isn’t motivating them issue. If a coach has to motivate a player to do his job, that player won’t have a job for long. Tunch Ilkin, who has watched Steelers practices many times over the years, said this on his radio show, The Locker Room, “Tomlin has the respect and trust of his players, and they respond to him, the players work hard for Coach T”. A statement like that makes irrelevant, the accusations that Tomlin doesn’t motivate his players.
The worst thing that the Rooney’s could do would be to fire Mike Tomlin if the Steelers were to not make the playoffs, especially after what he got out of an injury depleted team with no secondary. The Steelers have to beat the Browns on Sunday, and hope the Bills can knock off the Jets, to get into the postseason, where anything can happen. With such an explosive offense, the Steelers have the potential to be a Super Bowl team if the defense, namely the secondary, could just perform on an average level. Unfortunately, they haven’t been able to do that on a consistent basis, as they have been getting lit up lately by a undistinguished group of backup quarterbacks. That is indicative of a lack of talent in the secondary, not a lack of coaching ability from Mike Tomlin. Firing Mike Tomlin for the job he has done this year is not the answer. How about Kevin Colbert getting Mike Tomlin the talent he needs, so that the Steelers can take care of their own business, without needing the help of others to get into the playoffs? now that is the real solution.