SAD NEWS: Following a 17-game season, Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin is dismissed.

It’s possible that the Pittsburgh Steelers and their longtime head coach, Mike Tomlin, have come to a decision.

Now that the Steelers have lost to the Indianapolis Colts 30-13 in Week 15, everyone’s attention is focused on Tomlin and his future with one of the most successful and stable teams in the NFL.

Mike Tomlin, who was once praised for his quick ascent to fame and his Super Bowl victory in his second season as head coach, is currently being scrutinized. Uncertainty surrounds his future in Pittsburgh, a team renowned for its exceptional loyalty and stability in the front office, as well as its six Lombardi trophies.

Why is it shocking to consider the possibility that Mike Tomlin could lose his job?

The Steelers have a history of stable coaching, which is important to understand in order to comprehend how the team has responded to Mike Tomlin’s tenure. In a league and sport where head coaching turnover is common, the Steelers have only had three head coaches since 1969.

In contrast, since Tomlin took over in Pittsburgh for the 2007 campaign, the Raiders in Las Vegas have had ten head coaches (including those with the interim designation).

The Rooney family, the company’s owners, and their team attitude, which prioritizes consistency and long-term vision, are the foundation of this stability. Tomlin continues the legacy of Chuck Noll and Bill Cowher, who both established records with their total five Super Bowl victories in their two stints. The Rooneys have managed their team in a manner akin to the NFL’s founding principles: as a family-run enterprise, akin to the archetypal “mom-and-pop” store.

The Steelers are just not adjusting to the new NFL reality, according to Jarrett Bailey, deputy editor of Behind The Steel Curtain, a news website that covers the team and the NFL correspondent for USA Today. When asked why the team hasn’t improved despite the drastic decline in performance under Mike Tomlin, Bailey was unambiguous.

Bailey remarked, “Because, to be honest, they’re complacent and extremely patient.” Rather than actually posing a threat to win the Super Bowl, they congratulate themselves on their nine-win seasons and postseason success. They don’t change with the times, nor are they hostile.

Bailey seems to be right about the numbers. The Steelers and Mike Tomlin, who were once constant challengers for championships, have only won three postseason games since 2010 and have not won a playoff game since 2016.

Unrestrained energy and regular-season and postseason success characterized Mike Tomlin’s first five seasons as head coach. After assuming leadership in 2007, he led the Steelers to a Super Bowl triumph in 2008, thereby establishing himself as one of the best young coaches in the league. Pittsburgh often made the playoffs in those early years, winning three AFC North titles in his first four seasons.

Nevertheless, Tomlin’s clubs have only won one AFC North championship and have not prevailed in a postseason match during the last five seasons. Relative to the heyday of Tomlin’s early career, the Steelers have only won two playoff games in seven seasons. The Steelers have also had late-season collapses and quick beginnings. After losing on Saturday, the Steelers, who had a 6-3 record at the beginning of 2023, are now 7-7 and at.500.

To put things in perspective, consider this: since 2017, Tomlin has lost fewer postseason games than any of the four former NFL head coaches who were dismissed: Bill O’Brien of Houston, fired in 2020; Doug Marrone of Jacksonville; Dan Quinn of Atlanta; and Jason Garrett of Dallas, fired in 2019.

Indeed, Tomlin has an amazing career record of 170-100-2. But it’s not about regular-season victories in a city whose club has won six Super Bowls since the 1970s. It has to do with vying for titles.

The Steelers’ setback against the Colts accentuated the difficulties they have encountered lately under Tomlin’s direction. Penalties, turnovers, careless plays, and a failure to modify their strategy ultimately led to Pittsburgh’s defeat in a crucial game that kept them in the thick of the AFC playoff battle.

The Steelers are now only 8 percent certain to make the playoffs after dropping to the 11th spot. Pittsburgh will be eliminated from the postseason for the fourth time in the last six seasons under Tomlin if they do not make it to the playoffs.

“Let’s be truthful. We’re a football team that is inherently bad right now, Tomlin remarked after the Colts defeat. “We’re having a bad football game. For that, I accept responsibility. I take “losing football” to mean that we’re simply not performing basic tasks effectively enough. We’re not. We are switching the ball around. We face severe penalties. It isn’t how we play in circumstances. I’m just letting you know that.

The Steelers got off to a quick 13-0 lead to start the game. However, that would be their only lead as the Colts, starting with backup quarterback Gardner Minshew, scored 14 points in a hurry before halftime to seize the lead and never let it go.

The once-dominant Steelers defense struggled throughout the game and gave up 170 yards on the rush. Mason Rudolph started in place of starter Mitch Trubisky after the offense faltered so drastically, but it didn’t help.

In recent weeks, the errors and self-destruction witnessed in Indianapolis have emerged as recurrent motifs, suggesting trends in Tomlin’s coaching philosophy. The Steelers are still having trouble because of persistent concerns about Tomlin’s capacity to adjust to modern NFL offensive tendencies, issues with player development, and the organization’s poor track record of selecting young players in the draft.

No one knows what owner Art Rooney II is thinking about Tomlin and his future in Pittsburgh. The owner, the last time he spoke about Tomlin in January, supported his coach and seemed unmoved by recent failures because he had seen progress last season.

“I think the one thing I look at in terms of the job that coach does is does the team get better over the course of the season,” Rooney said then. “And we clearly did that (in 2022). I don’t really evaluate Mike on anything other than I’m glad he’s our coach. Hopefully, he’ll be our coach into the future. I think he gives us a chance to win year in, year out and puts us in a position to win a championship.”

Rooney’s statement came after the Steelers rallied to win four straight to end last season, still missing the playoffs. This season, the Steelers are struggling down the stretch, including an extended losing streak, uncertainty at quarterback, and a defense that’s not cutting it. Things seem to be spiraling, and it’s unknown if the organization and its owner could do the unthinkable in Pittsburgh and fire the man they’ve called coach for 17 seasons.

Tomlin’s fan base has grown, and it seems like players like Dionte Johnson and George Pickens frequently give less than their all on the field. There are worrying indications that Tomlin might be losing control of his group.

This offseason, Rooney will have to make a difficult decision. Should he decide to stay with Tomlin, he will have to defend his decision to remain with a coach who is making the team move farther away from the long-awaited Super Bowl rather than closer to it.

 

 

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