Mark Madden: Loyalty to Mike Tomlin leaves Steelers going nowhere – TribLIVE
Philadelphia fired coach Doug Pederson. He and the Eagles won the Super Bowl three years ago.
Mike Tomlin, meanwhile, has a job for life in Pittsburgh.
Tomlin has presided over late-season collapses in each of the last three years: The Steelers went from 7-2-1 to 9-6-1 and no playoffs in 2018; from 8-5 to 8-8 and no playoffs in 2019; from 11-0 to 12-4 and a first-game playoff exit this season. In 2017, the Steelers lost their first playoff game to lower-seeded Jacksonville at Heinz Field, trailing 21-0 after less than 19 minutes.
The Steelers have three playoff victories in 10 years. That’s despite having a Hall of Fame quarterback and a host of superior talent. Their 3-6 postseason record in that span includes losses to jabroni QBs Tim Tebow and Blake Bortles.
In their latest playoff debacle, the Steelers were favored by six at home vs. Cleveland on Sunday. The Browns were crippled by covid and injury. The Steelers trailed 7-0 after one snap, 28-0 after one quarter. They lost 48-37, but it wasn’t nearly that close.
Tomlin got badly outcoached, and Browns coach Kevin Stefanski wasn’t even there. Tomlin’s game management revealed him living in his fears. That’s his new normal.
Sunday night at Heinz Field was total humiliation.
Chase Claypool got over it fairly quick. The rookie receiver was on TikTok less than 24 hours after the defeat. He easily dismissed losing because the Browns would get “clapped” by Kansas City in the playoffs’ next round. “It’s all good,” Claypool said.
It’s not “all good.” The Steelers’ culture is in disarray. No leaders, only veterans. Much of the team is immature and unfocused. The rest of the team won’t fix it.
That is a litany of excrement. A coach with Tomlin’s recent resume wouldn’t stay employed anywhere but Pittsburgh. His biggest feats are ancient history.
Tomlin’s tenure isn’t getting better. It’s getting much worse. None of the above was fluky. The plane has crashed into the mountain.
But Tomlin will coach the Steelers as long as he wants to.
Tomlin has never had a losing season. Huzzah. Should a franchise that has won six Super Bowls content itself with a manufactured regular-season quasi-accomplishment? Hey, remember when Antonio Brown had at least five catches for 50 yards or more in 35 straight games?
“The Steelers couldn’t get a better coach than Tomlin.” That’s often said.
But the Steelers replaced Bill Cowher. They replaced Chuck Noll, who might be the best coach ever. (That was after letting Noll stick around at least a half-decade too long.) The franchise hasn’t had a problem finding talent to serve as head coach.
Look at the situation objectively. There’s no logical reason to retain Tomlin besides the idea that the Steelers never fire coaches. They’ve had three coaches since 1969.
Indulging that at the expense of ignoring reality is a slippery slope.
But that’s “the Steelers way.” How the franchise operates.
But “the Steelers way” isn’t working. It doesn’t exist anymore. It expired with Dan Rooney. The franchise gets bullied by its own players. That’s the new “Steelers way.”
What has to happen before Tomlin gets fired? The Eagles went 4-11-1. Is that’s what’s needed? That probably won’t happen next season. But it’s not far off.
Can Tomlin fix 4-11-1 or 3-13 or 5-11 or 6-10? (He just flushed 11-0 down the toilet.)
Can Tomlin rebuild the Steelers? He never has had to.
Tomlin will be back. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will be, too. Quality will be subtracted from the roster via free agency and salary cap cuts.
Things won’t change, except for the worse. The Steelers will put off rebuilding till it’s unmanageable.
The solution: Fire a coordinator or two. Tomlin runs the defense, Roethlisberger the offense. But sack those who nominally do that. Placate the marks. Slap a butterfly stitch on a gunshot wound.
Categories: Mark Madden Columns | Sports | Steelers/NFL
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