Last summer Mike Florio and Chris Simms teamed up to name the most disrespected figures in the NFL and Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin came in at No. 1 on their list. Little has changed between then and now, so it’s perhaps no surprise that Tomlin was recently ranked as just the No. 10 best head coach in the NFL by Cody Benjamin of CBS Sports. Tomlin slots in behind the likes of No. 9 Matt LaFleur (Packers), No. 8 Bruce Arians (Buccaneers), No. 7 Pete Carroll (Seahawks) and No. 6 Sean McVay (Rams).
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Benjamin gives Tomlin his props for being “an absolute master at keeping his players invested,” which is pretty noteworthy considering that he has been in his role for 14 going on 15 seasons. But he docks Tomlin because he has “not exactly thrived with in-game decisions, and Pittsburgh has tended to fizzle out down the stretch, going 3-6 in the playoffs since losing the Super Bowl in 2010.”
Mike Tomlin Poised to Tie NFL Coaching Record in 2021
Of course, Benjamin isn’t the only analyst to overlook Tomlin. Just a few weeks ago, Tomlin was left off of Eric Eager’s (Pro Football Focus) best NFL head coaches list. Yet Tomlin probably doesn’t get enough credit for consistency.
In fact, if the Steelers post a better-than-.500 season in 2021, he will break the NFL record for most consecutive non-losing seasons to start a head coaching career (14), which he currently shares with the late Marty Schottenheimer. Until recently one could have pointed to the fact that he’s had a Super Bowl-winning franchise quarterback (Ben Roethlisberger) leading his team throughout his tenure, but he earned a lot of notice for willing the Steelers to an 8-8 record with Mason Rudolph and third/fourth-stringer Devlin ‘Duck’ Hodges doing the almost all of the quarterbacking in 2019. Moreover, his team won 12 games and captured the AFC North title last season, even with Roethlisberger coming off major reconstructive elbow surgery and clearly at the tail end of his career.
Bills’ Sean McDermott Ahead of Tomlin?
But perhaps the main reason to quibble with Benjamin’s ranking is that not all of the coaches ahead of Tomlin have won a Super Bowl—or even taken their team to a Super Bowl.
Is Sean McDermott of the Bills—38-26, .594, with a 2-3 postseason record—clearly ahead of Tomlin, who has won 65 percent of his games, with an 8-8 postseason record, including 1-1 in two Super Bowls? Or is McDermott being rewarded for his upside potential?
What about Sean Payton, at No. 4, who has been a head coach just a little bit longer, but has a lesser winning percentage (.638) and an almost identical postseason record (9-8)?
Andy Reid is No. 1 on CBS Sports’ List
Speaking of head coaches in the Top 5, Benjamin has Andy Reid (Chiefs) at No. 1, followed by Bill Belichick (Patriots) and John Harbaugh (Ravens), with the aforementioned Sean Payton (Saints) and Sean McDermott (Bills) rounding out the Top 5.
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