There’s been a lot of chatter about Mike Tomlin’s tenure and job security with the Pittsburgh Steelers over the last several years. To put it frankly, there is a sect of the Steelers fan base that takes Tomlin for granted.
At least that’s what former Steelers safety and ESPN analyst Ryan Clark implied when he subtweeted a video containing clips of Tomlin coaching players along the sideline during Pittsburgh’s 13-10 victory against the Las Vegas Raiders on December 24.
“I love Mike T … Y’all can keep begging for another coach if you want,” Clark wrote in his Twitter post. “Be careful before you get what you asked for and it ain’t what you wanted.”
Clark’s former teammate and Steelers offensive lineman Trai Essex echoed what the ESPN analyst posted in his own tweet.
“What he said!” Essex simply tweeted.
Tomlin is about to complete his 16th season as head coach of the Steelers. Only Chuck Noll has more regular season wins than Tomlin in Steelers history.
Tomlin’s Record as Steelers Head Coach
The 50-year-old coach passed Bill Cowher in wins and games coached last year. Tomlin will need 32 more wins to pass Noll as the winningest coach in franchise history, but Tomlin’s .633 win percentage is already best among Steelers coaches all time.
Tomlin’s 161 wins is the third-most in the NFL since he became Steelers head coach in 2007. Only Bill Belichick and Andy Reid, both of whom are ranked Top 5 in regular season wins all time, have more victories over the last 16 seasons.
However, Tomlin’s critics like to point to his 8-9 playoff record. He hasn’t led the Steelers to a playoff win since 2016. Pittsburgh hasn’t had that long of a postseason victory drought (5 years) since before Franco Harris was drafted in 1972.
But winning in the playoffs is hard, and it’s not as though Tomlin doesn’t measure up to his peers in postseason success too.
Pete Carroll and Mike McCarthy are hovering around the .500 mark in the postseason with 11-10 and 10-9 playoff records, respectively. At 9-8, Sean Payton has experienced similar playoff success too, and he is expected to be one of the most coveted coaches this offseason.
He’s not really a contemporary coach like Tomlin, but Tony Dungy went 9-10 in the postseason during his career and made the Hall of Fame.
Furthermore, like all of those coaches except Belichick (Carroll, McCarthy, Payton, Dungy and Reid), Tomlin has won one Super Bowl.
Tomlin’s Non-Losing Season Streak On the Line
One of the greatest accomplishments of Tomlin’s career has been his ability to avoid a losing campaign. In his first 15 seasons as an NFL head coach, the Steelers have never posted a losing season.
While that’s a tall task, most didn’t think the Steelers would still have an opportunity to extend the non-losing season streak when Pittsburgh entered its bye week at 2-6. Since then, the Steelers have won five of seven to move to 7-8.
Although eight or nine win seasons (Tomlin has six such seasons) is not ultimately the goal, it still says something about Tomlin’s ability to pull his team together and finish a season strongly.
The Steelers have held a below .500 record at some point in December four times under Tomlin. But they still have yet to finish worse than 8-8.
Another Media Reaction to Tomlin NFL Films Video
Clark’s warning could extend beyond the Steelers fan base. There are several members of the media who seem to go out of their way to criticized Tomlin.
The latest example of that came from 93.7 The Fan’s Andrew Fillipponi, who took issue with the way cornerback Arthur Maulet celebrated with Tomlin after Cam Sutton’s interception late against the Raiders.
“I’ve watched this video about a dozen times,” Fillipponi wrote. “It’s crazy seeing Maulet push Tomlin after the Sutton pick.
“I know that’s it’s a natural celebratory reaction. But imagine a Patriot doing that to Belichick. Or a Chief with Andy Reid. Watch.”
Tomlin is regarded as more of a player’s coach than either Belichick or Reid, so it’s not that surprising that a player would celebrate with the Steelers coach and not those other great coaches.
Fillipponi is right that Maulet pushed Tomlin in the video, but it doesn’t appear to be in a disrespectful manner. Tomlin is “one of the guys” with the Steelers players but clearly also knows when he needs to give “the guys” a kick in the rear.
How else would he have avoided a non-losing season for 15 years? His record should speak for itself.
Now, so should the opinion of a couple of his former players.