Some would say that a man who has been to two Super Bowls, won one, and just helped engineer a near-impossible comeback in the 2013 season would be safe from the worry of losing his job as a head coach in the NFL. Some would even say that the thought is even more ludicrous for a team like the Pittsburgh Steelers, who have only had three head coaches since 1969 — but is this different from the past?
Mike Tomlin has seen great success in his time with the Steelers, but much of that success was with a team that was primarily filled with Bill Cowher‘s draft picks and transactions. You can’t take away from what Tomlin has accomplished, but his lack of success in the most recent seasons has some fans wondering how long his leash is with the Steelers’ ownership.
Speaking of that ownership, people need to realize that the team is no longer run by Dan Rooney, but by his son Art Rooney II. It doesn’t seem like it would be a big difference, but if you follow the Steelers, you know that it is. Art Rooney II seems to want to be an owner that is typically in the spotlight. Think of Jerry Jones and Daniel Snyder.
I am not saying that Rooney is trying to be a part of that company, but you see him slowly becoming more involved with the everyday operations of the team.
With that being said, under Tomlin’s watch, the team’s draft classes have gone from mediocre to poor. Along with decrease in talent has been a decrease in winning. Since the Steelers played in Super Bowl 45 and lost to the Green Bay Packers, they have followed that up with a wild card loss to Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos and back to back 8-8 seasons with no playoff appearances.
The last time the Steelers missed the playoffs in consecutive seasons was a three-year stretch from 1999 to 2000. The organization stood behind Cowher during that stretch, and they will stick behind Tomlin during this stretch. However, will Tomlin’s leash be shorter than the man that brought Pittsburgh ‘one for the thumb’?
In my opinion, Tomlin’s leash should be every bit as long as Cowher’s was, and Chuck Noll‘s was before him. Every team goes through ups and downs. Unpopular as it may be with fans, you cannot make the playoffs and win a championship every season. Tomlin has his work cut out for him in terms of getting this team back to the postseason and winning again, but he should do that with the assurance that he will be the coach of the Steelers for years to come.